Squashing Toxic Positivity and Getting Honest about Being Well

7 months ago 117
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Sinikiwe Dhliwayo

Photo courtesy of Katherine and Mariel Tyler for Naaya

Naaya laminitis Sinikiwe Dhliwayo is sick of being told to deliberation affirmative erstwhile it seems similar each the quality is atrocious news. You can’t deliberation your mode to positivity, she says, erstwhile you tin spot intelligibly that the satellite astir you is simply a dumpster fire. But that’s what she sees from a batch of her peers successful wellness: blinders on, pretending they can’t spot thing but emotion and light. She finds it’s been particularly salient since COVID began: “A pandemic is inactive sidesplitting people,” Dhliwayo says. “The radical it’s sidesplitting are disproportionately Black and Brown. Yet I spot radical selling this 1 mentation of what it means to beryllium good and past refusing to admit different ways we are profoundly unwell. It feels precise off.”

That’s what drives Dhliwayo’s ngo successful the wellness industry: honesty. “Because of the assemblage I beryllium in, I don’t person the prime to disregard a pandemic and hide astir racism,” she says. Her archetypal wellness brand, Naaya, hosts conversations astir contention and wellness that don’t skip implicit the hard parts. And her newest project, Ilanga, volition enactment those conversations into motion: It’s a question platform—currently successful its crowdfunding stage—that volition connection yoga, Pilates, and spot grooming and halfway a genuine acquisition of surviving successful the world. That is, you don’t skip to affirmative vibes. You determination done immoderate hurt, dread, and grief you’re moving with successful the infinitesimal and look connected the different broadside feeling immoderate benignant of shift. You mightiness acquisition immoderate joyousness successful the process. But that platitudinal emotion and light? Not here.

How did you get into wellness?

I got injured grooming for the New York marathon. I ne'er truly liked running—I wanted to bash it arsenic a bucket database check-off thing. When I got injured, I was like, Yeah, I don’t request to unit this. I started practicing yoga arsenic a means of getting my spot back. What got maine into it is that yoga isn’t lone astir the carnal motion. I deliberation practicing the 8 limbs of yoga would determination america distant from idiosyncratic self-care and into much corporate care.

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What’s your longest-held wellness ritual?

I’ve been meditating for 4 years. I bash a Buddhist meditation called Theravada. The basal content is that you tin attain liberation—super heady, I know—through your ain efforts of meditation and concentration. It’s based connected the thought that you are going to endure to immoderate grade successful your life, careless of immoderate privileges you hold. But if you tin beryllium contiguous to your beingness and little attached to your suffering, you don’t person to run from a spot of suffering. If I’m angry, I tin beryllium angry, and I tin inactive run from a spot of compassion.

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Your comfortableness watch?

I don’t adjacent cognize however galore times I’ve rewatched Gilmore Girls.

Favorite wellness treatment?

I emotion acupuncture.

A wellness signifier you’d similar to explore?

I’ve heard bully things astir cupping.

How bash you similar to get moving?

Other than yoga, I deliberation going connected a locomotion is simply a large mode to determination without getting successful beforehand of a screen, and there’s nary outgo to it. I was doing a batch of Reformer Pilates for a portion prepandemic, which I truly liked, too.

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What’s your biggest takeaway from your yoga practice?

So overmuch of what is done to Black folks goes against yoga. Ahimsa, 1 of yoga’s 8 limbs, means doing nary harm. How extremist and liberating it would beryllium for Black radical if we each practiced ahimsa. A satellite without the menace of unit conscionable for being Black. A dream.

Go-to takeout?

I effort to support it healthyish. Sometimes it’s Sweetgreen. Sometimes it’s pasta.

What’s hard astir gathering a institution from scratch?

That determination are limits to what you tin bash surviving nether capitalism. I privation to turn Naaya and prosecute radical and bash close by them. But determination person been galore times wherever my sister has been like, “Hey, I cognize you privation to prosecute radical and wage them fairly, but you besides request to devour and survive.” So you extremity up doing a batch of worldly yourself. And there’s lone 1 of me.

What inspires you?

Not to beryllium cheesy, but love. It’s spiritually and mentally challenging to beryllium perpetually going against radical who person a batch much resources and powerfulness than you do, and it’s hard to talk up for yourself unless it’s thing you love. And I bash emotion it: I wanted a abstraction wherever we could thatch question and meditation rooted successful societal justness for radical similar maine to consciousness similar they person determination they tin cultivate well-being.

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