In the world that we currently live in, with the dominant paradigms we live within, our brains are very rarely explicitly invited into relationship.
I don’t mean relationship as in romantic connection, but relationship in terms of general sense of being in togetherness, wovenness, being part-of the natural world and all living beings.
Especially in North America and Western Europe, the cultural messages we receive tell us that we exist alone, that we are solely responsible for our own experience, that success means being able to function solo, as individuals.
These messages are deeply embedded in our parenting and family systems, in how we work and live and love, how we relate to other plant and animal beings, and how we relate (or don’t!) to other humans.
In neuroscience terms, this state of being is called left-hemipsheric dominance, where we experience the world from an instrumental orientation, where other living beings serve merely as functions for us, where others exist as objects.
When our brains are in left-hemispheric dominance we see other living bodies as objects, and we lose our capacity for seeing other people in their humanity and instead they become instruments, functions instead of complex beings with needs and feelings.
Our instrumental brain, without having the resonance and warmth and complexity of the integrated right hemisphere, sees other living things as disconnected from us, separate, as different or “other.”
We also do this separation and rejection of the “other” with parts of ourself. The parts we don’t like.
What I’ve learned, and what I teach in my work, is that we cannot actually heal and bring wholeness to ourselves using forceful, power-over strategies (policing ourselves, punishing ourselves, trying to eliminate the “toxic/other parts”.
Healing happens through integrating and tending to the needs underneath giving our full selves resonance, understanding, embracing, instead of policing and cutting off the parts we don’t like.
When be begin to think of ourselves as ecosystems of relationship, we can begin to assess the actual needs that are pointed to through our emotions (rage, grief, disgust, etc) instead of trying to get rid of them, avoid them, or turn away from their messages.
#BlackLivesMatter is Not about Politics, its about Dignity.
For those who are startled or confused by the revolutionary uprisings in the United States that are calling to #defundthepolice and #abolishthepolice, I invite you to consider the parallels between the work I teach about (un-learning the self-punishment and domination we enact on ourselves and others), and the calls to defund the police.
We will never build a world of thriving and life-serving ways of being by continuing to use strategies of dominance, punishment and power-over.
The work I teach is about using resonance to actually feel into what our needs are, to greet ourselves with “of course!” instead of policing ourselves to get rid of certain feelings.
Similarly, when we look at the majority of the policing that occurs in this country, we can see that policing doesn’t actually address the root causes of distress.
Calls to #defund the police and #abolish police are not about a sudden removal of all law enforcement, but instead a gradual process of strategically reallocating resources, funding, and responsibility away from police and toward community-based models of safety, support, and prevention.
“Rather than strangers armed with guns, who very likely do not live in the neighborhoods they’re patrolling, we want to create space for more mental health service providers, social workers, victim/ survivor advocates, religious leaders, neighbors, healers, and friends– all of the people who really make up the fabric of a community– to look out for one another.” – MPD 150
For those who are committed to ending systemic racism and systemic oppression of all kinds, we can begin to unpack what occurs in the bodies of those who call the police on Black folks, and begin to understand the complexities of the legacy of the construction of race.
I especially invite those of us who are white to join me in anti-racist work to help actively work against the systemic and oppressive waters we swim in.
Part of this inquiry includes: what is happening in the brain and bodies of we white people when encountering Black people in this country? What are the unconscious stories of Blackness, of fragility, of who needs controlling and who is in danger?
Fragility, Policing, and the Neurophysiology of Fear and Escalation
I just recorded a video with Leonie Smith, Co-Founder of People of Colour for Nonviolent Communication (POC4NVC) and Mika Maniwa, trauma educator, to unpack the interaction between Amy Cooper–a white woman who called the cops in Central Park NY on Memorial day) and Christian Cooper–a Black man who was bird-watching and asked Amy to leash her dog, per the rules of the park).