We are often haunted by our pasts. Ghosts of lost love taunt us in the midst of our present pursuit of intimacy. Yesterday’s wounds remind us of the daggers of betrayal pressed into our unsuspecting hearts. Our inner child echoes the messy messages of our wounded family members, peers, teachers, and playground bullies. Our individual and collective past offers a daily dose of regret and traumatic memories that result in shame, fears, and undetected bitterness.
But our past is not the enemy. The past is our teacher.
When I look back over 2010 to 2020, my heart aches. The past decade has etched within it the tragic loss of my mother's life, uncomfortable transitions from churches, jobs, and relationships, multiple surgeries, and a car accident that almost took us out. Now add the global pandemic, the current United States Administration, and injustices plaguing our world. Did I say my heart aches when I look back over the past 10 years? It aches thinking back over the past 7 months!
However, as an optimist, as a faith-filled positive thinking lover of God and humanity, I can't help but tilt my head to see another perspective - I survived all that?! WE are surviving all of that?! There must be a reason we are still here. There must be a stream of lessons in the midst of every struggle.
Yesterday's experiences show us who we are today. The sweet gift of breath carries evidence of our strength, purpose, and resilience. The fact that we are still alive is an outright expression of God's unconditional love and undeniable provision, offering an unquenchable hope for the future. Can we hear those truths whispering through every tear? Can we retrieve the good treasures buried beneath the grief? Can we put on a garment of praise and finally remove the heavy cloak of regret we often put on at the end of each day?
Perhaps looking back clears our perspectives. It helps us see how far we've come so we can grab hold to the lessons. Perhaps reviewing our history can help us let go of the pain and fears that keep us chained to our traumas.
The Sankofa symbol invites us to go back and grab hold to the knowledge, the lessons, the core values that compose the melody of our melanin. In looking back, we acknowledge every step of this alluring ancestral dance called living. We nourish our roots that are anchored in perpetual survival and expansion. We honor that we are the discoverers of knowledge and appliers of wisdom not just for the sake of innovation, but for the sake of humanity's evolution towards our higher selves. Our villages and empires were built from spiritual understanding and a collective desire for harmony - not unto perfection by any means, but with soulish intent, we build.
And all the history that reverberates between this moment and the creation of humanity - from where I stand in Ohio today to the rich shores of African history; from the ships that carried our ancestors to America to the communities we continue to build; from the African and Indigenous explorers and leaders that go unnamed in classrooms to the chains, the wars, and the marches for freedom; for all of the oppression, progression, and regression - all of these experiences add up to who we are today.
There’s something different about this kind of retrospection. This symbolic practice is greater than my optimistic point-of-view. It is an honest integration of the sacred teachings our personal and collective history offers us in each moment.
Sankofa, from the Twi language of Ghana, is an enticing invitation. It honors our stories so we can taste our victories with a greater sense of gratitude and appreciation. There is no need to hold on to the hurt, anger, fear, and unforgiveness anymore. We can look back and let go, experiencing freedom with every breath.
What an honor it is to join Ivory Levert for a monthly Sankofa Soul Flow! Join us to share space, reflect, and move toward greater healing and purposeful intentions. We are scheduled to meet on 4th Sundays. Click the image below to RSVP and follow Ivory at @mindfulgreenqueen for more about Sankofa Soul Flow and other yoga practices she is leading.