Wellness House at the ESSENCE Festival of Culture kicked off on Friday morning at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in a multidimensional space intending to promote healing, joy and community. With the theme of a “Joy Sanctuary,” discussions on the main stage began with a deep-dive into the “strong Black woman” identity. Executive wellness coach, author, international speaker and professor Shana D. Lewis, Ph.D., LPC, NCC of Bellaire, Texas motivated the audience to take off their capes with high energy and comedy, as well as multiple call and response affirmations.
Lewis’s approach entailed dismantling the concept of Black women as superheroes, then rebuilding them with a focus on wellness and self-care. This dismantling consists of acknowledging we can sometimes confuse sacrifice for success, confronting the belief that we need to be “super” at all times, and as she puts it, doing something about “the real-life weathering that takes place to our bodies when we don’t embrace truth and proper self-care.” Guidance on rebuilding came in the form of the acronym STRONG:
Stop being complicit in your own demise; you have a choice.
Tell the truth that it’s not okay and be honest about not being okay.
Remember how we got here, via generations of pressure placed on Black women.
Own what’s yours, give away what’s not.
Never apologize for choosing you first.
Get some help.
An analogy used by the speaker equated the weathering that takes place within the bodies of overburdened women to erosion. Her advice to combat that is for Black women to help others “not from our cup, but from the sauce plate sitting beneath the cup.” That means, seek out support. As Lewis stated, one goose can fly 300 miles by itself, but when multiple geese are in formation, they can conserve energy and fly far greater distances. Refusing to bear burdens all on your own is the key to joy.
And speaking of joy, Lewis shared an affirmation to help those present tap into it: “Joy is easily accessible to me. I am worthy of joy. I am open to receive joy. Joy is my birthright.” To view the first session of the Joy Sanctuary, check back when the video is available, above.
Learn more about the speaker online at www.drshanadlewis.com. Connect to schedule a private session at breakthroughwithdrshana.com.