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For Mental Health Awareness week, BLACK ENTERPRISE is interviewing numerous individuals within the wellness community to talk about the racial disparities that affect the Black community in the hopes of creating a safe place to talk about mental health. 

Meditation apps have grown more popular as more Americans begin to prioritize their health and wellness needs. Despite their popularity, many of these apps are focused on a predominantly White audience and do not cater to the specific struggles that people of color face, specifically in this politically-charged climate.

After learning to cope with the recent onslaught racial injustice and police brutality, Katara McCarty sought out to create a meditation app for women of color.

McCarty is the founder of EXHALE, the first emotional well-being app designed specifically for Black women and women of color. The content is separated into five categories for daily mindful practice including affirmations, guided visualizations, breathing, and meditations. In light of the police shooting of Jacob Blake and recent protests, McCarty is providing the premium version of the app for free in September.

BE: How did you get the idea to create EXHALE?

McCarty: During the beginning of quarantine, I was proactive and began to amp up my self-care. I did more things to get still daily, find time to rest, commit to moving my body, and meditate more often.

As the news began surfacing about COVID-19 hitting Black and Brown communities disproportionately, my heart became heavy. Almost simultaneously, while that was occurring, the video of Ahmad Arbery went viral. I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of sadness, grief, and hopelessness for my community. The weight I felt was not unfamiliar, as I have felt this before with other tragedies due to systems of oppression my community has experienced. As we were reeling about this, we heard about Breonna Taylor’s murder, and the George Floyd murder was videotaped and going viral.

What we were seeing wasn’t new to me, but it felt incredibly insurmountable. I began to ask myself what I was going to do. How was I going to lean into my community and help? I got still, tuned in to myself, and listened for the answer. After several days, I got it! I would create an emotional well-being app for Black, Indigenous, Women of Color. Putting in the app the practices I’ve adopted in my everyday life that have kept me centered and grounded.

I created this app for BIWOC because most well-being apps are predominantly White-narrated, White-owned, and are overall White spaces. The uniqueness by which BIWOC has to weave through life, I believe, calls for a unique and specific curation that speaks to us and the weight that we carry because of racism, anti-blackness, misogynoir, and all systems of oppression.

Why was creating this kind of service for Black women important to you?

The uniqueness by which BIWOC weave through life, I believe, calls for a unique and specific curation that speaks to us and the weight that we carry because of racism, anti-blackness, misogynoir, and all systems of oppression. BIWOC are some of the most marginalized in our society. I was also raised by two Black women who took me in and adopted me after my biological mother abandoned me. Creating this app feels like a full-circle moment for me as I specifically give back to the community who stepped up, took me in, and raised me.

Your service is free for September. What prompted you to make that decision?

We launched our app on August 25th, two days after the shooting of Jacob Blake. When I heard Jacob’s family speak, specifically his sister, I could feel their pain and grief. I decided that I wanted to make EXHALE completely accessible to be a resource for us as we continue to navigate our collective grief, pain, fear, anxiety, and trauma.

Why is it important for Black people to incorporate mediation into their daily routine?

According to the American Institute of Stress, deep, abdominal breathing reduces stress and anxiety. For just 20 to 30 minutes each day, “deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness.”

Our parasympathetic nervous system controls the predominant state our bodies should be during downtime, which should be 80% of the time. It’s the natural state we should be living in when not in danger. Our heart rate slows down, our breath is calm and relaxed, our digestive system is stimulated, and our hormones are balanced.

Yet BIPOC are often living in what the body perceives as danger due to racism and other forms of oppression. Our chest is tight. We’re tense. Our breath is short, we’re poised to fight, fly, or freeze, and it is making us sick. It is imperative that we tap into our breath, to reduce stress, to tune into our parasympathetic nervous system, and to heal.

When we experience stress and anxiety, we can use the power of our breath to come back to a state of calm. Tools that provide guided breathing techniques and mediations help individuals harness our breath to inhale calm and exhale stress and anxiety from body.

Taking the time for ourselves and focusing on our breath as BIPOC is both an act of reclaiming our power and an act of resistance. We may not be able to control what’s happening to us outside of our homes, the daily microaggressions and racism we’ll face, but we can control our breath. Our breath is in the moment, now, and we can use that breath to ensure we’re not holding the oppression we experience in our body. Deep breathing becomes an active tool to resist the toll that racism has on our bodies and minds.

Source: Blackenterprise

Either as a single or married woman, working class or full time wife, daily you are in contact with harmful organisms, and toxins that pose a threat to your wellbeing.

Detoxification is the cleansing and nourishing the body from the inside out, by removing and eliminating toxins, then feeding your body with healthy nutrients. Our body has a natural detoxification system that functions to clear these toxins, but you can increase its efficiency by timely nutritional and lifestyle changes.

These toxins are in your water, food, and the air you breathe; it’s tough trying to get away from them, but you can have a defense against them. They include metals, chemicals, pollutants, artificial food additives, pesticides, and herbicides.

SIGNS THAT YOUR BODY IS SCREAMING FOR A DETOX

  • You frequently feel tired and stressed.
  • You experience unexplained headaches, mental confusion and lack of enthusiasm.
  • You repetitively feel colds and contract infections.
  • You have puffy eyes and distress sleeping.
  • You’re not at your ideal weight and experience irregular menstrual cycle
  • You have allergic breakouts and blemishes.
  • You’re exposed to common environmental toxins via smokes, household chemicals (perfumes, shampoos, paints etc.
  • You consume a high amount of fried foods, fast and processed foods
  • You always have irregular stomach bloating, indigestion and difficulty in defecating.

If you experience any three or more signs above, a detox is surely needed.

WELLNESS CUES: HOW TO DETOX

Having known the signs to watch out for, don’t you think you owe it to yourself to purify your body? Here are wellness cues on how to cleanse, balance and energize your body.

  • Increase your Water Intake. Your body basal function is driven by water, hence you can see it as the most valuable tool for detoxifying your body; we are advised to consume a minimum of 3-5 liters of water daily to aid its detoxifying function. Water first in the morning and last at night.
  • Decide to Eat Rightly. Choose to eat freshly cooked meals with organic fruits and vegetables over processed, fast food, alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, refined sugars, and saturated fats.
  • Detoxifying your body is not only about what you avoid, but also about what you consume. Fasting and adding natural foods like fiber foods, garlic, vegetable stews, cabbage, lemon, bitter leaf, broccoli and drinking green tea is vital in detoxification.
  • Develop an exercise and meditation routine to help you sweat out, release toxins through your skin pores, improve your mental attitude positively and boost your body energy levels.
  • Keep the Environments Air Clean. You can’t control the air in the environment you move in, but you can control the air in your home to reduce the number of smoke fumes, mold, mildew, and other microorganisms that are dangerous to your health.
  • Visit a Spa. The use of natural green herbs, brushing and oiling of your skin helps your skin peel off old cells and dirt, unclog skin pores to allowing the skin to perspire freely, which in turn stimulates cellular rejuvenation and slows aging.
  • Body Detox Packs. There are nutritional packs that offer a complete body detox, it is a step-by-step process of drinking health products that focuses on cleansing organs of the excretory systems (lungs, colon, skin, liver, and kidneys) of harmful organisms, chemicals, and toxic metals. Consult your doctor before using any health detox packs.

BENEFITS OF DETOXIFYING

  • It protects you from disease and refuels your body to maintain optimum health
  • Helps your body organs rest through fasting
  • Promotes the ease of elimination of body wastes from the excretory system.
  • Improves blood flow and mental alertness.
  • It provides your body with healthy nutrients that protect against free radicals, strengthening the immune system.

The source of many health problems is the toxins that have built up in our bodies over the years; to stay healthy and enjoy total wellbeing, DETOX.

About Hosanna

I am Hosanna Oyibo, a Public Health Coach. I am an avid reader, personal development enthusiast, network marketing professional and a volunteer. I’m also interested in travelling, gardening, and sports. You can read about me and visit my blog with a click on this link https://about.me/hosannaoyibo.