8: Push

“When I was finally ready to love myself, I had to learn how to breathe and push through my grief, rage, and trauma. On the other side, I found what seemed utterly impossible before: healing, forgiveness, and even reconciliation.”

“America needs to reconcile with itself and do the work of apology: To say to indigenous, black, and brown people, we take full ownership for what we did. To say, we owe you everything. To say, we see how harm runs through generations. To say, we own this legacy and will not harm you again. To promise the non-repetition of harm would require nothing less than transitioning the nation as a whole….a nation we can only realize by doing the labor: reckoning with the past, reconciling with ourselves, restructuring our institutions, and letting those who have been most harmed be the ones to lead us through the transition.”

—Valarie Kaur, See No Stranger, Chapter 8

Understanding Push

A Practice of Love for Ourselves

To push is to choose to enter grief, rage, or trauma as part of a healing process. Pushing requires us to discern the right times to breathe and rest, and the right time to push through painful sensations, emotions, and thoughts to birth new possibilities in ourselves and others.

  1. What does it mean to “breathe and push” in the labor of revolutionary love?  
  2. How can the practices of breathing and pushing lead us towards healing, accountability, forgiveness, and reconciliation?
  3. In what ways can breathing and pushing help us to heal and to transform, as individuals, communities, and as a nation?
  • The practice of pushing is one of discernment. Cultivate your inner wisdom to be able to answer these cyclical questions: Is now a time for me to rest and breathe? Is now a time to push, for myself and others? Who is supporting me in this labor? Who am I providing support to? 
  • Explore and invest in healing practices that best serve you. These may include somatic trauma therapy, meditation, yoga, stretching, dance, running, acupuncture. If you are able, work to make these healing practices available and accessible to communities who need them.
  • Explore processes of accountability that, as adrienne maree brown writes, stem from a deep sense of belonging to ourselves and one another: such as Mia Mingus’s How To Give A Good Apology and Dreaming Accountability, V (formerly Eve Ensler)’s “The Power of a Profound Apology”, or Brenè Brown’s discussions of accountability.
  • Learn more about processes to transform harm through the practices of restorative justice, community accountability, and transformative justice
  • Explore the links between inequalities, healing, and justice, and support the work of communities of color actively practicing forms of  transformative healing justice in movement building.
  • Reflect in your wisdom journal: What is the push you are ready for? To receive or to give an apology? Choose one, then write out the apology letter. If you are ready to receive an apology, write the apology that you never received.  If you are ready to apologize, write the apology you are ready to give.  Then reflect: What sensations did you notice in your body as you engaged in this process?  Were there times you wanted to stop the process? What kept you going?  Remember how you pushed through the process once and know that you will be able to push through the process again.