The Wellness Movement for Black Folks is growing necessary momentum. As a trauma-informed yoga instructor and mindfulness and meditation coach, Monique Hall is actively engaged in the liberation of Black people through their breath. Some might think of this as “breathing while Black.”
Ashe’ Magazine caught up with her to learn more about how her relationship with mental health is helping the Black community.
Monique: I have been mindful about being Black all my life. I am of the seventies-era when it was prolific to be Black and proud. I remember when that saying first came out and I said, “Oh! It’s about time!” I have always been Afrocentric.
Jaymie: Your name came to me as Meditation with Monique, in your personal life do you practice meditation?
Monique: Absolutely! I practice meditation. It is an essential part of my wellness. I grew up in a very traumatic household, so I had to be hypervigilant or overly aware because it was a way of protecting myself. Mindfulness is a way for me to bring my mind back and to stay in the moment. I have a tendency to look down the street with anxiety or look at the past with some sort of depression. Mindfulness is about staying in the moment, right here right now. Looking around at all the beautiful faces and really being here with you. Hypervigilance has you where you’re not in the moment, and you’re disconnected. I’ve been disconnected from my head all my life. Mindfulness is about bringing the mind back.
Jaymie: How important is it for Black girls like us to meditate?
Monique: I think it’s really crucial. I think there’s a lot that’s been put in our heads that we need to empty and really know who we are. Sometimes a form of mindfulness is also recognizing our ancestral heritage and our beauty and who we come from. I think also in a world that really doesn’t like Black people. Microagressions are real. It is important that you bring yourself back into who you are and walk in your shows proudly because the microaggressions are real.
Jaymie: A little personal story. I used to meditate in middle school because it helped me to clear my mind of those negative thoughts that I was taking in from society that I thought mattered. Meditation helped me. Can you tell me how meditation impacts mental health?
Monique: Well, it’s important. I’m coming from an evidence-based perspective. I want to see the evidence. Something I was looking at was a school in San Francisco that had a very high drop out rate, the attendance was very low and grades--people did very poorly in school. It just gives me chills. As they introduced mindfulness into the school, the drop out rate decreased and grades increased. To have them in that and to be able to mindfully overcome those obstacles, it was great. Kids have better opportunities because it’s really about focusing. If you’re distracted, how can you learn?
Jaymie: So a positive mindset and a focused mindset is a positive and focused life?
Monique: That’s the thing about mindfulness. It’s nonjudgmental. It’s not positive or negative. It just is. Meditation is about expansion. Mindfulness is about awareness. When I lose my mind I’m gone. That’s how slaveholders were able to control the masses. When you have someone’s mind, you got them. Mindfulness is about taking your own mind back and being present and being aware of who you are.
Stay connected with Monique Hall
Look for The Black Breath Project
Follow her on Instagram @restorative_social_justice