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    10 Books to Help You Liberate Yourself in This Time

    It is impossible to grasp what 2020 has been so far, especially when it challenges activity to help you liberate yourself. 

    Balancing life is out of whack!

    For many of us, it’s been full of anxiety, depression, uncertainty, fear, rage, and countless other emotional ills.

    I know this is not what you signed up for at the beginning of the year, and I understand you’ve just about had enough, but it is our reality.

    This year has handed us too much – police brutality against black and brown people (not just here in the US but now in Nigeria that sparked the #endSARS movement); the senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Armaud Arbery; the extensive loss of life during this pandemic; finding yourself alone at home without your normal routine; adapting to a new virtual life of everything from work meetings to parties; protests in the streets of many cities; an election campaign that looks more like a shit show than a race to lead the richest country in the world… I too am questioning my existence.

    But sis, let me say this. It doesn’t have to be daunting and lacking hope.

    We may be in the midst of an extreme shift, but your perspective matters in how we all get through this.

    And liberating yourself should be at the top of the list!

    Jana Long, the author and editor of Yoga as a Peace Practice, a curriculum and movement which brings contemplative practice to individuals and communities impacted by violence said this.

    “Somewhere I heard the phrase ‘Millions of lives are changed by the power of one,’ and it resonated deeply within me. One person can have a profound impact on the lives of many. The power of one resides in each of us. Yoga helped me to unlock mine; it can help you tap into yours.” 

    It’s just sometimes hard to see it when you’re going through it.

    That’s why you MUST TRY HARD to liberate yourself from the happenings. 

    Give yourself a break from the news, the social media, the videos, and clips that do you no justice.

    Break FREE from the Zoom lives and endless need to be informed all the time. It’s ok to stop yourself from being pulled in many directions.

    Despite what you may think, endless tapping in and staying current breaks your spirit and fucks with your mental health. Yes…it does!

    Whether you’re on the front lines marching and protesting, or whether you choose to rally and support from the confines of your home, there is something you can do to help mend what’s broken within you. 

    That’s why we are providing this reading list – 10 books to help you liberate yourself!

    All books are available in our AATS Bookshop

    Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace by Angel Kyodo Williams 

    In this elegant, practical book, Angel Kyodo Williams combines the universal wisdom of Buddhism with an inspirational call for self-acceptance and community empowerment. Written by a woman who grew up facing the challenges that confront African-Americans every day, Being Black teaches us how a “warrior spirit” of truth and responsibility can be developed into the foundation for real happiness and personal transformation. With her eloquent, hip, and honest perspective, Williams—a Zen priest, social activist, and entrepreneur—shares personal stories, time-tested teachings, and simple guidelines that invite readers of all faiths to step into the freedom of a life lived with fearlessness and grace.

    Review: “More than just a paean to Buddhism, it is also a call for Black Americans to look inward.”—The New York Times

    The Stress Management Workbook: De-stress in 10 Minutes or Less by Ruth C. White PhD MPH MSW

    Learning how to manage your stress shouldn’t be stressful. With The Stress Management Workbook you’ll get the relief you need in a time frame that works for you. With concrete exercises that require no more than 10 minutes each, The Stress Management Workbook will help you build sustainable stress management skills for significantly reducing stress―now and for the future.

    Review: “The Stress Management Workbook is a terrific, practical guide to overcoming stress. Dr. White clearly understands that our likelihood of overcoming stressful situations increases as we equip ourselves with resources to facilitate changes. Replete with valuable self-care suggestions, this multifaceted workbook is a welcome resource guide likely to provide respite and comfort to its readers.”— Dr. Anna Morgan-Mullane, Adjunct Professor, New York University Silver School of Social Work and Vice President of Mental Health Services at Children of Promise, NYC 

    Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting by Terrie M. Williams

    Black Pain identifies emotional pain — which uniquely and profoundly affects the Black experience — as the root of lashing out through desperate acts of crime, violence, drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, workaholism, and addiction to shopping, gambling, and sex. Few realize these destructive acts are symptoms of our inner sorrow.

    Black people are dying. Everywhere we turn, in the faces we see and the headlines we read, we feel in our gut that something is wrong, but we don’t know what it is. It’s time to recognize it and work through our trauma.

    Review: “Black Pain takes a candid and in-depth look at depression in black America. The book provides hope to those who battle with the disease and offers an understanding for the friends and loved ones who care for them. I highly recommend this book.” – Bishop T.D. Jakes, Senior Pastor, The Potter’s House

    Soothe Your Nerves: The Black Woman’s Guide to Understanding and Overcoming Anxiety, Panic, and Fearz by  Angela Neal-Barnett Ph.D.

    In Soothe Your Nerves, Dr. Angela Neal-Barnett explains which factors can contribute to anxiety, panic, and fear in Black women and offers a range of healing methods that will help you or a loved one reclaim your life. Here finally is a blueprint for understanding and overcoming anxiety from a psychological, spiritual, and Black perspective.

    Review: Dr. Barnett provides a comprehensive explanation, in laymen’s terms, of the causes and predisposing factors of these emotional conditions and their destructive effects on Black women. She offers self-help exercises and commonsense, workable solutions that range from conventional medicine to holistic and spiritual treatments. A must-read for women, men, and treatment professionals, Soothe Your Nerves offers hope and healing, which will invariably result in the empowerment of Black women in all aspects of their lives. – Dr. Jeff Gardere, television and radio host author of Love Prescription Soothe Your Nerves addresses the major “invisible” health issues for women of color: anxiety, panic, and fear! 

    The Color of Hope: People of Color Mental Health Narratives by Vanessa Hazzard + Iresha Picot M.Ed 

    The Color of Hope: People of Color Mental Health Narratives is a project that sheds light on mental health in communities of color by sharing stories by those affected by mental illness. By sharing our stories, we open up discussion around the topic and break through stigma and shame. The contributors represent those living with or affected by loved ones with depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and other conditions. They are men and women, children and adults, political prisoners, college students, politicians, musicians, business people, artists, fathers, mothers, daughters…all of African, Latino, and Asian descent. Their narratives add to the tapestry of the human experience and without them, our history is incomplete.

    Review: “Great poetry book sharing experiences of mental health” – Reader

    My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by LICSW Resmaa Menakem, MSW 

    In this groundbreaking book, therapist Resmaa Menakem examines the damage caused by racism in America from the perspective of trauma and body-centered psychology. My Grandmother’s Hands is a call to action for all of us to recognize that racism is not only about the head, but about the body, and introduces an alternative view of what we can do to grow beyond our entrenched racialized divide.

    • Paves the way for a new, body-centered understanding of white supremacy—how it is literally in our blood and our nervous system.
    • Offers a step-by-step healing process based on the latest neuroscience and somatic healing methods, in addition to incisive social commentary.

    Review: Community Care Counselor Menakem, MSW, LICSW, SEP, posits that racism is embedded in the hearts, souls, and reflexes of both blacks and whites in American society, and that the trauma (as he describes in depth) inflicted on many as a result of this fact is harmful to all. Menakem then helps readers get inside the black experience to encounter everyday threats and the responses of fighting, fleeing, or freezing in order to begin the healing process. The guided exercises and social commentary help to pave the way for understanding one another and building a stronger community that benefits everyone. VERDICT An exceptionally thought-provoking and important account that looks at race in a radical new way. For all readers. – Library Journal (Starred Review), Sept. 2017

    Energy 4 Life: High Energy Conscious Living by Caroline Shola Arewa 

    Do you want more Energy and vitality in your life? One of the major health issues affecting people today is lack of energy. Most people want enough energy and vitality to live life to the full. We don’t want to feel drained, exhausted and stressed out all the time. We are in need of regularly topped up, high-quality energy for optimum health and wellbeing. Energy 4 Life offers a health and conscious living program that activates your core energy. It works with the Chakras and Human Energy System. This powerful energetic approach offers the skills needed to live a Healthy, Happy and Successful life in the midst of a changing world. This is an uplifting and informative book that makes balancing the demands of 21st-century life manageable.

    Review: Shola is a true “Master of Energy.” In Energy4Life she shares a unique synthesis of cutting edge western science and ancient teachings on energy. Shola gently guides you, with exquisite clarity, through a complete approach to transforming your life through increasing your vital energy and teaching you the secrets of how to sustain this energy in all the different aspects of your being from physical to spiritual. –Phil Young, Author of The Art of Polarity Therapy and the Power of Love: A Guide to Consciousness and Change

    Natural Wakefulness: Discovering the Wisdom We Were Born With by Gaylon Ferguson

    There are two essential elements to the spiritual path says this popular teacher from the lineage of Chögyam Trungpa:

    (1) understanding that you’re already enlightened, already perfect in wisdom right here and now, and

    (2) accessing that natural wakefulness through spiritual practice. These two aspects depend upon each other and work together. Gaylon Ferguson’s teaching on the twin aspects of view and practice is a perfect introduction for the beginning meditator and it offers fresh perspectives for the non-beginner too.

    Review: “The advice in this book will be of tremendous benefit to those who have the courage to engage their mind and heart and develop their potential. As a result, it will benefit the greater world.”—Sakyong Mipham, author of Turning the Mind into an Ally

    The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health: Navigate an Unequal System, Learn Tools for Emotional Wellness, and Get the Help you Deserve by Rheeda Walker PhD

    In The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health, psychologist and African American mental health expert Rheeda Walker offers important information on the mental health crisis in the Black community, how to combat stigma, spot potential mental illness, how to practice emotional wellness, and how to get the best care possible in system steeped in racial bias.

    This breakthrough book will help you:

    • Recognize mental and emotional health problems
    • Understand the myriad ways in which these problems impact overall health and quality of life and relationships
    • Develop psychological tools to neutralize ongoing stressors and live more fully
    • Navigate a mental health care system that is unequal

    Review: “‘The belief that we can endure anything is both a strength and a weakness of our current culture,’ writes Rheeda Walker, a behavioral scientist and psychology professor at the University of Houston. Early in The UnapologeticGuide to Black Mental Health, she highlights the struggles with mental illness and suicide that Black people experience, which go widely unacknowledged. She makes the empowering case that, in the midst of white supremacy and all its implications, Black people need to cultivate ‘psychological fortitude,’ sharing frameworks and resources that speak directly from and to Black Americans’ realities. Equally vital, for Walker, is the life-giving opportunity to celebrate one’s Black cultural and spiritual belonging. The book’s focus is twofold: Part One, Recognize Serious Threats to Emotional Health and Life; and Part 2, Reclaim Your Mind to Reclaim a Life Worth Living.”

    Mindful Magazine

    Skill in Action: Radicalizing Your Yoga Practice to Create a Just World by Michelle C. Johnson

    Skill in Action asks you to explore the deeply transformational practice of yoga as a way to become an agent of social change and work toward a just world. Through yoga practices and philosophy, this book explores liberation for ourselves and others, while asking us to engage in our own agency–whether that manifests as activism, volunteer work, or changing our relationships with others and ourselves. To provide a strong foundation to begin this work, Michelle Cassandra Johnson clearly defines power and privilege, oppression, liberation, and suffering, and invites you to make changes in your life that promote equality and freedom for all. Each chapter ends with a breathwork, asana, meditation, or interpersonal relational practice to help you incorporate this wisdom into your daily life. Each of the practices extend beyond the individual to offer resources and tools to shift institutional policies and procedures in a culture that has left all of us negatively impacted by white supremacy and social inequity. We must awaken to the injustice and suffering of marginalized communities, and we must use our voices and actions toward the liberation of all people.

    Review: “A perfect text to counter the cultural image of the thin, privileged white women who practices yoga, Johnson’s book is meant to explore how to use the practice as a radical tool of change. It’s meant to help find liberation for all bodies and gives space for people to find whatever that means for them within their own lives, marrying the tools of change with the deeply radical roots of yoga. Yoga isn’t a practice of complacency. It’s one of being and living change—that’s right there in the Sutras, and Johnson’s book is a refreshing reminder of how yoga isn’t just what you do on the mat. It’s what you do off it.”—Book Riot

    All books are available in our AATS Bookshop. We would love your support!

    Oh, and if you can’t wait to purchase and  get through these books, here’s  4 Ways to Keep Your Mental Health in Check During This Time.

    It’s a quick guide to get you back to normalcy when you need it.

    AATS

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