The killing of George Floyd in the midst of a pandemic was indeed a catalyst for many to move from the sidelines and join mass marches in support of Black Lives Matter — but getting a coronavirus test isn't the only health issue that Los Angeles activists should be concerned about.
People who are attending demonstrations should also take care of their mental and spiritual health, explains Jasmine Irons Anokute, founder of Heart Centered Energy. A former television producer who previously worked with MTV, Vice, NatGeo, and A&E (among many other other networks), Anokute channeled her own past traumas — namely, the death of her sister and her heartbreaking miscarriages — to help others as an energy healer, Reiki practitioner, and Mesayoq shaman.
"Through my healing work, I remembered who I was and how I wanted to show up in the world. Healing others truly helps me to continue to heal as well," Anokute tells WhatRivaWore. "I don't think I could be a healer without the literal and symbolic death and rebirth of my loved ones and myself. Polarities such as death and rebirth, while extremely painful, aren't meant to harm us — they are working together to help make us whole. Like a Phoenix, I had to burn down old structures, beliefs, and blocks in order to heal and rise."
Anokute uses therapeutic techniques such as breathwork, Reiki, and intuitive energy and sound healing to help clients relieve stress, reduce anxiety, work through their grief and trauma, and release themselves from pain, among many other issues. But that doesn't mean she was immune to the stresses of quarantining and social distancing.
"For a moment during the pandemic, I had an existential crisis like most of the world," the Mesayoq shaman explains. "I had to cancel all my in person clients and workshops. But eventually I accepted the circumstances and actually felt immense gratitude that I could still work with clients through Zoom. Although I miss seeing my clients in person, I'm grateful I still have a way to connect with them."
We recently sat down with Anokute (who's also an incredible pressed floral artist) to learn more about her own inspiring journey to healing, the best rituals that she recommends for activists before and beyond attending protests, and more. Keep reading below, and learn more about Anokute and book a session with her here.
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I don't normally make custom pieces, but when Dr. Hu from Mind, Body, Spirit Accupunture Center asked me to make a pressed flower Ying Yang for her office, I couldn't refuse. She does such great work for so many women and it was an honor to make this for her. Also, what the Ying Yang represents is very special to me, the duality in life that makes us whole. ☯️🌸🌹🦋✨ #heartbyjasmine #custom #piece #yingyang #pressedflowers #whole #duality #art #fun #love #etsy #real #flowers #branches
I'd love to know a little about your own personal/professional journey. Was there a specific "a-ha" moment that led you to realize that you needed to make a big change? And what was the first change that you made?
The journey of becoming an energy healer consisted of love, loss, death, and rebirth, literally. I worked in television as a producer for 10 years and while I learned a lot and made amazing friends along the way, I became increasingly unhappy. I always felt pulled to do something more, though I didn't know exactly what it was. But I always had a deep sense of spirituality, studied different healing modalities, and loved learning about various religions.
In 2013 my oldest sister suddenly died of a brain aneurysm. It was heartbreaking to say the least and for the next five years after her death, I found myself slumping into a depression that I didn't realize I was in. It wasn't until 2017 I was triggered by an event that led me down a rabbit hole of hopelessness and dread. I felt like I was going to lose everything and everyone around me that I loved, including myself.
While I did a lot of healing after my sister died, this was the first time I decided to see a therapist and it was a game-changer. She told me the loss I went through was traumatic and I was having spots of depression because of it. I never associated loss with trauma back then as I thought it as the natural end of this life and the start of another, but depending on the way you lose someone, [that] can be considered a traumatic loss.
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For the #sharethemicnow campaign I took over @katenash page! I'm talking about my healing journey, how I got into the work I do now, and how we all need healing more now than ever! Check it out and feel free to share your story! #keepsharingthemic #shareblackstories #Repost @katenash ・・・ @jasmineironsanokute #keepsharingthemic
Having this new awareness and perspective gave me the opportunity to really work on myself. I stayed consistent with my healing and after a while, I began to feel like myself again.
In 2018 my husband and I decided we wanted to start trying for a baby. After some time, I finally got pregnant, only to miscarry and deliver him four months into my pregnancy. It was devastating and traumatic, but this time I made the conscious decision not to suffer and get all the help I could right away. I met myself in time again and saw how far I've come since my sister passed.
I don't think I could've worked through my miscarriages (I had another the following year) in such an authentic healthy way if I didn't work through my trauma and heal prior. I decided instead of returning to television, to use my maternity leave to really figure out what I wanted to do career-wise. I spent a long time spinning my wheels and decided to work with a career coach as I could only take myself so far.
Everything pointed to becoming an energy healer, something that was so innate to me and was right in front of my face for years! I realized I put myself in a box by focusing on a more traditional career instead of looking inward toward a more heart-centered career path. So I took more classes in energy healing such as Reiki, among other modalities, got certified, started practicing on friends and family, and then slowly but surely my healing practice turned into a business.
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I'm so grateful I get to share my healing flower heART with other bereaved mothers on April 27th @drivymargulies Angels Born Still Self Care Bereavement Day Retreat. This is what it's all about, to share your gifts, spread love, and uplift others. I couldn't be more excited and honored to work with these warrior women. Thank you @drivymargulies for all the tremendous work you do!✨💗🦋🌷 @heartbyjasmine
How can people heading to protests prepare themselves mentally, emotionally, and spiritually? Do you have rituals or practices that you recommend?
Before a protest I recommend doing grounding meditations, protection prayers, and breathwork. This can help calm your mind and keep you present. Lighting sage or palo santo can also help clear any negative energy you may be feeling. Also, talk to people who have protested before so you have some understanding of what it entails.
In the 1950s and '60s, American activists prepared themselves for protest for months using a tactic called "sit-ins." It was a nonviolent protest to end segregation by peacefully sitting in restaurants while racists would try to provoke violence by pouring drinks on them, shouting racial slurs, and causing physical harm.
The activist had to be mentally strong to endure the trauma and prepared themselves prior by training for the protest through reenactments. I think this is important to mention because before protesting you have to be mentally armed as well and know yourself and how you'll react if violence ensues. You don't want to further your trauma and be triggered possibly harming yourself or others.
But protest can be really uplifting and empowering as your connecting to the energy of others for a positive change. I would end the protest the same way I suggested starting it: With a grounding meditation, breathwork, gratitude, and some palo santo to connect you back to the present moment.
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The sun shined through my window this morning when I woke up to the love of my life @chrisanokute and that gift was more than enough. Let me tell you, 2018 I suffered loss and heartbreak, but through my loss I found myself and now I can finally feel the sun shining on my shoulders every single day. I choose to make my life sacred despite the circumstances because that is how you learn to truly be alive. Everything is a gift if you can work through pain and use it to help you grow. So I am thankful for it all and thankful for the greatest gift at 35 of peace and understanding. From an acorn grows a mighty oak and at our own time we become mighty oaks 💗🌱🌲 🌞
What are some ways that people can effectively unpack their own trauma and how it potentially affects their actions, at protests and beyond?
Keep doing the healing work. Like going to the gym to keep your body in shape, unpacking trauma involves working out your mental, emotional, and spiritual self through different healing modalities. Some of those modalities include energy healing, therapy, meditations, massage therapy, acupuncture, nature walks, art therapy, and self care. Combining those modalities can prove extremely effective.
But doing the work involves awareness, consistency, persistence and practice. It's something you have to do everyday even if it's just a simple meditation. Remember to always be gentle with yourself through the healing process as it looks different for everyone. It's truly a life's work and the most important work you'll ever do.
How can people heal after experiencing a protest, and why is that important?
This is assuming the protest was more stressful and traumatic than uplifting and empowering. Besides the grounding meditations I mentioned (which you should always do whether the protest was stressful or upliting), talking to friends and family about your experience is really important. It helps to reflect on your experience and vent to someone who loves you and is willing to listen.
Writing, art therapy, or any creative outlet expressing how you felt about the protest can be helpful. Self-care, such as massages or epsom salt baths, can help relieve any tension in the body as well. Any of those healing methods can help release stagnant energy from protest so it doesn't begin to fester and get stuck in the body.
Last (but not least), how are you handling current events, whether it's the protests or pandemic? What's the message that you hear from everything?
Regarding the civil rights movement we're currently in, I've been heartbroken and grieving over the racial injustice for years now. For a long time we — Black people — have been screaming through a megaphone about racism, but it continued to fall on deaf ears. Now, I'm glad to see there is an awakening and people are really starting to take action to dismantle systemic racism in this country.
George Floyd, unfortunately, was the sacrificial lamb that opened everyone's eyes, although the killings of unarmed and innocent Black people has happened countless times before. I see how coronavirus played into waking up the world about racial injustice as well.
We're all at home, self-reflecting, without distractions and we can't look away. We're all being called to fight for justice and it gives me hope to see diverse crowds of people educating themselves and each other, protesting, taking action, and having conversations about racism.
That fact that this is all happening in 2020 [which is also the term for perfect vision] is no coincidence either. Unfortunately for those who continue to shield their eyes from racism will in a sense be left behind. We are healing as individuals and a collective, burning down old structures that only worked for a select few, so we can all rise.