The "Journals+Journeys" series features
Vagabroad diarists sharing their journey with journaling--
for your inspiration.
A former Wall Street professional and graduate of Columbia Business School, Lauren boldly
transitioned from a decade-long career in Finance and Project Management to a lifetime journey
as a yoga instructor and reiki practioner in obedience to her calling.
She is a certified yoga instructor, having poised herself to transform the
wellness movement by focusing specifically on under-represented communities.
Her practice and spiritual offerings serve others by guiding yogis on an inward journey
to achieve mental clarity, physical strength and overall well-being.
Additionally, she is a certified reiki practitioner offering her
healing services at MINKA Brooklyn and HealHaus.
As of late, what’s been your motivation for writing in your journal?
Lately, current events have inspired all of my entries in my new Vagabroad Journal; and by “current events” I am referring to the ongoing injustices experienced by my people. So called “news” in this country is whitewashed; therefore, my aim is to ensure that my descendants are very clear re: the truth(s) and what’s honestly taking place + my narration. Each entry has been written as if I’m writing letters to the future generations (overlaid with a palpable revolutionary tone).
Additionally, my journal entries as of late are based on my readings of literature. For example, May 20-27th I read the following: Faces At The Bottom of the Well by Derrick Bell; Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston; Children of Blood & Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.
Has your motivation for journaling changed over the years?
Yes. My motivation for journaling now is about generational legacy - not merely a “dear diary” documentation of daily happenings. My Vagabroad Journals will be bequeathed to my children and their children and so on as heirlooms that they may truly know me in the fullness and myriad-dimensional woman I have been, I am and am yet to become.
Is there a greater inspiration, vision behind your keeping a journal?
My higher vision for keeping a journal is my desire that, through experiencing the written account of my evolution, my descendents will glean from the breadth of my journey and apply those learnings to their own lives; there’s no need to begin from scratch - as if years of wisdom, learnings, insights, suffering, loss and creations have not come before. With that said, if I do not share this rich history with my children orally or record ourselves in written accounts how will they know? These truths that we all are and carry within are timeless; we all know the saying “there’s nothing new under the sun”. I have lived and accumulated a wealth of wisdom that they may see/find themselves in me and be empowered in navigating similar scenarios in their own journey. It would make my heart extremely glad if my journals inspired my sun(s) and daughter(s) to also journal creating a family tradition of passing on our legacy in our own words.
Recently you and I had a conversation on DMs that had me scrambling for scuba gear, got me thinking about how atypical substantive dialogue has become and how most of us are afraid to inhabit deep realms of dialogue (physical and spiritual) that will keep us challenged, and even scare the mess out of us. But why? Why are most of us afraid of staying in the realms of weightier, deeper dialogues, headspace?
Fear + Resistance. Fear of what will be revealed once we confront (not with hostility) all that we have suppressed in the recesses of our consciousness - e.g. all that we would rather not see, feel, remember and thereby become responsible for. Our ignorance/unawareness provides a false sense of “security” by absolving ourselves of responsibility for our condition. As a result, we choose (whether consciously or subconsciously) to be comfortable by remaining in the shallow/surface/superficial as that is what’s familiar. This familiar place is considered enough...to go beyond, is perceived as difficult, or worse, unnecessary.
In depth there’s darkness. When was the last time we considered how beautiful darkness actually is? Darkness absorbs into itself all colors of creation and spectrums of light. We have been taught to deny depth, fear darkness, never absorbing/internalizing the light, illumination. But as teastained women/beings we too are so-called “dark”. Taught in myriad of ways that all that’s dark is “bad”. If this is true, by definition, you/we are bad. Agreement with this belief, will lead you to fear yourself. Denying yourself of yourself = starvation, malnourished in body, mind and spirit.
Consequently, failure to recognize the opportunity cost of avoiding the deep will keep us stagnant. Where there’s no flow, creates an environment which encourages disharmony, sickness, illness dis-ease and lack of vitality.
Why do you believe people in general tend to pursue stuff with occasional substance as opposed to abiding in the pithy?
When truth becomes “inconvenient”, we deny ourselves depth. TRUTH (especially invconvenient truth) often leads to cognitive dissonance. Fight or flight? Many choose to flee from the truth; too attached to the lie(s). The lie(s) preferred to the truth. WHY? Because many of the so-called truths that we hold dear came from people who we trust(ed). Therefore, when presented with new information stated as fact/truth, if it doesn’t align with what mama or grandmama said, we become afraid and angry because then if the “new” information is true ...mama/grandmama must be wrong (and we couldn’t possibly have that!). What else were they wrong about?! So it’s “easier” to defend the lie(s) that you know and are familiar.
What’s right will feel wrong and what’s wrong will feel right. There’s right, wrong, and the FAMILIAR... we mustn’t get these confused.
Abiding in substance requires that we re-learn and unlearn. In so doing, we free ourselves from the normalization of dis-ease and dysfunction.
What are ways we can rid our lives of insubstantial content, “stuff”, atmospheres, associations, etc.?
Begin by taking inventory of how the content, atmospheres, associations etc. are, or are not serving you? Discern and discriminate accordingly. We must STOP self-sabotaging behaviors of consciously exposing ourselves to that which does not best support us.
Equally important, is cultivating the practice of trusting what you feel as well as what you know you do not feel; and then actually honor those feelings. Respond based on what you know to be true for you in your experience.
Energy flows where attention goes - this is quantum physics (not enough time to delve into the specifics!). If you understand this, then you also understand why it is important to appropriately filter when/where/how/what/who we allow into our space literally and otherwise. Our lives are our mirrors, reflecting back to us exactly what we need to know - which will inform our next steps. Let your “fruit” serve as infallible proof/evidence.
I think that feeling obligated to perpetuate family tradition in the form of habit, decision, and mentality is something we all deal with at the subconscious level, mostly. We feel we pay homage by allowing our lives to take the shape of the words and beliefs of those who’ve come before us. Being a trailblazer of a new path in the middle of a lineage that’s always done the same thing-detrimental or not--can be perceived as “unloyal.” What are some ways we can decisionally begin to pull away from our family/genealogy?
You’re absolutely right; much of the ways we go about living our lives are simply done (or not done) due to habit - nothing more or less.
I can only share my process - It begins with getting still enough to actually THINK - independent thought. Being honest about what am I doing and WHY? The WHY is everything. Continuously asking myself WHY? Unsatisfied if the best I answer I can come up with is, “because mama and ‘em said so”. Remaining cognizant of the fact that we are all doing the best we can with the level of consciousness that we have at any given point in time.
In retrospect and with great humility and compassion, I know for fact that there are experiences that I had/did not have or things that I observed growing up that were the result of the adults in my life living from a place of survival, fear, mental illness, perceived necessity, tradition, abuse etc. As I began to do my own work (Iyanla style LOL) I noticed some patterns that did not best serve or resonate with me. I am grateful for that awareness. Awareness is empowering - from that place I am conscious and a co-creator in my experience of life. I get to choose, no longer allowing the past to continue to choose for me in the present. As mama Angelou taught us, “when you know better, do better”. If we really want something different, we must actually be willing to DO different. Otherwise, we all know the definition of insanity right?
Therefore, ask the difficult questions of yourself, and where/when you can have the conversation(s) with your family and determine whether or not the responses, rationale, logic is acceptable to you. If not, be courageous enough to make any/all necessary changes. In my view, the best way to pay homage to those who came before us is by thoughtfully gleaning from the wisdom of our lineage. Be responsible for what you know to be true. Be on purpose. Be informed. Not a follower for the sake of following -- lead in ways that others could not! Be transformed by the renewing of your mind!
I’ve been meaning to talk about the Pineal Gland for some time now. From what I’ve read about it as a component of anatomy it’s amazing (though not surprising) to me how easily it’s been demonized and virtually obscured from everyday knowledge. So tell us in your own words: What is the Pineal Gland?
Physiological significance: The pineal gland produces melatonin, regulates our daily and seasonal circadian rhythms (i.e. your 24-hour internal clock a.k.a. sleep/wake cycle), and helps regulate reproductive hormones.
Metaphysical significance: The pineal gland, also known as the 3rd eye/seat of the soul is located in the center of the brain and is believed to be vital to our spiritual* awakening by serving as a gateway to higher consciousness. It has been understood since time immemorial among ancient civilizations as an important psychophysiological centre or chakra and is the source of clairvoyance and intuition - a portal to the higher dimensions, as the pineal provides perception beyond ordinary sight.
Talk about the calcification of the Pineal Gland.
As the toxic load of our environment increases, we too become more toxic, creating a heavy burden on the body/mind and the pineal gland calcifies further, compromising our spiritual connection to higher energies and our oneness with all that is. Examples (including but not limited to):
The Standard American Diet (SAD) - truly sad indeed
That food pyramid we all learned about as children sets the foundation for sickness and disease; dependence on pharmaceuticals and at best symptom(s) management (i.e. NOT healing)
Sickness is cash cow industry in this country; exceeding 1 TRILLION USD$
- Exposure to toxins in the environment
- e.g. heavy metals, pesticides, molds, allergies etc
- Electromagnetic fields (EMF)
- released by mobile phones and other wireless devices/tech
- ...in the water, toothpaste and other chemical substances like chlorine causes the pineal gland to become hardened/calcified and eventually shut down.
- Those adversely impacted by the water crisis in Flint, MI is no accident or coincidence
*Note regarding my use of the word “spiritual” -- You do not need to be a believer in any religion to embrace the idea that there is a metaphysical animating principle of the self - a life force energy - that when nurtured enhances our capacity to be more fully self-actualized and able to engage in communion with the world around us
How do we decalcify our pineal glands—literally and otherwise?
[Several ways:] Mindful consumption -we must seriously consider and ask ourselves
WHAT are we consuming daily through our eyes, mouths and ears?
Trash in → Trash out.
Also, what are the effects/consequences/implications of our consumption
and how do we begin to recognize the ways in which they
manifest/materialize in our mind, body and spirit?
[Next,]“Eyes/Ears”: Our consciousness is bombarded ad nauseum with empty stimuli
for the purposes of disconnection and distraction e.g. television, social media,
music, tech devices. For example, subliminal marketing/advertising.
According to a Harvard Business School study, “95% of our purchase decision making is subconscious”.
Insights such as this are used to influence the behavior of the masses for the benefit
of big business and our curated culture of insatiable consumerism.
Quiet the noise by being intentional and using your discernment
regarding who/what you choose to “follow”, watch, read and listen to
“Mouth”: Food is meant to be nourishing;
to increase vitality and harmonize our overall health and wellbeing.
With that said, take inventory of what you are feeding yourself (food + drink).
After a meal are you more often than not, energized or lethargic?
Is being sick “normal” to you? Are you or someone you know
taking prescription medication(s) in perpetuity?
[Next,] A nutrient-dense whole food/plant-based/alkaline model for consumption greatly
supports a balanced and harmonious lifestyle - releasing harmful waste and toxins.
No more “sugar water”, GMO’s, processed foods etc!
[Also,] Heliotherapy (sun gazing) - the benefits of sunlight has been observed for centuries.
The practice of sun gazing by exposing the body and the naked eyes directly to sunlight
has been recorded to assimilate vital solar energy; doing so greatly benefits the brain by
stimulating secretions of “vital essence”. There is a direct scientific connection between
sunlight entering the eyes and secretions of the pituitary and pineal glands in the brain.
A study conducted at UCLA established that when the environment is dark
(pineal gland is calcified) and people experience persistent lack of exposure to the full spectrum
of natural light, leads to suffering e.g. mental illness, depression, physical lethargy, apathy.
“The quality of light entering the eyes is just as important to health as the quality
of the air we breathe and the quality of the foods we choose to eat.
The body cannot live on denatured nutrients of any sort. Light devoid of it’s natural ultraviolet
“nutrients” is as “dead” as food without its living enzymes and air without its
active negative ions (“The Toa of Health, Sex and Longevity”. Daniel P. Reid)
Sun-gaze at sunrise and sunset daily
Walk barefoot on the Earth
Prioritize spending time in nature
Talk about things in this system that we have adopted that have darkened our light and discernment.
To our detriment as teastained beings, we have been successfully indoctrinated (and in many instances adopted as our own), the colonized way of existence since the 1800’s.
If our true goal is self-recovery, to be well in our souls, we must be honest about the systems/beliefs/practices etc. which have wreaked havoc on us as an integral step in the healing process. Therefore, we must begin with the decolonization of the ways in which we live, move and express our being in the world.
Consider this - how many white men have taught us about how to: live, eat, heal, conduct/create business, consume, be in relationship, love, behave (e.g. societal norms), moral conduct, define beauty etc? - Having rejected our own cultures and traditions, without investigation, how has accepting the world of others, working out for us? Who benefits from our blind obedience?
What are several “white” mentalities that can compromise teastained women’s narratives?
Adopting eurocentric “beauty” standards/definitions (e.g. directly/indirectly teaching our daughters that their natural appearance is “undesirable”)
Approaches to “healing” and “medicine” (i.e. the rejection of of nature’s remedies/cures for synthetic/prescription drugs etc)
Seeking validation, status, achievements from “white” systems/institutions (e.g. essentially begging to be seen and included in “white” environments - beauty, fashion, higher ed, corporate america etc)
- Spirituality (I’ll leave this one open ended...) - e.g. what beliefs and traditions/practices were your ancestors brutally robbed of? And why and how is the “white” replacement “better”/preferred?
How has journaling influenced the way you think?
Journaling demands that I actually THINK - to be acutely aware of my thoughts, beliefs (conscious and subconscious), the patterns of my so-called “logic” all of which leads to inner-standing beyond the obvious by analyzing, deconstructing, evaluating, re-evaluating and inquiry. Essentially my journaling has evolved into exercises in root-cause analysis. In my experience, inquiry being the most profound and enlightening because in it/through it/by it a greater sense of “knowing” is revealed. I am continuously transformed by the renewing of my mind.
What are the qualities you look for in a new journal?
When selecting a new journal, it’s all about the energy I get upon our first encounter- it must speak to me.
My journals are investments, therefore, they must be:
durable (able to withstand the test of time),
quality paper (without lines!) and
What time of day is your ideal writing time?
Anytime is a good time. Whenever I feel that urge, that inner prompting to write;
otherwise, I may forget. ***now Janet Jackson’s “Anytime Anyplace” song is in my mind… LOL!
Maxwell too! “Whenever, wherever, whatever”….
Where do you like to write?
Preferably outdoors, in the sun, barefoot in the grass or sand, leisurely... when in NYC
I love to go to “my spot” in Central Park North, or my favorite cafes.
What’s on your journaling playlist?
Is this a thing?! “BLK Vintage Cool” playlist on Spotify is my jam right now --
Nina Simone, Curtis Mayfield, James Brown, Aretha Franklin etc -- need I say more?!
Created by @blkmktvintage
What’s your favourite writing utensil?
Writing utensils is a serious matter!
I keep Sakura Pigma Micron 05 & Le Pen Marvy Japan pens with me.
What are some journaling prompts you can share with the teastained woman who’s seeking to go deeper in her journaling than making topical annotations about her life?
Throughout this interview I have posed many questions for your readers to consider as I do not have “all of the answers”. If you’re truly seeking to go deeper in your journaling, I invite you to use this interview, any aspect of what I’ve shared and expound upon in it in your upcoming journal entries - answer any/all of the questions I presented, write about what you disagree with, write about how any of what I’ve said in showing up in your experience (for better or worse)... Let this brief glimpse into my thoughts and experiences serve as the catalyst for you to unearth the layers of your beautiful soul. Y’all don’t need me to tell you what to write about xo ;) Put pen to paper and simply begin writing (not thinking. WRITING)!
Based on all you’ve said it’s heavy that there’s more at stake for teastained women--it’s never JUST “writing in a journal”, is it?
For me, the answer is no, absolutely not! To be frank, that which is superficial and shallow bores me. On my journey to womanhood, I’ve put away such childish things and will not be satiated with milk for babes, I require “meat”.
The act of journal writing for teastained women will be (or not be) whatever she decides. Our writings will carry as little or as a much weight/gravity/depth as we choose. Wherever we are along our experience will dictate whether or not it’s “JUST writing in a journal” or more.
I believe herstory shows us and will continue to reveal what types of teastained women and writings which are timeless and immortal.
Why is journaling powerful?
Too often our stories are told and retold from the perspective of those who have an agenda to intentionally misrepresent/miseducate who we are and who we have been. As a result, many of our people are indoctrinated and destroyed from their lack of know who they truly are - consuming propaganda. Whoever controls the narrative influences the collective consciousness - the quality (or the lack thereof) of our consciousness is vital to our ascension.
We mustn’t entrust our recorded/ documented lineage to “outsiders” who have proven for centuries their ill intentions towards us.
Would you ever write a book?
Yes, I’m absolutely open and available to that possibility! Not clear on when or how - but I suppose that’s none of my business, creation can/will handle those details. I’ve imagined sharing my version of “eat, pray, love” from my perspective as a woman of color.
Healing, enlightenment and self-actualization are all possible even without the luxury of extended trips to India, Italy & Bali, walking away from your career/job and alimony
What does “Journey Soulfully” mean to you?
Being in integrity and intentional as it relates to how I decide to show up in my life and the lives of others. It means: conscious awareness, inquiry, learning, unlearning, remembering, transforming/evolving etc. “Journey Soulfully” is living my best black beautiful brilliant life on purpose AND documenting it (the raw unadulterated truth) along the way so that those who are yet to come may KNOW…