Since the Black Lives Matter movement re-emerged in the wake of the racist murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many others, the need to address the racial traumas experienced by communities across the country has become even more visible. The movement has not only addressed legal and social justice issues, but stressed the necessity for psychological and spiritual care that is diverse and provides us with tools to heal wounds while conquering new spaces.
As they say in places like Praxis Center with their Black Lives Matter Meditations, “racial trauma takes a psychological and physiological toll on people of color… Guided meditation is a way to help calm a high state of distress, affirming one’s courage and humanity, and recently with love for Black people.”
Bringing technology and mental health together, a young entrepreneur of Afro-Latino descent, Julio Rivera, developed a meditation app designed to help Black people face their daily lives and do so through diversity, with meditation guides that are not always the classic image of the white guru talking in a general way about vicissitudes that are not their own.
“Right now, there are a lot of Black people who are feeling insecure. When you turn on the TV, when you look at social media, when you have conversations with friends and family, many of the issues right now revolve around death and how we have been constantly oppressed,” he explained to EFE. Rivera is the son of a Dominican mother and Puerto Rican father.
The 31-year-old Latino entrepreneur added that “the constant consumption of this type of content is traumatic,” and that he had to resort to meditation at a particularly complicated time in his life. In the search for services, he saw the need to create a different application. A real platform for improving the mental health of the Black community.
That was the origin of Liberate Meditation, whose demand soared after the racial justice uprisings in May and has now been downloaded more than 50,000 times and promoted by Apple through the Apple Store.
Zen from diversity
One of the most remarkable differences between Liberate Meditation and other meditation applications such as Calm or Headspace is that those accompanying the user are African-American and Afro-Latino professionals. The programs also vary, including some dedicated to dealing with micro-aggressions or boosting confidence in physical appearance, something according to Julio Rivera, affects Black women more.
“Let’s say you experience a number of micro-aggressions at work, and it has to do with your image. Maybe your hair, since it’s something many Black women deal with. That makes you feel anxious at work about how your hair looks at work all the time,” he said.
“So you do a physical trust meditation, and you’re hearing this voice that makes you feel safe, from a Black woman, and it helps a lot to feel that someone like you is listening to you and understanding you.”
Within the app, there are meditations to address ancestral trauma or connect and honor African ancestors, heal racist attacks or manage the prison of being an immigrant’s child, and release from internalized racism.
The entrepreneur, who resorted to meditation after falling into a deep depression when he was 26, acknowledged that he identified himself as a Black person after a DNA test that concluded he had 27% African descent. He began to work on his anxiety with people of color and realized the constant negative voice from his subconscious he had to reject.
“I can be proud of who I am and my roots, be proud of where I come from, and I don’t have to work hard to fit into a culture that says I have to look a certain way to be successful and achieve the American dream,” he concluded.
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