Mental Health (MH) – Such a heavy topic. Where do we start? Well for starters, there’s no way we can or will attempt to touch on all aspects of this complex subject in this single writing. As a matter of fact, this is the first in a series of MH topics we will cover on this site because as men of color we have a ton of layers that need to be peeled back to get a full understanding of it all. This particular piece is just one black gay man with Southern roots’ partial perspective on it after having lived many adult years (half his life), at this point, away from the Southern roots from which he is derived and grew for a period of time.
What we wanted to touch on in this piece is more along the lines of creating a physical space that will aid in providing us with a center. A place that serves as a space for us to take-in or listen to what God, the Universe (or whatever you call your higher power and intuition). A space that’s conducive to opening our minds. A space to realize and record gratitude on a regular basis. You know – all the good shit in life!
Switching to first person, I say partial because as I sit here and ponder the depth of the topic, I know that I will inherently miss some key notes. To simplify the MH discussion and for the purpose of this writing, lets start by recognizing, as mentioned earlier, that this is a complex topic and will need to be dissected discussed in parts periodically as there are occurrences in our day to day lives that’ll spark these conversations.
It is my belief that this starts before we are born into this world with the energy that our birth mother exudes inherently during the nine month pregnancy period with a little bit of our father’s energy sprinkled in as well.
It continues to fester and grow after we’re born, including the environment in which we’re raised. Its influenced heavily by the mindset of the people we’re surrounded by the most (many are not of our own choosing) – including continual past and present parental and peer influences. After 18 or so years of being impressed upon by those that either – didn’t know what the hell they’re doing – our peers; and those that are excited about raising a little “mini-me” – oh joy, their second chance at their own unfulfilled hopes and dreams…or better yet, to even follow in their footsteps – our beloved imperfect parents.
Yes after getting thru those, in some cases, tumultuous years, we’re left to untangle all of this in an environment where those influences are still present but now includes the influences of the next phase of people that come into our lives. This, for most ppl, is the second largest (influential group) that will come into our lives, in life – and this group is pretty substantial – its that college group of friends and professors. This is the first time we start to take more ownership in our own influencer pool. Simply put, for these four years some of us make smart decisions and others of us make not so smart decisions, again, in some part based on our upbringing up to that point. This is where the influences of the people up to that point, really make a difference, because who we desire to be around is a direct reflection of what we received or were in need of receiving up to that period in life.
We’re then dealt the hand we’re dealt in some, if not all of those instances, due to those decisions. As we continue to matriculate through life, we continue to make these good and bad decisions as it relates to our co-workers and friends outside of work. And although curve balls do come, and broken people that appear to have it together (but oftentimes don’t), will indeed enter our lives (in the form of life lessons that we must check off the list in order to matriculate or advance to the next level in life). Let me stop here and say that financial success does not equate to success all around. There are people with “money” that are just as mentally broken as those with little or none.
One of my favorite quotes is, “We either learn the lesson and move on or miss the lesson and repeat it with the next person or situation.” That’s just the way of life! Hopefully, we’re able to identify these (broken) people fairly quickly and more importantly are able to refine our choices as we mature as to not repeat the lesson.
So much goes into why we choose who we choose that we will not get a chance to touch on it in this writing. It doesn’t serve the purposes of this writing. More to come at a later date.
That said, I’ve created and wanted to share my regimen and sacred space (located in downtown Los Angeles). Note: This is my regimen. It’s only to encourage your creativity for your own space. Make the space and regimen yours. Its important that it works for you.
On the topic of mental health, lets continue to tackle this topic in bits and pieces. Starting with creating YOUR space. Remember that these are all just ideas to start you off. Namaste.
Morning Meditation Regimen (sample):
- Set up: Get comfortable upright position/ angled is fine. Starting out finding your center. Finding a space to gaze at is fine but not necessary as long as you can hold your attention until you close your eyes. Pillows and blankets might bring a level of comfort. Note: I recently went to a meditations space off of classpass and I just could not get comfortable because of my back issues. I needed to create my own more comfortable space like this one to really get in the zone. The beach chair is sturdy without being too comfy and it reclines, so its perfect!
- Additions: Candles and table top fountains are great additions if you desire that extra layer. Special items such as crosses rosaries or other purposeful material items that bring an added level of comfort are also welcome in your space
- Choose a vocal message. Having already created a curated playlist of your favorite gospel, Christian, inspirational, motivating, positive and/or uplifting tunes; Allow the playlist, on shuffle-mode, randomly choose a song to start your meditation session with. I look at this as the Universe giving me what i need at that given time.
- Choose a written message Read from one of the below (remember, pick your own!):
- The Daily Stoic (goes chronologically through the year)Daily Thoughts from the Hill, Dr. Barbara King (this content comes monthly hard-copy via mail or soft copy via email), Heart Talk, Cleo Wade (open this hard copy to random pages or go from beginning to end, day to day available on amazon.com). While many of these publications reference biblical sentiments, some find the Bible itself to be extremely helpful, optimistic and comforting.
- Meditate: After the song plays, sit quietly for 15 mins with eyes closed (or as long as needed – this is your practice, make it just that and know that it can change daily as “the spirit” calls for it to). Take in and just listen to the Universe. Whenever the mind drifts off, just bring focus back to the body, to your breath.
- Choose a longer form Spoken Message: from a list of podcasts (pick ones that inspire you. Some of mine are below and can be gotten free on with Spotify or the iHeart app):
- Joel Osteen, TD Jakes, Bishop Bronner, Marianne Williamson, Joyce Meyers, Elevation from Steven Furtick
- Re-Inforcement: Throughout the day get food from any number of uplifting handles (pick your own IG posts but the below are just a few of our faves):
- @mjharrisspeaks, @Oprah, @CleoWade, @spiritualgangster
- Practice: Go about your day bearing fruit. God asks that we be fruitful in our ways.
- Record: You’ll see in my video that I have a special beautiful leather note pad that was actually a gift (which made it even more special). Find something really special to jot down any thoughts including things that you’re grateful for (example jots below):
- Morning gratitude: list (3-4) things you’re grateful for
- End of day: list the people that you’re thankful for – its those people that made your life a little better today (this number can change from day to day)
- Lessons: during the day try to jot down approx 3 obstacles and what you are leaning from them
Listen, this may seem like a lot but trust us when we say, hard work pays off especially in this area. this helps us to get to know us. It helps us to get to know our higher power and source. It helps us to realize our graces are due to the kindness of others. It helps us to see that we are indeed growing despite all obstacles. We grow most from being in uncomfortable spaces.
While this is an individual journey, my goal is to one day find a soul mate that I can be vulnerable enough to share this with. My idea of this person is so undefined that I love it!
I don’t wish to have any constraints on authentic connections. My only constraint is dishonesty in ANY form. If I encourage honesty, I can’t get mad at the existence of it. Dare to grow and be authentic with me. Life can’t be better than that ever! You get to be you! I get to be me. We get to enjoy the beauty of that in each other’s space. We get to be authentically naked. Can you handle that? Its deeper that anything physical.
“Look Good…Feel Great…Enjoy Life”
Until next time, be encouraged to leave feedback below.
Jai Mays is an LA based cycling and Les Mills SPRINT coach/instructor. He’s the author of this post and the creator of this site. He’s also a distinguished Morehouse alum. Check out his biography here.