The topic of mental health is a hot button issue in the United States that continues to have devastating impacts on communities, individuals, and families.
Mental health conditions affect our mood and the way we think. It’s indiscriminate. It affects all races, sexual identities, genders, and ethnicities. Unfortunately, it disproportionally affects Black women due to socioeconomic and gender-based inequities.
There are many reasons why Black women are not seeking the professional help that they should. Research from the National Center of Biotechnological Information states that the poor access to care, cultural stigma of seeking help, and lack of awareness of mental illness are just a few on the list.
Meet A Breathwork Advocate For Black Women
In 2018, Jasmine Marie, Founder of Black Girls Breathing, created a health and wellness platform providing a safe space for Black women to “Breathe.” As a breathwork healer and mindfulness practitioner, Marie develops special meditational sessions focused on healing, restoring the natural breathing process and the power of sisterhood.
“Breathwork is a technique used to remove stagnant energy from the body and decrease through the art of deep breathing,” Marie explained. “It’s a gift to be able to tap into people’s energy. It’s important to invest in self-healing.” According to a study in the Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, breathwork is useful in the treatment of anxiety and depression.
For the last four years, Marie practiced breathwork as a way to improve her daily self-care routine. She’s helped transform the lives of women all across the country with her monthly group workshops and virtual sessions. Working on living a peaceful and fulfilled life was no easy feat, especially when the first few steps of the journey became too much to bear. “I was in an abusive relationship,” Marie said. “I dealt with a man who was financially abusive, a narcissist, who lied and gaslighted me in different situations.”
When she could no longer endure the pain associated with her relationship, she participated in intensive breathwork sessions introduced to her by her pastor. Marie felt “the shift” in her behavior and thought process. The unstable situation that had her on edge became a thing of her past once she began to understand the dynamics of her relationship. “I had to do away with old patterns,” she said. “As simple as it sounds, breathing improves your quality of life both physically and mentally.”
As a former New York University Stern Business School student, entering into this industry wasn’t in her career plans. Marie was a Unilever global brand marketer and later entered the world of entrepreneurship as the previous owner of two creative consultancies. The lessons from her entrepreneurial journey prepared Marie for her venture into the breathwork space. “Black Girls Breathing isn’t just events, it’s a holistic movement.”
Her Organization’s Impact and Future Goals
In March, Marie hosted her first session in Boston focused on money and how it affects the body mentally and emotionally. “Black women are over-givers and under receivers. We dim our shine instead of charging what we are worth,” Marie said. “We undervalue ourselves and charge less for our skills and talents.”
Lifestyle Blogger Daniella of daniauthentic.com was among the women in attendance. She shared a personal account of her breathwork experience and how it prepared her for a job interview the same week. “I got the job and negotiated my salary for the first time ever. I honestly left Jasmine’s session so sure of myself that when it came time for the interview, I did a few deep breaths and nailed it,” Daniella said. “I know I have the right to negotiate my salary. This would have been something I would have never been comfortable with before. One breathwork circle changed that.”
To further expand her breathwork community, Marie hopes to start training other Black women to be breathworkers. Recently, she secured a $10,000 grant from the Dream Warriors Foundation, an initiative that helps Atlanta-based women entrepreneurs with marketing, mentorship, and networking support.