In honor of Pride Month, we share a practice that explores personal identity. All the parts of our identities make us unique and different. In this 10-minute practice, we'll consider how they can be a source of growth, connection and strength.
Photo courtesy iStock
Pride In Who We Are
Led by Stephanie Wagner
Hi there. This is Stephanie, I’m a trainer with the Healthy Minds Program. I’m here today to lead you in a practice to celebrate the uniqueness we all bring to the world.
We all have ways that we identify ourselves--our sexual identity, gender, roles we hold in life and more. And within these identities there are things that make us unique and different. Unfortunately, society sometimes sends messages that we’re not acceptable or loveable as we are.
In this practice, we’ll work with seeing our differences from an alternate perspective - as sources of strength, growth and connection. Let’s get started.
Go ahead and get comfortable. You can close your eyes if you like, and if it feels right to you, take a few slow, mindful breaths. As you are doing this, allow the mind and body to relax with each out breath. And if you can’t relax, that’s ok too.
When you exhale, see if you can extend each out breath even longer, allowing your nervous system to settle.
Ok, let go and let your breath be natural. Continue to notice what it feels like to breathe for a few more moments.
Let’s move into our reflection. Bring to mind different parts of your identity - things that come together to make you, you. You can think of things like your gender identity, sexual orientation and even different roles that you play in your life - like maybe you’re a child or a parent. Reflect and see where this takes you.
As you do this, see if you can bring to mind one aspect of your identity that has been both challenging for you, and a source of growth.
When you bring this part of your identity to mind, what comes up for you? Maybe you notice memories or thoughts. Explore this part of your identity for a while longer and notice the beliefs, thoughts and feelings that surround this part of yourself. See if you can observe whatever arises without judging it too much.
Let’s explore your identity a bit further. What are some things that you have learned from this part of you? Perhaps you have learned to live more authentically, or have used it to get more clear about your values and what is important to you.
Get curious here and if nothing emerges, it’s ok. Allow your mind to rest and simply be present.
Now, expand the reflection to consider how this has made you stronger. What skills or self knowledge have you gained through living with this identity? Often some of the most challenging parts of ourselves can be a path to learning and growth.
The quality of this reflection can be one of gentle observation. Try and stay aware of your thoughts as opposed to getting swept up by them. Continue exploring the skills or knowledge you have gained through this part of your identity.
Often, our identities can help us develop compassion and empathy for others who might be going through similar things in life. How has your identity helped you develop a deeper understanding of others?
And now you can simply let go of the reflection and allow your mind and body to rest.
Whenever you are ready, you can open your eyes if they have been closed.
In this practice, you’ve had the opportunity to explore your identity. I encourage you to set the intention to remain connected to your identity as a source of growth, connection and strength as you go about your daily routine.
Awareness. Connection. Insight. Purpose. We consider these to be four ingredients of a healthy mind. You can train yourself to improve these skills, just like you can develop any habit. This audio practice is provided by Healthy Minds Innovations (HMI), an external, affiliated nonprofit dedicated to supporting the mission of the Center for Healthy Minds. Want more practices? Try the Healthy Minds Program App.