We've teamed up with global wellness expert and social justice advocate Universal Empress - Nadine McNeil - to highlight the voices of black women in wellness, and share some of their powerful tips for the black community. Click to read more on: Black Self Love with Theresa Fowler; Black Self Protection with Jocelyn Gordon; and Black Mindfulness with Chenoa Maxwell.
Known globally as Universal Empress, Jamaican Nadine McNeil is an international yoga teacher, global activist and wisdom mentor, living and teaching in Bali, Indonesia.
“As a wisdom mentor, I’m more than simply a coach. The process entails holding safe space for humans to ‘re-member’ who they have always been by reconnecting to their essence,” Nadine explains.
Having spent her younger years in Jamaica, as a teen Nadine was shipped off to Catholic school in Canada. She then lived in New York as a young adult, and would move on to call many cities throughout the world home during her career as a United Nations executive
A bonafide globetrotter, Nadine says that no matter her location, her experiences with racism have largely been covert, microaggressions. She remembers her first encounter with blatant racism in Holland, and also recalls a deep thread of shadeism prevalent throughout black communities.
In Jamaica, which is predominantly black with a smaller portion of mixed race people, the official country motto is “Out of Many One People”. But, as a lived notion, Nadine believes the idea falsely represents a shadeism-heavy, classist society.
“We’re socialized to understand that there are barriers we don’t cross based on lightness or darkness. My mother, for example, used to ask what complexion a guy I was dating was. That was her first question. We were socialized to always try to level-up by becoming lighter and brighter. Color and classism are intrinsically tied in Jamaica.”
Her extensive travels have given her an acute awareness of the plight of the black community around the world. She brings that understanding into her work as yoga teacher, with a mission to democratize the practice by dissolving elitism and introducing it to marginalized communities.
After all, she says, yoga is itself an ancient indigenious tradition.
“It’s the indigenious practices of people of color that are rising right now. These are the practices that more and more of us are using to help us cope during this time,” she says.
The role of women is also on the rise, Nadine says, noting that it’s the women-led nations that are pulling things together – poised to come out of the pandemic less scathed than the male-led powerhouse nations.
Here are some wellness practices Nadine encourages black men & women to use during these times…
Practice forgiveness. But, remember that forgiveness without the necessary accompanying deep inner work will only thwart your power.
Engage in deep self reflection. Slow down and examine your own narrative to dig up all of what has been deeply implanted into the collective subconscious.
Drink LOTS of water. This helps to keep ourselves hydrated especially as our bodies endure long term chronic stress and anxiety.
Take time for daily reconnection to the God of your innerstanding through prayer. Lean not upon your own understanding. This builds spiritual fortitude.
MOVE your body - be it through yoga, dance, walking, running, swimming. Physical activity helps to shift stagnant energy through and out of the body.