Once a week for the next few weeks, I’ll choose a song and explore what it can teach us about healing. 🎤 Music has always been my greatest healer and has kept me alive in more ways that one. Sign up for my email list to catch the whole series and learn more about me and my healing work https://www.noellejanka.com/contact 

Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds”

I don’t like to use the word slavery lightly but as my understanding of healing has grown and shifted, I am seeing more clearly how our mental landscape keeps us unwell.

We all have what my mentor Maria Nemeth calls “structures of knowing,” or ways of organizing information that we developed while growing up to understand how the world works. The structures of knowing in themselves aren’t good or bad, but it can be useful to observe them and see if they are serving us.

While coaching people on healing journeys for the last four years, I’ve noticed a lot of trends – common structures of knowing that have been shaped by the American culture of capitalism, individualism, and puritan work ethic. These show up as blocks around asking for support and slowing down. What’s behind them is usually 1) shame about asking for help, because we’re supposed to be able to be independent and figure things out on our own, and 2) an unwillingness to slow down, leave a job, or rest for fear of being unproductive.

When people realize that these ideas about support and productivity are not their own, they can come back to what IS true for them. For example, “I’m tired AF and want to ask for help taking care of my mom since I’m already working full time and in school. My cousins have already offered to come twice a week.”

When we surrender to what is true, we can make choices that are in alignment with what we’d love and what we really need. Clearing away thought patterns that keep us unwell, allow us to see what would make us well. Like if you actually accepted help from your cousins, you might get to do just that much more self-care, which might give you that much more joy and energy to pour into the rest of your life.

The invitation in Marley’s classic song is to notice where your mind has been enslaved or colonized. The song is also a reminder that only we are truly able to do that for ourselves. It might be nice to have some support along the way, perhaps from a coach, therapist, or people in your community who are game to hold you accountable, but you have to be interested in - and willing - to dive into the process of examining your structures of knowing.

We create the structures to survive in this crazy oppressive system. It’s normal. But only by observing and shifting them can we achieve true personal and collective healing.