Jasmine Marie, founder of Black Girls Breathing, created a space for Black women to connect through breathwork and community in order to cope with the unique stress they experience.
“Breathe Together. Heal Together. Grow Together.”
These words aren’t just the slogan of an organization—for Jasmine Marie, founder of Black Girls Breathing, they are an invitation to a community she is committed to serving.
“Black women needed a space to heal the trauma that’s trapped in their body; Trauma is held,” Marie says. “That can be scary when you really learn more about how trauma impacts our daily lives. But the good thing is that we can undo that. We can work on every system to be more at ease and balanced.”
As we all continue to have discussions around mental health and racial justice, Jasmine Marie wants to ensure that Black women are no longer left out of the conversation.
“I’ve been so intentional in how we show up and I’ve done that since the beginning. We’re not only providing breathwork,” she says. “With a lot of the women we attract, there’s lots of stigmas around taking care of our mental health. I want them to know [that] this space is for you. It’s important to me that that element and essence gets carried through our work.”
Take a Breath
Since its inception in 2018, Black Girls Breathing has been a space for Black women to cope with the unique stress that they experience through breathwork and community. With monthly sessions—held both online and in-person—Marie affirms that Black women have a space in mindfulness, and it’s a space we’ve occupied for a long time.
“I feel like how mindfulness has been showcased to us would make us feel like Black people don’t do that, but we’ve been doing mindfulness in different ways. Like seeing your grandma humming around the kitchen while she’s cooking and stuff, like, she’s in tune to what she’s doing. Those are mindful moments; being prepped and being able to just take in where you are,” Marie says.
“I feel like how mindfulness has been showcased to us would make us feel like Black people don’t do that, but we’ve been doing mindfulness in different ways.”
And as Jasmine Marie looks toward the future, with Black Girls Breathing pledging to impact 1 million Black women and girls by 2025, she remains committed to keeping accessibility at the heart of everything she does.
“In 2020, we switched our model to be a sliding-scale accessible model because we were seeing the financial impact in our community from COVID-19 and we also realized that Black women did not have consistent access to mental health resources. So, along with having our engaged community, we were very keen on collecting data from our community in order to be able to showcase the great gaps and needs and be able to impact the healthcare industry at large.”
Creating Space for Self-Care
While Jasmine Marie has dedicated herself to creating space for Black women, she also recognizes the importance of creating space for herself to avoid being overwhelmed or burnt out.
“I think a lot of us have experienced grief collectively in the past two years. Those moments of just simple living are so restorative. Nothing reminds me to live in the present moment more than being around my mom, who’s retired, and my grandmother when we’re doing activities like are going to the grocery store or getting coffee.”
And for the moments she feels burnt out?
“I don’t think that I’ll be able to solve every social issue, but if I can create a space for 90 minutes where they can experience community, then that’s my work. If [Black women] can experience that freedom, then that’s my work. I always ask myself if everything stopped right now, would you be proud of the work? I’m like, Yeah, I’d be proud right now.”
Want to share your practice with others, but not sure where to start? Three mindfulness teachers offer this simple guide to holding your own contemplative retreat, with company or just for you.