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Liana Naima: on finding a balance between caring and self-care

words by Marissa Hatten

Liana Naima can be described as many things – wise, caring, genuine – but what she has become over time is an incredible facilitator of healing for so many people. Liana is a certified Reiki Practitioner who uses breathwork and other healing methods to encourage those she works with to connect with their inner selves. In a world where healing has often not been accessible to marginalized groups of people, Liana committed herself to holding space for youth, LGBTQ+ individuals, and women of color who otherwise would not have the chance to do this important work. Like many of us who have embraced mindfulness, she was brought to this path of healing by chance.

Liana’s connection to healing all started with work she needed to do within herself following an injury. “[For me] healing wasn’t really a conscious decision. I had a traumatic back injury in 2014 and was in the most severe pain of my life,” she says. Liana found herself confronting this newfound pain using Western methods that would work temporarily, but eventually the pain would return. After trying so many different things and becoming exhausted with “traditional” medicine she came to holistic health and medicine as a way of self-healing.

Photos by Danny Ospina

“I became a spiritual guide in 2016 after a series of awakening experiences through the use of meditation, plant medicine, and self-inquiry,” she says. “Once I experienced the level of internal freedom possible through presence, I never looked back. I used to imagine that my spiritual journey was to reach some goal post, but it has created a deep sense of love for the present expression of life as it is. Life flows perfectly, and chaos is due to people being over-identified with their identities and lacking awareness of oneness.”

Liana’s relationship with healing and what healing is evolved over the years since her introduction to Eastern medicine, meditation, and mindfulness. As someone on my own journey of healing and growth, I was interested in exactly how Liana defined healing after using mindfulness to not only find peace, but also overcome what many would have found to be an insurmountable health issue.

For Liana, it’s all within us. “My concept of healing is rooted in the soul’s evolution, remembering our divine essence, and being clear channels of energy. There is nothing to fix about any of us, but shifting your perspective alters how you perceive this reality and your way of life,” she says. “Measuring your internal growth is based on your mental, emotional and physical health. Over time doing inner work shifts your relationship with your mind and body to promote a state of flow and harmony. Inner work builds your awareness to be present with life and balances your rational mind with your emotional body.”

As a guide Liana believes that the more present you are with your body, the more intuitive knowledge becomes crystal clear. However, our body is constantly affected by external factors and our internal thoughts.  Finding balance, especially as a black woman navigating this world, has not always been easy. “I had to spend time healing from white supremacy and societal oppression. It was weighing down on my body so much – I felt it subconsciously.  I felt fear. The more I faced these feelings, the more power I gained over my internal state.”

In our increasingly turbulent times, many see mindfulness and self-inquiry in direct opposition of “staying woke” and being part of the collective struggle, but Liana does not see it that way. “Demanding to feel relaxed in my body is a political act for me. I refuse to hold fear and stress in my vessel because of white supremacy,” she says. “We want to care. We want to fight the good fight. But this system was created to destroy us psychologically and physically.”

Over the years, self-care of all kinds has increasingly become associated with being “bougie” and removed from the community – but Liana sees this as a very harmful narrative for marginalized people. “I am not promoting hyper individualistic or classist self-care,” she says, when reflecting on how many think that getting in touch with your inner self is losing touch with what is going on within your community. “For me, it’s the delicate balance of caring and self-care as a black woman.”

Liana continues,“Yoga studios, wellness industries – their biggest clients are white women. We are developing this idea as a society that wellness is for affluent white people – instead of something for survival.”  

She actively works against this idea by doing work with vulnerable communities. “As much as I can, I offer free meditative experiences for teenagers, women of color and LGBTQ+ overcoming a financial burden. It goes without saying the enormous amount of stress these communities are under due to oppressive societal structures. In addition,  I was a public school teacher for 5 years, so connecting with kids is in my nature.”

Although she is still on her journey through activism and healing, Liana ended our chat sharing with me what she does know for sure so far: “I do know stress kills, I do know holding tension in your body leads to you being tense and more reactive, and I know that the body is a gateway of information that we have been devaluing for a long time.”

Join Liana on August 22 with Setu at Minka Brooklyn for an evening of breathwork meditation and community.

Marissa Hatten is a writer, yogi and communications professional living in NYC. She is passionate about sharing compelling stories and fostering human connection with words.