The Role of Wellness Practitioners in Revolution

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“I share this with you because you are what’s possible”-Adela Nieves Martinez

As an African, queer, and nonbinary Reiki practitioner and Master Teacher, I often reflect on how honored I am to share mutually supportive offerings for my community. Through Reiki, I guide clients on their respective healing journey by offering energetic support as they find their way into holistic alignment, clarity, centering, and the alleviation of physical pain. By agreeing to participate in the Reiki process, my clients take hold of their agency thus becoming their own healers on a nonlinear and ongoing path. I am simply a channel allowing the energy to flow into areas their spirits and bodies have intuitively determined are best. It is also through this process that my own healing is simultaneously and instantly activated, as I enter doors leading me into an intentional grounding and meditation practice-a necessary component for me to be efficient and present on behalf of those who place their trust in me. The feelings mentioned above represent the heart-opening and joy-filled aspect of what I am blessed and called to do thanks to my ancestors, Orishas, my Ori, and Reiki lineage. 

Although the energies I embrace through my practices include joy and gratefulness, as my work is both soul-stretching and integratively refreshing, what I feel is also multifaceted. This healing work has brought me face-to-face with the hard-hitting realities of dire times in an often unsettled society. Some practitioners find peace in knowing they are not alone at times in feeling a sense of shared unease. A feeling that reminds us that along with joy we also move equally through deep heartache. That heartache comes from the pollution of our own inner waters as well as the communal waters we share with those we serve. Without a doubt, this is a collective pain. Many of us face burnout and the hardships of being poor and working-class practitioners. In addition, we are also impacted by the cyclical trauma shared with clients due to the systemic genocidal conditions inherent in our socio-economic landscapes. Traumas that are exacerbated by our lack of access to consistent wellness and care, and which continuously impact all of our holistic health.

It is knowing the unfortunate and unacceptable fact that I am not the only practitioner bearing witness to this reality that fuels my passion to change it. There is no longer peace for me found in resting in the fact that many of us can relate to the trauma. However, I do find peace in deliberately using my healing as a path toward a future where many of us both choose revolution and honor ancestral forms of relationship with one another in new times. The end of capitalism is inevitable whether abolition takes place or not, as it is an unsustainable system that will eventually exhaust itself out of existence. Revolution however is not inevitable and is a process that involves the intentional choice to begin, maintain, and transform its existence after conception. It is an act of love that requires meditation, compassion, action, and adaptation. 

So, what is the role of the wellness practitioner in revolution? Given that revolutionary actions are not new in human history, it is important that we honor the past as we attempt to move into the future with new understandings. What I believe is required includes honesty and compassion with self and others, accountability that transforms and does not center the self, consistent communal practices to lessen reliance on capitalist infrastructure, reflection on and connection with ancestral practices, and guidance from the wisdom of the lands and people living in ways to which we aspire. Imagining a land where a revolution has happened when you are conditioned to believe in the absolute totality of the globalized capitalist system may be hard to do. And it may feel even harder for those of us who reside in spaces (like the US) that feel like living in the heart of the beast; spaces that actively set upon stifling the progress of revolutionary and anti-capitalist efforts. 

This is where the grounding principles of my healing work comes into play. It reminds me to be gentle with myself and others. It reminds me that revolution is, in fact, possible because it has happened before and therefore can and must happen again. However, beyond just seeking out examples, to strengthen our belief in the possibility of liberation, our work must also be aimed at strengthening our strategic and action-oriented principles of revolution.  In the words of my comrade Onyesonwu Chatoyer of the All African People’s Revolutionary Party, “There has been no revolution in history that has taken place without the people being organized.

So what does it look like to put my theoretical beliefs about healing into action as a revolutionary? A first step is fully embracing the intersections of intentional healing and revolution. We must come to accept that there is no such thing as revolution without access to intentional healing and there is no access to intentional healing without revolution. More specifically, it is impossible to have the strength, focus, and replenishing energies necessary to contribute to revolutionary efforts without accessible alternative healing practices. At the same time, because of the exploitation, appropriation, and commodification of ancestral and indigenous healing practices, there is no universal or consistent access to the collective accessible healing needed for that revolution as long as we remain enamored with the farce of global capitalism.  The result of such commoditization is, as ever, decreased opportunity and needed support for all African, Brown, and Indigenous peoples especially the women, youth, LGBTQIA+, and two-spirited members of those communities.

And that is why there can not truly be any healing work without fixing it within a revolutionary call to action. Of course, it is commendable and an honor to help people move through their pain through our offerings, but without organizing ourselves around the root of what causes those harms (a lack of access to material and holistic needs being met due to a capitalist state) our communities will remain in a never-ending cycle of asking us to put bandaids over wounds which desperately needs major surgery. Indeed, the medicine quickly dissipates as clients go back into a world that denies them access to themselves and their needs, thus undoing our shared work and bringing them back to that same medicine for a fix to get through.  We are being called into even deeper work at this time and although answering this call is not solely the work of the healer, we must understand our duties extend beyond what we are typically trained to address as practitioners.

This call has required moving beyond laying hands solely on people to laying hands on study material through intentional incorporation and participation in communal political education. We must recognize the importance of theory informing practice and the necessity of ideological development to ensure that we know what is meant by the term capitalism and what it means to be anticapitalist. Furthermore, political education study can help us imagine beyond capitalism as we seek to create systems which are a better fit for us collectively. Without this work, we will merely replicate the same harms we are trying to escape due to a lack of clear definitions and examples of how this systemic and systematic violence historically began and has transformed throughout time. Our ideologies inform our values, and so to now must those values inform how we offer care through our healing practices. None of us are exempt from the violence of capitalist conditioning and none of us is immune to replicating this harm through unintentional misogyny, patriarchy, and more. This means that it is all of our job to intentionally counter this through study, experimentation, practice, and building relationships. We must move beyond relying on terms such as “black liberation” and “community” without understanding what values, systems, and practices specifically aid in their conception and thriving.

Theoretical development must evolve into actual organized practice seen within and outside our offerings. A few healers have scoffed at the thought of extending their energy beyond their traditional offerings due to a fear of furthering their own trauma, having more to hold, or crossing a line that others may feel they should not cross. To that, I say again, none of us are exempt from doing the work it will take to educate, organize, and change our world. In my personal opinion, nothing is more traumatic than what we are already currently living besides its continuation. What lessens my load is building an intentional community around this work using shared values and a shared ideological framework with the intention to come together to lessen our reliance on capitalist infrastructure. 

A wonderful way to begin going about this as a healing practitioner is to create healing collectives which offer consistent and accessible services in spaces where we are also engaging in political education with the community. As we meet our communities’ energetic needs, we create a reality where not only do we build trust, but help replenish the community enough to engage with us in deeper ways politically. Pathways to organize also include something as simple as using your space to encourage your clients and fellow practitioners, clients, to address the material conditions around them through organizing with their own chosen communities. If we have the opportunity to empower our community through moving beyond charity to equipping them with tools to change their material conditions, I believe we should take it. It is because we are what’s possible that revolution is possible, and healing.

Adrienne Ayers is a 29-year-old native Detroiter born and raised on the city’s eastside. They hold a Masters in Community Development and are a twice-trained Reiki Master Teacher from the lineage of Adela Nieves Martinez (level 1, 2, & 3,) and Kiersten Dekorn (level 3). Adrienne is the founder of Healinthewaters Wellness and Afrofuture Youth, both based in Detroit. Their work centers the intersections of intentional healing and revolution. Adrienne can be reached via Instagram @Healinthewaters, by email at, for in person sessions through their website, or through for virtual sessions.