Deun Ivory On Being A Christian In The Holistic Wellness Industry
This Black Girl is in Om
Thanks to the increasing awareness of health and wellness in the Black community, Black people, particularly Black women, are finally reclaiming their time by investing in holistic and self-care practices to ensure long, healthy and fulfilling lives.
Black women have always been taught to put ourselves last in regards to our family, friends, career, and even, relationships. Because of our newfound appreciation of self, there have been an extraordinary number of platforms that cater to the importance of mental health in the Black community. We want to shed light on one that has seen unmitigated success in their four years of existence is, Black Girl In Om.
Black Girl In Om (BGIO) promotes holistic wellness and inner beauty for women of color by encouraging self-care, self-love, and self-empowerment for communities of color. As an online publication and a podcast with almost one million listeners, BGIO is proof that black women are ready to take back control over their lives by honing in on their minds, bodies, and their spirit.
BGIO's art director, Deun Ivory, has used her talents as a visual artist to shed light on Black beauty in her photography. She, along with BGIO's founder and executive director, Lauren Ash, have unapologetically used their voices to promote inner beauty and self-love by sharing personal and vulnerable stories on their podcast.
But Deun isn't classified as the "typical" holistic practitioner. She is a proud follower of Christ and isn't ashamed to decree God as the source of everything she does. And while it may seem like two very different worlds, Deun credits her unwavering faith as the reason that she has been able to navigate in the holistic world successfully.
Recently, xoNecole had the opportunity to speak with Deun, and these are some of the other things she had to say about living life as a Black Girl in Om.
What is your definition of 'a Black Girl in Om'?
A Black Girl In Om is a woman of color who is very intentional and mindful about every single decision she makes moving forward in life.
I think that she is mindful of what serves her and what doesn't and she is very introspective, very in tune with her higher self, very in tune with God and she's cultivating a lifestyle of joy, peace, freedom and agency in every aspect of the word; over her body, over her mind.
Tell us your personal journey to becoming 'a Black Girl in Om' and working with the BGIO platform.
We're having our four-year anniversary at the end of November, but I joined the brand in its second year. My position with BGIO has been so transformative in my everyday life. Prior to being in Chicago, I lived in Houston and I [didn't know] about yoga, wellness or holistic living until I started following BGIO. The founder Lauren Ash reached out to me. She actually asked me to commission a piece for BGIO and we just had really great synergy immediately. I was really excited and God worked it out to where I was able to come on fully as the art director and it's been really fun.
Why do you think the Black community is so focused on wellness now?
Everybody wishes that somebody will give them permission to do something and I feel like there were trailblazers and pioneers who said, "You know what? I'm tired of seeing white women dominating the wellness industry, like why isn't this a thing that Black women can participate in?"
Those trailblazers were fearless and created spaces for Black women to engage in yoga and meditation. We gave Black women the permission to go and prioritize themselves because it's been demonized for so long to, in the holistic language, do self-care, self-love, or self-anything. Black women are nurturers by nature. It's just something we did inherently and I think it's beautiful, but I think for so long we didn't have permission to take care of ourselves like we do now and I think we have such a great support system and more Black women are coming into this space and are being "rebels."
"We gave black women the permission to go and prioritize themselves because it's been demonized for so long to do self-care."
What is the first step to begin a journey toward holistic health?
Be open-minded and get ready to unlearn everything you've been programmed to believe about Black women being in last place and serving other people.
I think that's a great place to start because if you don't have an open mind, you're going shut yourself off from the beautiful possibilities and so [many] beautiful revelations that you experience within this journey. So be open and give yourself permission to enter into this space and receive whatever it is you try to give other people, which could be love, care, and some many other great things.
What has your experience been like as a Christian working in the holistic space?
I'm a follower of Jesus and a lot of people at one point were just kind of like, "Deun, you're dealing with a territory that is kind of not advocating for Christ," and I felt like it was the perfect opportunity for me to enter into a space where there's so many people who come from different walks of life that I can interact with and use my light to spread the love of God and also the Gospel to be quite honest.
That is the core of my identity and I think that in the wellness space we often talk about accepting people for who they are and people come in the wellness space from all walks of life and talk about the universe and talk about things that I don't necessarily understand. And if I can allow you to come into this space and be you, which is what we teach all the time, I feel like I should be able to do the same.
What are some important daily habits to live a more well-balanced life?
What I would say is life-changing off [the] top is mediation. Sitting still for 5 to 10 minutes and just allowing your thoughts [to] reveal what's really going on in your subconscious. We are always running around doing the absolute most, which is fine because we are multifaceted women, [but] we neglect the spiritual work needed to help us become better business women and better creative women.
Journaling to me is so key because you're able to literally document where you are in your journey at any given time. Also when we write, we can share with women who are going through something similar and share a word or two, which is beautiful. I would also say reading. You need to make sure that you are consuming things that are going to inspire you to "level up" or even allow you to go deeper into your healing journey. You may have to spend a few coins on a book or pad to journal, but those are some very low budget ways to take care of yourself.
What advice can you offer someone to achieve the best meditation experience?
One thing I think you should keep in mind is when you're meditating, it's not about making sure you have nothing going on in your mind. A lot of people are like, "My mind can't get quiet." My mind [can be] bombarded by 5,000 things and a lot of times when a thought comes to mind, I hold that thought captive and I'm like, "Why am I thinking about this thing?" It's going to keep coming to you until it's addressed, until you get what you're supposed to get out of it. It may be a revelation or an epiphany or God may want you to think about this more deeply than you have been.
[Also] try to focus on breathing because when I feel like my brain is overwhelmed, I just breathe in and breathe out and I say it: "Breathe in, breath out" as I'm doing it and that just helps because when you're focused on breathing, you can't think of anything else.
What's your overall goal for Black Girl in Om?
I want Black Girl In Om to be like Oprah's empire but in the wellness space. When I think about all the geniuses involved in BGIO and all the things we are able to do, I just see us being this global, extremely influential, high-level performing, culture- shifting brand literally for black women in terms of the wellness space, like a creative agency.
When you think of a creative agency and wellness, BGIO should come to mind. When you think about Black women in wellness and you talk about a podcast, BGIO should come to mind. When you think of a advocate for Black women, BGIO is already the space for Black women in wellness and [who are] on their holistic journey so I would say what we're doing now, but on a much larger, international scale.
I want us to be aware. I want us to be in Africa. I want to have self-care Sundays in Germany. I just want us to be absolutely everywhere and we're [the BGIO team] always talking about evolution and expansion and we're literally working towards that goal right now. Everyone deserves self-love; Black women in the hood, out the hood, you deserve time to prioritize your own well-being. You need to know that you're deserving.
"Everyone deserves self-love, black women in the hood, out the hood, you deserve time to prioritize your own well-being. You need to know you're deserving. "
Written By: London Alexaundria