Meet Rachel Ricketts - Activist, Speaker, Writer, Yogi, Connector, Healer, Friend. Rachel is one of the first people I really connected with when I moved to Vancouver. I heard her speak at an event and was drawn in by her unapologetic truth telling.
She took the time to introduce me to some incredible humans and spaces in Vancouver. Which is priceless, because making friends as an adult can be even more daunting than the first day of kindergarten at times.
Rachel has an incredible story. She has been through some unthinkable heart breaks that have given her empathy and passion to live boldly and to take on the work of spiritual activism and social justice. I hope you will take some time to read more about her work and her journey. For now, this interview is beautiful start.
Tell me what wellness means to you? How does fitness (or movement) fit into that?
Wellness means soul-care. It means connecting to and with yourself on a spiritual, emotional, mental and physical level. Acknowledging, honouring and prioritizing your needs and the internal and external things that help you be your best self in every possible way, so that, ultimately, you have the capacity to show up for the collective. For me, movement plays into that in a major way because it helps us get out of our heads and into our bodies. We live in a world that prioritizes operating from the neck up, but it leaves us disconnected from our hearts and spirits. Getting into the body is one of the best ways to ground ourselves so we can attune to what it is we are feeling and what we need to take care of ourselves on all levels.
From the outside looking in, it seems that the work you do is very draining and probably overwhelming at times. How do you take care of yourself day to day?
My work is undoubtedly draining and overwhelming (but it is also affirming and joyous). I constantly remind myself that I cannot be of service to anyone if I am pouring from an empty cup, so my soul-care is a top priority. I take care of myself through daily meditation, even if it’s just 5 minutes but I strive for 10-15 mins in the morning and/or before bed. I move my body as much as I can through yoga, HIIT or an impromptu dance party (usually solo in my living room to Solange). I give myself permission to rest which is HUGE (and really hard). I also rely on many of the spiritual modalities I teach (practice what you preach and all that). In addition to yoga and meditation, that looks like breath work, Reiki and intuitive channeling. Lastly, I call in my support team on a regular basis, I could not do what I do without the steady support of others - my husband, my friends, my therapists (yes I have two) and spiritual coaches.
What has been one of the biggest health (physical, mental or emotional) challenges you’ve worked to overcome or are in the process of addressing?
After my mother died I experienced a dark night of the soul unlike anything I could have known or imagined prior. My grief and situational depression was all-encompassing and all-consuming. It impacted my ability to think, to eat, to sleep, to work - there was not a single faction of my life that was not affected. It was the most demanding event of my entire life and it took every ounce of energy and attention I had to face my tough emotions, withstand the discomfort and move through it. There were moments I wanted to end my own life, and I had to get really clear and serious about taking care of myself and my mental health to ensure I survived. It was the single hardest experience of my life. I will never be the same because I learned a lot about how and why I need to prioritize myself and my wellbeing which has been a gift. Grief never "ends," it’s a process and it looks different day to day but I have learned how to better tune in to my needs so I can withstand the tough times better and equip myself with tools to support myself.
You’ve spent most of your life living in Canada and now you are living in Sweden; what have you observed about the way that different cultures influences wellness and health? How does that impact communities of color within these populations?
Some cultures certainly prioritize health and wellness in a way others do not. The Swedes are incredibly health conscious, more so in regards to fitness but also holistic wellbeing. Of course, it makes a huge difference when healthcare is a right and not a privilege and in that way Canada and Sweden are quite similar and offer a huge advantage over the US or developing nations. When health is a right, of course, it means there is more access for all but particularly communities of colour who are so often disenfranchised as a result of systemic racism and oppression. Globally, there is a huge push for wellness offerings that derive from communities of colour without honouring the roots of those practices or the communities from which they originate and I am seeing how this is harming POC around the world as we are often excluded from partaking in wellness offerings or practices that were originally made by and for us.
If you had to pick only one type of physical activity to do for a whole year, what would it be and why?
Yoga. Always. It fills me up in so many ways and there are so many different variations. I love how intuitive it is and that I can do it home alone (my fave) or in a group with tons of people.
What are your wellness essentials?
1) Rose Essential Oil - I have an edible one as well as one to wear on my chakra points/put in a diffuser that uplift my mood and protect my aura.
2) Natural Supplements - especially adaptogens to support my adrenals (I travel with what seems like a small suitcase of herbs and vitamins)
3) Ritual Botanicals Toner Spray - it smells divine, leaves your face with a glow (and is handmade by my baby sis)
4) Matcha Green Tea by Harmonic Arts - I make an oat milk matcha every morning as a ritual for energy and focus
5) Candle - I travel a lot so the candle becomes my altar. I love cedar or sweetgrass by Quw'utsun'made.
Do you think that wellness as a practice, a concept, a philosophy could have an impact on social justice on a local or global level?
Absolutely! And it is the basis for all of my teachings. Spiritual, mental, emotional and physical wellness, and mindfulness particularly, as a practice and philosophy is the crux of my Spiritual Activism courses in support of radical racial justice. Hurt people hurt people. Period. White supremacy is a consequence of people in pain hurling their pain at people of colour and causing us to bear the consequence. It is very intentional and systematic, but at the end of the day it is a result of pain and trauma so white people need to address their shit and collect their people. If we cannot take care of our own shit, process our traumas, honour our experiences, then we have no ability to tolerate our own discomfort let alone the grand discomfort that comes when realizing the ways we impact and/or oppress others. When you oppress me, you oppress yourself. Social justice is a form of global healing - they are one and the same. So we need to commit to our healing like our lives depend on it (they do) so we can get to the bigger and larger task of healing the collective divide.