Interview by Lauren Ash. Photos by Tiana Chrishelle.
One thing that is common in the vast majority of these BGIO Beauty Features: I've had the pleasure of actually meeting these dynamic women in real life. I met Liana a few months ago while on my winter/spring Yoga + Self-Care for Women of Color Tour. She attended my workshop in Harlem and once I discovered our mutual connection, Brittany Josephina, she became an immediate sisterfriend to me.
Liana is a certified Reiki Practitioner. She utilizes breath work and sound healing in her practice to silence the mind and induce transcendent states in those she supports. While I haven't been able to experience this healing modality from Liana yet, I've experienced reiki from other women of color and I'm a huge advocate for this practice. Liana is a light: she guides people home to their higher selves and assists them in cleansing their mind, body, and spirit of societal conditioning. We need more of this. Agree? Keep reading and hear why Liana is committed to a personal journey of spirituality, intuition, and why she advocates for more women of color to learn how to communicate, explore our dreams, and voices! Continue to follow Liana's journey on Instagram @LianaNaima, on Twitter @LianaNaima, and on her website www.liananaima.com.
Lauren Ash: Who are you?
Liana Naima: I’m a 27-year-old girl from New Orleans who allows herself to give and receive love from the world. I am resilient, sweet, sensitive, and tough. I’m a deep thinker that enjoys laughing from the heart.
I am a reiki practitioner, voice alchemist, dreamwork facilitator, and spiritual guide. We are taught to play small, silence our voice, and ignore our intuition. I teach the exact opposite. I encourage people to take up all the space they need, to get loud and free, and trust their inner knowing about what is true for their journey.
Lauren Ash: Liana, you're speaking to my soul. I'm a huge advocate for black women, in particular, learning to embrace and be loud about their intuitions, their visions for their lives, and to inspire others to live the same. Thank you so much for making this a part of your life's work.
What does Black Girl In Om mean to you?
Liana Naima: Black Girl In Om is a space in which God is a black woman, and her blackness is the deep sea of the universe. Black Girl In Om is for women to go beyond the physical, to be celebrated and adored as spiritual beings experiencing a human life. It is a powerful platform for women of color to heal collectively and individually.
Lauren Ash: Beautifully, poetically put. I'm so grateful that you're a part of our tribe, Liana. How do you identify with Black Girl In Om’s mission?
Liana Naima: I resonate with bringing communities of color together to heal, process, and exist beyond institutional oppression. It is radical to love yourself, and yet, even more radical to do it in a room full of women of color loving themselves freely.
Lauren Ash: That's the critical value of our work: believing that we can heal from the various systems of oppression that we constantly face. And that we can create our own spaces to do so. What are your self-care & self-love practices?
Liana Naima: One of my teachers taught me that the fastest ways to connect with Source are through meditation, communication, and music. Communication has been my biggest self-care practice. I allow every person I interact with to be my teacher, by consciously not thinking of a response when they speak, but allowing myself to fully digest and reflect on their words. Everyone is my mentor. Everyone is illuminating an aspect of my identity and helping me shift my perspective into a higher understanding. Communication has been a vehicle in which I make sense of my own darkness. Words allow me to bring my truth to the light. I am deeply present with others, and I am deeply present with the world around me.
Lauren Ash: Wow. You saying this now is in direct alignment with a recent experience I had. I had the pleasure of experiencing an immersive week in Hawaii with 49 other lovely souls from all over North America. Before going, I wrote down my intentions for the week: "be present" was one of them. For me, as an extrovert who loves to talk and process while speaking, this meant shutting up! To truly be present, meant closing my mouth and opening my ears and heart. I became so much more aware about my own self in doing so. Thank you for emphasizing how communication can be a deeply moving exercise of self-awareness and learning! What else do you practice?
Liana Naima: Dreamwork is a major aspect of my self-healing process. I listen to meditation music while I sleep, set an intention for my spirit guides to provide insight, and I surrender to the power and mystery of dreams. I then analyze my dreams in the morning and question what my subconscious is working through.
Robert Johnson states, “Most dreams, in one way or another, are portrayals of our individual journeys towards wholeness. They show us the stages along the way - the adventures, conflicts, and reconciliations that lead finally to a sense of the self. Every dream, in someway, either shows our effort to integrate some unconscious part of ourselves into consciousness or our resistance against the inner self...” Through dreams I get a glimpse of the background of my conscious mind. I try to view them objectively and make meaning from the symbols, people, color, or mood.
I studied philosophy in college, so I question my habits, beliefs, biases and thinking until I see things for the way they are, without meaning, free from attachment and judgment. I view self-care as a life journey, where I am my own greatest puzzle.
Lastly, I sing. I encourage my clients to use their voice. By singing you silence the mind and allow the vibrations of your throat to align with your heart. Singing is love based magic, and I encourage everyone to get into the power of your voice. Don’t judge how you sound, just sing and sing until you feel your heart open.
Lauren Ash: You're really making me want to get back into singing, Liana! I sang in choir for fifteen years, took voice lessons for 6 years, and after several years of not fully utilizing my singing voice, it has changed. I only more recently have started to embrace my raspy voice with a lower register, but the beauty of this change is that while my singing voice has changed, my speaking voice has grown stronger. I speak more publicly and share my story for the encouragement of others, and I lead yoga and meditation, which serves as a healing tool for others and myself. I suppose God set me up for all of this from the beginning.
Lauren Ash: What’s one ritual you recommend more women of color adopt to cultivate inner beauty and wellness?
Liana Naima: I focus on questioning myself and encourage others to do so, ask yourself: What is holding you back from stepping into your power? What thought patterns are no longer serving you? What trauma is preventing you from growth? What memories do you avoid? What are you afraid of? What emotions do you repress? How are your fears connected to self doubt? How is fear limiting your freedom? How do you police yourself?
Get to the root of your fears. You did not come to Earth to live a fear-based life. Allow yourself to go deeper within, until you realize that fear is rooted in limiting beliefs and limiting your own experience of life. If you feel like these questions are too intense to face alone, seek community. I post spiritual advice, meditation music, and mantras on my Twitter page @liananaima.
Lauren Ash: Last, but not least. We always gotta ask: what’s one wellness product you cannot live without?
Liana Naima: I love Mielle Organics’ Detangling Co-Wash and White Peony Leave in Conditioner. I am also fond of sea salt scrubs, brown sugar facial scrubs, and coconut oil.
Lauren Ash: Thanks so much, Liana!
More about Liana Naima: Liana leads healing events in New York City at World Yoga Center, and has led a Meditation & Self-Care Workshop for teens at the Schomburg Center. She is passionate about bringing mindfulness practices to people of all ages and backgrounds. Liana has a BA in Philosophy from Bryn Mawr College and an M.Ed from Hunter College.