Meet Nick Westbrooks. Nick shares his experience on the blog today in regards to wholistic health, mental health, self-care and the power of breathwork. I hope you enjoy.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Well, I’m a supreme, spiritual being having a human experience, a masculine Original Man. I’m a well-rounded, multifaceted person who doesn’t fit nicely into a specific box or label. I’m a Capricorn sun, Sagittarius rising, Aquarius moon, and a Master Number 22. I’m a son, godfather, friend, public high school teacher, book lover, numerology student, business manager, and YouTube content creator. I’m a NJ native who grew up at the Jersey Shore and relocated to North Jersey after college. Speaking of college, I’m a proud Howard University representor.
What does self-care & soul care mean to you?
The physical, mental, and spiritual self are all interconnected. One area can affect all three and vice versa.
Soul-care is a new concept for me, so I may have rolled that around in my head for a while. I would presume that the two go hand-in-hand, and there are probably similarities/parallels between the two. Plus, I view everything wholistically. The physical, mental, and spiritual self are all interconnected. One area can affect all three and vice versa. Self-care to me means prioritizing one’s own health, needs and desires over those of others. Oftentimes, especially myself, we give of ourselves to others whether it’s family, our children, friends, spouses, employers, etc. We’re taking care of their needs and wants. Self-care means putting all of that on hold and taking care of yourself and yourself only for that designated period of time. Self-care (and probably soul-care) also means that it’s a personalized experience. Self-care for me may look different for someone else. Your self-care/soul-care practice can be as elaborate or simple as you want it to be.
What are your thoughts on mental health and the Black community? Do you see any progression? Do you find that society is welcoming to the idea of men nurturing both their mental and physical self?
My thoughts on mental health and the Black community is that it’s on the right track. It’s in a better place than where it was a few decades ago. I’m hearing more people having conversations about it and implementing mental health practices. Of course, there’s still work to be done and room for improvement, but compared to the past, it does appear to be progress. Society is starting to welcome the idea of men nurturing both their physical and mental self, but there’s still a way to go. Men themselves are admitting and expressing the importance of nurturing both, but many aren’t quite at a place yet where they’re fully comfortable with being vulnerable about their mental health challenges, specifically, especially around Black women.
Society is starting to welcome the idea of men nurturing both their physical and mental self, but there’s still a way to go.
Let’s talk about trauma and healing. Trauma is so poignant in black literature and in the media. What are your thoughts on this? Do you find that writers discuss trauma more than healing from it and why? What writer, for you, reflects this in their work?
I’m not really familiar with specific writers. I’m not much of a consumer or critic of literature (books, movies, TV shows, etc.) that portray Black trauma. I’ll just say that I’m sure writers are equally discussing the healing as the trauma is discussed, but the trauma gets pushed to the forefront. It seems that the movies and shows about slavery and drug dealers are still very prevalent. This is why ownership and controlling our own narrative is so important. The trauma is often pushed to the forefront, because our oppressors are the gatekeepers for the major media platforms.
As a HS Humanities Teacher, what do you find most rewarding? What are some things you hope to teach your students?
As a high school English teacher, what I find most rewarding is that I’m contributing to the development of the youth and fulfilling my life’s purpose in the process, which is to help others become the best versions of themselves. It’s also making those connections and building those organic relationships. My hope is to make subject matter relevant to my students regardless of the path they choose to take after high school. Oftentimes, people think of English class as reading novels and poetry and practicing grammar. I characterized my English classes simply as “communication,” learning how to read, write, speak, and listen effectively. These are skills that everyone needs regardless of what they choose to do, and this is what I hope my students will learn from the Mr. Westbrooks Experience.
How do you nurture both your spiritual and mental self?
Like I mentioned in reference to the earlier question, I perceive self and health wholistically, so the ways in which I nurture my mental self also nurtures the spiritual self and vice versa. For example, a few years ago at my previous school I was first introduced to breathwork. Manipulative breathing is a practice that nurtures the physical, mental, and spiritual self. Spiritually, breath is spirit, and breathwork can put you in the proper space to transition into your manifestation, prayer, meditation, energy work or chakra alignment rituals. Breathwork nurtures the mental self by reducing worry and anxiety while giving you better control over your thoughts and emotions, which is also connected to physical responses. Physically it can help with blood pressure, immunity, and sleep. So, breathwork is one way that nurtures my spiritual and mental self. Reading is another way in which I nurture the mental and the spiritual depending on the type of literature. Of course nonfiction nurtures the mind, because I love knowledge. Books that deal with spirituality, religion, and metaphysics often nurture both for me. I’m learning new information that I never knew before on the mental side, and I’m adding tools to my spiritual toolbox by implementing some of the practices I found in books. Breathwork is one of those tools, and also numerology is another tool. I was looking at the posts on Lavender Bliss, and of course I had to read the 2-22-2022 post. Numerology assists in nurturing my mental and spiritual self by making me more self-aware and providing insights on what I need to do or what I need to avoid to keep my wholistic health in check. I’m starting to get more into astrology and crystals to nurture the mind and spirit. It’s hard living in a region that has winters, but I also try to get out in nature as much as I can by going to the park, a mountain, or the beach. Being in the water while digging my feet in the sand is one of my favorite methods of grounding and raising my vibrations at the same time.
Are you seeing a therapist? If not, have you thought about seeing one? If so, how has seeing one helped you? What are your thoughts on therapy?
No, I’m not seeing a therapist. I went to a group session once in college, but that was about it. From what I can remember, it helped me to deal with the little bit of anxiety that I was encountering. I’ve thought about seeing a therapist after that. Specifically, I thought about if I were to see a therapist, what would the purpose be? Should therapists be perceived the same as hospitals in the sense that you only see one when you’re sick? Or are therapists more like Primary Care Physicians where you also see them when everything feels fine, but you go and get your annual check up to make sure everything is working fine? I don’t know. Someone may have to answer that for me. Overall, I love to see that more and more people are promoting therapy and going to a therapist, and people are actively dispelling the myths about therapy. I fully support therapy.
What advice would you give to the younger generation in regards to mental health?
For younger generations, I would advise them to have a positive older person or people to talk to for guidance in addition to their peers. If that positive older person isn’t in their household or immediate family, seek out a friend’s parent, a school staff member, coach, etc. that they can either talk to or be directed to the proper resources. I would also advise the younger generations to take breaks from social media, read, watch, and listen to positive material, and get active. Try out different activities and hobbies until they find what they enjoy the most. Get outside, exercise, breathe, eat healthy, drink water, and mind your business.
Lastly, what brings you joy?
What brings me joy is good conversation, good food, good drinks, good music, good workouts, laughter, family, connecting with the youth, knowledge, money, nature, spirituality and Black women.
You can find Nick Westbrooks on instagram @mrwestbrooks