A meditation teacher, public speaker, social justice facilitator, and filmmaker—Eman Salem is busy advocating for change. As a BIPOC and LGBTQ2S community member, they use their talents as a storyteller to create a dialogue around what it means to live in a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive world. Through IronSelf, a movie Eman wrote and produced, they tell a powerful story centred around vulnerability, compassion, community, and the great outdoors. To learn more about Eman, keep reading.
Tell us all about IronSelf! What was the inspiration, how did it come together and where has it evolved?
IronSelf is your strongest sense of self. And where does that strength come from? From the power of radical vulnerability and compassionate curiosity; two human superpowers. So I got curious: What would the world look like if each of us had the opportunity to show up as our authentic selves? Would we tap into these two human superpowers? Would we be able to transform the world into an equitable home for all of us? And so - IronSelf was born. A community, a movement, a strive for liberation. It started out as an Instagram page demonstrating these powers; and it evolved to now a variety of services with one aim: to foster radical vulnerability, and compassionate curiosity.
What are you doing at IronSelf to make wellness / yoga / outdoor recreation more accessible to all?
Accessibility is a term often used in the wellness/yoga/outdoor space and yet I wonder if we have contextualized ourselves first. IronSelf aims to shed light on the inequities in spaces and facilitate powerful dialogue and reflection on what we can do to use privilege to affect change. When we understand the privilege we hold, we gain context about the space we take up in the world. Who does the dominant narrative centre? How do we empower ourselves to change that narrative? How do we invite different people to participate in the activations we create? Who has been historically mis-reprersented or not represented at all? How can we centre these stories and experiences?
Where do meditation and outdoor recreation intersect in your opinion?
Meditation is an ancient practice; the West is just discovering it now. Our ancestors and communities have been meditating for generations as far back as we can think. It is a practice of noticing, sensing, feeling, being. For thousands of years people used meditation to deepen their awareness and their connection to something bigger than them. Whether that is God, Creator, Universe, Random Life Force, or whatever you want to call it - meditation brings us close to our oneness. You know what else brings us to our oneness? Nature. Meditation is Nature. Nature is Meditation. When we participate in outdoor activities, meditation can guide us in how we want to interact with our surroundings.
What has been your own aha moment with mindfulness and meditation ?
We are nothing but stardust, a collection of atoms bumping into each other at different frequencies; creating life. Our breath is a messenger of love; and we cannot live without breath. How epic is that…..How epic is it that we have this magnificent power of breath.
Any diversity and inclusion mission statements or activities that you can share?
IronSelf works with organizations, businesses, and leaders to not only focus on diversity and inclusion, but to actually shift the narrative of how we think about these terms. Equity is what we want to focus on.
In your opinion, why are outdoor recreation, mindfulness, and movement so important for mental health?
The world we live in currently is heavily chaotic; we have access to immense amounts of stimulation that can lead to a decline in our mental health. Being outside, practicing mindful living, and moving our bodies in ways that feel safe can help create opportunity for us to love ourselves deeper, be kinder to one another, build our capacity for compassion.
What shifts have you seen over the past few years around movement & wellness practice in the world?
A very difficult question to answer. It is almost as if the world finally saw the magic that many of our communities have had for years but were not centred; or worse, forced to stop practicing. A conversation for another time perhaps. Movement and Wellness are becoming more top of mind, I think we are starting to become more conscious about the way we live, move, speak, work, relate. We are moving in the right direction, and we have a lot of work to do. But we can do it.
There is power in storytelling. And everyone has a story to tell. We hope this encourages you to reflect on what yours is and your unique ability to make a difference. Follow Eman on Instagram @ironselfmovie to see how they’re advocating for change—one story at a time.