Howard alumna Imani Samuels from the class of 2006 champions rest, mindfulness, and clarity of conscience. Huru, Samuels’ D.C. based business, offers its clientele the space, meals and resources necessary to pause, relax and reflect on personal life.
“[Working] had such a debilitating impact on my lifestyle, on my way of thinking, on my relationships,” Samuels said.
In a conversation with The Hilltop, Samuels recounted a period in her career when she worked in the advertising industry.
“I was working all hours of the night, all hours of the weekend. It was almost like if I was losing my dreams, my aspirations, my motivations,” Samuels said.
Samuels is a married mother of two little girls. While in the advertising industry, she was split between working long hours and taking care of her family. She wanted to be as present with her two daughters as possible because her husband had inconsistent hours as a police detective.
Like Samuels, many are all too familiar with the burden of a demanding full-time job. Be it long hours or hefty workloads, career obligations can have lasting impacts on our well-being.
Students also struggle to cope with the volume of their responsibilities, often attending classes on little sleep or building up high levels of anxiety.
Samuels noted that stress and anxiety can be particularly apparent for Black individuals, touching on examples of harsh subjugation both in history and in the present.
To these ends, Samuels believes that we all need to take moments for ourselves to take care of our mental and emotional health.
After leaving the advertising industry and entering the marketing industry, she describes a moment one early morning at 3 a.m when she had a wake up moment.
“I vividly heard spirits say like…you have to go minister rest — there are so many people who are in a state of feeling like they don’t have control and so how can [I] restore that — that was the pivot point to what ultimately became Huru,” Samuels said.
On Sept. 20 of last year, Samuels launched Huru to help remedy the stress and anxiety issues that many in D.C. wrestle with.
Huru, which means “free” in Swahili, is a sanctuary that facilitates clients’ mindfulness and self-care through clinically, culturally and spiritually infused practices. It offers a full weekend experience of meditation, rest, and fully personalized meals. Eat, meditative activity, rest — that’s Huru’s model.
The entire experience is specifically curated to the client.
“I love love love this,” a quote from Brittani S. reads on the Huru site.
“That weekend at Huru was transformative, I created goals and dreams for me,” writes Mayra F.
Huru welcomes all different identities, but the experience is “designed for the Black woman,” Samuels said. She expands,
“For women of color — we’ve been in this cycle of passing down generational work. When you think about the fabric of this country and Black women — they were working either in the fields or in the house, they were caring for their family, and then they were also nursing the families of the folks they served. They’ve been doing three different jobs since they built the country.”
Samuels explained how this burden has been passed down, “Overtime there’s been this chronic fatigue that’s grown from generation to generation because those three jobs are inherently passed down from generation to generation. Black women are expected to go above and beyond, even from ourselves.”
In recognizing that Black people, students, professionals and other demographics alike need to practice mindfulness and self awareness, Samuels shared with The Hilltop some tips for our readers,
First, “Release the tension that you have when you first wake up. Before you get started on classes, before you even pick up your phone, release every tension in your body into your mattress,” Samuels said.
Second, “Honor how you feel in your body when certain moments come up — something that’s coming up in your body where you are feeling tension, or you feel chills, or you’re getting anxious — honor that by stopping what you’re doing or going to a place of comfort or just by taking deep breaths,” she said.
Third, she said, “Write… document your thoughts — it could be through writing or journaling, could also just be through , you can go back to them and understand how you’ve evolved.”