Life has a way of negatively impacting us through experiences like setbacks, pitfalls and rejections. 

There can be many social constraints in today’s society that try to deter Black millennials from the path of fulfilling their life’s purpose. If we continue to let negative thoughts consume us, our dreams may be deferred even longer.

There is a way to minimize these thoughts before they materialize into our world. 

Activist, meditation teacher and Top 20 artist, Justin Michael Williams is here to help change the mindset of young people and inspire us to live the life we are destined to fulfill through the use of mindfulness. 

Williams hails from the San Francisco Bay Area of Pittsburg, CA and works at the intersection of social justice, mindfulness and personal growth. His goal is to help people change their lives through practical tools and he has been working on this mission for the past 10 years. 

Despite the twists and turns of life, Williams wants to help you attain your dreams. The time for you to thrive in life starts now.

The feeling of discouragement can start as toxic thoughts that serve as a voice in our head and make us believe that we are not enough. These thoughts are often rooted in trauma or events that happened in our early life, Williams believes.

When discouraged we tend to make up stories that limit our power and our potential or make ourselves believe that our dreams are better for somebody else and not for ourselves. 

The 31-year-old Los Angeles-based meditation teacher believes that in order to combat toxic thoughts we have to actually experience them fully instead of avoiding them. This exercise helps get to the root of the problem to see what they’re trying to teach us. 

“We can sit here think, read, listen to podcasts, and do everything that we can to try to get our mindset, but the real growth happens when we turn towards and take action, and we have to do this with compassion,” Williams said.

One action he suggests people should take to fight against toxic thoughts is to close their eyes, place their hands over their hearts, take five deep breaths and state a limiting belief that they feel about themselves. The next step is to think about where the belief originated, such as if it’s passed down from a parent, being bullied as an adolescent or another reason. Once you figure that out, the fourth and final step is to take action to prove it wrong. 

“You just can't think your way through it,” Williams said. “You have to do something to show, ‘I'm not that person’.”

Williams also suggests writing a vision for your life as an action step. He believes that we as a people, have to dream bigger than our current circumstances. 

“Don’t just think about it, just don't do a vision board, write it down,” he said. “Write that vision as if it already happened, like a thank you note to God or the universe or whatever you believe in for the blessings that are coming into your life.”

Williams finds that so many people don’t write a vision and they wonder why their life isn’t working out. It’s because they haven’t decided on their destination. They have to be clear about what they want.

“So you write this vision down with gratitude and you make it bigger than your current circumstances and this becomes your guiding force that’s going to take you towards your dreams and your goals,” he added.

People often think that writing their vision means that it will come true in the exact order in which it is written, but that’s not the case. It’s about who you become in the process of accomplishing it, Williams says. 

“That is thriving when you're going towards your goals and accomplishing things and growing and changing and learning from your mistakes,” Williams said. “It’s (about) becoming greater than in the process of going towards your vision. Who you become is what matters, not the things that you accomplish.” 

Even while going through this process, people can still come across setbacks, such as cycles that can be toxic and may be hard for them to fully break away from.

Photo: Justin Michael Williams/Photos By Jamaal

With his approach, the inspirational entertainer blends music, motivation and meditation to help people wake up to their life's purpose, reconnect with their heart and empower them.

“You have to have the internal motivation and alignment to actually see change and move forward,” he said. 

Williams started doing yoga and meditation at the age of 19 and it quickly became his home base.

“Meditation has been the glue that holds my life together,” he said. “It's the thing that has really put me on the express elevator to my dreams and goals. This is what I tell people, prayer is when you talk to God or your higher power, meditation is when God talks back to you.”

Williams noted that for him, mediation is not just about relaxing and being zen. He considers it a healing modality and a tool to acquire awareness in order to take action and help the lives of families, communities and impact the overall spiritual movement. By making meditation a daily practice, we can expand our awareness and no longer ignore negative concepts like systematic oppression. Meditation will help us not internalize this oppression and eliminate it from seeping into other areas of our life and have it show up as fear, discouragement, laziness or exhaustion. 

“Meditation is a moment to go inside and feel and listen to the part of yourself that needs to be healed,” Williams said. “By healing from the inside that we can then take our action in our lives that we can make changes on the outside.”

Another mindfulness tool Williams suggest is to set a morning routine that includes starting the day with positivity. Williams attests that the first 15 minutes after a person wakes up can make a huge impact on their mood and emotional state for the rest of the day.

“Sometimes people don't even realize that they’re having a bad day and they don't know why,” Williams said. “It has to do (with) what they did in the morning and they don’t even know what they did in the morning but it seeps into your subconscious.”

Most people check their smartphones upon waking and are instantly bombarded with social media, email or work notifications. 

“You are instantly imparting your body with stress because the moment you wake up you already know that you’re behind,” Williams said. 

He suggests in order to stay in a positive mindset, people should wake up and state three things they are grateful for. Another tip is to take five deep breaths and set an intention about who you are going to be that day,  and the third is to start your day with an inspirational podcast, like Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations and even his own podcast, Motivation for Black People. These tips, along with reading a poem or reading a verse from any spiritual text can start your day with positivity.

According to Williams, this exercise will make a huge impact on your mental state instantly. 

“I tell people very simply, they have to pay attention to their morning routine and they will notice that they will have fewer days when they’re in a bad mood,” Williams said. “Their emotional balance will get better and it will be easier to keep a positive mindset.” 

Photo: Justin Michael Williams/Photos By Jamaal

Overall, Williams wants everyone to know that they are greater than any circumstance they are currently facing. 

“When I think of greater than, it's really to understand that we can be greater than who we were yesterday,” Williams said. “We can be greater than who people have expected us to be. We are greater than our limiting beliefs and our thoughts that hold us back. We are greater than this depression and the systemic problems that hold us down.” 

Through his work, Williams wants to continue to empower people from all backgrounds to reach their limitless potential and accomplish their dreams. In 2020, Williams will be releasing the first ever meditation book that is written for people for color, titled “Stay Woke: A Meditation Guide For The Rest of Us”.

Utilizing his helpful tools can empower us all accomplish the dreams they once thought were impossible.

To learn more about Williams and his work, check out his site here. To listen to his 3-part guided meditation, click here

This piece is brought to you in partnership with Toyota.