Even while on task with talking about the new and improved vision for the InPower Institute, Rebeccah Bennett manages to be a source of inspiration and encouragement.
“My life’s purpose is really to manifest the best within themselves and to create communities that sustain the best in us all,” Bennett said. “That is the reason I exist.”
She and I usually talk at the beginning of the year – where she delivers sound advice framed around a single word that is her mantra for the year. For 2019 she has two: liberated living. And as she applies the short phrase to her life, she is putting action behind applying the concept to her work.
“This is a leap,” Bennett said. “I am allowing myself to be led by my purpose in life – and that territory is a really big territory.”
Her original desire was to find ways to help black people discharge the accumulated stress in their lives so they could be healthy – and equipped to dismantle the systems of oppression designed to perpetuate pain, trauma and dysfunction.
She started by facilitating yoga classes out of her studio apartment.
“That first model was ‘let me just teach some classes,’” Bennett said. “I wanted to be whole and well as much as I could be. And then I found myself in a position to support other people in doing the same.”
InPower’s first incarnation was driven by Bennett, led by Bennett and financed by Bennett. She was overextended – but was too committed to what she saw as her purpose to admit it. That’s when the universe stepped in.
Her building was sold from under her, forcing her to take time off from InPower. In those few years, she reevaluated how she was working towards her mission. “I discovered that community healing work, has to be done by communities,” Bennett said. “I know that’s going to sound obvious. But it’s not. So often we think that individual heroic efforts are sufficient to help change the world and change our communities.”
Bennett said that dismantling that myth is essential to community building.
“The effort is necessary, but individual work is not sufficient,” Bennett said. “Any time we are trying to bring about great transformation in our lives for our community, we are going to need the support and assistance of other people from the community.”
These days InPower is a team effort. Housed in a 3,000 square foot space in south city, InPower hosts robust programming framed around healing and wholeness. Bennett works with a team of nine, a collective that offers hundreds of classes, workshops and sessions throughout the year that focuses on abundant living, community and justice, cultural arts and expression, harmonious relationships, holistic health and healing and spiritual growth and development.
“This is the amazing thing about the evolution of this thing when we give ourselves to our purpose,” Bennett said. “Whatever it is that we imagine for ourselves, let me tell you, Spirit’s agenda for us is far greater than our own dreams.”
Bennett says the work of InPower is to promote community healing work that tends to both the core and the conditions of black people to help us be whole and not only have great lives, but create a more just and vibrant world where we can all thrive.
“We are specific to African Diaspora people – though not exclusive to it – because, if we don’t center our well-being, no one else will,” Bennett said.
The ultimate goal of InPower is to play an active role in the evolution of human consciousness from fear-based ways of living to love-based ways of living.
Thinking big for InPower’s next chapter
In her year of liberated living, Bennett is laying the foundation for explosive growth at InPower.
“I know that when we are standing on the edge of our lives – whatever that edge is – we are staring into the abyss,” Bennett said. “The truth is, the courage it takes to step off that ledge attracts the wind it takes to rise. That’s why you doing something matters.”
InPower will work toward purchasing a 10,000- to 20,000-square-foot facility in the heart of St. Louis this year in order to give the organization the type of growth Bennett has in mind.
She already envisions a space where guests can go see a life coach, see a therapist, go across the hall and take a meditation class, go up the hall and “get your yoga and fitness on” and stop and get a smoothie before you go on your way.
“Under one roof there will be a comprehensive experience where the well-being of our people is centered, not marginal,” Bennett said. “Where the well-being of our people is believed in. Wholeness is our original state.”
The growth of InPower will also be felt in the digital space to create access to programming beyond its four walls.
“It doesn’t make sense for the only way that you can access our classes or workshops is if you actually come to our building,” Bennett said. “The intention this year is to pilot the institute online. To stream that content and archive that content so that no matter where you live on this planet you will find a community of people who are community of people committed to healing their core and their conditions.”
They plan to create InPower Network channels that align with their programming so that it is accessible to people who are unable to come to the space – for whatever reason – or live beyond the city limits.
“Build with Us. Come join us,” Bennett said. “ but not just come join us – take what we are doing and do it wherever you are.”
For more information on InPower Institute, visit https://inpowerinstitute.com.