Hello, Dear One.

Whether we’re receiving plant remedies, taking a movement class, or going to therapy, we sometimes encounter methods and providers who seem to imply the following:
“You’re doing it wrong, and you should be like the rest of us.”

But we don’t need to be “fixed”. We need to be loved.

I’m not interested in the kind of healing that forces us to conform or to be productive.

I’m interested in the kind of healing that lets us be exactly who we are.
A healing that invites us to melt into squishy puddles of love, and to stand up as sovereign warrior queens, kings, and non-binary royalty.

This thread from Kai Cheng is a potent glimpse into what it’s like to live with oppression-based trauma, and to attempt to heal within many current practices and communities.

This trauma is experienced by any group that doesn’t fit nicely into the dominant culture’s definiton of “productive” or “normal”: people of color, people with large bodies, people in the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, neurodiverse people, people whose first language is not English, immigrants, poor people, women, children… even the Earth herself has been and continues to be oppressed and traumatized.

(Psst… you might want to read the thread, then come back to this email.)

Somatics, if you’re unfamiliar, is a way of working with the body, and is used in healing trauma (among other things). It’s a framework that understands that trauma lives in the body and in order to heal we must include the body.

We must learn to feel what’s going on inside our bodies.
More importantly, we must learn to trust and potentially act on what we find.

This is where systems of oppression use psychology (and other healing modalities like movement, meditation, and herbalism, which is why I’m writing this) to push their own agendas.

It’s very easy to convince – or rather, gaslight – people that they shouldn’t (or don’t) feel what they feel. It’s very easy to use healing modalities to simply ‘increase productivity’ or ‘calm your feelings’ – and all this does is keep us docile and complacent.

We cannot create resiliency this way. We cannot feel empowered this way.

If we’re truly going to heal, the only way forward is to acknowledge why people are hurt in the first place (spoiler alert: it’s the culture we live in.) We need to understand that changes need to be made, not just in our own individual experience of the world, but to the way every being on the planet is treated.

As Krishnamurthi said, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

And as Kai Cheng said, “cultural somatics is about rewilding our bodies. rebuilding our wolf pack & lion’s pride. rediscovering the collective body. the ultimate question of social justice somatics is not “how can we cure the traumatized body so it can return to productive society?” – the question of dominant psychology. our question is:
“how can [we] heal our traumatized bodies so that we may love each other & fight together?”

Ultimately, our collective healing can and should be in service of building a new culture.

One steeped in love and authenticity.
One where we stand up for and with each other.
One where we’re resilient and joyful – even in the face of danger.

Let’s love each other and fight together until all of us are healed.

With You in Healing,
Valerie

 

P.S. It’s important to translate what we learn with our minds into an embodied, practical experience. I’ve included a short exploration below – give it a try. If you find it hard to follow along with the written instructions, read it into your phone’s voice recorder and play it back.

 

EXPLORATION

Meditation for Loving One Another

Take a moment to sit in stillness. Spend 5-10 breaths to relax your body and get comfortable.

Begin to feel whatever feelings you have arising right now. No need to label your feelings “good” or “bad”.

Notice that beneath your current feelings, there’s an essential quality of YOU. Your innermost sense of Self. You might like to whisper the words, “I am Me.”

Feel how steady that quality of YOU is. It doesn’t go anywhere. It’s here for your entire life. No matter what happens, it will always be there, like a good friend.

Now, think about someone who belongs to a different group than you do, whether it’s a difference of culture, race, gender, or something else.

Become aware of what feelings come into your body as you picture this person. No need to label your feelings “good” or “bad”.

Then, notice that beneath the surface of what you know about this person or their group, there’s an essential quality of THEM. Their innermost sense of Self. You might like to whisper the words, “You are You.”

Feel how steady that quality of THEM is. It doesn’t go anywhere. It’s there for their entire life. No matter what happens, it will always be there, like a good friend.

From your steady sense of self, let your love and respect for that person’s innermost self grow. Let yourself feel connected and close to this person. Let any barriers or resistance drop away.

Take 5-10 more full breaths. Then let the practice go.