Self Care & Creativity in the Presence of Oppression


We're living in some trying times.

Political duress, the constant inundation of news and social media reporting on oppressive policies being enacted, all the while finding ourselves in the sixth extinction and global climate change...phew!...How is your nervous system holding up these days?  Something's gotta give!  
 

The art of giving and receiving can be quite challenging during this period of time.  Many of us may find ourselves at the seat of various forms of oppression, trying to navigate the world with an open heart, while the messages we receive back tell us to shrink and close up.  That we are not safe in our bodies, corroding any sense of trust in our political or governmental systems.  Despite the varying degrees of oppression being implemented in society, it is our responsibility as individuals to care for our emotional, mental, physical, and even spiritual well-being.  Especially if one has been gifted with a certain set of privileges in society, we must remain accountable in the ways that we walk upon this earth, and how we engage with others in our communities.  

This is not to embrace a "woe is me" attitude, and to settle into apathy or complacency, allowing hopelessness to create your own isolated hibernation.  No.  I would like to make the distinction that self care is an absolute MUST when we are going out and taking direct action, whether that be through protest, calling representatives, grassroots organizing, running a community garden - there are endless ways in which we can show up and really harness our strengths and skill sets to make positive impacts.  Needless to say, self care is a necessary component to being an activist, and when "resisting" or creating a new inclusive narrative within a community.  

Caring for oneself is a deeply restorative act, which can also be infused into the way that we show up in our communities as an activist.  The way that we tend to our inner conflicts and handle the oppressive limiting beliefs we tell ourselves is a direct reflection of how we show up in the outer world.  We can learn to refine how we show up in the world around us by cultivating more deeply restorative and revitalizing practices that are working to boost our immune systems, and to strengthen our bodies, minds, and hearts.   So when a situation is asking for conflict resolution, or to strengthen relationships in our community for collaborative initiatives - these can all be fueled and guided by the ways that we show up for ourselves via these self care practices.

So, how can we use self care as a tool kit to deal with oppression?

Self care practices are a must when our nervous systems and bodies are being compromised.  If we are to be strong and resilient change agents, living fully and feeling confident and safe in our bodies, then we must develop the rituals that feed our internal fire - to tend to all the spaces that have grown tired or gone bereft.  Self care may take many different forms, depending on one's needs, but the key word defining these practices are Nourish.  It is also important to note that self care practices do not have to be "elitist" or even selfish - as they can be as simple as setting aside 5 minutes to sit in a chair and breath from your belly.   It is a human right to be able to practice self care and love oneself.  

These practices may look like drenching your body with anti-oxidants to address free radicals and to slow the stress response cycles in the body.  It may look like a delicious evening date between you, your bath tub, a good read and some tea.  It may look like saying no and establishing healthy boundaries among your interpersonal relationships.  It may be having a courageous heart to stand within your sovereignty and making self honoring choices, in the midst of oppression.  That sound overwhelming to you at the moment?  How about a home cooked meal instead?  Regardless of your specific methods in cultivating a self care practice, it is an intimate way to infuse your body and whole being with self love - to take time creating a safe space for the body and mind to process and let things "run their course" through your system.   The goal being to incorporate this act into your daily habits, thereby becoming a ritual of your daily patterns!

A Note On Creativity ~
Alright, all this self care talk is great, but where does creativity fit into all of this?

Creativity is directly linked to our sexuality, it is our life blood, and is a product of surrendering to the internal forces within that are seeking to be expressed.  Allowing time and space for creative projects and endeavors help to cultivate a sense of vitality in the body and mind.  It is an act of commitment - a radical decision to listen to the inner musings of your heart and to release them into a physical form.  Harnessing the creative process in our own ways helps to empower not only us as individuals, but sends a message to those around you that they too are capable of investing in their own creative processes.  That creative endeavors are valued, and very much needed during these challenging times!  Sharing this intimate expression as a community helps to cultivate resilience and respect, diversity in perspective, and is a bold statement in remaining confident while making oneself vulnerable.  For me, poetry and writing are one form of creative expression that truly feeds my soul and is inherently intertwined to my self care rituals.  I have included a photo below of one of my poems to hopefully invoke some of your own creative stirrings...

Some Juicy take-aways for self care amidst oppression:

1.  Identify some areas in your life or physical body that need nourishment.  Make a date for yourself, have some tea, and really think about where you're feeling drained or out of balance.

2.  Build Self care practices that are nourishing for you and can be easily integrated into your daily habits.  The goal here is to make this easy on yourself!  Keep it simple.  If you over commit, it is easy to concretize, procrastinate, or fail to follow through if you have a lengthy list ahead of you.

3.  Self care can be whatever you desire - no matter what your racial, or socio-economic status is in society.  Self care and self love is an inherent human right.  Period.

4.  Take time to feed your creative soul!  Listen to those internal musings that have been buzzing around.  What limiting beliefs have you been oppressing yourself with?  Name them, call them out, write a list of them, burn it!  Start from a clean slate - the more you invest and practice self care, the more momentum that is built and helps you cultivate an intimate, thriving, sensual, and lively relationship with your creative process.

I hope these words serve as a mere reminder that YOU are an empowered individual, and deserve to be treated with love and respect.  That your body is appreciated, valued, and is so very needed to help transform ourselves and our communities.

In love and restoration,

Alexandra