Self care and art as acts of resistance

It’s hard to deny that there’s a lot of shit going down in the world right now. As the daughter of two immigrants (into the US) and an immigrant (into NZ) myself, what’s happening at the US border hits me in a particular way, and there are so many other examples we might point to around the world.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to stay open to and present with this sort of unpleasantness, for a couple reasons. First, I believe it is important to actually SEE and GRIEVE these atrocities, rather than pretending they don’t exist or that they don’t hurt. And more importantly, I believe we must be present to what is going on if we might hope to effectively address any issues that are not in alignment with our own values.

And so I have been super inspired by a few things that my friends have shared this week. They remind me that there are so many ways to contribute to upending the status quo, and so many ways to take care of ourselves as we do that work.

Charlie hit me with some serious nostalgia for my long-time hometown, its inhabitants, and happenings. But what really strikes me about this video (and all his art for that matter) is the way he uses it to bring attention to the issues of our times:

I have shared Rachel Meyer’s writing before. She is one of many yoga teachers who choose to resist the unspoken rule that yoga teachers should not be political. What she’s describing in this caption is important*:

I felt uneasy posting about food and travel and asana practice earlier today because it felt tone-deaf and frivolous, so damn privileged, given what’s going down at the border right now. Most days I feel like we should speak and write of nothing else. Hell on earth down there for those families. I think of them every time I snuggle my babe and imagine the shattering gut-punch of being forcibly separated from him, of not knowing where he is. So when I saw this picture via @saraewingmerrill, it spoke to the sociologist in me. My beef with nationalism is that nations are social constructs. They’re imaginary. Arbitrary. Humans are humans, no matter from where they come. Families are real. Families transcend borders. Families are everything. Part of the reason I think talking about food and wellness and well-being is still important, and not so frivolous — even in light of the current political hellscape — is that eating well and being mentally and physically well means that we are better armed for the #resistance. The less our minds and bodies are consumed by self-hatred or anorexia or depression or anxiety or compulsive eating or alcoholism or insecurity or fear, the more energy we have to act on behalf of the vulnerable. The clearer our minds are, the better our ability to serve, to see, to speak out for one another; the more conscious we are of our place in the cosmos and our responsibility to care for and lift up the most threatened among us. @kkellyyoga and @ctznwell do a great job of talking about the complicated intersections of self-care, wellness, indulgence, privilege, race, gender, class, and sexuality. Give them a follow, eat your greens, do your practice, and keep your head in the fight. #resist #yoga #selfcare #wellness #privilege #justice #ctznwell #food #travel #practice #immigration #mindfulness #texas #foodisfuel #family #activism #feminism #racism #human #keepfamiliestogether #familiesbelongtogether

A post shared by Rachel Meyer (@rachelmeyeryoga) on

*For those of you who are not familiar with the history of self care as a “thing,” I highly recommend this article on “real” vs “fake” self care if you can handle some serious snark… or try this one if you prefer your history without swearing and gifs. (TL;DR: self care wasn’t always about privileged white people buying their way to health and happiness. It came into prominence as a political act during the women’s and civil rights movements when women and people of color realized their physical and mental healthcare needs weren’t being met by sexist and racist medical institutions.)

And finally, some words of wisdom from my friend Brahm. In a moment of despair I had written to him:

Whenever I get discouraged I think of you. How you magically seem to manage to speak so clearly and rationally through your fierce passion, and yet are so quick to laugh. I laugh plenty, and I’m glad for that! I just want to somehow figure out how to laugh WHILE I’m doing the work, and not just behind the scenes and while retreated way? Maybe that’s too much to ask?

He replied:

It is possible to laugh while doing the work. But it takes work to be there more often than not. And I think it takes doing a kind of work that gives the same nurturing, space and mindfulness that we get from a retreat. There are definitely days when I don’t laugh while doing the work. And days when feelings of frustration, resentment, etc, are strong. But every day is a chance to try again. I imagine it will be this way forever.

May we keep trying, for as long as there is work to be done to take care of each other: to take care of ourselves so that we can do that work; to keep creating and seeing and sharing beautiful actions and art and music; and to keep laughing, even if not every day.

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