Core Work for a Conscious Practice

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“Subversion best describes a practice in which the power of the patriarchy is turned upon itself,

to REVOLUTION and HEALING.

A REVOLUTION that, because it is subtle and not frontal, can be effective even in the face of formidable obstacles.”

Laura S. Brown

Subversive Dialogues

I sat down this morning with an intention to pour myself into starting this blog series. It’s  been a concept that I’ve been rolling around in my head for awhile. It keeps popping up in different incarnations, taking shape, and then just as quickly as it appears, dissolving into the day’s to do list of chores, errands, dates, obligations, and general life distractions. It kept shifting and changing and I was having a hard time getting a firm grasp on it. Sitting down to write about healing challenged the time and space I was making for my own. I would get excited about a certain practice and then bunny hole into its problematic nature.

It was then that I realized that this was the connecting factor– the complications and intersections! Anything explored consciously and connected will remain in the, sometimes daunting, but always insight building, constancy of transition. It’s the intention behind this tiny queer healing space in this great big internet universe.

With that in mind, I spent the morning reading blogs about the yoga industrial complex, the appropriative nature of western yoga, and the conflicted way this practice has been a powerful source of agency for marginalized folks and communities of color (not withholding, but also not primarily focused on communities of South Asian Americans).

Healing is a complicated (and politicized) animal. The reading I did reflected a struggle that I’ve experienced often, and not just around my personal and professional yoga practice. We may want to take our own complicated healing journeys out of this but we can’t, and I would argue, that we shouldn’t want to.

We live in a culture that parses out our minds, bodies, hearts, and spirits into segregated categories. When something in ourselves or our worlds becomes “broken” or “pathologized” we don’t think first to take a breath, check in with the wound, analyze it for both positive and negative messages, and reach into our internal resources to fix it.

We go find an expert to tell us what’s wrong.

Furthermore, this external (and problematic) healing isn’t neutral or accessible to everyone. It’s one battle to accept that we need healing, another battle to figure out what that healing might look like, and an all out war to integrate it into our lives in a conscious and honoring way. Talking about healing through war metaphors isn’t an accident. It’s a place of internal conflict.

When I walk into a yoga studio I carry with me all of my intersections and all of my stories. I hold places of privilege and oppression. When I’m taking class I do my best to “take what I need,” and when I teach I often encourage my students to do the same. While I could pat myself on the back that I don’t preach asana for beach bodies, I’m also invariably awkward when pre-class conversation includes the latest high protein (read: meat) based diet and the way vinyasa flow can tone your arms. The familiar anxiety of female bonding office lunchroom chat washes over me. I often defer to silence unsure whether it’s more yogic to “observe without judgment” or start handing out copies of “Lessons from the Fat-o-sphere.

The truth of the matter is- the yoga that I’ve learned, re-shaped, and now want to share helps heal my original wound. A wound that (even with the potential for projection) I believe is shared amongst a lot of us. It meets us where we’re at. It honors our bodies and what they are trying to speak to us. It’s science and spirit and heart space. And it’s also the offspring of this bastardized arranged marriage between a need to heal wounds created by western culture itself and the inherent resistance of eastern spiritual healing. Even as the consciousness of a donation based intention and a queer folk filled playlist subverts one oppressive narrative, it makes other roots invisible.

I didn’t (and haven’t) come to a clear answer as to how to solve this. Similarly, the analysis around ways that we heal here in the west are broken into two general camps. One camp discusses the process without relevance to the history and intersections of power, privilege, appropriation, colonization, and abuse while the other often focuses only on these challenges. The latter also often holds “calls to action,” solutions to ways we can be more accountable, while individual healing journeys are often mis-routed to more activism/advocacy. This can pose a troubling conflict for those of us that are already hyper conscious, sensitive to the constant barrage of trauma in the world, and working tirelessly to find healing that works for our courageously soft and divinely broken spirits.

{Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1JMjfpR}
{Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1JMjfpR}

I noted to myself that I started this morning highly motivated to dig into the depths of healing practices. By the time I finished my consciousness raising reading list, I wanted to quit everything, wrap myself in my overpriced yoga mat, and sit in a shame corner while the rubber stink slowly filled my lungs and asphyxiated me with the weight of oppressive appropriation.

I know… not super helpful.

This isn’t a defense of privileged fragility (that’s nothing new) but rather a question of how we can institute sustainable (as well as ethical) self-care practices for ourselves. It’s a challenge around how we can hold and honor the best of what nurturing wisdom is already in existence as well as forge our own paths. It’s a request to hold awareness around roots while also grounding ourselves in our current context.

It’s faith in the healing exploration of living consciously and connected.

This blog series will be an offering to this discussion and search. A place to process the complicated, unique, unexpected, and sometimes problematic, intersections where healing happens.

In Passionate Compassion, Subversion, Revolution, and Healing,

Traci

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Traci Medeiros-Bagan {She|Her|Hers|They|Them|Theirs} is currently in the depths of intentional core work to build a conscious practice. They are a therapist, yoga teacher, and human in progress. Information about where, when, and how they share this journey with community can be found at compassionaterevolthealing.com

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There are photographs in this post that were borrowed lovingly from the internet and do not belong to us. All are linked and credited to the best of our abilities in hopes of attracting more traffic to the photographers and websites who have blessed us with this imagery. The inclusion of a photograph here should not be interpreted as an assertion of the subject’s or artist’s identity or beliefs. If there is a photo included here that belongs to you and you want it removed, please email compassionaterevolt@gmail.com and it will be removed promptly, no questions asked.

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Isn’t It Queer?: Finding Our People

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Have you ever run headfirst into your people? After unconsciously shielding and censoring your speech for people who you didn’t feel safe around, after dressing yourself down or “less loud” to avoid being asked ignorant questions, or for some of us, wondering if we “pass” with anxious tension, there they are, like a big fucking rainbow cake. Like a gay fairy tale, you walk into a family of incredible humans that accept you in all your queerness and polyness and with all of your kinks AND they are so fucking queer (and poly! and kinky!) you can barely handle it AND these magical bastards think that every word of passionate discussion on gender politics you utter is the sexiest thing they’ve ever heard. WTF. You people exist? You mean you’ve been here the whole time?! Oh Los Angeles how you spurn me! Theatrics aside, the experience reminded me of a conversation I’d had recently with a dear friend.

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My incredible, life changing, ally, Lyneonme, once described the bittersweet experience of having visited Brooklyn for the first time. She grew up as one of the only black women in her neighborhood and at the schools she attended. She said that it was the first time she felt like she didn’t stand out for just walking down the street, almost baffled that she wasn’t being tokenized, and also one of the first times that she lacked the constant haunting isolation of being the sole black face in a community, as she went about her daily business. This is when she introduced me to the concept of “finding your people” and how important it was for her personal growth, to surround herself with a healthy community of people who identified with experiences she’d had. Her words stayed with me as I visited Oakland on my recent road trip.

Everyday I was introduced to a series of incredible individuals who could discuss gender politics, trans politics, and sex workers rights, and each conversation left me feeling more and more affirmed and confident in my identity and in my life choices. I saw personal style that reflected mine. I met a variety of polyamorous folks and was absolutely enamored with their ability to give each other real constructive feed back and validation during challenging life events. The experience was powerful and transcendent and to be honest, it initially left me bittersweet, like Lyneonme described.

It made me resent Los Angeles for it’s materialism and vanity, and especially for it’s fragmented queer communities. If Oakland has families of poly, kinky, and queer folks, Los Angeles has a series of estranged cousins, who are missing the shit out of one another. Jealous and bitter, check…but once I set aside my catholic (possibly genetic) martyr complex, the experience left me overjoyed that such supportive, inclusive communities existed. It also left me pondering a few questions regarding community building.

If I were to move north in hopes of building a chosen family in the Bay Area, would I be abandoning the growth I am making in Los Angeles by facing adversity? Would I be robbing myself and Los Angeles of the possibility of building community and creating my own chosen family here. Fighting to build a kinky, poly, queer friend circle in L.A. would then provide a space for others who are feeling isolated, to feel affirmed. We all deserve a chance to be held in the arms of a community that provides nurturing and safety, that is obvious. Not to mention, through the process of searching for affirming alternative lifestyle comrades in So-cal, I have built a small family of incredible allies of different backgrounds, who have educated me on the struggles of other marginalized communities. I also know that these allies have supported me and loved me for who I am, in every phase of my growth and when they didn’t have the information they needed to affirm my life choices or gender identity, they had genuine curiosity and open arms to learning that information. I’ve heard great activists say, “You can’t build a movement if you move” and I’ve also heard great activists say, “Surround yourself with your people,” The question remains then, what is the importance of settling into a city and building community and alternately what is the impact of moving? You tell me bold spirit.

-To your personal revolts and riots and especially to your learning,

Cory

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Cory is a poet and novelist in the Los Angeles area. They have worked in mental health, education, social justice and fashion blogging and they aim to lead by example by bravely living an examined lifestyle.

“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.”

Audre Lord

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**ATTENTION QUEER,  KINKY, POLY FAMILY** COM|PASSionate REVOLT will be at the Contemporary Relationships Conference in Austin, TX on May 15 + 16, 2015 doing a workshop on Queering Consent: Navigating Consent Outside of the Hetero AND Homo Normative.

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There are photographs in this post that were borrowed lovingly from the internet and do not belong to us. All are linked and credited to the best of our abilities in hopes of attracting more traffic to the photographers and websites who have blessed us with this imagery. The inclusion of a photograph here should not be interpreted as an assertion of the subject’s or artist’s identity or beliefs. If there is a photo included here that belongs to you and you want it removed, please email compassionaterevolt@gmail.com and it will be removed promptly, no questions asked.

MHM 12: Activism + Self-Care

Happy Monday REVOLUTIONARIES!

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We hope you all are well. We had a fun AND busy weekend! Most notably, we got to hang with our COM|PASSionate REVOLT family (our favorite dream worker and tarot-ist, Kaeti Gugiu,) catch Sister Spit hosted by the Long Beach Center and check out the drag show at Hamburger Mary’s new location (not that new- we’re just getting old and don’t get out as much as we used to.)

We giggled a lot, saw some great drag, ran into some familiar faces and got to give hugs to some new friends. All in all a lovely night of community witnessing and reflection. As often happens when you’re at a non-work related social (but community) event, hanging with folks that work in community (not at the event,) the talk turned to “the work.” It came up over the course of the night in several different scenarios and incarnations and it got us to thinking about the healing but also, at times, insidious way “the work” itself becomes tied to our own healing, survival and flourishing.

It’s an interesting dilemma that those of us that are the most passionate (often because of personally driven volition) are often getting paid the least or not at all for the work we are doing. Whether or not we have paid positions we are also often doing other unpaid work or activism in the community and when we take time off we often fall into commiserating about the depleting nature of the work/activism/community navigation. We talk about how much more work needs to be done or how ineffective the structures are we’re working within. One action may feel like it’s gaining movement while another seems to be falling behind. We’re tired but another group that collaborated with us earlier in the year is having an event. Our advocacy group is in between big events but our partner is having a shitty time at work/with family/the sometimes uphill battle of everyday life. We organized an event that went well and didn’t realize how much it would trigger for us personally. An event doesn’t go well and (because our identities are personally invested) we feel the weight of failure, not just in the eyes of others but in the fear of a present and future that continues to not hold and nurture us. While we’re all doing our best to give our all to causes that need support, it’s a slippery feedback loop– a cycle that doesn’t lend itself well to breaks, self-care or, in actuality, sustainability and success of our movements.

You know the directions they give on airplanes before you take off. They show you the little air mask and remind you to secure yours first before you help anyone around you?? It’s because you can’t help anyone around you if you’re passed out!

That’s something more of us need to institute into the work we do with our communities. Aftershock, by Patrice Jones, is a guide for activists and allies confronting trauma in a violent world.

{Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1JhlfTc}
{Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1JhlfTc}

We think this is a great start to understanding the effects and care we need to take of ourselves when working in our communities– after all, if we pass out from exhaustion the work doesn’t get done anyways.

We also think it’s relevant to feel into the kind of change that best suits your individual personality, talents and person. Sure we can try to add temperance and self-care to our lives by decreasing the work we do in the world but the truth is many of us are intimately invested in the work we’re doing. We don’t want to stop because we want the world to be better for ourselves as much as we want the world to be better for others!

So, for example, if you’re someone that gets an adrenaline rush from loud group protests go for it! Maybe you’d rather be involved in a letter writing campaign behind the scenes? Do you have natural charm and put people at ease so they can hear a new point of view? A lot of grassroots campaigns could use folks going door to door to connect. Maybe you’re an artist? Can you design a shirt raising awareness/funds for a group you’re involved with? Web designer? There are lots of small groups and non-profits that can’t hire a big firm to build a website or do a bit of upkeep. Are you using your voice in blogging community? Drop us a line! Let us know if you’d be interested in being part of the COM|PASSionate REVOLUTION! The possibilities are endless.

We sometimes get stuck as seeing “activism” in only one light that benefits the sun energized, loud, confrontational group movements. Are these important? Absolutely! Would we, being the humans that “cry as much as some people pee” and have a lot of feelings be in any form of conscious state if we engaged in too many of these?? Not so much.

We often fail to question why these masculine forms of movement are valued higher than the quiet powerful ways feminine water energy has continuously and unrelentingly turned mountains in beaches one patient grain of sand at a time.

So, we know it would be silly of us to ask you, REVOLUTIONARIES, to stop making the world a better place by your presence, sacrifices and compassion. We do, however, encourage you to take the time to check in with what is the best, most fueling, most sustainable way for you to contribute.

We implore you put on your mask before helping those around you.

Until next time. Put your mask on.

In COM|PASSionate REVOLUTION,

Skye + Traci

 As always you can reach us at…

compassionaterevolt@gmail.com

www.compassionaterevolt.com

www.compassionaterevolt.wordpress.com

COM|PASSionate REVOLT FB

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Skye is a youth worker, educator, activist and white transmasculine human. Traci is a therapist, yoga teacher, educator and queer vegan femme-inist of color. They reside, practice, navigate, process, survive and flourish in the Southern California area.