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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Tarot Tuesday: Do you believe?

PlayshopBannerMorning COM|PASSionate REVOLUTIONARIES and Tarot-ists!

Read: “Tarot-ists” out loud. I kind of love it. It came up serendipitously awhile back referring to the ever lovely, Kaeti Gugiu. I was referring to her wisdom or singing her praises (as often happens) and laughed to myself at the sound of what I had written.

I erased it.

Then I re-wrote it.

This process of experiencing whatever has presented itself to us, feeling shame/doubt/insecurity about it, and then re-learning to trust ( and see) it’s purpose can be a challenge. It can be especially challenging for those of us that are often told our internal experiences are wrong– those of us that hold queerness in our ascribed identities, are attributed queerness by normative privileging, and feel the power and draw towards radical alternative healing.

Tarot and other intuitive forms of wisdom and healing are often distrusted in our worlds and, subsequently, distrusted in ourselves. We’re seen as healthy functional adults if we’re compliant with our prescription for blood pressure medication (even with it’s list of negative side effects) as we rush off to work. On the other hand an eye brow is raised skeptically at us if we pause in times of stress to pull some tarot, check in with the cycle of the moon, or read our astrological report (which might tell us to take a breath, slow down, or focus on some self-care). The clear and simple act of checking in (and listening) to our minds, bodies, and spirits can be interpreted as (and in some ways are) radical and political- direct action efforts to deconstruct the power structures of institutional violence and oppression as they stand.

 

{Image Credit: http://andigracewrites.com/about/}
{Image Credit: http://andigracewrites.com/about/}

Andi Grace takes this challenge of remaining in trust on in her piece “Coming out of the ‘Woo Closet’: facing shame, stigma, and historical trauma.”  Connecting it at the point of multiple intersections:

I see the woo closet as being composed of several parts: historical trauma that has roots in the witch burnings, the stigmatization of neuro-atypical mental states, and also the legacy and present day impacts of colonization – specifically as it relates to spirituality and conceptions of knowledge and knowing.

She spins a vision of a future where we return to this trust:

And then of course I wonder, what if we didn’t wait? What if we unabashedly came out as the magical, powerful creatures we know ourselves to be in our dreams and our hearts? What if we said to ourselves today and every day, “I am a powerful witch” and actually took responsibility for what that knowledge means?

That would be the beginning of some powerful unspelling.

So consider it with me, what can you do to unspell capitalism, racism, patriarchy, cis-sexism, homophobia, ableism and colonization?

Cause I see you. And I believe you are powerful beyond measure..

And I believe that are you more than capable of making beautiful magic.

So amateur tarot-ists, lurking about the playshop! Speak up! Speak out! Organize protests against narratives that don’t honor your heart and spirit. Engage in solitary sit ins when self care calls for hibernation. Trust your cards and your wisdom and your magick! Come out of the “woo closet” with us!

In love + light + “woo woo” sound bites,

Traci

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Traci {She|Her|Hers|They|Them|Theirs} is a yoga teacher, therapist and amateur tarot enthusiast! They try to believe in the power of their inner Magician, stay inspired by the Fool’s spirit, understand struggle through the lens of The Tower/Disaster and always stay reminded that, “The Star Awaits…”

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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.

 

Isn’t it Queer?: Our Legion of Closets

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We live in a wounded culture, one where each of us is required to not just “be in the [proverbial] closet,” about who we choose to love, but also to create a legion of closets within which we are required to confine our personal interests. One closet, say the one where we hide our sparkly, faux, patent-leather, unicorn-shaped paddle for our weekly spankings may not be the same closet in which we hide our lipstick, platform heels, and formidable piles of sequins, from our straight male friends. One closet you may have the unbelievable strength to keep, is the one in which we hide our volcanic desire to live authentically, the one that drives us to show up for eight hours, armed to the toes, in black ballet flats and/or presentable button up shirts, rather than follow artistic wiles to do something genuine and inspiring… I call that one the career closet. Our identities are so begrudgingly entangled in the roles we are taught to play in order to survive, that we begin to believe that performing our roles in a satisfactory manner, makes us worthy of love and connection. No wonder so many of us feel trapped. Which is why for today’s entry I bring you, my lovely rainbow warriors, some of history’s most prolific radical artists and poets. These two women, Audre Lorde and Frida Kahlo both felt the unbearable tearing of their culture’s expectations. Both women rebelled and healed their wounds, with extraordinary art. Enjoy:

Frida Kahlo: A Woman With An Arizona Heart and a Bathtub Full of Tea
{Frida Kahlo: A Woman With An Arizona Heart and a Bathtub Full of Tea}

Kahlo, a radical supporter of the Mexican Revolution and the Communist movement in the 1940’s, and an openly bi-sexual woman, is now famous for her viscerally painted depictions of herself drenched in constant symbolic limbo, torn between two worlds. In Los Dos Fridas (1939), she depicts herself twice, her westernized self tries to stop the gushing of her blood from her open vein with surgical tools, as her somber insides soak her European style garb. Opposite herself, her indigenous self, holds her hand and continues to provide blood and life force to sustain both of them.

{Los Dos Fridas (1939)}
{Los Dos Fridas (1939)}

{Arbol de Esperanza (1946)}

{Arbol de Esperanza (1946)}

Advice on surviving love and life from a compassionate revolutionary:

” Leaving is not enough. You must stay gone. Train your heart like a dog. Change the locks even on the house he’s never visited. You lucky, lucky girl. You have an apartment just your size. A bathtub full of tea. A heart the size of Arizona, but not nearly so arid. Don’t wish away your cracked past, your crooked toes, your problems are paper mache puppets you made or bought because the vendor at the market was so compelling you just had to have them. You had to have him. And you did. And now you pull down the bridge between your houses, you make him call before he visits, you take a lover for granted, you take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic. Make the first bottle you consume in this place a relic. Place it on whatever altar you fashion with a knife and five cranberries. Don’t lose too much weight. Stupid girls are always trying to disappear as revenge. And you are not stupid. You loved a man with more hands than a parade of beggars, and here you stand. Heart like a four-poster bed. Heart like a canvas. Heart leaking something so strong they can smell it in the street.”

Audre Lorde: “Revolution is not a one time event.”

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Audre Lorde, a black, lesbian, feminist, born of Caribbean immigrants and raised in Harlem, set a new precedent for activists and writers, regarding the intersectionality of oppressions in 1950-60s American culture. In Sister Outsider (1976-1984), she wrote,

“I find I am constantly being encouraged to pluck out some one aspect of myself and present this as the meaningful whole, eclipsing or denying the other parts of self.”

Bold spirited and relentlessly honest, Lorde’s poem Who Said It Was Simple (1973), concisely illustrates her disillusionment with white feminist colleagues, unaware of the blatant racism they witnessed, while they planned a women’s right’s demonstration (Irony loves those of us with the best intentions):

Who Said It Was Simple (1970)

“There are so many roots to the tree of anger   

that sometimes the branches shatter   

before they bear.

 

Sitting in Nedicks

the women rally before they march   

discussing the problematic girls   

they hire to make them free.

An almost white counterman passes   

a waiting brother to serve them first   

and the ladies neither notice nor reject   

the slighter pleasures of their slavery.   

But I who am bound by my mirror   

as well as my bed

see causes in colour

as well as sex

 

and sit here wondering   

which me will survive   

all these liberations.

Words from Lorde on how to heal during your many revolutions and rebirths:

For Each of You (1968)

“Be who you are and will be
learn to cherish
that boisterous Black Angel that drives you
up one day and down another
protecting the place where your power rises
running like hot blood
from the same source 
as your pain.

When you are hungry
learn to eat
whatever sustains you
until morning
but do not be misled by details
simply because you live them.

Do not let your head deny
your hands
any memory of what passes through them
not your eyes
nor your heart
everything can be used
except what is wasteful
(you will need
to remember this when you are accused of destruction.)
Even when they are dangerous examine the heart of those machines you hate
before you discard them
and never mourn the lack of their power
lest you be condemened
to relieve them.
If you do not learn to hate
you will never be lonely
enough
to love easily
nor will you always be brave
although it does not grow any easier

Do not pretend to convenient beliefs
even when they are righteous
you will never be able to defend your city
while shouting.

Remember whatever pain you bring back 
from your dreaming
but do not look for new gods
in the sea
nor in any part of a rainbow
Each time you love
love as deeply as if were
forever
only nothing is
eternal.

Speak proudly to your children
where ever you may find them
tell them
you are offspring of slaves
and your mother was
a princess
in darkness. “

Simply put, none of this is simple. Sometimes the art of creating ones true self is damningly complex and painfully intricate. Braving the world outside of our closets, drawers, sometimes even wardrobes, can feel like a giftless venture, but as Lorde said, “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” Our expression of our pain, our passion and our anger is our vitality, and I plead with you, dear reader, to do just that. Even if it’s from within your closet and you are creating from within your darkness, read, fuck, write, play, sing, dance, paint, tattoo yourself with your experiences. You are a vibrant night light of joy and you are valuable just as you were created, as quiet, as inquisitive or as queer, as you might be.

 

-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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Picnic Lunch

Good Morning Everyone!

We know it’s Tuesday~ “Where is our Tarot Tuesday scream the people?!” Well our resident COM|PASSionate Tarot-ist (Read it out loud… it’s my new favorite way to describe the magic that Kaeti brings to the REVOLUTION) is off doing some healing inspiration finding and field research for a couple of weeks so we thought it would be a great time to introduce a couple of new blog series! Up for today:

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Good Morning COM|PASSionate REVOLUTIONARIES!

Traci here. For those that may be visiting from past vegan blogging lands, you might know me as Guava or one half of Vegangelical. I’m a queer vegan femme-inist of color who practices in the healing modalities of talk therapy and yoga. I grew up on the Japanese American (family from Hawaii) version of meat and potatoes… aka meat and rice. I’ve been vegan for around six and half years. Here are some things you should know about me:

  1. I like LOVE food. Food is a way that we nurture and fuel ourselves. Food is a literal interaction with our environment and engages all of our senses. Food can link us into our past, situate us in our present and help us invest in our future. Food can often transcend generational divides and create a center point for celebration and community building.
  2. I’m not a nutritionist. Nor am I a vegan just for health reasons. However, I appreciate folks that enter veganism from this entry point and believe that I am MUCH healthier in mind, BODY and spirit since honoring my person with this compassionate lifestyle. I’ve also picked up a lot of physical health information since instituting consciousness into my food consumption. Most notably, I’m just more tapped into my body’s wants/needs. I’ve started to listen- so my body’s started to have dialogue with me- knowing it doesn’t have to be screaming before I check in.
  3. I’m not an immaculate environmentalist. I believe in the power of a plant based diet to help with a lot of our current environmental challenges but it hasn’t been the center point of my practice- a place where I’m still learning. I believe in food not lawns but am also guilty of having vegan take out boxes in my trashcan.
  4. I don’t believe that veganism is universally or equally accessible to all humans. I wish it was because I believe so deeply in it’s healing power- especially in relationship to my own marginalized identity pieces. However, I am also passionately invested in us finding systems that can look directly at flaws, even if those flaws are within our own communities/movements, break cycles of violence against all animals, human or otherwise, and institute sustainable patterns where folks have agency to prioritize self-nurturing and healing.
  5. Hey, crazy vegan, each of those statements sound like a contradiction wrapped in an enigma. What does this “smorgasbord” that you speak of include anyway? You’re right! It is! This world, who we are as we navigate it, the way we choose to traverse it and what we need to heal ourselves, our local/cultural communities and our global community is full of complications and intersections. I want to hold those complications and intersections so that we can be in an honest conversation about integrated healing.

That’s the complicated way of saying–  I’m really excited to share tips, tricks and recipes with you all. You’ll see some recipes that are good for the mind, some that are good for body, some that are good for your spirit and, when serendipity allows, recipes that are good for all three! We’ll also talk about how to find safety and growth in living consciously and connected, the ways we come to understand what we each individually need to nurture ourselves and parse out what our responsibility is to create nurturing space for everyone.

Okay, let’s end there as to not spoil our appetites.

Forks up! Napkins tucked into shirts? Roll up your sleeves. All in?

Good me too! I’ll start prepping for our next gathering and we’ll re-convene over some delicious COM|PASSionate fare!

In COM|PASSionate and RAVENOUS appetite,

Traci

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Traci is a COM|PASSionate vegan foodie and diligent student of interconnections.  COM|PASSion (Intention towards passionate compassion) drives their own healing journey as well as informs their healing practices. They offer themselves here to this space to feed, nourish and create dialogue over shared conversational meals and celebrations.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Hippocrates