Wednesday, May 17, 2017

One Little Word - Action & Inaction

A major realization for me this year in relation to One Little Word – Action – it in turn related to the opposite of my word: INACTION. I’m still working through all the potential and possibilities, but an early discovery and adjustment to my schedule toward this is meditation. Initially, I was trying to tick off this box, this meditation “to do” in the evenings, thinking that it would be a great way to end my day. But I was getting overwhelmed with all my Daily Practices piling up at the end of the night.

So when I shifted this practice to my lunch hour, my sole thought was to accomplish it without having it stacked among other practices. But holy shit has this small scheduling change ever made a huge difference to my overall day! Just taking 10 minutes for myself in my car allows me to regroup and start my afternoon with a fresh and clear mind.

Some days I can tell that I really needed it – that time I shouted at the app for example – and I may not be 100% focused for those session, but they still have a huge impact on my mental energy.

About the app
I use Headspace, which is a free app…for the first 10 sessions. Which, to be honest, is a great start and you can get a lot out of those 10 freebies. I’ve been doing them pretty consistently for a few months, and I am still enjoying the free sessions. All I need is a guide, a reminder, and I am not looking to more into more complicated or specific meditation just yet. If you’re looking for an app to help you get started, I would definitely recommend this one. Cute cartoons, soothing, slightly accented voice…it’s nice and I feel like 10 minutes is totally doable for most people. The app is free to start, and very easy to use, so it is fairly accessible as well.

I am thinking about “Action” & “Inaction” in terms of self-care right now, incorporating each into each other, and thanks in part to my current volunteer training sessions, I have been thinking about accessibility as it relates to self-care, and what messages we get from society around self-care. Audre Lorde was a writer, feminist, womanist and civil rights activist, and she has a great quote about self-care that is stuck in my head: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

She was speaking specifically to her role as a black woman, and while I don’t want to separate that aspect of her work and writing, I also think this quote can apply to other marginalized identities and poor folks. When privileged people seek self-care, it appears in a magazine with a glitzy headline or in Mom’s groups on Facebook with a lot of emphatic head-nodding and encouragement. And when a poor or marginalized person does it, they’re considered lazy or selfish, spending money on something they “can’t afford”, a luxury item.

Self-care is not a luxury item.

We also put a lot of emphasis on the idea that self-care should cost money. Whether we’re talking about yoga classes, spa days, shopping sprees, or whatever other “buy this and feel better” message we are inundated with in our daily lives. In reality, all that is needed for self-care is a thing you love to do, which can be as simple as a snuggle with your dog, a quiet moment in your car before you head to your next shift, going for a walk with your friend or partner.

We don’t do a good job teaching people how to engage in self-care, but we are a capitalist society so we are really good at telling people to buy things and putting a monetary value on everything. And as an extension of that, putting a status marker on it.

Taking time for ourselves – especially as women, especially in a society that (over)values productivity and work, especially in a society that tells us that as women our role is to serve and care for others – is a radical act, because it is not valued unless it is done within approved societal parameters. That is, unless you buy something, or reinforce your role as worker or as caregiver.

And yes, I realize that I am snarking on capitalism over here, at the same time as I am recommending an app BUT why not use the tools of our oppression to break those chains?!

Okay. That got a little heavy at the end there. Many people have explored this topic more eloquently and in more depth than I have here. I have posted links to some of those articles below. Please feel free to add more in the Comments! I am also on the lookout for more info on the intersection between self-care, politics, feminism and oppression!


Further Reading:
Caring About Self-Care
Self Care as "An Act of Political Warfare" (exploring a quote from activist Audre Lorde)
The Politics of Self Care
For Black Women, Self-Care is a Radical Act

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