October 31, 2016
Self-Care Without Stuff
A colleague of mine recently said that she’d love to hear more about my activism. I don’t actually want to tell you activist war stories, but I wanted to share a little bit of how my activism informs my practice and how they flow together.
A little personal background:
In my healing practice, my aim is to bring about a more compassionate world. Its aim is to be a transformative practice, and it’s informed by my years of activist work. Always.
Because, deep down, my greatest wish is for all of us to get free together.
I never want to forget that there are some people who simply do not have enough – while pushing an aspirational lifestyle. While claiming that my life is ideal, so that you will buy something. That’s some bullshit, and I wouldn’t do that to you.
I will not stand for self-care being written off as indulgent or materialistic.
Self-care isn’t selfish; it isn’t even individualistic. It is part of our survival, as people who are making change, and it is part of developing greater compassion (if only for ourselves, to begin).
I also will not stand for the perpetuation of the myth that you need a bunch of stuff in order to develop a self-care practice. I will not be party to the myth that someone else is the expert in your own self.
When it comes to effective self-care, here’s the deal: materialism doesn’t work. Healing does not require stuff. You do not need more stuff. You need to make a stand on your own behalf.
What I know from my activism is this:
Materialism, even spiritual materialism, doesn’t work.
Materialism actually takes you farther from self-care – and justice for that mater.
When we try to by-pass suffering with platitudes or by trying to numb ourselves to what’s really going on, two things happen:
- It doesn’t actually work. Which, bummer.
- Not only does it not work, but it actually further deepens the illusion of our separation (and therefore deepens our experience of suffering). It keeps us from actually feeling our vulnerability or fully expressing and living into our humanity. This kind of bypass also keeps us from connecting with others who might be feeling the grief of the world.
Feel-good spirituality – the sort with vague phrasing that keeps us from making real change – actually does more harm than good. And thinking we can buy (or even yoga-class) our way out of our suffering only serves to deepen it.
It fails to authentically address the full, often messy expression and expression of being human.
As an activist, I feel drawn to change the conversation – and I feel we need a new definition of self-care.
One that’s custom, intuitive, feasible and kind. One that doesn’t rely on buying stuff. We need a framework that honors us as the splendid, complex, imperfect beings we are. We need the permission to show up from that place to do healing.
Because we have work to do. And our work on this planet is not to produce labor and buy things. We are so much more than that.
When we remember that, and the fact of our sacredness, the world starts to open up. It can feel genuinely good, from the core of ourselves.
Of course now comes the hard part…
Self-care isn’t always a picnic.
Doing the work will always be harder than buying stuff.
It relies on showing up, even when it isn’t pretty or comfortable. “Stuff” allows us to bypass that for a quick hit. While it’s much more challenging, we need to learn to be with that discomfort. We need to practice sitting with the uncertainty and vulnerability of being human.
Furthermore, we need to learn to accept our own enough-ness.
We do not need fixing, as capitalism would like to teach us.
Self-care isn’t about stuff; it’s about healing.
In order to heal, we don’t need more things. We need to get closer to our own hearts again. We need some silence. Even more, we need each other. We need more fresh air and less craving.
Healing doesn’t hinge on collecting more than we already have. Instead, it happens in the silence, in the white space, and in our closeness with what feels most precious and sacred to us. It’s what happens when we remember that we are a part of everything. Healing is the ability to feel our tiny existence and our holy nature, all at once.
If you would like to study with me, I would love that.