“The struggle is inner: Chicano, indio, American Indian, mojado, mexicano, immigrant Latino, Anglo in power, working class Anglo, Black, Asian… The struggle has always been inner, and is played out in outer terrains. Awareness of our situation must come before inner changes, which in turn come before changes in society…”Gloria E. Anzaldúa

How do we create collective transformation?

It seems like mama Gloria and other radical people of color have been asking us to address that question for centuries. Don’t worry,  their questions haven’t come without wisdom too!   As I learn more and more about history, and  clear space to honor traditional knowledge, I see more and more vividly that the blue print is clear.    An integral part of creating collective transformation is based on our healing ourselves first.    As I my own process of healing,  it seems like every day I connect with more and more people who are awakening to, accepting and affirming our elders messages.   Around the world, Community Caregivers and M/others  are articulating self-care, community healing, and personal transformation as political work for themselves too.

Unfortunately,  it seems like the value placed in caring for ourselves, continues to be de-politicized.  I often see sistaz (and brothaz) who are over-extended, exhausted, and almost burnt out participating in the very movements that are supposed to be grounded in a social justice agenda.  I’ve been there, and as step towards healing myself I have begun to re-evaluate where I put my own time and energy. Can it be possible to create healthy movements on the backs of peoplez who aren’t able to embody healthiness themselves? We know what we’ve sacrificed: our health, our momentum, our presence, our joyousness and even our lives when we’ve chosen NOT to politicize and prioritize our personal self-care but why?

What’s at stake when we prioritize our personal transformation?

To be honest the fact that this shows up in our social justice movements is not surprising.  After all, devaluing the need for self-care (particularly when it comes to the brown body) is something grounded in colonialist methodology, handed down for centuries, and, is also necessary to supporting our current capitalistic system.   On top of that,  because of our own internalized messages you know, the ones that have grown in our collective consciousness as a result of the previously stated colonialist/neo-colonialist/capitalistic practices it can feel really selfish to honor self-care, and create spaces for transformation within our own lives.   It can feel like we are putting a lot at stake when we *finally* decide that transforming ourselves IS the political work that we are committing too.

On top of the notion that self-care is not political work, many of us are faced with the reality that colonialism (and neo-colonialism) severed/s our relationship to our own healing and transformative practices, as well as our connections to traditional knowledge grounded in our cultural heritage.    Which just means that once we’ve made up our mind to commit ourselves TO ourselves we have to put in overtime to find the tools to manifest our magical transformations!

One other piece that can also feel difficult,  is the absence of  social justice analysis that is often found in “healing” communities.  It can often feel like within “healing” communities there is no connection, or acknowledgement of the inequity & oppression that we are combating in our social justice work .  Often, it can seem like “healing” work is not connected to creating justice- which seems pretty ironic.

How can we work together to transform the culture of organizing, and movement building, to recognize/prioritize and politicize the work of collective transformation grounded in self-care?

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I see more and more social justice seekers, and specifically m/others and community caregivers, prioritizing & politicizing this work!   Witnessing this is exciting and inspirational! It seems like we are learning the lessons that radical women of color (including the amazing mama Gloria) have been trying to tell us for centuries, and, it seems like we are moving forward with our arms open into our own spiritual callings.

This year, in an effort to create space for dialogue and discussion about the everyday practices and  political work of self-care and transformation The New Mythos Blog is  beginning a Transformative Tuesday’s series, on the first Tuesday of every month.  Each month we’ll explore a new topic!  This is an opportunity for us each to share transformative practices, healing rituals, questions/suggestions/and thoughts about ways we can work to transform ourselves- because as we each transform ourselves we transform the world!

Some of the topics that we’ll explore include:

  • What does it mean to take the bold step to look within for our own answers when we are faced with the reality of inequity within our own lives ?
  • What does transformation look like and how does it relate to our social justice movements?
  • How can we learn to prioritize healing ourselves when we’ve been told for centuries that we are worth nothing?
  • Who are the elders we turn to offer guidance, practices, wisdom, transformative traditions and mentorship?
  • And, how can we incorporate personal transformation as a foundational piece towards creating collective transformation?

I’ll be looking for folks who are engaged in this work and want to share their practices/guidance/knowledge and suggestions with us.  This includes community healers/ practitioners/ m/others/ community caregivers and everyday folks who are engaged in the pivotal work of transforming and healing ourselves.  So, if that’s you please hit me up and let’s set up some time to talk! Also- each month we’ll introduce a new question or topic to discuss.

Let’s get this month started with this question: what are the transformative practices that you use to heal yourself, to care for yourself and to help keep you grounded?

For me? Here’s two:

After years of resistance, I’ve begun a relationship with sitting in silence.  I try to create space everyday to clear my mind and release all the thoughts that I carry with me.  I practice breathing deeply and when I observe thoughts entering my head I acknowledge them and release them.  It can be harder some days than others but I find that when I work at it daily I am able to walk with greater compassion, love and integrity.

The other practice I engage with almost daily is truth-telling through creative expression. Sometimes this takes the form of visual art-making, and sometimes it is writing/blogging, dance party in my room,  or just allowing myself to spend time visualizing.  I LOVE nothing more than allowing myself the space to tap into my creative juices and just let myself FLOW.  I find it really healing to let myself explore and PLAY with different mediums.  Sometimes, it feels like I have to give myself permission to play but when I don’t do that I end up REALLY feeling it… like I’m storing up all the important, vital, truth-filled pieces of me.  I hope that all of you give yourself this time too!

What about YOU?  I look forward to hearing and growing with all of you.

In love & solidarity!