Have you been on your phone a lot lately?
Last week’s screen time report told me my usage was up 91%.
Lots of things to blame this on including:
– my phone is how I have coffee dates
– this little black box is my key source of news & current affairs
But there’s much more to this story. This past week (& perhaps this past 12months) my phone is increasingly becoming my source of SENSATION.
In the wake of the #blacklivesmatter protests in America, & also here in Australia (where our National Reconciliation Week has just ended), there’s been a peak in the emotional-intensity of the news & social media at my fingertips.
At these times, it’s easy to avoid the internal-sensations, in favor of external-sensations.
It’s often easier to tune into others’ pain & experience – rather than be intimate with our own.
But as the passion of these acute moments begins to subside (or be overshadowed by the next emerging crisis), outsourcing our sensation is a recipe for our inspiration to fail & our attention dwindles. We can’t risk that. If I want to do something sustainable & lasting then I have to stop feeding off the sensations & energy OUT THERE – and I have to find a sustainable source of it in here.
Right now, this past year, if other people’s fire/anger/passion/love/hate/energy has been activating & sustaining you – then that’s wonderful.
But you have to take that energy & find a sustainable source of that within your own body.
Yes, use their fuel to activate you.
But then know it’s your responsibility to stay activated. This will require you to find a sustainable source of fuel – within your own body.
My heart has been pierced by the truth-telling of Black women this past week. The personal experiences of our own BIPOC students have illuminated my heart most brilliantly.
At the same time, the bush outside my bedroom windows is still black & scorched from bush fires late last year. News stories of child abuse ring across Australia (& the world) illuminate the horrors we humans are capable of.
So I question – How the fuck is a human heart meant to deal with all this suffering?
(& my heart lives in a white, able body!!)
Do humans even deserve to be on this earth? Will we just keep oppressing each other unto our destruction?
These questions rumble around inside me. I could tune them out – numb my own body in favor of some surrogate-sensation through my iPhone.
Or, I could choose to examine their depths. To peer into the hopeless, anguished, painful, shame-filled, clueless, exhausted heart – and find MY truth to stand with & be part of the change to equality & hope for humanity.
Important side note on the topic of ‘Being The Change’…
Many modern (westernized) spiritual teachings promise that we can ‘be the change’.
This is understood to mean that by working on ourselves we can create a new paradigm.
There is truth in this statement – but as always, catchphrases tend to miss critical nuances.
Key amongst them is this concept is centrally about ‘working on yourself’. Subtly this idea suggests that magical self-devotion alone will do something to the structures/systems of oppression that you (we) live within. But it won’t, it doesn’t, it’s not enough.
To be in full transparency, I was in this camp for the first 3ish years of my own spiritual journey.
I was so deeply entrenched in my class/economic privilege as the center of the universe that I didn’t feel any responsibility or desire for anything other than personal freedoms. Sure I was aware of them, but I was taking zero action (and zero action = zero care).
Personal freedoms are not true freedoms when all persons (of all race, color, ability, identity) are not free.
Being the change in your own bubble of personal identity (white/class/able body privileges) isn’t enough.
Our work here at the School of Embodied Arts is about supporting women to develop the skill of inhabiting their bodies fully (embodiment). This is a skill that will set you up to be an incredibly well resourced human being, primed to do good things in the world. But it won’t change the world around you – unless ACTION is taken.
In my world view, the political is not separate from the personal.
Every decision that we make, every dollar that we spend, every way that we show up to live, contributes to the oppression of black people, women, the earth, different bodies, different abilities, different identities – or not.
Yes, it matters who you vote for come election time.
But if those governments are (suppose) to represent the will of the people.
How are you making your will known?
In this 3D world, I believe it is in part through the energy you hold & who you are being.
>>> But that is made manifest through the actions you take & the way you spend your time.
I desire to not only contribute to a new paradigm by not only having my chakras clean…
But by also letting the actions that I take be part of real and meaningful change.
Which means, I can’t be outsourcing my sensation to the latest trend or current event if I want to sustainably access genuine fuel-for-action from within.
Anything less is second-hand activism & a recipe for burnout.
Another important side note, in the past I’ve not seen myself as an activist.
Even playing with that word makes me feel uncomfortable. The story inside my body is I don’t know enough/others know more, how arrogant of me to consider myself an activist, bla bla bla.
Maybe you can relate?
At the same time, I also use to think that I wasn’t:
☝️ That all turned out to be total bullshit.
So maybe I am an activist & I’m still exploring my way into fully embodying that part of me. Maybe you are too.
Many of the women I’ve worked with have identified as long-term activists.
What an honor these women want to partner & learn with me.
I find activists are often drawn to the embodiment space for the exact reason I’ve described – they want to be sustainably resourced in their activism. Often they are burnt out, or realize the external fuel they’ve been using to fire themselves isn’t sustainable. Whether we’re ‘new’ to this space, or not, the way that we create power for all people is to be fuelled from the power within ourselves first.
As the passion dies & the acuteness is subsiding, we have to maintain momentum. We can’t be outsourcing our sensations to other people.
Right now, if other people are activating/exciting you – that’s wonderful, but you have to take passion/anger/love/energy that these people are offering & you have to find the source of that inside your own body.
That journey will require you to deeply examine what your body is holding.
And it’s not going to happen while staring at your screen.
You might have to move through many layers of things that are pleasant/unpleasant OR comfortable/uncomfortable to anchor in your why. We call this emotional embodiment. It’s a skill.
Depending on our lived experience & family lineage – the discomfort we hold might be different.
Whatever is on the surface for you at this moment is simply the next energy for you to feel, choose, welcome, embrace, move into, move as & embody.
We don’t get to bypass the guilt by avoiding it.
We have to feel it to free it.
We don’t get to bypass the anguish or pain by ignoring it.
We have to feel it to free it. The nature of emotions are that they are ‘in motion’ (as the name describes).
When we resist feeling them, their motion slows until they become heavy, dense armor around our heart.
When we welcome feeling them & let them crack us, they give way to deeper currents of power that live in our hearts.
A personal experience that personally personifies this outsourcing sensation VS maintaining momentum for me is the 2019 Australian bushfires.
I had always known that climate change was happening & that environmental issues were important. Yet, I wasn’t taking SERIOUS action.
I was posting our client’s gifts in non-biodegradable plastic carriers.
I wasn’t putting solar panels on my home.
I wasn’t offsetting my carbon emissions for flights between our homes in Holland/Australia.
I knew this needed to be done, but I hadn’t done it.
Why? Because there was no personal imperative – no feeling within – that I had to act.
Perhaps because in the face of something so overwhelming as the destruction of our planet, it’s easier to feel nothing at all. It’s easier to avoid what our heart really knows. Perhaps I was just lazy. Perhaps I was busy “building my empire” & collecting yet more economic privilege (which is what our economy encourages). Perhaps it was all of the above.
I intellectually KNEW. But knowing doesn’t become wisdom until it’s EMBODIED.
When my husband had to fight a fire right beside our family home in September 2019 shit got really real for me 🔥
Now, all our client gifts come in bio-degradable everything (from stickers to mailers) & all the carbon miles are offset. Solar panels are going on this year. Carbon emission offsetting is now routine (I use this company).
And still, it is not enough.
Still more needs to be done.
Every time I throw plastic in the bin (these days) I say to myself “sorry mother earth for choosing my convenience over your health” and I feel the fullness of that action. It’s riddled with all kinds of discomfort – and that discomfort is FUEL to do better.
Guilt is not a ‘bad feeling’. It’s a sign that something deep inside you wants to do better. YOU want to do better. Better in my actions. In the way, I spend my time. In the way, I vote with my dollar.
This piece wouldn’t be complete without explicating stating the following:
(in case it wasn’t already clear).
I am anti-racist & the School of Embodied Arts is committed to offering a curriculum that supports our training, staff & students to weave equality & diversity into the way we coach, do business & take action. This is non-negotiable for us.
If you’re also behind #blacklivesmatter and want to maintain your momentum some teachers I’ve worked with & personally learned from include:
- Layla Saad https://www.meandwhitesupremacybook.com/
- Rachel Cargle https://www.rachelcargle.com/
- Andrea Ranae https://www.andrearanae.com/
For full details on the School of Embodied Arts equality & social justice position, you can read more here www.jennaward.co/commitments