In Bloom: a garden of growth and delight
What we’ve learned, what we’re learning, and updates on what’s coming up in 2021
This the first newsletter from Bloom and it’s been put together by Zoë! You’re getting this email because you said you would like to receive our newsletter while registering for a Bloom course or on our website.
G R O U N D I N G
In our grounding exercise kitchen, I’ve cooked up a new one you can do by yourself or with others. This will also work with children!
🍝 Try to describe a dish or meal you love as if you were telling it to someone else, without using any other names of foods as descriptors. Textures (chewy, smooth) and tastes (sweet, bitter) are fine - but no other foods! Personally, I love food that comes in alternating layers: half of the layers are liquid-y and red with chunks, and the other half is smooth, salty, and a kind of white or beige colour. On the top you get a goo-ey yellow-white savoury topping...can you guess what I’m thinking of?
If you try it out with others, do write back and let us know how it goes!
Food for thought
This quote will be familiar to those of you who participated in our Trauma Resilience programme. It comes from Bessel van der Kolk’s fantastic book on trauma recovery, The Body Keeps the Score. While van der Kolk has been fired from his own Boston research institute for bullying and harassment, the work from his research team on trauma has been informing and empowering survivors across the globe. Here is his reflection on recovery:
“The challenge of recovery is to reestablish ownership of your body and your mind — of your self. This means feeling free to know what you know and to feel what you feel without becoming overwhelmed, enraged, ashamed, or collapsed. For most people this involves:
(1) finding a way to become calm and focused,
(2) learning to maintain that calm in response to images, thoughts, sounds, or physical sensations that remind you of the past,
(3) finding a way to be fully alive in the present and engaged with the people around you,
(4) not having to keep secrets from yourself, including secrets about the ways that you have managed to survive.”
S E N S E S
👁️ We’re always learning here at Bloom, and love it when survivors speak loudly about their experiences. Jess Hill’s book See What You Made Me Dois out now in the US and the UK. Originally written with research and statistics from Australia, her investigative work on how society creates and supports abusers is now revised with geographically-specific information. And comedian Alan Davies has just released a new memoir, Just Ignore Him, on growing up with an abusive father.
👋🏾 Some people find a weighted blanket (which comes in many sizes and colors) helps them catch a peaceful night of sleep, and relieves anxiety. But beware! They can be expensive.
🎤 Try reading out this poem, recommended by our very own Alyson:
Ada Limón - How to Triumph Like A Girl
I like the lady horses best,
how they make it all look easy,
like running 40 miles per hour
is as fun as taking a nap, or grass.
I like their lady horse swagger,
after winning. Ears up, girls, ears up!
But mainly, let's be honest, I like
that they're ladies. As if this big
dangerous animal is also a part of me,
that somewhere inside the delicate
skin of my body, there pumps
an 8-pound female horse heart,
giant with power, heavy with blood.
Don't you want to believe it?
Don't you want to lift my shirt and see
the huge beating genius machine
that thinks, no, it knows,
it's going to come in first.
😋 Ever made a masala chai? Whether it’s cold or hot where you are, Hera recommends you make this drink and have it alongside a savoury of sweet nibble (maybe a ginger biscuit). And if you’re interested in the history of this drink, here’s a fascinating read about it.
D E E P D I V E
The cultural appropriation of Yoga
Part of each of our Bloom courses was learning how to recover from trauma with self-care practices that allow us to thrive, and not just survive. We have mixed feelings about yoga - don’t get us wrong, it’s an excellent stress reliever! But yoga has been appropriated into the mainstream by predominantly white, affluent practitioners, removing it from its origins in Indian spiritual practices, and meaning that South Asian yogis are less likely to profit from the services they offer.
N E W S
Updates from Bloom
As many of you may know, Bloom 2020 is finished! We ran 5 courses, on: Coping with domestic abuse, Recovery from Sexual Violence, Trauma resilience, Creating boundaries, and Managing anxiety. Many of you were with us for these courses, and for that we are so grateful.
Here’s a quick quantitative summary of how Bloom went.
Since August, we have had… *drum roll*
1400+ bookings by 589 across 5 courses.
Across these bookings, that amounted to 589 unique participants - meaning each person signed up for an average of more than 2 courses, which is wonderful! And we engaged with more than 100 of you over our direct chat, which we greatly enjoyed. So from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for being there with us: learning, reflecting, and engaging. We couldn’t have done it without you!
But Bloom is far from over: we are back in 2021! So whether you didn’t make it through all the courses you signed up for, or want a refresher on weeks you missed, head over to our website to sign up to be notified when bookings open for our 2021 courses early next year. We’ll be running the same 5 courses - but edited, updated, and improved.
And for anyone who’s interested in signing up for our next round, here is what some of our lovely participants have said about what it meant to participate in Bloom:
“Thank you so much to the Bloom by Chayn team. I absolutely love this course, the style, the exercises, the visualizations (which I sketch out), and the facilitators.”
“Bloom has been a great experience for me. The course has made me reflect a lot on what it means to "work on yourself" and how that looks like. And through Bloom, I've realized that working on yourself is similar to school or hobbies - it takes commitment, time, and studying.”
“Thank you for doing this. This is the only place I can go without fear of scrutiny or court intervention. I appreciate all of you.”
Updates from Chayn
What the rest of the organisation is doing.
Your Story Matters - Our most ambitious project ever has just launched! Your Story Matters (YSM) is a digital companion for survivors of sexual abuse and assault; YSM houses resources on many different themes, from accessing justice through the law to emotional wellbeing and moving through trauma, that are relevant to survivors. Most of all, this survivor-created service reminds us that we are not alone in our recovery. Sign up at ysmysm.co.
In love and light,
Best wishes from Hera, Beatriz, Alyson, Tiffany, and Zoë (extra wishes from me this time, as I wrote this!)