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Welcome to our March newsletter! This is Zoë writing to you with the hope and warmth of the early days of spring here in rainy London. You’re getting this email because you subscribed to our newsletter.
The theme of this newsletter is relaxation and self-care; each exercise will focus on how we can centre our wellbeing in mindful, intentional ways, while acknowledging the radical roots of the self-care practice. In this newsletter, as in all of our newsletters, we’ll cover a grounding exercise, some fun suggestions for exploring our senses, a deep dive into the news, and updates from Bloom and Chayn.
G R O U N D I N G
We’ve been really inspired by colour grounding exercises recently here at Chayn, so here’s another one for you!
Close your eyes, and take a moment to think of a happy memory you’ve experienced. It doesn’t have to be a particularly meaningful memory, just a moment of levity which made you smile. If you’re struggling to think back, maybe pick the last time something or someone made you really laugh.
Now situate yourself in that memory. Whether it feels more natural to inhabit yourself as you were experiencing the memory or take an external perspective - like you’re on the outside looking in - it’s up to you. As you look around this memory, think about what colour you associate that memory with - maybe it’s a bright orange, a full moment of laughter and joy? Or perhaps a sky blue, from a moment where you felt calm and connected to your spirit?
Whatever colour you pick, start to focus on your breathing (in for 4 seconds, hold for 4, out for 4 usually works for us). On every out-breath, imagine yourself breathing out that colour, and filling the memory with it. Every out-breath makes the memory a little bit more saturated. Continue this breathing until the memory is fully saturated with that colour. Look around you and feel the joy of the colour and the memory fill you up; whenever you are ready to leave, take a moment to say goodbye to this memory.
S E N S E S
👀 I find videos of calligraphy very soothing; as well as being a great reminder to slow down and remain present, witnessing the art of calligraphy in progress provides a beautiful visualisation of how to trust the process of creation, and that the process is just as wonderful as the outcome. Artists like Sehar Shahzad are showcasing their work and process on Instagram, while you can search YouTube to find thousands of soothing calligraphy videos (and even tutorials, such as through Calligraphy 101’s YouTube channel).
👂🏼 Whenever I feel stressed, I listen to the piece Gassenhauer composed by Carl Orff. It reminds me of long evenings and summer rain, and makes me feel like dancing with the abandon of a small child. I hope you can find a moment of lightness to dance to this song!
🖐🏽Our hands are extraordinary, aren’t they? Today’s touch exercise is about learning our hands through sensation. Open your palm and turn it to face towards you. Take a moment to look at all the lines on your palm - do you see anything surprising? Then, starting at one edge of your hand, trace each line along your palm as though you were greeting it. (If moving your fingers is difficult, maybe try running your palm along an object and noticing which parts of the palm are most sensitive, where you can feel ridges, calluses, or roughness, and even if you can feel any lines.)
😋 Building on delight of apples (see the poem below!), today’s tasty Minimalist Baker recipe for baked cinnamon apples is simple and delicious. All you need is some apples, coconut or brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger (plus cornstarch and coconut oil if you’re feeling fancy).
🎤One of my favourite poems is ‘apples and oranges: an allegory’ by Evie Shockley - to me, it feels like a love poem. Try speaking it out loud, and enjoying the playfulness of Shockley’s language!
i was always an apple person, myself.
the variety! golden delicious,
the dark, deep red delicious, granny white, russet.
sweetsweetsweetsweet sweet sweet sweet!
bite in and let the juices commence to dribbling!
oranges? if you’ve seen one orange,
you’ve seen em all, i always said.
some of them have thicker skins than others,
but thick or thin, that white-orange rind has got to go
before you get to anything you can use.
i’d peeled a couple oranges in my day,
just for the acid change of pace.
suck – pucker – not yucky, but too tart for me!
so i’m on the lookout for a good apple, okay,
a really good one,
a you-ain’t-had-no-apple-like-this apple.
and find myself with an orange.
now, it’s not what you’re thinking.
i had not searched high and low for a good apple.
i had not been around the world trying to find a good apple.
i had not given up all hope of ever putting my hands
on a good apple.
some of my friends had damn good apples,
and i knew where they got em
and i knew there were more where those came from.
i was figuring i’d stumble upon a good apple any minute.
so when i pick up this orange
i’m not just dying for any ole fruit.
but it’s there, round and bright,
and when i squeeze it, i can feel the juices
just beneath the surface.
i figure i’ll peel it – what the hell!
maybe it’ll be sweet,
one of those rare honey-sunshine oranges,
and i’ll be glad i took the time.
it is a damn good orange.
the kind of orange you have to take slow,
section by section.
i’m still working on that orange.
now, it’s not what you’re thinking.
i’m still an apple person, myself.
an apple person who knows that
all oranges are not alike.
D E E P D I V E
This month’s deep dive is all about self care.
Look, we are big fans of self care. Self care - whether through asserting boundaries, making time for activities that bring us peace, or even just getting enough sleep - is a crucial part of the recovery work we encourage here at Bloom; this is especially important given that through trauma and socialisation, many of us have been taught that taking care of ourselves and our own needs is selfish, and comes second to taking care of others. However, in the last decade, ‘self care’ has been diluted from its origins in self-protection and nourishment, and entered the mainstream media as a buzzword for a particular kind of aesthetic - an aesthetic which can be bought. Indeed, the entire concept of self care has been monetised; from buying luxury bubble bath soaps to beauty products that will allow us to be our ‘best self’, self care has become a process of acquisition.
But as you may already know, self care was not created as a capitalist construct. The original idea of self care is often attributed to Audre Lorde, writer and civil rights activist; while battling cancer, Lorde wrote in her essay collection A Burst of Light that ‘[c]aring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.’ This powerful definition of self-care was derived from Lorde’s experiences living in the United States as a (self-described) ‘black lesbian feminist warrior mother’; in that context and indeed today, a Black queer woman was not considered worthy or valuable by the government or mainstream society, so Lorde lived in an identity and body which was constantly subject to racist, sexist harrassment and violence. In that quotation, then, Lorde observes that caring for herself was a revolutionary act against a society which was actively trying to destroy her.
So as you hopefully take forward some self-care ideas from this newsletter, remember that self care isn’t just something nice: it is necessary. As a community of survivors, we may have been subjected to traumatic experiences where abusers or predators made us feel that we didn’t matter - a feeling which can be further entrenched if we do not receive justice. We can learn from Audre Lorde and other Black activists about the importance of self care for surviving violence borne of society’s prejudices. Community is another crucial aspect of this care; Angie Jaime writes about the distinctly individualist lens of self-care in white, Western society, and how true self-care is grounded in communal practice - an interdependent, mutually healing relationship of community, such as that which she has found with her Indigenous and Mexican family and loved ones. With Bloom we practice community, and hope that you have found healing and self care with us as we have with you.
N E W S
Updates from Bloom
We have loved engaging with you folks in our Flowerbed sessions so far, and would love to see more of you in the coming weeks! For those of you who’ve never attended, Flowerbed is our weekly public check-in where members of the team and our lovely community catch up and have a casual chat about a particular topic. It’s free, open to all, and lasts around 45 minutes. You can join Flowerbed via Facebook Live from our page.
In tomorrow’s session (4 March), co-hosts Beatriz and Zoë will chat about ‘Boundaries, prejudice, and society’ - how our boundaries might be informed by prejudices we are subjected to, and also tips on how to communicate our boundaries. Come to kick back and listen, or to give comments and reflections. Join us via Facebook Live.
Flowerbed sessions take place every Thursday at alternating times:
1PM GMT 4 & 18 March
7PM GMT 11 & 25 March
Bloom courses on Soul Medicine
Our Creating Boundaries and Trauma Resilience course transcripts are now on Soul Medicine (with Managing Anxiety coming soon)! Have a look to re-do the course, try out a new one, or just remind yourself of what we covered.
Updates from Chayn
News from YSM
Wow, we’re having a busy month! Right now, we’re running a social media campaign in honour of International Women’s Day challenging gender stereotypes in multiple languages, while preparing a new piece for YSM on reproductive rights.
Also, very excitingly, our partners in Mexico are launching YSM in Spanish! We can’t wait for this resource to be ready and to connect with our wonderful community in the Americas. Watch this space!
(Also, if you’re a survivor of sexual assault or abuse we’d still love to hear about your experiences accessing support through our anonymous, 10-minute survey).
That’s all for this time! I hope you find some relaxation with this content, and have a peaceful, restful March.
Best wishes from Hera, Beatriz, Alyson, and Zoë. ✨