Photograph of Marcelle Haddix
Affirming Mind-Body-Spirit Writer Project

Recommended Author: “ZenG Yoga” with Marcelle Haddix

For today’s Diverse Mind-Body Spirit Voice recommendation, I’ll be sharing about a womxn whose work, in addition to her own writing, includes teaching and scholarship as a full-time academic, leading yoga retreats, and promoting literacy which centers Black girls and womxn.

Mind-Body-Spirit Connections

Dr. Marcelle Haddix not only leads wellness initiatives in communities of color, she’s true to what she champions through her commitment to veganism, yoga and meditation. She authored a chapter in Yoga, the Body, and Embodied Social Change titled “In a Field of the Color Purple: Inviting Yoga Spaces for Black Women’s Bodies” which includes a reflection on her experience as a Black womxn as she completes yoga teacher training and creates ZenG. Her community workshops combine both yogic practices as well as music, poetry and expressive writing to promote self-care and liberation. She also uses writing as as a way to celebrate Black voices both within a school context and in the community.

Sources: https://www.amazon.com/Yoga-Body-Embodied-Social-Change/dp/1498528023

https://zengyoga.com/about/

About the Author

“For Dr. Marcelle Haddix, yoga, wellness, and healthy living are deeply personal and political. Known as The ZenG, she is a 200-hour certified registered yoga instructor who specializes in yoga for underrepresented groups and for community-based organizations. She also practices veganism and healthy, soulful living. Her goal is to bring yoga to more communities of color and to challenge the misrepresentation of people of color and yoga, healthy living, and healthy eating.

Why ZenG?  Her sistafriends nicknamed her ZenG because of her blissfully zen yet “I don’t take no mess” attitude.  She is unapologetic about living well and creating spaces for people of color to honor and care for their bodies and each other.  Her community engaged approach to yoga and wellness culminates in yoga and writing retreats for women and couples of color, yoga and mindfulness workshops in urban school contexts, and regular yoga classes and sistercircles in her community.

In addition to her work as a yoga and wellness instructor, she is a dean’s associate professor and chair of the literacy department at Syracuse University and a nationally-recognized literacy scholar committed to centering Black literacies in educational practices and spaces. She directs two literacy programs for adolescent youth: the Writing Our Lives project, a program geared toward supporting the writing practices of urban middle and high school students within and beyond school contexts, and the Dark Girls afterschool program for Black middle and high school girls aimed at celebrating Black girl literacies. For The ZenG, living well zen gangsta style is not only personal, it is deeply political.  It is a revolution.”

Source: https://zengyoga.com/about/

In Her Voice

“Self-care is not an end point or something to check off on a list. It is a constant beginning.”

Source: https://twitter.com/MarcelleHaddix/status/1001620377796308992

“Loving and caring for others does not make you weak. In fact, it makes you strong. And, it’s even better when you do so unconditionally, without judgment, and without expectation.”

Source: https://zengyoga.com/2014/03/30/no-day-but-today/

Learn More

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarcelleHaddix

Website: https://zengyoga.com

 

 

Goddessing Self Care

Self-Care for Rejected Parts: How to Respond to Failure

When is the last time you admitted to yourself that you failed at something? That, through a bit more focus, effort or energy, things would have turned out more positively? That you allowed yourself to speak from a less than Self place to another? For today’s #GoddessingSelfCare post, we’ll be adding to our previous discussion of caring for rejected parts by delving into failure—what it is, how to integrate it, and the lessons it teaches us. I’ll finish this series by analyzing how to handle setbacks (negative experiences outside of our control) in my next #GoddessingSelfCare post.

Failure Experiences

True failures occur when we had the tools needed for success but chose not to deploy them. They are genuine mistakes that didn’t “need” to happen. Our society revels in failure only to the extent that it has been conquered or fetishized; we are trained that dwelling for a time on failure in a healing manner is an unacceptable reaction to falling short of our goals. It benefits us to reassess our behaviors and work to recommit to our goals, but our inherent worth as a human is not constricted by our failings. Nothing we do makes us less than human, as hard as that is for me to accept as a trauma survivor.

Self-Forgiveness: Metabolizing Failure

Remorse

What would it look like to allow ourselves to be humbled by feelings of remorse and to grieve when we’ve made a mistake, intentional or not, small or large? The guilt that is necessary for remorse is not the same as shame. Shame tells us we are less than human and unworthy. When we feel guilty and are remorseful, we acknowledge that we acted in a way that was less than our true potential and, through acts of humility, are spurred back into relationship and connection. This experience, especially if we receive ourselves with compassion, humanizes us because it nudges us to our shadow, where the rejected parts hide out. True remorse, met with compassion, are much more an inward than an outward expression; we likely agree on what “Oh, I’m sorry you feel that way” really means. Remorse without self-compassion can isolate.  When we also allow ourselves to feel compassion and to then grieve, we are empowered to take restorative action.

Humility

When we are genuinely remorseful, we engage in humility. This often involves a stepping back and pausing which includes taking time to dig into what went wrong and why it happened. We may find that there is a part of ourselves that we typically reject, which expressed itself in an unhealthy way. Part of our healing involves taking better care of that part. Alternatively, we may discover that our mistake was the result of an assumption we made, bumbling into an area where we were less informed that we thought we were. In this case, humility includes acknowledging that we aren’t perfect and don’t know everything, and then taking the time to educate ourselves on the issue at hand. Finally, we may be pushing ourselves too hard overall; our mistake may be the simple result of a lack of sleep, too much caffeine, or rushing through something. Here an overall pause to reassess our level of self-care is needed. Humility admits that, when we try to keep ten plates spinning at all times, it’s pretty likely at least one of them will come crashing down at some point. In any of these situations, it is on us to do the challenging inner work. It is especially not an act of humility to turn to another, if we’ve wronged them, and expect them to tell us what we did wrong, why it happened, and how to improve ourselves. That’s on us.

Self-Compassion

Self-compassion in the face of guilt and grief is a part of the process that I see as vital. It strips away the layer of our excuses and reasons and meets us in the place of our pain. For me, this practice involves spending time in meditation, experiencing the love and healing Goddess offers. This allows me to know that my mistakes do not diminish my humanity nor do they cut me off from relationship with self and others. The felt sense of being loved just as I am is a powerful tonic.

Grief

Grief only comes when we feel the harm we’ve caused to ourselves or to another. Thus, it requires empathy. For me, it tends to come before self-compassion if my action was directed at another, and after self-compassion if it was an internal failing. Grief involves glimpsing the action that conveyed dehumanization and injury, as well as the effect of the action. By doing so, we are moved to a place of sorrow and a “feeling in” to what was wrought. Grief and self-compassion must operate in tandem, otherwise we will move to shame and stay stuck.

Reconciliation with Those We’ve Wronged

Those we’ve harmed, if our mistake went beyond impacting us alone, are doubly injured if we expect them to walk us through this process. Instead, we do well to turn to our support system, to Goddess and to our Inner Being to provide a safe space to work out our emotions. We can then, from a place of self-forgiveness, offer to make amends and to heal the interpersonal rupture. How different would the world be if we each took some time to do our inner work instead of expecting each other to do it for us, and if we attempted to engage with each other after we’ve integrated the experience? Note though that I do want to leave room for individual differences—for example, those who are highly extroverted may need to check in at various points in the process.

Receiving compassion from another after we’ve failed them is an act of grace—desirable but not guaranteed. Our self-forgiveness is not contingent on their acceptance of our sincere apologies or of the actions we take toward reconciliation. Self-forgiveness that misses one or more of the steps I’ve included is often hollow and will reveal itself as such when the actions to which we dedicated ourselves somehow fail to materialize, or when we are quick to “slip up” and slow to accept responsibility.

Failing at a Personal Goal

Failure may also come in the form of falling short of meeting a goal we set for ourselves. Perhaps we procrastinated or gave into our impulses or responded reflexively. In these situations, it is possible that a guilt, humility, grief and self-compassion process needs to take place. It is equally likely that our goal, not our effort, set us up for disappointment. External goals that appear “successful” but to which we hold little inner allegiance tend to evaporate. I think one vital question if you believe you’ve failed at something is to ask yourself whether it was something you truly wanted or if you’d in fact been working for someone else’s vision or version of yourself. We harm ourselves when we reject our bodies and our minds for “letting us down” when in fact we were either unable or uninvested in an image that wasn’t drawn by us. Things we believe we “should” do are much less impactful when we fail at them than things we feel compelled by our Inner Being to do.

Future Growth: The Possibility In Failure

If we allow our failings to become “real” to us, rather than denying or excusing them away, we open the door to potential growth. It is very difficult to know the limits of our development until we see where it falls short. When this happens, if we go inward and thoroughly process our thoughts, feelings and behaviors, as well as educate ourselves in our areas where we lack understanding, we may not only improve our relationship with ourselves and with others, we also enable ourselves to set goals that are both meaningful and challenging. Having a touchstone of “this is what happened when I didn’t take X seriously” as a motivation point for a skillset we are looking to build may not be sufficient to propel us to success in life, but it is certainly a stronger incentive than “I’m doing this to fit in.” I believe that as we age, we look back not so much in regret of where we went off-course, but moreso on where we had an opportunity and didn’t want to do the internal excavation necessary to take it.

Where have you experienced failure? How have you responded to it? What has your inner work revealed?

© 2018 All rights Reserved. Suzanne Tidewater, Goddesing From the Heart.

Self-portrait of Kayla Rosen.
Affirming Mind-Body-Spirit Writer Project

Recommended Author: Zines by Kayla Rosen

For today’s Diverse Mind-Body Spirit Voice recommendation, I’ll be sharing about a non-binary author whose work covers a variety of diversity topics, including disability and queerness.

Mind-Body-Spirit Connections

Kayla creates zines and poetry that deconstruct our understanding of sexuality, gender and ableism using both language and visual art to convey meaning. They’ve produced zines specific to their experience as a nonbinary artist who is transitioning medically; this work includes a focus on the connection between their body’s appearance and their relationships. They also write about themes related to mental health, trauma and healing.

Source: https://kaylarosenzines.com/

About the Author

“I’m Kayla (they/them), a 20-something disabled white agender bi artist from Seattle. I make zines, perform poetry, and lead workshops about disability, queerness, allyship within and beyond the LGBTQIA+ community, and art.”

Source: https://kaylarosenzines.com/2016/10/22/about/

In Their Voice

“Being a meaningful ally to LGBTQ+ community members takes commitment, effort, and ongoing education.” Source: https://kaylarosenzines.com/2016/10/22/workshops/

“In my experience, affirmations are most powerful when they also acknowledge how unpleasant reality can be. I want affirmations that can meet me in the pit of hopelessness and despair to lift me up a little, not ones that ask me to wish or believe my way out.” Source: https://kaylarosenzines.com/2016/10/22/my-zines/

Learn More

Esty: http://kaylarosenzines.etsy.com/

Instagram: http://instagram.com/kaylarosenzines

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/kaylarosenzines/posts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kaylarosenzines

Tumblr: https://kaylarosenzines.tumblr.com/#_=_

Website: https://kaylarosenzines.com/

 

 

Affirming Mind-Body-Spirit Writer Project, Sacred Spiritual Growth

Spiritual Disillusionment

For a time, I naively though I’d settled the question of finding my spiritual home in Goddess Spirituality. However, as I’ve really started setting the place up, opening locked doors and peering behind cabinets, I’ve stumbled upon a messy and foul-smelling cellar which I will start to examine for today’s #SacredSpiritualGrowth Saturday. The incense and sage of newness and excitement is now permeated with the stench of unprocessed bias in my house. And the longer I sit in disappointment, the more I see the tunnels of racism, classism and other worms of decay in myself.

I view what I’m undergoing as a developmental progression. I had a “honeymoon” period of learning new concepts and meeting new people, during which everything seemed polished and crisp. Over time, as with any human endeavor, the cracks and dampness started to show. In my particular case, the largest fissure, running straight through the center, is the belief that people should not be allowed to self-identify as womxn and should be excluded if they do not fit certain characteristics. There are also issues such as a lack of appreciation for intersectionality, and, in some corners, a heavy emphasis on either following the Goddesses of Northern Europe or on mixing and matching elements of various cultures without deep attention to their contextual meaning. In the wider Mind-Body-Spirit world, a large portion of the classes, courses and resources, aimed mostly at womxn, are allocated only to those with hundreds or thousands of dollars of disposable income. All is not “love and light” indeed.

My personal reflections on my experience thus far include:

Consider Renovation Rather Than Relocation

As I described above, finding the cellar crammed with ugliness caused me to want to escape. I care too much and feel too connected to Goddess to do that, though. I know this is my spiritual home. I’ve determined it’s time to contribute, on an individual and collective level, to sorting the mess and remaking the areas that aren’t life-giving.

If you’ve read my blog for any time, you’ve known me to be very concrete in my way of being. So, I am simultaneously digging more into minimalism and slow living in order to make my physical existence a reflection of my inner world (or is it the other way around)? Goddess Spirituality can be made more inclusive, affirming and those of us who practice it can go a lot further in our stance of solidarity; the same is true of the greater feminist and mind-body-spirit worlds. I am but one of many who are doing the work.

Go Deeper

I have been aware for some time of my specific spiritual calling, which is to help myself and others fully embrace all aspects of ourselves in a way that moves beyond shaming and blaming. One of the most helpful framings of bigotry in all its faces that I’ve encountered is to see it as Shadow. I absolutely experience this in myself; I’ve given surface recognition to my areas of bias but encounter a wall of shame when I try to go further. There is an internal voice inviting me toward this impasse, to sit with it and, together, from what is hidden and what I know, to dismantle it brick by brick. I’ve written previously of my inability to see my own hidden potential and mystery; I think it is likely across the way from these unexplored badlands. The light-bulb moment of recognition that my calling aligns directly with my disillusionment roots me in my purpose.

Take It In

As a trauma survivor, my bias is toward perceiving the world as a threat and to believing the only solution to be a dead sprint. In this shadow work in which I’m now engaging, though, I am learning very quickly that healing and change must be from my innermost cells first. I need to read and listen, to seek mentors and teachers, and to ponder and reflect much more than I cajole and demand change from others. Every time I believe I’ve slowed my walk sufficiently, I look around me and see how much ground I’ve covered without integration. Breathing in stillness and awareness is the concept on which I’m meditating.

Expect No Point of Arrival

I can never assume that I’ve dug in sufficiently to my areas of privilege or checked off enough boxes on my “standing in solidarity” card. Rather, as society’s norms change, I will do well to keep advancing along with them. I’ve been especially irate in witnessing, in an online forum, woman after woman proclaiming that her advanced age meant everyone else had to shut up and listen to her bigoted viewpoint in relation to transwomen. I can absolutely discount my elders far too easily and often and I can refuse to acquiesce to anyone, no matter their age, who refuses to see and respond to the harm they are causing. My anger belies my fear of calcifying into rigidity and inflexibility as I grow older.

In the service of self-examination and adjustment, I do think it is perfectly appropriate to pause and disengage from time to time for reflection. I may need to reassess the connection between my spirituality and my inclusivity. I may find that my own areas of struggle leave me drained to the point where I need to recharge before further engagement. My shadow-selves might need to process their shame and transform it into rededicated action.

If I am honest with myself, I will likely find that my motives need refinement. I need to assess whether my actions are performative, giving lip service to the “right things” for attention or recognition. In recognizing my own biases, I must be wary of then using this awareness to feed my demons of self-loathing and self-hatred. I may find that I long times to have my feeble attempts “count” and to then retreat into silent complicity. When I really dig into it, it is the personal stories of the effects of discrimination that inspire and compel me to go deeper; if my desire as a trauma survivor is to have my experience witnessed, in having been invited to see the inner world of another, I will not turn away. This motivation will hopefully, in time, become more fully grounded in an unshakeable and uncompromising dedication to have all people equally valued as human and worthy.

Anticipate Discomfort

I think it is wise to ask myself the question, “What do I want to get out of my spiritual practice?” If I’m honest, a lot of what I want is for it to help me feel less anxious and depressed. There is nothing wrong with this, but, for me, part of the process of spiritual maturation has been to remember, as I mentioned above, that on which my calling centers. In order for wholeness to be realized, I will go through some unpleasantness. It is necessary to reach the ends of myself and my typical responses, which, in the case of much of the oppression in the world, has been to be a silent but concerned bystander.

I’m trekking a few feet now into the tall grass, without a path, where there might be ticks and snakes and other trolls of threat. I’m tired of toeing the line and expecting someone else to clear the path for me. It takes courage to question my spiritual mentors and holy books; it takes even more courage to stay at it and stay with it after I realize there isn’t a meadow of wildflowers just past the brush. Although I may find myself on rough and uneven footing, I can know that I will emerge matured in my faith. More importantly, in joining with others in rooting out the invasive weeds of bigotry and hatred, the growth of our shared humanity can flourish. Mature spirituality does not shy away from injustice and suffering, instead, it welcomes the inner work and outer action needed to ensure the dignity of every person.

In what ways have you encountered spiritual disillusionment? What strategies and suggestions do you have for responding to it? Of what form are the individual and collective shadows you are meeting made?

Photograph of Leesa Renee Hall
Affirming Mind-Body-Spirit Writer Project

Recommended Author: Leesa Renee Hall’s “Expressive Writing Prompts”

For today’s Diverse Mind-Body Spirit Voice recommendation, I’ll be sharing about a published author whose work promotes inclusivity and addresses racism.

Mind-Body-Spirit Connections

Leesa’s interactive and engaging Patreon community incorporates both writing prompts as well as podcasts to help participants deepen their inner work. She addresses topics such as unpacking white fragility and navigating spiritual bypassing, vital discussions for those of us in the mind-body-spirit world who desire to take a stand against racism.

Source: http://leesareneehall.com/

About the Author

“Leesa Renee Hall is an author and facilitator who helps spiritual leaders use the art of self-inquiry to question their unconscious biases so they create truly inclusive communities, companies, and corporations.”

Source: https://leesareneehall.com/meet-leesa/

In Her Voice

“Some are loving and lighting right into a spiritual bonfire.”

Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BkaYGl2gpxA/?taken-by=leesareneehall

“Many are poor in identity because they are rich in other people’s opinions of them.”

Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BYqRRWSlKgJ/?taken-by=leesareneehall

Learn More

Blog: https://leesareneehall.com/blog/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/leesareneehall/

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/leesareneehall/posts

Website: https://leesareneehall.com/