#straightfromcait: What To Do When The World's Gone To Shit
Today, I’m recording last minute - which I never do. I am usually recorded a week or even a month in advance, but the combination of having taken time off over the holidays and the shit show at the white house this week means that I’m taking a beat to stop and be with you here, now and to let you know that if productivity is not your focus right now - that’s okay. It might sound contrite to suggest self care above all else when the world has gone mad, but self care is a rebellious, and political act. You cannot aim to fix injustices that you see if you haven’t slept, had good nutrition, or taken a mental health day. This is especially true for everyone who is battling the ‘isms’. Racism, sexism, ageism, homophobism - when the world is not a safe place for you, your body and nervous system REQUIRE that you take time to restore in a place of your own creation that feels as safe as possible. This is necessary so that when it is time to face the world again, to fight, to break down barriers, to be yourself in a world that asks you not to be, you have the energy for it. Self-care, in and of itself, is an act of political power. This week, I posted a meme on my socials that said, “Everytime a woman prioritizes herself, the patriarchy crumbles a little” and I meant it, but it should have read: “Everytime anyone who has ever been marginalized prioritizes themselves, the patriarchy crumbles a little.” The basics of this come down to: First, Rest. Second, Rebel.
But FIRST - first, REST. Restore. Treat yourself like the prize you are. Rejuvenate. Recollect your power. Engage your anger in a way that makes it useful. But first, REST. Scream. FEEL.
This first step requires you to have some knowledge about how to regulate your nervous system. Don’t worry, I’ve got you - I know that they don’t teach this at school. Regulation of the nervous system starts with a feeling of safety and creating that feeling is an individual process. Do you need to grab a soft blanket? Make sure your doors are locked? Clean the kitchen? Organize paperwork? What is it that needs to be in place for you to feel safe? Right now, I’m home alone for a couple of weeks and I’m in a home that we just bought - we have lived here for less than 2 months - so it isn’t my safe place yet. In order to regulate my nervous system, I need to make sure all my doors are locked - not because I don’t trust my neighbors but because I don’t want to have to think about the door that used to be in a hallway with other apartments and now points straight out onto the street. There is a layer of ‘protection’ that I’ve had my entire adult life that is now gone, so I have to secure the next layer to feel safe. For me, next is making sure all the basics are clean. I don’t feel as safe when my bed isn’t made and there are dirty dishes on the countertops (and if I’m honest, on the coffee table). I need to put it all away, wipe down the counters, and make my bed. After that, I need to be clean. In order to feel like I’m taking care of myself and am safe, I need to be freshly showered. It makes me feel ready for rest AND ready for action. There’s a preparation ritual that goes with washing yourself that is important to me (it might not be to you - and that’s okay - I’m simply giving examples so that you can try to figure out what helps you feel safe).
After you feel as safe as possible, one of the best ways to regulate your nervous system is to do a short meditation called yoga nidra, or body scan. Don’t worry, it doesn’t take long and you don’t have to sit in lotus position. This particular meditation is also known as sleeping yoga. You can do it on your bed, on your yoga mat, on your couch, anywhere you can lay down comfortably and feel safe. You may have experienced this before if you’ve taken a yoga class in a studio (I know, don’t remind you that you used to be able to go to a yoga studio…). You know, at the end, when you’re in savasana, also known as corpse pose, and the teacher tells you to relax the skin of your scalp, your eyes, your jaw, and moves down your body - and it feels like the best thing in the whole world?
Yes, that. That is one of the best ways to regulate your nervous system. So this week, I’m releasing two episodes. This one, to let you know that there is a tool that you can implement and one right after that, giving you the tool - with no introduction or interruption so that you can listen to it again and again without having to relisten to or skip the introduction by fast forwarding. I want you to be able to access this ASAP whenever you want it.
So, step one: make your surroundings feel safe. Step two, listen to the next episode of FRIED and give your nervous system what it needs. All the changes last year have not been integrated yet into our bodies and we’re still sort of waiting for normal to come back. It’s not likely to come back as it was before and in order to move forward, our nervous systems need to have the ability to be flexible, agile, and ready. It’s a practice, a lifelong one, but if the last year taught us anything it is that we never know what’s about to happen and making ourselves more comfortable in the ‘now’ is something we should all be striving for so that when life falls to shit, we can fall to shit for a moment and then recoup and get on with our desires to make change, seek justice, empower ourselves and each other, and be the changes we want to see in the world. Sending you lots of love. XO C