When I began the experiential journey into my own bodymind through somatic movement practices (2008), I realised that I had lost touch with deep joy about inhabiting my body. When I entered the somatic practices, my sensitivity returned joyfully and painfully, and my body was calling me back into relationship with myself as a sensate being.

I was so de-sensitised from my body and I still needed to heal myself from the harmful impacts of living in a woman’s body in a patriarchal society (sexism and the body-object idealism portrayed in the media); and the harm from stress that I experienced as a human being in an individualist, capitalist economy (having to be a ‘human doing’ so I could participate in the economy). The men in my life did not particularly understand the more subtle hurdles and aggressions I live with and have internalised and my teachers have been largely female and / or queer of gender and / or sexuality.

I realised how unsafe I felt in the world. I also knew I needed to have this level of sensitivity to find more safety and nurture for myself. Reconnection led to a call for repair to my long-neglected and overridden ecosystems of embodied nurture. Having begun to address the repair process with my own body, I began to hold a vision of a world less harmful for everyone; a world in which we could stop the violence, and attend to the wisdom in our bodies, about our needs to live in harmony with each other and Nature.

I did not have the burdens of racism nor ablism to face into because I am white and able-bodied. The education I received further enabled me to remain unaware just how many people were silenced or made invisible by the systemic oppressions of racism and ablism. I was aware of classism although my middle classness was also protecting me from being more deeply connected to the reality of poverty or lack of access to basic public services, especially in austerity times. These burdens have been and still are potentially lethal to people so it’s important to get to grips with how I play a part in that by complying in systems that pose that threat to people who do live with them.

I do experience a version of homophobia and internalised diminishing or tokenising beliefs about my own sexuality. This permits me a chink in the armours of protections that I have from my privileges. Through self-study and cultivating caring and committed relationships with people who experience racism, ablism, sexism, transphobia and homophobia in a male body, I’m gaining awareness and feeling in my own body how much I self-defend, make assumptions and react to them, take space with my process and don’t really listen to other people’s experiences – a form of gaslighting that can bring about silence or exclusivity to certain experiences being shared in group spaces. I realise that I suffer when I gaslight another – I am silencing my own humanity in order to try to gain an advantage in some way, even if it is just to feel I am in the right with my point of view.

I feel in my own heart and gut that the dehumanising influence of race and colonial capitalism has created rigid edges between us by dividing us up into a hierarchy of power as races and classes of human. The current global crisis of chronic health imbalances have arisen from the gradual generational influences of human competition for survival in these hierarchies and now I am convinced, as have many compassionate humans been for so long, that it is essential to our collective healing to feel the ways that the imbalances in my own bodymind have been mirroring the imbalances of power and resource in our world.

I can only really be part of dismantling social oppressions if I can recognise them in myself. I need to start with myself, but I need perspectives from outside of me. People racialised as ‘white’ often don’t think about being ‘racialised’ and I was one of these folks until recently. Once this piece landed, I realised that within ‘whiteness’ there was also a hierarchy of assumed power to grapple with besides sexism and classism. Ablism, heteronormativity, neurodivergence were additional oppressions to come to terms with and I’ve been really enriched by opening my mind to understand these more in myself and others. And I have so much to learn…

Groups can be really important for offering the important reflections that help me grow my awareness and encourage me to continue enquiring into my unacknowledged oppressive beliefs and behaviours. I’ve journeyed intensively for a few years now and it is a reckoning I need to continue to grapple with in order to continue with my own healing.

Having read my piece, I wonder what your body and mind can take in, can understand or empathise with? I wonder what seems confusing? what seems wrong about it for you? I’d love your feedback, please do contact me if you have something to share or want to engage further for yourself and our collective. I’m starting an embodied enquiry group soon, if you’re interested please click here for more info.

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