Post submitted by: Kamini MK (They/Them)
I am leading a workshop based on a sharing round robin. It’s my turn and I’ve just finished speaking. The details of my lived experience hang in the space – its immediacy, tragedy, and chronic nature. There’s silence.
I nominate one of my colleagues to speak. They proceed to compare my personal experiences to that of a distant community member. The colours, textures, and sounds so immediate in the space become boxed in structured analysis. We can all feel it.
“Would you mind if we tried something that might feel a bit uncomfortable?”
The group and I have established relationships, so my question is measured. With my peer’s consent, I proceed.
“During today’s welcome, we shared the concept that the human urge to express empathy is often by offering stories from our lived experiences. But we know from personal experiences that a story shared too soon can negatively impact that very person we wish to show concern for. Will you try again, this time focusing on the hurt you see present in me?”
“Kamini, thank you for sharing. It is moving and difficult to hear everything you’ve been through. May I ask if you are okay?”
Every shoulder in the room instantly dropped as I began to engage with my colleague. We all sighed in relief because the pain in the space was being addressed directly and compassionately. In this, I (the person in pain) and my peers (those bearing witness to my pain and therefore experiencing a degree through empathy), could move the energy together.
Giving words and offering support to suffering without qualification, pontification, or comparison, gave us all relief. There are two acts of giving in that sentence. Healing is an abundant act that we engage in collectively. Our bravery to see the human emotion present in space, our bravery to give those feelings a voice, and our bravery to make space for attention is social change.
Whether one-to-self, one-to-one, or one-to-many, we never work alone.
This was all through zoom.
As educators, we guide group processing while experiencing our own emotions simultaneously. Instead of being co-regulated with our community, our emotions and vulnerabilities are often put aside – essentially getting stuck in our bodies. Post labour regulation is a key skill for those of us who act as guides for collective transformation.
After the reading group, I promptly closed my laptop, laid down, and let out several loud groans. By lying down I reduced my physical expectation to be “collected” and allowed the body to express small shudders. With sounds I released frustration and gave voice to the fear of being exposed publicly. The sound and movement allowed me to release energy and become my own witness.
There are many ways to move emotional energy, whether through high-intensity activities like running or low-intensity activities like humming. Whenever possible, try to address your body’s needs within the moment of activation. Immediate attention will reduce long-term impacts on your nervous system and empower you to self-regulate in real-time.
Here are six healing activities you can try:
- Swimming or relaxing in a pool or lake
- Humming and/or listening to music
- Being in nature/forest-bathing