Tag Archives: Self-care

Self-holding hacks

Below is a guidelines for a simple yet powerful exercise, if you give it a chance. The simultaneous placing of hands on – and thus connecting of- important centers (brain, heart, stomach..) can have an effect on the nervous system and help balance emotions on a daily basis. Importantly, it can open a “path back home” to a calm composed state in case of a crisis/panic. Like all exercises designed to help in times of emergency, it is best to practice in relatively more peaceful times, so as to be familiar with it.

Note you can also use these placing of hands to help soothe a friend, if they are OK with your touch in that moment.

>>>> Printable 2 steps self-holding exercises

goal

selfholding

source: The Art of Healing Trauma, Heidi Hanson, citing Peter Levine.

Massage tip for thumb

Here is a nice massage tip to alleviate or prevent fatigue pain caused by over-exertion of the  thumb and wrist (from giving many massages for example!). It is also the opportunity to discover a muscle in the forearm, the Flexor pollicis longus muscle, that flexes the phalanges of the thumb. And, we get the anatomical reason why a good massage of the hands is a massage that includes the forearm as well as the fingers ! As shown in our Handshake massage manual !

Fitness Povero

Instant crush on the works and words of artist/”personal trainer” Nina Cristante ! She develops a low key, intuitive, diy, fluid, elusive (as opposed to marketable), critical/common sense approach to well-being, diet, exercise… Part of her “frugal” Fitness Povero program (a take on the italian Arte Povera) is her “homeworks” collection of physical exercises videos, which she made in her bedroom and to which she also composed the music.

FITNESS POVERO Homeworks videos

Interview for Dis Magazine

Interview with Fiona Duncan

Interview with Amuse

Holistic Security: Well-being indicators as Security Indicators

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Below is an excerpt of the chapter on Security Indicators in the Holistic Security Strategy Manual for Human Rights Defenders, by Tactical Tech (a recommended resource/read). It describes indicators of health and well-being as security indicators. A security indicator being defined as  “anything out of the ordinary that we notice which may have an impact on our security”.

Indicators in our health and well-being :

“It can be easy to overlook our health and well-being, but changes in our health can indicate a reaction to an external problem such as increased stress, which in turn impacts our security situation. As activists we sometimes continue to push ourselves, but in doing so we risk causing lasting damage to our health over time, or hindering our ability to analyse our security situation. We may not be used to monitoring our own health and changes can occur gradually, so adopting a methodological approach to our physical, emotional and psychological selves is a good start. One way of doing this is by making a stress table, like in the exercise below.”

These considerations are followed by an exercise in the form of a stress table, to “help you to identify your limits concerning different kinds of stress, how to recognise these limits and measures to counter stress.”

 

Hacking with Care @THF!2016, Montréal 18-22/08

THF16

Don’t forget this week in Montreal is the TransHackFeminist meet-up !

Decolonizing Technologies, Autonomous Infrastructures, Queer and Feminist Pedagogies and Hacking with Care !

Check out the program !

Among the other empowering careful activities organically proposed at THF!2016, it will be the occasion to take part to one of the cherished Hacking with Care body-mind-machine awareness workshop with Goldjian Attent!ion Som(t)a(c)tic, and for the first time to the get into the excitement and ex-plo-rations of the Cryptodance !!!!

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Panic attack info and first aid guidelines

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Sudden shortness of breath, choking, racing heartbeat, pain in the chest, nausea, sweating, shaking, feels like dying, completely losing it… What is happening ? It might well be a Panic attack.

Although very impressive, panic attacks are often not as dangerous as they look, manageable, reversible, and can be avoided in the future. Much of the terror they bring can be controlled by understanding what is actually going on in the body and mind of the person. Whether it’s you or friend. So, in times of peace and quiet, do a bit of research on that extreme physiological state, so you are able to help yourself or someone when the attack attacks. Also, when the emergency has passed, it is important to consider the personal context in which the attack(s) took place, identify, maybe, some triggers. Only then can remedies be found in life and lifestyle that will prevent such challenging crisis from happening again.

Here are some suggested reading:

>> Panic attacks information sheets, Centre for Clinical Intervention

>> Panic attack first aid guidelines, Mental Health First Aid Australia

 

34 Pictures To See Which Muscle You’re Stretching

Yoga1_2

Whether you’re a chronic sitter, a daily exerciser, or a weekend warrior, you probably know stretching is a critical habit. By sending blood flow to your muscles and helping your joints move through their full range of motion, stretching improves your posture and athletic performance while lowering your risk of pain and injury.

But when you do yoga or a flexibility routine, do you know which muscles you’re actually stretching? Or whether you’re performing each stretch correctly?

With this knowledge in your back pocket, you can choose the best stretches for your goals. And if you ever feel pain — and I don’t mean the good, stretchy kind of pain but the “Whoa, something doesn’t feel right” kind of pain — you can pinpoint the muscle giving you trouble and alter your technique to avoid getting injured.

Yoga9-10

http://beyoungbegreen.com/36-pictures-see-muscle-youre-stretching/

An End to Self-Care, B. Loewe

“I’m going to say it. I want to see an end to “self-care.” Can we put a nail in self-care’s coffin and instead birth a newer discussion of community care?

As I most often hear it, self-care stands as an importation of middle-class values of leisure that’s blind to the dynamics of working class (or even family) life, inherently rejects collective responsibility for each other’s well-being, misses power dynamics in our lives, and attempts to serve as a replacement for a politics and practice of desire that could actually ignite our hearts with a fuel to work endlessly.

Talking about how we sustain ourselves, honor our personal needs, and prioritize our well-being in this brusque and brutal world is a huge advance from movement culture generations before.  However, centering that conversation on ‘self-care’ devoid of our place in the collective misses the central point of why we need to care for ourselves. And that is because we must have all of our strength in place to counter the systems which, without our ability to resist and transform, without the self-preservation Audre Lorde describes, would see us destroyed.”

>> Continue reading  An End to Self-Care, by B. Loewe, and visit Organizing Upgrade for more thoughts on the subject and community care resources

DOCTEURE DUCHESNE @Toulouse, 7-8 Nov

docduchesne

DocteurE Duchesne dit :

Le DocteurE Duchesne vient faire un tour à Toulouse !

SAMEDI 7 NOVEMBRE
À 16H
Je serai au festival Femme Scandal à Terre Blanque, pour un talk interactif sur les sexualités et la santé féminines, trans & queer. Ecrivez vos questions sur un pâpier, on met tout dans un saladier, et je répondrai en public pendant 1h30 aux questions les plus inspirantes !!!

DIMANCHE 8 NOVEMBRE
À 15H
Atelier auto-exam au spéculum dans un lieu cozy secret à Toulouse !!! Ça va être super love comme d’hab. Dans la première partie, “théorique”, je raconterai histoire du spéculum et de la gynécologie (TW : c’est violent !!), puis on passe à la pratique pour (re)découvrir son col de l’utérus et s’initier aux bases de l’auto-examen (manipulation du spéculum, observation). Atelier non-mixte meufs/gouines/trans.


PLACES LIMITÉES !! Réservation obligatoire par mail, à poussydraama@riseup.net
Le lieu te sera révélé à la suite de ton inscription !
Je fournis les spéculum, apporte un petit miroir et une lampe de poche !

LOve

 

Alan, the Monkey in your Mind

monkeymindzntacle

Thoughts on the restless mind (a.k.a “monkey mind” ), exhaustion from over-thinking, and simple breathing exercise to help drop the bananas, here in this article on Zentacles.

“You’ve got a monkey in your brain. Let’s call him Alan.

Alan is like most normal monkeys. He swings about from tree to tree, he loooooves bananas, and in all likelihood he will never stay in one place for longer than a few minutes. Now let’s say you have something you need to tell Alan – you get him down from whichever tree you find him in, you sit him down on a chair, and you start talking to him. Only before you’ve even finished your sentence, to your dismay, Alan is off back up the tree. You try a few more times, and Alan very helpfully sits there for a number of seconds whilst you try and get your words out. But the same pattern continues, and in the end you give up.”

MIAU !

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Quinta-feira, dia 8, às 19h
Filme MIAU: Movimiento insurrecto por la autonomía de Una Misma
* seguido de conversa de boca cheia sobre saúde sexo e autonomia

“Convidamos todas e todos a assistir a este documentário!
É uma chamada a todas as que ignoramos o funcionamento do nosso corpo e nos vemos submetidas a qualquer estrutura machista e patriarcal, seja a médica, a farmacêutica ou qualquer pessoa ou instituição que nos tente silenciar.
Nós lutamos para viver numa sociedade livre e enquanto o fazemos, criamos laços de confiança e compartilhamos o conhecimento aprendido, esperando que se entenda que aí está a graça, em aprender e ensinar, com generosidade, matando o ego e a usura.
Por isso este documentário é uma prenda, porque é conhecimento livre.”

Sexta-feira, dia 9, às 18h
Workshop livre – Calendário menstrual e partilha de experiências

>> MIAU no vimeo

>>JORNADAS LIBERTARIAS PORTO

CYCLE : calendar program for women

cycle

CYCLE is a “calendar program for women. Given a cycle length or statistics for several periods, it can calculate the days until menstruation, the days of “safe” sex, the fertile period, and the days to ovulations, and define the d.o.b. of a child. It allows the user to write notes and helps to supervise the reception of hormonal contraceptive tablets.

Cycle is written in Python (also wxPython required) and distributed under the GNU General Public License.”

 

ZEN and the art of making tech work for you

Gender and Tech Ressources >> ZEN and the art of making tech work for you,  complete manual (Tactical Technology Collective + Association for Progressive Communication)

From the Introduction:

“This manual is a community-built resource for our growing community of women and trans* activists, human rights defenders and technologists. It is designed to be a living, growing collection of practical guidance and information that uniquely speaks to our needs, experiences, and activism, both online and offline. Content listed in the manual was created in response to our community’s requests for ideas and guidance they needed, but couldn’t find elsewhere. Therefore, this initial manual content doesn’t cover many other topics that we hope to add with your support and input as it evolves here on the wiki. The current manual explores two overlapping issues:

  • First, how can we craft appropriate online presences (or a series of them) that strengthen our ability to communicate and work online safely?
  • Secondly, how can we collaboratively create safe online and offline spaces that enable our communities to share, collaborate, and communicate safely?

This is a process: Stay centered, cultivate patience, and practice self-care

The first most important thing to remember when using this manual, is that we have used the concept of “zen” in the title to highlight the importance of embracing technology with the calm understanding that it won’t always work perfectly. Sometimes you might need to spend time pondering technology and the significance of it in your life, in your community and in the world. And other times you might need to take a break and come back to it.”

On regulating the spirit in accordance with the Qi of autumn

Grimshaw-John-Autumn-Sun

“The three months of autumn,

they denote taking in and balance

The Qi of heaven becomes tense *

The Qi of the earth becomes bright.

Go to rest early and rise early,

get up together with the chicken.

Let the mind be peaceful and tranquil, so as

to temper the punishment carried out in autumn**.

Collect the spirit Qi and

cause the autumn Qi to be balanced.

Do not direct your mind to the outside and

cause the lung Qi to be clear.

This is the correspondence with the Qi of autumn and

it is the way to nourish gathering.

Opposing it harms the lung.

In winter this causes outflow of undigested food and

there is little to support storage. ***”

*Wang Bing: Wind blows with a cutting sound

** Violent storms in autumn appeared like a punishment. This was also the season, in ancient China, to perform executions of criminals sentenced to capital punishment. Wang Bing: When the mental Qi is hectic, one is not careful in their activities. If one is not careful in their activities, one accentuate the severity of autumn punishments, goes along with killing, and destroys life. Hence, one establishes a peaceful and tranquil mind to soften the punishments carried out in autumn.

*** Wang Bing: It is to say: to carry out the orders of summer in contrast [to the requirements of autumn]. The lung corresponds to metal and flourishes in autumn. Hence, to carry out [in autumn] the orders of summer, this harms the Qi. In winter the water flourishes and the metal perishes. Hence, the disease develops in winter. If one opposes the [orders of] autumn and harms the lung, this results in diminished Qi [with a reduced ability] to receive the storage in winter.

Comprehensive discourse on regulating the spirit in accordance with the Qi of the four seasons,  in Huang Di nei jing su wen, annotated translation, by Paul U. Unschuld and Hermann Tessenow, University of California

Painting: John Grimshaw, Autumn Sun

The Lifelong Activist guide

The Lifelong Activist is a self-help guide for activists by Hillary Rettig. Topics include Manage your mission, manage your time, your fears, your relationship to yourself and to others. Translations section with Indonesian, Italian, Spanish..

“I believe that progressive activists are the world’s most precious resource. We tackle the most difficult and important problems— including hunger, war, disease, poverty, violence, cruelty and exploitation— and work to further humanity’s evolution in the direction of compassion and kindness. Conservatives may create more wealth, but we create more of the values, including justice, equality and freedom, that make life worth living. As history has repeatedly shown us, and as we are unfortunately witnessing in the United States today, wealth without the tempering of progressive values and mores leads inevitably to corruption and despair.”

 

Ateliers DIY Gyneco avec Poussy Draama (Aout @la campagne)

En Aout Poussy Draama, a.k.a DocteurE Duchesne, vous convie à deux ateliers DIY gyneco camping et partages, dans la campagne en été :

“Pour changer des consultations individuelles, nous travaillerons en groupe autour des thèmes habituels du DocteurE.

2 sessions au choix :

du 1er au 4 août
et
du 8 au 11 août

– Discussions, écriture, lecture, partage de connaissances
– Initiation et pratique de l’auto-examen
– Cueillette/transformation de plantes
– Rituels, healing, chill et amitié !

Construisons ensemble une gynécologie adaptée à tous les corps, non-violente, non-jugeante et non-discriminante !

Enfants et femmes enceintes bienvenu.e.s !

Couchage en tente ou en caravane
Repas et good vibe inclus
Tarif : ±30 € selon tes moyens (gratuit si tu es du planning familial, ou sex educator, ou si ta vie est dédiée à changer le monde à temps plein)
Nombre max. de participant-e-s : 5

Emmène ton sac de couchage et des vêtements dans lesquels tu te sens bien. Attention ! Ici nous n’avons ni eau courante, ni électricité, ni internet : les prince-sse-s sont prévenu-e-s !

Possibilité d’arriver et repartir quelques jours avant ou après, pour prolonger le plaisir ou si tu viens de loin.

Infos et inscriptions :
poussydraama@riseup.net
ou 06 86 14 00 02″

Big bisous !

SWBO

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Performer Porn Artist Sexologist Annie Sprinkle big hearted advices on How to cure sex worker burnout :

 

Step 1

Admit you are burnt out. This sounds easy, but it’s the hardest step. Our egos, as well as our incomes, are invested in feeling good about our work. It’s not easy to admit that you are a mess. See it as an opportunity to grow.

Step 2

Take breaks and vacations from your work as a matter of course. Get sun, fresh air, take a boat ride. Spend time in nature. You may never even get crispy.

Step 3

Spend time alone. Do something relaxing and meditative. A languorous candle lit herbal bath can do wonders.

Step 4

Get in touch with your feelings and express them. Repressed emotions alone can create burn out.

POSTER HERE http://anniesprinkle.org/photos/writings/swbo.pdf

 

On Compassion fatigue

Here is a nice (and somewhat soothing) article on a subject that is maybe not discussed enough among caregivers, or not discussed with the right approach ? The author calls it “Compassion fatigue”. Exhaustion from caring. It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional or not. Caring. Sometimes a very special kind of fatigue sets in, hard to describe. Sleep doesn’t even seem to heal it sometimes. The author notes that, contrary to what most people think and ask all the time, “protecting” oneself from the emotions of the person we’re helping, or setting boundaries between them and you not only doesn’t make sense, it is impossible, and absurd to even want to try, like a dead end. So how then, to recuperate ? What self-care for caregivers ?

>> Compassion and Compassion fatigue: balancing your emotions in the treatment room, Tracy Walton, Massage today

BIO-reSEARCH – GYNEpunk (autonomous gynecology lab)

GYNEpunk‘s objective is to make emerge DIY-DIT accessible diagnosis labs and technics in extreme experimentation, down the rocks or elevators if is necesary. Has to be possible in a situated stable place or/and in nomadic mobile labs. Has to be able to perform as much as WE WANT, in a intensive way: smears, fluid analysis, biopsy, PAPs, synthesize hormones at will, blood exams, urinalysis, HIV tests, pain reliefs, or what ever WE NEED. Hack and build our own ultrasound, endoscope or ecography devices in a low-cost way. All this in a strict complementation with herbs and natural knowledges, oral traditions, submarine recipes, seeking with hunger generate superavit of DIY lubricants, anti-conceptives, open doula domains, savage caring of any visceral hands on technologies, as menstrual extraction, all elevated at maximun potential of common learning and radical self-body-power…!

 

Drawing lessons

To draw to take the time to look at things, to perceive and to design, to be delicate, to sense beauty, to relate to it, to rejuvenate one’s mind after the ravages of emergency, or boredom, or blackness, to save one’s eyes.

Some thoughts and drawing exercises in the Three Letters for beginners of THE ELEMENTS OF DRAWING, by John Ruskin

“5. Everything that you can see in the world around you, presents itself to your eyes only as an arrangement of patches of different colors variously shaded. Some of these patches of color have an appearance of lines or texture within them, as a piece of cloth or silk has of threads, or an animal’s skin shows texture of hairs: but whether this be the case or not, the first broad aspect of the thing is that of a patch of some definite color; and the first thing to be learned is, how to produce extents of smooth color, without texture.”

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21. You will see that all the boughs of the tree are dark against the sky. Consider them as so many dark rivers, to be laid down in a map with absolute accuracy; and, without the least thought about the roundness of the stems, map them all out in flat shade, scrawling them in with pencil, just as you did the limbs of your letters; then correct and alter them, rubbing out and out again, never minding how much your paper is dirtied (only not destroying its surface), until every bough is exactly, or as near as your utmost power can bring it, right in curvature and in thickness. Look at the white interstices between them with as much scrupulousness as if they were little estates which you had to survey, and draw maps of, for some important lawsuit, involving heavy penalties if you cut the least bit of a corner off any of them, or gave the hedge anywhere too deep a curve; and try continually to fancy the whole tree nothing but a flat ramification on a white ground. Do not take any trouble about the little twigs, which look like a confused network or mist; leave them all out, drawing only the main branches as far as you can see them distinctly, your object at present being not to draw a tree, but to learn how to do so. (…)”

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“22. You cannot do too many studies of this kind: every one will give you some new notion about trees. But when you are tired of tree boughs, take any forms whatever which are drawn in flat color, one upon another; as patterns on any kind of cloth, or flat china (tiles, for instance), executed in two colors only; and practice drawing them of the right shape and size by the eye, and filling them in with shade of the depth required.”

 

 

 

On regulating the Spirit [in accordance with] the Qi of the Four [Seasons] : Winter

“The three months of Winter

they denote securing and storing.

The water is frozen and the earth breaks open.

 

Do not disturb the yang [Qi].

Go rest early and rise late.

You must wait for the sun to shine.

 

Let the mind enter a state as if hidden,

{as if shut in}

as if you had secret intentions;

as if you already had made gains.

 

Avoid cold and seek warmth and

do not [allow sweat] to flow away through the skin

This would cause the Qi to be carried away quickly.

 

This is the correspondence with the Qi of Winter and

it is the Way of nourishing storage.

Opposing it harms the kidneys.

In Spring this causes limpness with receding Qi, and

there is little to support generation.

 

“Now,

the yin and yand [Qi] of the four seasons,

they constitute root and basis of the myriad beings.

 

Hence the sages

in spring and summer nourish the yang and

in autumn and winter nourish the yin, and

this way they follow their roots.

 

Hence,

they are in the depth or at the surface with the myriad beings at the gate to life and growth.

To oppose one’s root

is to attack one’s basis

and to spoil one’s true [Qi]”

 

From Comprehensive discourse on regulating the Spirit [in accordance with] the Qi of the four [seasons], chapter 2 of Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen, an annotated translation of Huang Di’s inner classic – basic questions, by Paul U. Unschuld and Hermann Tessenow.

 

Sleep for Immunity

So winter is here and you want a strong immune system : make sure you get some good sleep first thing (quantity, quality, regularity..).

>> Sleep deprivation effect on the immune system mirrors physical stress (Science Daily)

Summary:

Severe sleep loss jolts the immune system into action, reflecting the same type of immediate response shown during exposure to stress, a new study reports. Researchers compared the white blood cell counts of 15 healthy young men under normal and severely sleep-deprived conditions. The greatest changes were seen in the white blood cells known as granulocytes, which showed a loss of day-night rhythmicity, along with increased numbers, particularly at night.

>> Sleep and Immune Function, (Critical Care Nurse)

Abstract:

Scientists are only beginning to fully understand the purpose of sleep and its underlying mechanisms. Lack of sleep is associated with many diseases, including infection, and with increased mortality. Lack of proper sleep is an important problem in the intensive care unit, and interventions have been designed to improve it. Sleep is associated with immune function, and this relationship is partially based on the physiological basis of sleep, sleep architecture, the sleep-wake cycle, cytokines and the hypothalamic-pituitary axis.

Sleep is one of the biggest riddles known. The knowledge that all animals sleep implies that sleep fulfills some basic physiological need. Yet, scientists are only beginning to fully understand the purpose of sleep1 and the underlying mechanisms.2 Lack of sleep is associated with many diseases and with increased mortality1,3 and is an important problem in the intensive care unit (ICU).48

In this review, I describe the relationship between sleep and immune function. Understanding this complicated association requires knowledge of the physiological basis of sleep and the basic elements of immune function as applied to sleep. Therefore, I briefly review sleep architecture and the sleep-wake cycle. I also discuss immune function and cytokines and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.

Although evidence linking sleep and immune function has come from studies of the sleep-wake cycle, cytokines, and the HPA axis, most investigators have relied on 2 basic approaches. In the first approach, laboratory animals and human volunteers are deprived of sleep and the consequences of the deprivation on immune responses, bodily systems associated with the immune system, and/or immune products are measured. In the other approach, laboratory animals or human volunteers are infected with pathogens or given substances that challenge the immune system, and the effects of these interventions on sleep are determined.9 I present evidence provided by using both of these research strategies. Finally, I describe how sleep in the ICU affects patients’ immune function and suggest interventions to improve patients’ sleep.

 

Self as other – Reflections on Self-Care (CrimethInc.)

CrimethInc. zine on self-care.

“Following up our feature “For All We Care” analyzing the contradictory currents within the category of care, we present “Self as Other: Reconsidering Self-Care.” This zine combines that text with three more essays in which individuals recount their personal struggles with the concept and practice of care. Please print and photocopy these to share with anyone who is confronting the same issues!”

http://www.crimethinc.com/blog/2013/09/06/new-zine-about-self-care-self-as-other/

Re-examination of the concept of Self-Care

“In the 1980s, as she struggled with cancer, Audre Lorde asserted that caring for herself was “an act of political warfare.” Since then, self-care has become a popular buzzword in activist circles. The rhetoric of self-care has moved from specific to universal, from defiant to prescriptive. When we talk about self-care today, are we talking about the same thing Lorde was? It’s time to reexamine this concept.”

Read FOR ALL WE CARE, Reconsidering Self-Care on CrimethInc.

Excerpts 

(…)

“Caring for ourselves doesn’t mean pacifying ourselves. We should be suspicious of any understanding of self-care that identifies wellbeing with placidity or asks us to perform “health” for others. Can we imagine instead a form of care that would equip each of us to establish an intentional relationship to her dark side, enabling us to draw strength from the swirling chaos within? Treating ourselves gently might be an essential part of this, but we must not assume a dichotomy between healing and engaging with the challenges around and inside us. If care is only what happens when we step away from those struggles, we will be forever torn between an unsatisfactory withdrawal from conflict and its flipside, a workaholism that is never enough. Ideally, care would encompass and transcend both struggle and recovery, tearing down the boundaries that partition them.”

(…)

“If we want to identify what is worth preserving in self-care, we can start by scrutinizing care itself. To endorse care as a universal good is to miss the role care also plays in perpetuating the worst aspects of the status quo. There’s no such thing as care in its pure form—care abstracted from daily life in capitalism and the struggles against it. No, care is partisan—it is repressive or liberating. There are forms of care that reproduce the existing order and its logic, and other forms of care that enable us to fight it. We want our expressions of care to nurture liberation, not domination—to bring people together according to a different logic and values.”

(…)

“So rather than promoting self-care, we might seek to redirect and redefine care. For some of us, this means recognizing how we benefit from imbalances in the current distribution of care, and shifting from forms of care that focus on ourselves alone to support structures that benefit all participants. Who’s working so you can rest? For others, it could mean taking better care of ourselves than we’ve been taught we have a right to—though it’s unrealistic to expect anyone to undertake this individually as a sort of consumer politics of the self. Rather than creating gated communities of care, let’s pursue forms of care that are expansive, that interrupt our isolation and threaten our hierarchies.

Self-care rhetoric has been appropriated in ways that can reinforce the entitlement of the privileged, but a critique of self-care must not be used as yet another weapon against those who are already discouraged from seeking care. In short: step up, step back.

“A struggle that doesn’t understand the importance of care is doomed to fail. The fiercest collective revolts are built on a foundation of nurture. But reclaiming care doesn’t just mean giving ourselves more care, as one more item after all the others on the to-do list. It means breaking the peace treaty with our rulers, withdrawing care from the processes that reproduce the society we live in and putting it to subversive and insurrectionary purposes.”

(…)

“If self-care is just a way to ease the impact of an ever-increasing demand for productivity, rather than a transformative rejection of that demand, it’s part of the problem, not the solution. For self-care to be anti-capitalist, it has to express a different conception of health.”

(…)

“Your human frailty is not a regrettable fault to be treated by proper self-care so you can get your nose back to the grindstone. Sickness, disability, and unproductivity are not anomalies to be weeded out; they are moments that occur in every life, offering a common ground on which we might come together. If we take these challenges seriously and make space to focus on them, they could point the way beyond the logic of capitalism to a way of living in which there is no dichotomy between care and liberation.”

Hacking (with) Care @ 31C3

 

Soon is the 31st Chaos Communication Congress “annual four-day conference on technology, society and utopia.” Some might remember Hacking (with) Care was present last December at 30C3, cocooning, massaging, sharing and caring with La Quadrature du Net at their tea house.

This year, we invite you to drop by La Quadra’TeaHouse again, where you can learn and practice together a self-care body routine from our video tutorial, observe-hack-massage each other, enjoy heart-warming, mind-sharpening cups of tea, and share thoughts on what could “hacking with care” mean and be for you, me, us …

The four days promise to be intense, here is the program of talks. There are, indeed, many subjects of interests, and more than one can chew in four days. Below is a selection of suggested lectures, assemblies, projects… somewhat related to HWC topics and interests.

Lectures:

(27) Personal tracking device and online identity 

(27) Mobile self-defense 

(27) Crypto tales from the trenches 

(27) Citizenfour (film)

(28) The Invisible Committee Returns with “Fuck Off Google”

(28) Hacking ethics in education 

(28) Internet of Toilets: Trend in the sanitarian territory

(28) From Computation to Consciousness: How computation helps to explain mind, universe, and everything

(28) Reconstructing Narratives – Transparency in the service of Justice 

(28) Doing right by the sources, done right (whistleblowers and sources protection)

(29) Freedom in your computer and in the net

(29) Security Analysis of a full-body X ray Scanner

(29) The Machine To Be Another : Exploring identity and empathy through neuroscience, embodiment, VR and storytelling

(30) The Taste of Surveillance: Artistic responses to invasive observation

Assemblies, projects, self-organized sessions..

Kidspace

Food Hacking Base

Move that body martial arts  

QueerFeministGeeks 

Crying on the bathroom floor for no apparent reason

Dev-Human 

Practical Whistleblowing  

Tails 

SEX Seed EXchange

Hillhacks – Hackers without borders 

Found Hugs  

Littérature ressources intérieures : Antoine Volodine

“C’était une construction intérieure, une base de repli, une secrète terre d’accueil, mais aussi quelque chose d’offensif, qui participait au complot à mains nues de quelques individus contre l’univers capitaliste et contre ses ignominies sans nombre.”

Antoine Volodine, Le post-exostisme en dix leçons, leçon onze. 

Étendues infinies indéterminées, guerres en boucles, déserteurs botanistes, mémés communistes increvables, espaces-temps intermédiaires, poches de résistance mentales, tactiques révolutionnaires chamaniques, animaux en errance karmique, cryptographie surréaliste, amitiés instinctives, poésie de combat, ordres de missions hallucinés… Voici quelques composés de la littérature “complot à mains nues (…) contre l’univers capitaliste” menée en une quarantaine de livres par l’auteur connu sous le pseudonyme Antoine Volodine et sa bande d’hétéronymes (Lutz Bassman, Elli Kronauer, Manuela Draeger…) comme autant de dissidents à l’ordre mondial inhumain, ainsi que des “amies” comme Maria Soudaieva, dont le fantastique Slogans, qu’il a traduit du russe au français, pourrait bien être une mine de pass-phrases imprenables. Coup de coeur aussi pour les livres de Manuela Draeger à destination du jeune public, à l’école des loisirs, et surtout pour Onze Rêves de Suie.

Son dernier roman Terminus Radieux a reçu cette année le prix Médicis de la littérature, ce qui signifie que pour une fois, on peut s’acheter un excellent livre en speed à la gare, et se ressourcer âme, coeur, imaginaire, action, en base de replisecrète terre d’accueil. En littérature amie.

Boot Sequence

Here is a video tutorial for day-to-day self-care: a “boot sequence” of movements to wake up, warm up, unlock, stretch, strengthen. Recommended in the morning, before physical activity, or to restore some flow after prolonged stillness.
Dedicated to the many courageous people striving for a good fair world.
May this help you take care and stay strong <3
Special dedication to Julian Assange of Wikileaks.

—————————————————

Julian Assange is the founder and editor in chief of Wikileaks.

The publication by Wikileaks of US diplomatic cables and the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs in 2010, exposing US wrong doings and crimes to the public, has brought considerable heat on him and the organization.

In 2012 Assange entered the embassy of Ecuador in London asking for asylum, which he was granted in protection against the political persecution and threats to his life coming from the USA. Indeed in the USA, a secret grand jury is investigating him and Wikileaks, and public figures have called for his assassination, meaning exceptional (illegal?) law and bad treatments most probably await him there (see how Manning was treated).

Contrary to what medias are spinning, Assange is not trying to escape justice in Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning (and not charged) in relation to alleged sexual offenses. Only Sweden is not giving guarantees he would not be extradited to the USA should he travel there for the investigation, nor is the Swedish prosecution accepting alternatives proposed by Assange’s legal team – among other dubious bizarreries in this case.

Meanwhile, the UK keeps the Ecuadorian embassy under constant police watch, refuses Assange safe-passage to his host country, ready to arrest and extradite him to Sweden should he set foot outside.

Consequently Assange has not been able to leave the building and see daylight in over two years, a situation effectively equivalent to pre-charge detention and a violation of his rights denounced by 59 international organizations.

More info and support : 

“The siege of Julian Assange is a farce”, John Pilger

“We are Women Against Rape but we do not want Assange extradited”, Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff

This day in Wikileaks 

Free Assange Now 

justice4assange

 

 

 

Radio care

Listener-supported, commercial free, SF based SomaFM has a selection of quality music channels from which to pick. Get into a groove, chill, feel, soothe your soul, be inspired, find focus, make a sound cocoon for yourself, immerse your friends in good vibes, create distraction, noise barriers…

We currently have a thing for Earwaves, “spanning the history of electronic and experimental music from the early pioneers to the latest innovators”. It fills space with a relaxed yet strong focus. Good for work, meditation, and bodywork sessions.

DONDE NO HAY DOCTOR and other health books free

Easy indispensable basic health guides for people and communities worldwide, accessible for free in many languages HERE on Hesperian Health website – including David Werner classic Donde No Hay Doctor. Covering many topics, for when there is no doctor, no dentist, for people with special needs, women and children, disabled, and because health is a right.

 

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Yoga-to-go

Classic, concise, clear, accessible yoga book ASANA PRANAYAMA MUDRA BANDHA by Swami Satyananda Saraswati is available HERE although not in its latest version.

Imo, this manual is particularly interesting when new to yoga and/or or looking for some easy body routines that you can start practicing alone. The Beginners group is good indeed, with different series of basic exercises to help prevent or help alleviate disorders caused by overexertion and stillness-stasis combined (as in a lot of computer / office work). Check out the Exercises for the eyes !

(Remember to first read the advice and precautions in the introduction)

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Surveillance Self-Defense (EFF)

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Surveillance Self-Defense is EFF’s “guide to defending yourself and your friends from surveillance by using secure technology and developing careful practices.”

Activists or protesters, journalists, human rights defender, everyone, on the move or at home: Be introduced to threat modeling, find out how to keep your data safe, how to create strong passwords, learn about encryption, choose your tools…

For inspiration, you can read Laura Poitras on the crypto tools that made her journalistic work with whistleblower Edward Snowden possible, and the film CITIZENFOUR 

 

 

 

Ateliers découverte des massages, Sept-Dec 2014 @Biopulse, Paris

>>> Programme des ateliers découvertes des massages proposés par l’école Biopulse à Paris pour les semaines à venir. Une variété de thèmes et de formateurs, pour apprendre ou revisiter des bases et se faire du bien dans un moment de partage. Tous niveaux et horizons bienvenus. Les jeudis soirs de 19h30 à 21h30. 15 euros. Inscription nécessaire au 01 44 82 51 29.

E agora ? What now ?

nuno

Portuguese film sound engineer, producer and director Joaquim Pinto has been living with HIV and Hepatitis C for years and lost quite a few of his friends and collaborators to the virus along the way.

Beaten but not down, blurred yet bright and sharp, he offers a rare testimony with E agora ? Lembra-me a personal diary he filmed over a year as he was undergoing experimental drug testing in Madrid. His collections and recollections though, are mostly set in and outside the home he shares with his long love and husband Nuno (also infected) in a dry luminous countryside of Portugal.

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As the four seasons go round we are invited to feel along the repercussions of the clinical trials, but mostly the passing of time, with its very own pace, its redundancies big and small, challenging will, challenging life, the questions and, eventually, the answers only time can bring… The movie opens with a shot of a slug crossing the screen on a dead leaf: You could not accelerate certain processes even if you would, so bear with them. The trips to Madrid, transiting through frantic airports, seem all the more brutal in that perspective (Why do we do that to ourselves ? is among the questions that are raised).

While the announced intention of the film is to record and evaluate the effects of the drugs tested in Madrid (noting side effects you’ll never read about in a drug leaflet) it soon appears that the subject is not so much that but rather other forms and ingredients of care, which although not mentioned as such (and maybe they shouldn’t!) become evaluated in parallel, much more positively. Pretty honestly or “sem merda” as some friends around me have put it.

So yes, honestly : At the end of the day what is really keeping Joaquim, Nuno, us, alive through hardships ?

Here are some suggestions from the film:

Love, definitely. Partnerships, setting the preservation of (a good) life and care of one another as priorities… Abundance of fresh air and sunlight, a connection with nature, mediated by animals, through farming, all of which help keep regular (and circadian) cycles of work, play, rest… Being responsible for someone else, caring for them, a lover, an old dog, a young tree threatened by drought and wildfires… A connection with past generations, some sort of historical inscription in the community of mankind and on the tree of life on earth (“we are not special, just recent”)… Peaceful renunciations to what is no longer suited, all the while reaffirming commitments to what matters most… Solidarity, sharing information, experiences, expression of the voices of the weak… A relative autonomy and self-sufficiency, carefully balancing the dependencies to absurd and adverse economical and healthcare systems… Critical thinking, intellectual curiosity… Creativity, art… Cinema..? As a critic notes “this hypnotic video essay eases the discomforts of the flesh with the comforts of moviemaking” and “the film repeatedly erases the neutral hues of sickness with the lush vibrancy of nature.” So it does.

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“Calibration of feeling”

Julian Assange on emotions as body states, cultivation of character, passion, and purpose. From the archive of his Interesting Question, IQ.org.

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Tue 12 Dec 2006 : Calibration of feeling

Words have no power to change except when there’s a fork in the road with equally attractive paths.

In your position, I’d take a deep book, a backpack of food and a tent and go walking for three months along the.au or .nz coast. You need to recalibrate your emotions through recalibrating your body. Emotions are body states. The mind can not be strong without strength in its relation to the body. ‘Whatever’ is then quickly answered; wake with the sun, take the next step, eat the next bite and behold people and chairs become a delight. It’s hard for you to see this now, since future visions are colored with present emotional responses. But these emotional responses are just another part of your flesh, built from the integration of your neurons and body. It’s material, stuff, like muscle, constructed from last weeks potatoes and environmental stimulus. You can strengthen your will through overcoming physical hardship.

The natural environment provides man with ready motivational gradients, but civilization has filled them in. Hyper-civilized influences, such as computing, artificial lights, drugs, films, instant food supply, telephones and reading decalibrate by disconnecting behavior and reward and failing to provide the sense data that our biological mental and physical structures have evolved to require.

There’s little difference between a mouse exploring a new maze or a scientist realizing the greatest intellectual act of the age. Both are motivated by the same primitive brain regions that control feelings.

‘The point’ comes when feelings demand it. It can only be rationalized from the axioms of primitive emotion. If these axioms are weak due to decalibration by civilization, ‘the point’ eludes us. If they are strong, we pursue our goals with passion and vigor.

Sat 16 Jun 2007 : Everyone and no one wants to save the world

When the world extended to one’s surrounding hills and mountains and over them was only legend, saving the world was approchable and a natural activity to all of independent character.

You do not need to justify the possession of these noble instincts. Such attributes are normally distributed. You have a constellation of these attributes and that makes you who you are. Recognise that the substantial ones are invariant.

You must satisfy your invariant instincts or you will be at odds with your own character. It is only when we are not at odds with our basic makeup that we can find life meaningful.

To exercise your instinct for saving the world, requires saving what you perceive to be the world.

Being modern, educated and wordly, the world you perceive is immense and this is disempowering compared to the valley world of your ancestors where your feelings were forged and where saving 10 people saved 10% of the “world”‘s population.

Here lays the difficulty in actualising your character. Your perception is of a world so vast that that you can not envisage your actions making a meaningful difference.

People try to fool themselves and others into believing that one can “think globally and act locally’, however to anyone with a sense of proportion (not most people, btw) thinking globaly makes acting locally seem to be a marginal activity. It’s not setting the world to rights.

To meaningfully interact with the world, you have to either constrain your perception of what it is back to valley proportions by eschewing all global information (most of us here have engaged on just the opposite course which is what has provoked this discussion), losing your sense of perspective, or start seriously engaging with the modern perception of the world.

That latter path can be hard to find, because it is only satisfied by creating ideas or inventions that have a global impact. Perhaps I have found one, and there’s others out there, but for most people of your character a combination of eschewing knowledge of those parts of the world they can’t change, and robust engagement with the parts they can is probably optimal.

Do not be concerned about when one is to do good, who defines good, etc. Act in the way you do because to do otherwise would to be at odds would to be at odds with yourself. Being on a path true to your character carries with it a state of flow, where the thoughts about your next step come upon waking, unbidden, but welcome.

I support similarly minded people, not because they are moral agents, but because they have common cause with my own feelings and dreams.

Tue 18 Jul 2006 : Laughter

Laughter is fear and relief. Fear is all around. Every step is conditioned by the fear of falling. It is the relief from primitive anxiety and alarm responses that give rise to laughter. The release of the breath that wasn’t needed. That sudden surprise rendered harmless by higher perception. Wonder, when accompanied by the expression of laughter is the unknown and fearful transformed. A transformation by subconscious brain functions typically of sub second duration. A transformation that takes the unknown and therefore possibly lethal and yields up the unknown and harmless to observe. Something to be explored, understood and remembered by wide eyed curiosity. Those eyes wide to suck in the world and a memory hungry for its details. A psychological and physiological stance that makes the unknown known. A state of maximal observational learning. 

  

Guía fácil para el aborto espontáneo (y salvaje) – Maria Llopis

Guía fácil para el aborto espontáneo (y salvaje) –

An Easy (and wild) guide to miscarriage (also available in English) –

Maria Llopis

1.- Definición de términos. ¿Qué es un aborto espontáneo?

Un aborto espontáneo o aborto natural es la pérdida de un embrión por causas no provocadas intencionadamente. Se distingue pues de un aborto inducido. El término se puede aplicar solo cuando la pérdida se produce antes de la semana 20 del embarazo, a partir de ese momento se denominará parto prematuro.

2.- Antes de abortar.

Las causas de los abortos espontáneos son un misterio para la medicina occidental y no hay nada que un médico pueda hacer para impedirlos. Si intentan recetarte progesterona, recházala. No hay pruebas de eficacidad y solo conseguirán ponerte de un humor depresivo y suicida.

Si te prohiben tener relaciones sexuales, desconfía. Se suele desaconsejar el sexo cuando hay amenaza de aborto (como pérdidas de sangre) pero no existe evidencia científica de que el sexo provoque el aborto. Lo que sí puede suceder es que empieces a abortar después de tener relaciones sexuales. Pero las relaciones no son la causa, simplemente estimulan un proceso que YA a empezado en tu interior. Es como cuando te viene la regla después de follar. No te viene la regla porque folles, te viene porque no te has quedado embarazada. Que no te confundan. Algunos ginecólogos tienen vocación de curas.

3.- No vayas a un centro médico.

Si te has hecho una ecografía y ya no hay latido (es decir el embrión ha muerto) vas a sufrir un aborto. Es solo cuestión de tiempo. Tienes que tener paciencia porque la cosa se puede demorar semanas. Prepara tu cuerpo y despídete. Cada caso es distinto. Cuando comience te darás cuenta, empezarás a sangrar y a sufrir calambres. No vayas a un centro médico porque hay muchas posibilidades de que te hagan una intervención muy agresiva y en absoluto necesaria.

 

Prosthetic Surveillance

Prosthetic Surveillance: The medical governance of healthy bodies in cyberspace

(Emma Rich, Andy Miah)

Abstract : 

This paper examines how ‘surveillance medicine’ (Armstrong 1995) has expanded the realm of the medical gaze via its infiltration of cyberspace, where specific features of healthism are now present. Drawing on Foucault’s notion of biopower, we examine how digital health resources offer new ways through which to discipline individuals and regulate populations. The emergence of health regulation within and through cyberspace takes place in a context wherein the relationship between the body and technology is rendered more complex. Departing from early literature on cyberspace, which claimed that the body was absent in virtual worlds, we articulate a medicalized cyberspace within which the virtual and corporeal are enmeshed. 

The range of health issues articulated through surveillance discourses are many and varied, though of significance are those related to weight and health, as they provide a particularly rich example through which to study medical surveillance in cyberspace due to their moral and regulative focus. We argue that the capacity for health resources to encourage disciplinary and regulative practices defies the designation of virtual, as non-reality. Moreover, with the advent of a range of digital platforms that merge entertainment with the regulation of the body, such as Internet based nutrition games, and the use of games consoles such as Nintendo wii fit, cyberspace may be providing a forum for new forms of regulative practices concerning health. These virtual environments expand our understandings of the boundaries of the body, since much of what takes place occurs through both a virtualization of identity, such as the use of an avatar or graphic image of one’s body on screen, and a prostheticisation of the body within cyberspace. To conclude, while surveillance medicine regulates physical selves in real time, we argue that there is a growing tendency towards a prosthetic surveillance, which regulates and defines bodies that are simultaneously hyper-text and flesh. 

Full article (pdf) on Surveillance & Society journal :

http://library.queensu.ca/ojs/index.php/surveillance-and-society/article/view/3256

Self-care in times of psychological distress

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Some states of psychological distress can be more severe than others. Some might not require that you seek assistance from friends and/or health-care professionals, some can wait a little before you do, others are emergencies. Some might require medication, even hospitalization, others not necessarily or better not.

When / if your physical and mental integrity are critically at stake, you should seek competent assistance immediately (If you are a friend of such person, stay with them always and seek assistance ASAP)For example, you have been experiencing symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, depersonalization (feeling of being unreal), you have attempted suicide, are thinking about it, or have engaged in other self harming/ dangerous behaviors. A variety of symptoms can come with psychological distress, affecting your overall state, from insomnia to lack of appetite, to apathy, agression, lack of enthousiasm, increased vulnerability to infections, memory loss and other forms of cognitive impairement, and more… Your need for outside help will of course depend on the intensity and chronicity of these manifestations (or the absence of thereof, for that matter). In any case, you should maybe start taking (extra) care of yourself.

Following are some advices for self-care (still valid even if someone else is also taking care of you) to go through such times, based upon my knowledge and experience with myself and others. Please bear in mind that I am NOT a doctor nor a psychology clinician. Like I said, if your symptoms are very intense and/or long going and your mental and physical integrity are at stake, you should seek competent assistance immediately.

For more informations about mental health and what to do in specific situations, you can also look for mental health care “educational” handouts that I have posted from specialized organizations (it can be a good idea to distribute them in your community).

Mental health first aid guidelines, by MHFA Australia

Mental health care handouts, from Icarus project.

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SO, WHAT CAN YOU DO NOW TO HELP and CARE FOR YOURSELF IN TIMES OF PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTRESS ?

* NURTURE YOUR BODY, don’t let it down or put extra stress on it by neglecting your “vitals”. Make sure you get what you need in water, nutrients, sleep, rest / activity. Don’t tire your system more with junk food, excitants, alcohol. Re-install regular cycles for eating, sleeping… Wash. Change clothes. Get some fresh air and light. Get a massage. Use your senses, smell good smells, listen to good sounds. Get moving if you’ve only been resting, get some rest if you’ve only been running. If possible, don’t drop out of your favorite sport or hobby; that is of course, assuming you are eating, drinking water, sleeping, and that you have no injuries or disease (otherwise, physical activities might actually be harmful). In any case, don’t overdo it, your body is probably weaker. Also, in times of adversity, certain holistic disciplines (like yoga or others), practiced safely and softly, can reveal their core-lessons: your learn that you can carry yourself through life. If it has become impossible to look after yourself, consider moving in with someone nice whom you can be inspired by, and or having good people over (for example for meals), until you are able to take good care of yourself and/or taken care of by a professional.

* BE WISE ABOUT (FURTHER) ALTERING YOUR STATE OF CONSCIOUSNESS  Consider strong psychological distress as an already altered state of consciousness, a painful one, with its own special chemistry. Maybe it is wiser not to fiddle with it more, at least without competent supervision. Avoid self-medication. Beware of alcohol. Remember what Bob Marley said ? Alcohol just gets you drunk man. Be wise with psychedelics: If you are unexperienced and/or without the supervision of someone who is (preferably not just in the recreative department), then you should maybe avoid them altogether (you can also look for psychoactives / psychedelik knowledge and wisdom through MAPS and/or Erowid resources). If you’re already with a habit of say, smoking pot or drinking, try not to do more, and beware of taking on a new habit you didn’t have before. Also, know that lack of sleep can play serious tricks on your mind too. Careful with sur-stimualtion of your intellect and senses. Get a rest once in a while from your computer (or other sources of mental input) and all it is feeding your burned-out-intellect with.

* IDENTIFY AND STOP SELF HARMYou are aching. You are vulnerable. With vicious logic, you might engage in behaviors that will, more or less directly and quickly, lead to more harm to yourself. Like what ? Like intoxicating yourself, not eating, over-eating, over spending, betting, taking stupid risks, cutting yourself, punching doors, being aggressive towards strangers, driving fast, not wearing a helmet, trusting the wrong persons, disclosing information, lying about your health, sabotaging or destroying your work etc. These behaviors will only make things worse. All aches will ache more eventually. You may be depressed, but if you don’t limit self-harm, then one morning you wake up and you still have a depression + liver damage + weight loss + infection + injuries + brand new addiction + no friends + your work has disappeared + god knows what. Disengage from this process.

* COME OUT about your psychological distress. Say how you are feeling, what your are going through, to your family and/or friends and/or co-workers, without ambiguity, in your own simple words, without minimizing nor exaggerating. You need not go into details, certainly not with everyone. What you want is to make sure that the persons around you and/or whom you trust, become aware that your condition is serious and that you are engaging in a process of taking extra care of yourself. If they are smart and they care about you, from then on they will not take you on crazy binge-drinking sessions on saturday nights, or drop pills down your throat screaming “you gonna be oookaay “. They will not say “I hear you”, then hand you a ten tons file to work on over the weekend. If they still do that after you’ve told them how you are, they might be ignorant/stupid and/or toxic to you, at least for now (see below): Make yourself clear once more and/or maybe avoid them…

* CAREFUL WITH THAT EXTRA LOAD OF WORK / DECLINE MORE RESPONSABILITIES ? Note -and make others note- that if you are not well, it could be irresponsible on your part to accept more responsabilities, especially when OTHER people depend on your good shape for their health and safety. Desist. Don’t raise the probability of “human-error” being made, it’s bad enough as an expression.

* ACCEPT GENUINE HELP from others, whether your know them well or not, when it comes your way. It can be that someone you didn’t think cared about you proposes to drive you somewhere you need to go. It can be a smile or a conversation with a stranger. Something warm, simple, gently destined to you. How do you know if a helping gesture is genuine and good for you ? You feel it, mostly. Of course it has a certain consistency with observable facts. As for feeling, you should feel more free, a little more alive, when you accept/receive the gesture coming from that person, not the contrary. You can know when a hand is lifting you up, or pushing you down. Trust your instinct. That said, beware of full-on saviors invading your life/privacy, especially if their personal life is a total mess !

* ACCEPT THAT HELP MIGHT NOT COME FROM WHERE YOU THOUGHT IT WOULD. We are all different, and all striving at times not to lose it. Your intense state of distress might be to hard to deal with for some, who will tend to protect themselves from it. And maybe they should, so respect that. Let them be, let go of any resentment or disappointment. Who knows, they might start providing help at other stages of the sometime long process of psychological recovery, they might help in ways you don’t recognize yet, they might not help at all. You’ll see if you can catch up with them later. DO KICK them out of your life, though, very far, if they start attacking you, being nasty or clearly disrespectful to you (see below “avoid toxic people”).

Know that when you start REDEFINING yourself, for example through therapy or even self-care, it is not unusual that your relationships, the world around you, start redefining themselves too. It can be an interesting, healthy, and pacific process, with familiar faces moving a bit afar and new faces entering your life. It is OK, it is often for the better, and it doesn’t mean the end of old good things/partnerships. Everyone gets an opportunity to change/update when you do (that they will or will not take, it’s not your call).

* SEEK GOOD COMPANY especially if being alone makes you more at risk of neglecting/hurting yourself. Ask if you can stay with someone close and/or have someone stay over and/or come for meals with you (that will make it easier to actually think about eating). Surround yourself with good harmonious lovely loving beings, inspiring, talented, and caring. Yes, some persons have all qualities and some of them are even your friends. Rub your face in these friendships. Tell them you love them.

* AVOID TOXIC PEOPLE.
I have already mentionned above the full-on savior-invader with fucked-up personal life, well, that’s one type of toxic people. There are plenty. They feed on you, they parasite or pollute you, they irritate, manipulate, exhaust or confuse you, or they make you feel like shit when you’re trying to feel better. Generally, you recognize that someone is kind of toxic to you when you feel somehow worse after they’ve “helped” you or after you’ve been with them than before. And maybe they, on the contrary, strangely look all pumped up, kind of invigorated, by your torments…

* IMPROVE / CARE FOR YOUR IMMEDIATE SURROUNDINGS/ HOME: Keep or make a clean, tidy home. Take the trash out. Open the windows once in a while, let light and air in. Have distinct spaces for distinct activities, if possible (if not possible, you can invent some sort of code/ritual to transition between space/activities). Remember what grandma said: You make the bed you wake up in. You don’t need to master Feng-shui or even “believe” in it to understand that a certain state of things in the house creates a certain flow, a certain circulation, a certain vibe, around the house, around you, that will both reflect and affect you, that will “attract” certain situations, thoughts, feelings, more than others. Well, you know what to do. Help yourself, materialize well.

* PROJECT YOURSELF,  VALUE LIFE. You like what you do ? If you don’t like what you’re doing with your life well then, no wonder you are distressed… Maybe it should be the first thing you consider changing ?! But let’s assume you really like what you do, and maybe that you are even very good at it, and maybe that you know it is very important for others – You want to be able to keep doing it, right ? As best as possible ? Is that very clear to you ? I repeat, is that very clear to you ?

* BE COURAGEOUS ! Yesit takes a load of courage, patience and dedication to get oneself through a crisis, and grow from it. And your own demons and weaknesses can be real hard to face. But guess what, once you start doing that, caring for yourself, you will have plenty more energy free to fight other fights. You will become able to help others better, and maybe in more ways, both simple and sophisticated ways. Remember : COURAGE IS CONTAGIOUS. Help yourself, help others.

Michelle Blade today

(This article was reviewed 06/05 by a friend qualified psychotherapist – It was not changed after except the section avoid toxic people was just shortened a bit not to inspire too much “paranoid” feelings – THANK YOU/HER

Art ©Michelle Blade – gathering into being

“Navigating the space between brilliance and madness” : The Icarus Project

icarus_youarenotalone

The Icarus Project is a “radical mental health support network, online community, and alternative media project by and for people struggling with extreme emotional distress that often gets labeled as mental illness.” You can read their mission statement, here. Principles like access, transparency, looking beyond the medical, self and/or alternative education, all guide a relaxed yet resolute, diffracting yet convergent, initiative for the well-being of extra-ordinary people. Browsing through their pages you’ll find they provide a lot of resources (articles, forums, etc.) to help one “navigate the space between brilliance and madness”. It will speak to whoever is confronted to “madness” at some point in their life, one way or another, in a world that is constantly LOSING IT in many aspects.

Taking care of oneself or helping someone in a psychological crisis can be tricky. Not everybody is experienced or comfortable in dealing with different, awkward, or extreme states of consciousness. As a matter of fact, many people it seems become clueless when confronted to psychological distress, even their own… Some psychological states are indeed impressive, and some can actually threaten a person’s mental and physical integrity. But with appropriate reactions (often rather simple ones, like keeping the voice down or introducing oneself), informed attention, kindness and clear intentions, a little help can go a long way in supporting recovery or preventing harm. Even better is the care we can provide as a group, attentive, resilient, aware and creative, because it will be more sustainable, and so the recovery or at least the safety of the person will stand more chances too in the long term.

So how to take care of oneself when the mind is troubled ? How to take care of friends, of strangers, of friends who suddenly become strangers ? Breaking the taboo around “madness” in one’s community can be a good start, making a safe space, becoming a bit more literate in psychology / caregiving, aware and confident… By not being afraid to do good ?

Following is a small selection of handouts, information sheets, guides and zines I found on Icarus website relative to psychological care. They are all interesting to read, print, post, share. They can give you insight and clues and confidence. All Icarus Project material is licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND.

NAVIGATING CRISIS handout

“Someone’s personality starts to make strange changes, they’re not sleeping or sleeping all day, they lose touch with the people around them, they disappear into their room for days, they have wild energy and outlandish plans, they start to dwell on suicide and hopelessness, they stop eating or taking care of themselves, or they start taking risks and being reckless. They become a different person. They’re in crisis. The word “crisis” comes from a root meaning “judgment.” A crisis is a moment of great tension and meeting the unknown. It’s a turning point when things can’t go on the way they have, and the situation isn’t going to hold. Could crisis be an opportunity for breakthrough, not just breakdown? Can we learn about each other and ourselves as a community through crisis? Can we see crisis as an opportunity to judge a situation and ourselves carefully, not just react with panic and confusion or turn things over to the authorities? “

CRISIS PLANNER pdf

“Noticing and responding to symptoms early reduces the chances that you will find yourself in crisis. But it is important to confront the possibility of a crisis because in spite of your best planning and assertive action in your own behalf, you could find yourself in a situation where others will need to take over responsibility for your care. (…) Writing a clear crisis plan when you are well, to instruct others about how to care for you when you are not well keeps you taking responsibility for your own care.”

HELP GETTING TO SLEEP information sheet

“Not sleeping for long periods of time is extremely dangerous for physical and emotional 

FIRST AID FOR EMOTIONAL TRAUMA information sheet 

“Trauma (or post-traumatic stress disorder) is the emotional “shock” after a life-threatening, violent event. Anything that makes our body panic and go into a fight/flight/freeze response can leave us traumatized. The effects may be immediate or take time to surface, and can be felt for the rest of our lives. “

HURTING YOURSELF zine

“how to take care of yourself when you feel the urge to hurt yourself ”

* HARM REDUCTION GUIDE TO COMING OFF PSYCHIATRIC DRUGS 

Excerpt : “Applying harm reduction philosophy to mental health is a new but growing approach. It means not always trying to eliminate “symptoms” or discontinue all medications. It recognizes that people are already taking psychiatric drugs, already trying to come off them, and already living with symptoms — and that in this complicated reality people need true help, not judgment. It encourages balancing the different risks involved: the harm from extreme states, as well as the harm from treatments such as adverse drug effects, disempowering labels, and traumatic hospitalization.

Making harm reduction decisions means looking honestly at all sides of the equation: how drugs might help a life that feels out of control, how risky those same drugs might be, and the role of options and alternatives. Any decisions become a process of experimentation and learning, including learning from your own mistakes and changing your goals along the way. Harm reduction accepts all this, believing that the essence of any healthy life is the capacity to be empowered.”

 

 

HACK STRESS and prevent collateral damages to yourself

Stress-Graphic-resized-600.jpg

WHAT IS STRESS ? 

Stress is a useful, dynamic state of tension that will boost your mind and body when you need to actively and quickly respond to extraordinary demanding situations. Hence the idea is not to rid our lives of stress altogether, but rather, to learn to operate at “optimum” levels of stress, to calm down when stress is done serving its purpose, and to find balance between challenges. Indeed, if the mind and body do not experience regularly the state opposite to stress -rest, relaxation, regeneration- the general well-being and health of a person can suffer some serious aches in the long run.

STRESS activates your senses for action, it prepares you to “flee or fight“, as evolution scientists like to put it. It can be defined as a powerful set of physiological and behavioral responses to a set of demands and pressures. Some of the demands and pressures you perceive come from outside (surveillance dispositive, laws, heavy work-load, aggressive threats, poor weather, noisy surroundings, lack of daylight…), some you might have “internalized” (education, prejudices, norms…), and some are more personal/internal and/or or related to your actual physical condition (ideals, personal views, illness, hunger…). These are often entangled. When they “reach” a critical level, very subjective, all these demands and pressures trigger your stress response.

REACTION AND OVER-REACTION 

Together, your nervous and endocrine systems operate some switches and start “firing” their neurotransmitters, and specific stress hormones (epinephrine and norepinephrine, a.k.a. adrenaline and noradrenaline, cortisol…), which, networking between your organs via nerves and blood vessels, sensitize and prepare all systems for a joint action. Your heartbeat rises, your breathing becomes faster and shallower, your digestion and excretory functions are put on hold, memories are pushed aside to boost focus on one concern, your muscular skeletal system gets extra tensed and tonic, you mouth goes dry, you start to sweat, etc.

That is a LOT of ACTION. Normally, it all goes back to a calm pacific state once the danger is dealt with, mind and body rest and you regenerate after the extra struggle. But if/when all this ACTION goes on after the challenge has passed or if – as is the case – the fight or resistance is NEVER OVER and you cannot allow yourself to stop, your mind and body become at risk of turning into a devastated, depleted battlefield, with little resources for you (or others) to draw from, and a likely generalsensitization that will make you each time more vulnerable to the next attack… until you are the one unconsciously attacking yourself with this chemistry. And while the demands and pressures are probably still (out)there stressing you, your stress response also starts feeding on itself… And there you are, entering the dodgy state of CHRONIC STRESS…

CHRONIC STRESS 

Symptoms of CHRONIC STRESS will quite logically and frantically reflect the havoc in all your body systems: tormented digestion (diarrhea for example) which in turn might lead to bad assimilation of nutrients, bad sleep (insomnia…), poor immunity (susceptibility to infections, allergies, auto-immune and inflammatory diseases…), cognitive disorders (bad memory, memory loss, poor concentration..), heart problems (high blood pressure, tachycardia.. ), emotional distress (depression, rage, panic attacks…), below ground libido and/or sexual dysfunctions, muscle strains, pathologies of the tendons, ligaments and joints (caused by some of the above + bad posture associated with chronic tensions), adoption and/or abuse of “toxic” and/or addictive substances (alcohol, tobacco, pain killers, sleeping pills, coffee… you name it) in attempts to self-regulate and/or compensate for difficulties in all the above areas, more vulnerability to addiction. So much for “survival” then…

Once the damages are done it takes long for the mind and body to recuperate (of course the longer the non-stop stress period the worse). Better then to think about how to balance your forces AS YOU GO. If/when you understand better your stress response and become more aware of how efficiently or badly it affects you, you can start having ideas on how to prevent damage to yourself and yes, to others (whom you might be neglecting or shouting at, or taking ill advised, impulsive decisions for). You are welcome to share these ideas ! Here are some known tricks and strategies I have used for myself and, sometimes others, with positive results.

SWITCH OFF the STRESS RESPONSE WITH DEEP (ABDOMINAL) BREATHING 

belly-breathing-posture

The part of the nervous system that is specifically involved with the stress response is the autonomic nervous system (a.k.a involuntary) responsible for the automatic (without thinking) control of basic essential and visceral functions, which I have described above (respiration, heart rate, digestion…). The autonomic nervous system is comprised of two antagonist systems, that is, two distinct networks of nerves connecting the same organs but with opposite effects: the sympathetic nervous system stimulates action as in the stress response, where it prevails, while the parasympathetic system is responsible for rest and regeneration (both do so by inhibiting or stimulating this or that, see image). The nerve branches of the sympathetic system exit the spine at the thoracic and lumbar vertebras, while the nerve branches of the parasympathetic exit the spine at the cervical and sacred vertebras.

NEU_autonomic_nervous_system

In stress response, the sympathetic system is king. As I have said, breathing is faster and shallower. The muscular work/effort of breathing (which always involves various principal and accessory muscles) tends to be concentrated in the shoulders and thorax, with the diaphragm not going down very low in the abdomen. Next time you feel stressed, anxious, observe what is happening with your breathing, what do you notice? (notice, for example, how your tummy is sticking in and not ballooning out like a kid’s). We cannot control the fact that we breathe to be alive -that’s where the autonomic nervous system is involved- but we can have control over HOW we breathe thanks to our central nervous system and brain.

To switch to the parasympathetic system, that will favor a state of relaxation, you can try deep abdominal breathing. Lower the shoulders (=lower the guard !), lie down if you can, place a soft hand on your abdomen, another one on the thorax/heart (feel the heart pounding and later feel how it slows down). Breathe in through the nose, extend your diaphragm to the max, let air in all the way DOWN to the most remote places of your obscure belly, let your abdomen fully BALLOON. Breathe out (empty slow the balloon) through the mouth until there is no air left down there. Then, naturally, just like a pump, fill your belly up again. Think only of what you are doing : breathing in and out, and FEEL what it feels like. What does it feel like in the abdomen when it stretches to the shape of a balloon ? What does it feels like to have that “knot” at the solar plexus slowly soften, untie ? There in your plexus, travels a very important nerve of the parasympathetic system, called the vagus nerve. The movements of your deep diaphragmatic breathing will likely stimulate this nerve and help you switch systems, from sympathetic to parasympathetic. Meanwhile, the fact that you are no longer breathing so much in the thorax will lessen the stimulation to the nerve branches of the sympathetic system that exit at these vertebras and also contribute to that switch. Slower heartbeat, loose breathing, that chilly feeling, laid-back stomach sounds (indicating a restart of peristalsis) all signal that you have made it to a quieter state.

vagus-nerve-image

images

Practice on yourself whenever necessary and in more quiet times, so that you are ready when it IS important that you come down. Practicing on yourself will then allow you to practice on someone else who might need your help to achieve this switch. It is a very caring hack that requires patience, trust, confidence. You do not impose a way of breathing to someone, you create a space, conditions and contact that are welcoming for them to find their way to relaxation through deep breathing. I have practiced with success on myself and people who showed up at my massage table with a lot of anxiety.

OTHER SUGGESTIONS AND TIPS

– Break it down! You might want to break down whatever “THE” great MISSION into sequences of smaller missions, for a start, so you can identify “cycles” more easily, and make room for rest/recuperation after completion of each task.

– Identify and analyze demands and pressures both external and internal and make all possible changes immediately AT HAND to alleviate these. It might not be easy to influence which scumbag is going to be at the head of a state or an institution, but it is probably in your power to not let yourself starve while thinking about it. Don’t add to a long list of stressors outside by neglecting yourself and/or your surroundings. Take all the “stones” you think are no “big deal in comparison to the importance of the cause” out of your boots NOW so you can have more strength to actually climb the mountain. Meditate to identify which external pressures and demands you’ve unconsciously taken to be yours and can or should discard, spot pressures and demands that actually belong to the past (but for some odd reason you behave like they are still on), reflect upon YOUR interpretations of stressful situations, modify them so they suit you better, and eventually make your mind more caring and comfortable for your SELF, that needs not be oppressed further.

– Acknowledge your emotion(s) and others’ emotion(s) in stressful situations. ANXIETY, ANGER, and SADNESS are the three main emotions associated to the state of stress. Emotions are great, they are vital, so once again, it’s not about getting rid of them, it’s about balance. Understanding emotions, so that they contribute to a vibrant life rather than become a pain (to you and others’) deserves an article which I will write another day. IMHO, one advice that can go a long way is to acknowledge the emotions that come knocking at your door during stress. It sounds easy, but it is in fact quite an art, and most people are not very good at it. And many cannot even tell emotions apart, anger or fear, or sadness… Work on that. Learn to be able to say to yourself (or to someone if necessary -acknowledging emotions actually takes a lot of heat off interpersonal conflicts): “Oh, this is anger – Hello anger – You want to cross me ? Sure, ok, just get across then ! ” Kind of “data must flow” applied to emotional life. It is a 100% non judgmental. ANGER is ANGER, SADNESS is SADNESS, neither good or bad. Resist them emotions, and they’ll bother you for hours. Welcome them, and you’re done with them in 20 minutes.

– Install and SUSTAIN regular eat / sleep / and other life patterns. Most things in the body work hand in hand, alternating with their antagonist and counterparts. It is like a dance, you don’t want all your systems always stepping on each others feet, conflicting, or becoming shy on you or shutting down, you want them to settle a little bit as to when they come in and when they come out to do what is is they have to do for your to be well. Think CYCLES, complete.

– Move your body where it has not been moved and relax that which has been tensed too long. 

– Practice relaxation techniques or disciplines that will favor the state antagonist to stress, like Chi-Kung, yoga, mediation, breathing techniques, or other not necessarily “oriental”. The deep tummy breathing described above can be practiced daily. Be aware that SPORTS (as in tennis, or running, or squash) might still solicit your active side. Although sports certainly have good effects (like building stamina or “emptying the mind”) they won’t necessarily bring your system to COOL DOWN. Getting a massage is also a good idea, or getting someone to gently scratch your back…

Disclaimer: I am here to share what I know, what I have experienced and read, but I am not a qualified doctor ! Do consult with one in due time if you experience stress related disorders that you feel might be endangering your physical and/or mental health. 

Switch Off from stress with abdominal breathing

NEU_autonomic_nervous_system

The part of the nervous system that is specifically involved with the stress response (described in details in previous post) is the autonomic nervous system (a.k.a involuntary) responsible for the automatic (without thinking) control of basic essential and visceral functions (respiration, heart rate, digestion…). The autonomic nervous system is comprised of two antagonist systems, two distinct networks of nerves connecting the same organs but with opposite effects: the sympathetic nervous system stimulates action as in the stress response, where it prevails, while the parasympathetic system is responsible for rest and regeneration (both do so by inhibiting or stimulating this or that, see image). The nerve branches of the sympathetic system exit the spine at the thoracic and lumbar vertebras, while the nerve branches of the parasympathetic exit the spine at the cervical and sacred vertebras.

In the stress response, the sympathetic nervous system is king. Breathing is faster and shallower. The muscular work/effort of breathing (which always involves various principal and accessory muscles) tends to be concentrated in the shoulders and thorax, with the diaphragm not going down very low in the abdomen. Next time you feel stressed, anxious, observe what is happening with your breathing, what do you notice? (notice, for example, how your tummy is sticking in and not ballooning out like a kid’s). We cannot control the fact that we breathe to be alive -that’s where the autonomic nervous system is involved- but we can have control over HOW we breathe thanks to our central nervous system and brain.

belly-breathing-posture

To switch to the parasympathetic system, that will favor a state of relaxation, you can try deep abdominal breathing. Lower the shoulders (=lower the guard !), lie down if you can, place a soft hand on your stomach, another one on the thorax/heart (feel the heart pounding and later feel how it slows down). Breathe in through the nose, extend your diaphragm to the max, let air in all the way DOWN to the most remote places of your obscure belly, let your abdomen fully BALLOON. Breathe out (empty slow the balloon) through the mouth until there is no air left down there. Then, naturally, just like a pump, fill your belly up again. Think only of what you are doing : breathing in and out, and FEEL what it feels like. What does it feel like in the stomach when it stretches to the shape of a balloon ? What does it feels like to have that “knot” at the solar plexus slowly soften, untie ? There in your plexus, travels a very important nerve of the parasympathetic system, called the vagus nerve. The movements of your deep diaphragmatic breathing will likely stimulate this nerve and help you switch systems, from sympathetic to parasympathetic. Meanwhile, the fact that you are no longer breathing so much in the thorax will lessen the stimulation to the nerve branches of the sympathetic system that exit at these vertebras and also contribute to that switch. Slower heartbeat, loose breathing, that chilly feeling, laid-back stomach sounds (indicating a restart of peristalsis) all signal that you have made it to a quieter state.

images

vagus-nerve-image

Practice on yourself so that you are ready when it IS important that you come down. Practicing on yourself will then allow you to practice on someone else who might need your help to achieve this switch. It is a very caring hack that requires patience, trust, confidence. You do not impose a way of breathing to someone, you create a space, conditions and contact that are welcoming for them to find their way to relaxation through deep breathing. I have practiced it with success on myself and on people when they showed up at my massage table with a lot of anxiety.

frog+Relax

This article is part of a previous larger article about the stress response: HACK STRESS and prevent damages to yourself (and others) in the process of fighting for your ideals