Tag: mindfulness

April 16, 2015   Posted by: sageadmin

Acknowledging Cultural Appropriation Within Our Practice of Traditional East Asian Medicine

Sage Community Health Collective has created a statement on cultural appropriation as part of our ongoing learning and healing process and as part of our commitment to the practice of healing justice.

We humbly offer this statement with the acknowledgement that we are a collective work in process. This represents where our collective analysis is at this moment in time. We hope that those who read this will offer feedback and ideas as we all continue on our individual and collective healing journeys.

At Sage Community Health Collective, part of our healing justice work includes but is not limited to providing individual health and healing services. Our individual and community health and healing work is rooted in Traditional East Asian Medicine (TEAM), a system of healing rooted in centuries-old practices from China, Tibet, India, Japan, Korea, and Thailand.

TEAM encompasses and includes the practice of acupuncture, moxibustion, gua sha, cupping, bodywork, herbal medicine, nutrition counseling and holistic lifestyle strategizing. Rooted in Taoist spirituality, shamanism, and Confucianism, TEAM also includes the practices of meditation, Tai Ji, and Qi Gong.

One of us traces her ancestry back to India, but none of us trace our ancestors back to China, Tibet, Japan, Korea, or Thailand. Because we are Americans who studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, a private for-profit college, we acknowledge that we were taught a commodified form of TEAM known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

TCM is the form of TEAM that Chairman Mao created by distilling centuries of Chinese village-based healing practices into a product fit for export to the West. TCM, as it was sold to and often practiced in the West deemphasized practices that were considered spiritual, superstitious and “backward”. This included many of the Taoist and other kinds of spiritual practices that form the very foundation of TEAM.

We would like to acknowledge the many teachers who did their best to transmit to us the spirit of this medicine within the private for-profit walls of our alma mater.

In this statement, with great humility, we acknowledge the forms that our practice currently takes, and we commit to moving forward with greater respect for the roots of this powerful medicine.

We give thanks to Nisha Ahuja for the powerful video, “You Are Here: Exploring Yoga and the Impacts of Cultural Appropriation”. In it they reference the groundbreaking work on colonization and decolonization by Poka Laeuni and outline several strategies for addressing cultural appropriation in our practices. We have paraphrased them here:

1. Approach your practice with humbleness and humility.

2. Acknowledge where your practice comes from and from whom it comes.

3. Acknowledge the aspects of your practice that you are and are not sharing.

4. Recognize your impact in spaces, being aware of your power and privilege. Ask questions about who is in the room and who is not.
5. Build real relationships with people who are different from you without tokenizing them.

6. Acknowledge where the sacred objects in your space come from.

7. Be accountable with your use of Sanskrit and all sacred languages, acknowledging mispronunciations and what you do not know.

 

With gratitude and curiosity, we contemplated these strategies and would like to share some additional acknowledgements and commitments we would like to make as we continue our work as TEAM practitioners.

 

1. Approach your practice with humbleness and humility.

We humbly practice Traditional East Asian Medicine and acknowledge that even with our certificates and degrees, there is so much about this medicine and East Asian history and culture that we do not know. There is so much for us to learn and continue practicing. Part of what drew us to this medicine was that we knew it would challenge us to learn and grow throughout our careers and lives.

We recognize that none of us trace our ancestors back to China, Japan, or Korea, and therefore we rely on English translations of ancient textbooks, scrolls, and other records in order to learn the concepts of TEAM.

Translation is a highly political act. We acknowledge that in our educations we may have missed subtle nuances that may have been literally lost in the translation.

In our practice of TEAM at Sage Community Health Collective, we aspire to rectify some of the  power dynamics that are often unexamined within the practice and education of TCM/TEAM.

Our mission reads as follows:

    • to create a non-hierarchical worker owned collective committed to community wellness

    • to challenge systemic health disparities and the traditional patient/practitioner dynamic

    • to provide affordable, accessible, trauma-informed and harm-reductionist healing services including acupuncture, herbs, bodywork, and nutritional counseling

    • to facilitate the pursuit of community and individual wellness via workshops and skillshares in partnership with community members, activists, and freedom fighters

We hope that by practicing our mission and infusing each session with trauma sensitivity, harm reduction, and body positivity we may give this medicine back to the people and poor, working-class communities for whom this kind of medicine was originally created and by whom it was always practiced.

 

2. Acknowledge where your practice comes from and from whom it comes.

Most of our practices come from China and the many different cultures, locations, and practices that informed Traditional Chinese Medicine. While we are not Maoists, we consider ourselves part of the Barefoot Doctor lineage, created in Maoist China.

At the same time, our bodywork and healing modalities and systems of medicine travelled along the Silk Route, so all of the practices that were shared and exchanged as they passed from family to family and healer to healer, inevitably morphed and continued to be shared with different cultures. Therefore, in some cases, it is difficult to pinpoint the direct origin of a specific practice, and we see certain practices expressed differently in different regions of Asia today.

The bottom line is that we were all trained at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, a private, for-profit Western institution teaching Eastern Medicine by mostly white, American practitioners.

It is important to state that the curriculum did not rigorously emphasize the importance of the history and lineage of these 5000 year old practices. Therefore, we recognize the necessity of learning more about the roots of our medicine and deepening the authenticity of our practices.

 

3. Acknowledge the aspects of your practice that you are and are not sharing.

At Sage Community Health Collective, none of us identify as Taoists, shamans, or Confucians and do not have in-depth knowledge of each of these rich traditions; therefore, we make the choice to not speak as experts about the spiritual roots of the form of TEAM that we practice.

In general, we aspire to reduce the stigma and stereotypes about TCM/TEAM as being connected to religious dogma, and this raises an important question: for whose benefit are we adapting this medicine. Whose sensibilities are we protecting in erasing entire schools of thought as we practice this medicine? In fact, are we participating in racism, white supremacy, and cultural ethnocentrism by erasing the spiritual roots of this medicine from our practices? This is something we will continue discussing and exploring as we continue to deepen and expand our analysis.

As a challenge to TCM and TEAM, we challenge the gender binaries we often see in TCM language. In general, we challenge language that is not body positive or that is rooted in white supremacy, Eurocentrism, patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia, and violence.

We try to use transformative language as much as we can to express our values and counter oppression, promoting social justice, healing justice, and liberation.

 

4. Recognize your impact in spaces, being aware of your power and privilege. Ask questions about who is in the room and who is not.

Since Sage Community Health Collective opened in May 2011, we have asked ourselves questions about who accesses our services and who does not. We have been continuously engaged in holding focus groups with community members and have been participating in an ongoing Participatory Evaluation Research process, asking who is coming in to Sage, who we serve beyond the walls of Sage, and what obstacles prevent folks from coming to Sage for services. As a result, we have been able to discuss and address some of the identified obstacles, but we are always in the process of learning and adapting to the needs of our communities. We do not do this work alone and in a vacuum. We need our communities to show up for us, push back on us, and lovingly hold us the way we aspire to hold our communities and each other.

We do our best to share power within our collective and with our clients and communities. We do our best to honor the wisdom and complex humanity of those within our collective and those who come for services or to our workshops.

In our individual sessions, we affirm each person’s right to consent to treatment or refuse treatment at any time. We see ourselves as facilitators of a process led by the client/patient, and we root each of our sessions in trauma sensitivity, harm reduction, and body positivity.

All of our workshops are done in popular education style. We begin them by listening, asking people about their own experiences first. We do our best to honor each person’s unique beliefs and traditions, and we do our best to not ascribe or prescribe what self and community care should look like.

The work of collective liberation requires all of our engagement. It is our work to make sure that more of us can bring more of ourselves to the table and stay in the movements we so desperately need.

 

5. Build real relationships with people who are different from you without tokenizing them.

As anti-capitalist business owners, we put people before profit. Our practices are rooted in relationships.

We hold a complex, thriving space that is racially, economically, and culturally diverse. With this diversity come many opportunities for healing and transformative dialogue.

When conflict happens at Sage, we utilize our grievance policy and transformative justice practices as applications of our anti-oppression values and our collective belief that no one is disposable.

Our white practitioners actively engage their whiteness as a political and cultural orientation and are actively working on addressing the impacts of white supremacy and internalized racism on their beings and practices.

Our practitioners of color are engaged in addressing their own internalized white supremacy, actively acknowledging their own power and privileges, and they have developed their own practices of addressing the impacts of colonization and racism in their lives and practices.

Collectively we dedicate our work to movements for Black, POC, trans*/gender-non-conforming, and indigenous liberation, healing justice, and prison abolition. We support and have relationships with individuals and organizations all over the city led by young people and trans*/GNC, BIPOC folks striving for collective healing and transformation.

We want to acknowledge that our Black, Indigenous, POC, and queer/trans*/GNC patients and practitioners of color do unfortunately experience various kinds of micro-aggressions at Sage. As a result, we are trying to raise awareness amongst one another and with our clients about how micro-aggressions negatively impact the individual, the collective, and the work we do here at Sage. We will be releasing literature about micro-aggressions in the clinical setting and how to address them. Stay tuned to our newsletter and our website for more information!

 

6. Acknowledge where the sacred objects in your space come from.

At Sage Community Health Collective, we have gifts and items in the space that come from different cultures that are connected to our own personal histories and paths. Ask us about them if you are curious!

We want to acknowledge that we are called Sage. In our opinion, the name Sage represents the intentions behind our mission, work, and organizing principles.

We see our clients and patients as Sages. We are here to support the manifestation of their bodies’ innate wisdom.

We are aware that Sage burning comes from many different indigenous practices. We burn Sage in our space to shift and clear the energy. When we burn Sage at our space, it is not done with the intention of connecting to or co-opting Native American spiritual practices.

While our ancestors used Sage for healing and in their ceremonial practices, we learned the practice of saging at in Chicago at Stone Soup Housing Cooperative. We acknowledge that we did not create this practice and that we inherited it from white people practicing appropriation of Native American spiritual practices.

To honor the spirit of Sage, we regularly acknowledge it and offer our gratitude for the tenacity, healing, and resilience it grants us on a regular basis.

 

7. Be accountable with your use of Sanskrit and all sacred languages, acknowledging mispronunciations and what you do not know.

As Sage Community Health Collective, we do our best to use accessible terms, but sometimes we use words from our TCM/TEAM training, which can include Latin, pin yin, anatomical terms, terms from Ayurveda, and more.

We most often use language from our training that is pin yin. Pin yin is the Westernized version of Chinese characters. Very often, with this translation, the subtle and nuanced aspects of the Chinese language is appropriated and misrepresented, and so much history and meaning is lost. We acknowledge that we may be pronouncing pin yin in ways that change the meaning of the words we intend to use. We acknowledge and mourn this erasure of history, culture, and meaning.

We ask for the patience of our clients, teachers, and ancestors as we attempt to communicate in liberatory ways about healing, a phenomenon that often exists on a plane where words are at once inadequate and limitlessly powerful.

THANK YOU for reading this statement and for all you do to further the work of healing and transformative movements for liberation. As always, we welcome your feedback, questions, and ideas!

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April 16, 2015   Posted by: sageadmin

Mindful Body, Peaceful Mind: Meditation for Recovery With Melissa Sanchez

Mindful Body, Peaceful Mind: Meditation for Recovery with Melissa Sanchez

Do you?

  • Experience emotional distress that seems unmanageable
  • Struggle to cope with daily stressors
  • Want to learn new tools in recovery from chemical dependency

Mindfulness meditation is a time-honored tradition used to gain insight into your thoughts, feelings and emotions, learn to practice the art of non-judgment and develop a compassionate voice towards body, mind and soul.

This 90-minute group experience will teach you:

  • Foundations of mindfulness
  • Engage you in the practice of meditation
  • Provide a safe and loving environment from which to learn tools to cope with the effects of emotional distress and/or addiction

When: Monday evenings from 7:00 – 8:30 pm

Where: Sage Community Health Collective, 2514 W. Armitage Ave.

Only a few blocks from the Western Blue Line station

Cost: $20 per session (sessions will be ongoing)

To enroll call 312-582-4458 or email sagecommunityhealth@gmail.com

 

Melissa Sanchez, LPC, R-DMT is a dance/movement therapist, meditation teacher and life-long dance artist. Since graduating from Columbia College Chicago, she has worked in community mental health centers throughout the city providing counsel, education in mindfulness meditation, body/mind connective therapy and support in recovery from substance dependence and the effects of chronic and/or severe mental illness. Her practice is stemmed in trauma-focused healing as well as providing holistic therapy alongside “diagnosis” related treatment.

Melissa is a strong proponent of providing access to quality healthcare and healing services to all people regardless of income or socioeconomic background.

 

***Sage Community Health Collective offers this group in order to practice harm reduction and trauma sensitivity by giving our community members an additional healing option that may fit within their frameworks for transformation. We encourage our community members to give us feedback on what groups and workshops may best address our diverse needs.