Self-preservation is defined as the innate desire to stay alive. But what does that really mean in the midst of a global pandemic? Many people would define it as the ability to breathe and exist while others may define it as the ability to be, do and have whatever their hearts desire. In applying the words to my own life, it meant the ability to exist as the fullest expression of myself in all of the aspects of life. At the beginning of 2021, I made a promise to myself that I had only wished to keep. I had promised myself that I would not be spending the 2021 holiday season at home. Like many other people, I struggled to pay rent and bills on time, felt the growing tension and grief of death, and felt the urge to “go back to normal.” The pandemic felt as though it had interrupted our regularly scheduled programming. But the thought of “going back” only reminded me that going back meant sacrificing my mind, body, and spirit in the name of capitalism and living a life in fear around the future.
guest Author Bio:
Charlie L'Strange is a Healer, Sex Educator & Creator who works with groups and individuals in cultivating healing practices and developing their intuition. His work as an Educator ranges from offering workshops on Gender and Sexuality to volunteering as a Safe Schools Speaker with PFLAG sharing his experience as a Black, Queer and Trans Non Binary person. He also offers Reiki energy healing and Intuitive readings to support and guide folks seeking clarity and connection in their daily lives and on their healing journey.
When the pandemic began, I had been recently diagnosed with a chronic illness: one which changed the way that I socialised and interacted with the people and world around me, including my family and clients. It was challenging enough to be Black, Queer, Trans, and Non-Binary in the world, and my illness seemed to add an additional layer of challenges. I felt vulnerable, trapped, and betrayed by my body. Additionally, I felt that I needed to keep this struggle to myself as there were other things happening in the world that seemed to be "more important" than my struggle to be well and stay alive.
The Healer's Healing
During the 2020 lockdown, I had no choice but to rest and listen intently to what my body needed to be well. In my work as a Reiki practitioner and Intuitive Reader, I often support people in understanding how emotional challenges manifest into the physical and material challenges in their lives and support them in clearing paths in their healing process. Somehow in my own healing, I hadn’t connected with all of what would be needed to support myself. Over the last few years, I began learning more about what I would need to live a more fulfilling life. I had been calling myself a Healer but I didn’t really know what it meant to be well in my life. The truth was, that I was sick and tired, literally. On this journey of wellness, I’ve discovered my own recipe for self-preservation.
The ingredients to my Self-Preservation:
Owning your Personal Power
Coming into your personal power is about cultivating an awareness of what you need emotionally, physically, and intellectually in order to feel safe, seen, and whole. It is ultimately about holding your autonomy as a priority. I came to realize early in my journey that other people couldn’t know what was best for me beyond my own discovery and choice to say ‘yes’ and sometimes even to say ‘no.’
I had to make an intentional choice to feed my body what it needed to feel well, for my mind to function clearly, for the emotional regulation needed to support myself and my clients. Owning your personal power creates an opportunity to engage in the practice of grace. There are many ways that the world can lead us to hold shame and guilt around our life experiences and choices. By allowing yourself the grace to make mistakes, change and grow regardless of the opinions of the world, you regain your self-autonomy and power to heal. I came to further believe that the power to heal was within my very being.
There are 101,000 ways to experience intimacy and it is a highly individualized experience of love and care. But something as simple as taking a nap with someone or sharing your favorite book can be an act of intimacy. What is it that fills you up? What do you wish you could share with someone else? How do you define intimacy for yourself? And how do you engage with it on a daily basis? For me, intimacy was it was sharing my self-pleasure journey with my partners and reckoning with the fact that the way that I experienced sexual pleasure was changing. Reading books on intimacy and being in conversation with others about topics you enjoy and even ones that are simply of interest are great ways to further your understanding of how you experience deep intimacy.
Engaging in Nourishment
We all need food and water in order to live healthy and full lives. But nourishment is not limited to what we eat but more so what we choose to consume. From what we watch to what we listen to, it all contributes to our nourishment. Taking the time to be present with your food, for example, is how we engage in our nourishment. What are the ingredients and how do they make you feel? There are many times when we can control what it is that surrounds us but we must remain active participants in our care. Things such as limiting time on social media and spending more time reading books of interest, participating in arts & crafts, or playing your favorite board game are all ways to further contribute to your nourishment.
I know, there’s an ongoing conversation about boundary setting but what does it have to do with self-preservation? Beyond telling other people how you want to be treated, respected, and engaged, setting boundaries with yourself around whose opinions you allow to dictate your choices is just as important. Going home for the holidays, for example, can be a challenging choice for lots of people but ultimately, we have the choice to be where we are loved, seen, and celebrated. There are places around the world that are seeking us, set the boundary that you only allow those voices to support you in expanding the ways that you want to be held and loved. It may be uncomfortable at first, but most new experiences are. These boundaries also include leaving work at work, allowing yourself to rest, and allowing others to support you in doing so.
One of the greatest myths that has been dispelled for me both in my own experience and through my healing work is that talk therapy is the only way to bring forth change in our lives. Although I love talk therapy and highly suggest it to folks, there are various ways to heal the mind, body, and Spirit. Discovering Reiki Energy Healing allowed me to truly believe that I could heal myself because everything, including me, was energy. Even my illness had its own frequency of energy. I could feel my energy as emotions, in my physical body, and in the physical world, change due to what felt like magic. Other energy practices and therapies such as Breathwork, Drama Therapy, Qi Gong, and T’ai Chi are effective in addressing the underlying issues that tend to manifest as physical and emotional illnesses. We simply have to be open to healing to be guided along the path. Some of the best practices are ones that we can engage in daily.