lessons for listening
Welcome to my sixth substack.
What I’m celebrating: Brazil’s elections victory!
What I’m watching: the abolitionist BIPOC queer delight that is Wendell & Wild.
What I’m listening to as I write this:
I started this newsletter in July without a plan or purpose. I just felt like I needed to, so I did. I’ve decided that for now, I want this space to be part commentary on both the mundane and transformative experiences of my life, part list of resources to share with my community, and part notes from my art studio, but most importantly an intentional space to practice vulnerability away from the performative pressures of the public algorithm.
As we shift seasons, these colder months invite us to quiet the noise in our lives and slow down. Slowing down is something I’ve struggled with for a long time. But in the spirit of non-determinism I’m attempting to welcome the quiet that the slower seasons offer. For me, that looks like learning more about embodied listening.
At its core, embodied listening means having a relationship with being present. It’s a process, not a goal, to help you understand and be honest about what’s going on with yourself, your environment, and your mind. It’s important to note that embodied listening as a practice is often romanticized, individualized, aestheticized, and sold back to us. So when I say embodied listening, I am not talking about some LA “woo-woo-Erewhon-goop” trend.
Reaching for embodied listening this season is a way of reclaiming a practice of presence many of us (especially those of us with CPTSD) are not given the space to try on, let alone access regularly. I mentioned last month that I’ve been reading Rasheeda Philips BQF (Black Quantum Futures Vol 1 & 2), in Kendra Krueger’s brilliant essay The Wild Truth: Casting Spells with Entropy and Lasers she touches on lasers (yes, the actual science of lasers) and the stability that rituals offer when we are overwhelmed with the chaos of our own minds.
“Ritual is a laser. A container replete with similar patterns, mantras, songs, symbols, smells, prayers. We enact repetitions of these symbols and patterns to incite transformation, healing, channeling, miracles. A focused intention. A focused beam. Rituals can be collective, complex, and take lots of planning and energy. They can also be simple and based in day-to-day repetitions like putting your shoes in the same place everyday.” - Kendra Krueger
The affordances of the internet and racial capitalism have us preoccupied with making 30-second commercials of our lives for strangers. And while I won’t be leaving social media anytime soon. I want to be present this season to slow down long enough to ask myself if yes, this (*gestures to all of the things all of the time*) is what I actually need to be doing or if I’m just going through the motions to keep busy.
Ok, to be honest. I’ve rewritten that about 10 times. But, Im going to use this energy to remind myself that this is a space to just do the thing. Ya’ll, done is better than perfect. Alhamdulillah.
Here are some things that are helping me figure my shit out.
Exciting news: I found an artist studio!
I decided that this newsletter is going to pay for the cost.
I need 80 of you to upgrade to monthly subscribers.
The studio space costs a little under $400 a month (yikes!), which honestly is not in my budget (*I work at a nonprofit and live in one of the most expensive cities in America*). I’m at around 150 subscribers, if 80 people sign up for a monthly $5 (less than a specialty coffee here in LA) subscription, it will cover the cost of the studio. If you have the means, please consider upgrading from a free subscriber to a $5 monthly subscription with the button below.
Paid subscribers will get a look at my monthly studio work, notes, and research, extra book and resource recommendations, the occasional voice note and extra newsletter, and the good feeling of knowing you’re literally helping me develop my art practice that I’ll continue for the rest of my life! *InshAllah*
Ok, back to regularly scheduled things:
I’m currently in AORTA’s (Anti-Oppression Resource & Training Alliance) Tideline Coaching Program for shared leadership. AORTA is a worker-owned cooperative of organizers, strategists, and facilitators that offer training and coaching for individuals and organizations.
For You: Check out their Uprooting White Supremacy in Organizations on November 2nd.
I recently went to see Laraaji at Ambient Church in Pasadena. If you aren’t familiar with Laraaji, I’m a long time fan. He’s a multi-instrumentalist specializing in piano, zither and mbira. In 1978 Laraaji was busking in Washington Square Park when Brian Eno dropped a note into his zither case. Since the 70’s he’s only worn the color orange, and added laughter meditation workshops to his public practice. Laraaji is technically a musician, but his artistic practice is really about sound healing and traveling space-time.
“The physical boundaries of your body are not the physical containers of who you are…I’m not bound up in third dimension. How many of us are entangled in the third dimension but don’t realize that’s where we are and we might be suffering third-dimensional claustrophobia? And the anxiety of being here and not knowing we have the option of getting out can fuel something close to madness. The idea of meditation, dance, laughter, and conscious inward mobility exercises is to lift the sense of self out of third-dimensional claustrophobic situations in order to breathe the open sky of our infinite wonder. This eternal nonlinearness. Someone who is not aware of this infinite wonder where they are is subject to the anxieties of being in the world. Laugher is one tool that helps block the thinking mind.”
Last month I revisited Love and Rage by Lama Rod Owens. My favorite part of