This blog / newsletter is about what I’ve been up to since my last post, about graduating my mindfulness teaching certification, about transformation, loss, presence, keys and pathways home.
To learn or practice mindfulness meditation with me, click here.
Greetings to you today!
Wow it has been more than a minute since I’ve written. I like to be very intentional about all of my choices in life, and holding off till I have something I think is worthwhile to share is absolutely one of them. Time and attention are very precious in the modern age, and I’d rather be someone who speaks less to say more. What has led me to this practice and lifestyle are the many intersections of my life (and past choices - skillful and definitely not so skillful, lol):
I’m someone with a BFA in Communications, concentrated on live news production at the dawn of the digital age of media
I’m a multi-award winning burlesque & striptease artist, and also a former studio owner, who taught self-empowerment through sensual expression for over a decade
I’m a trauma-survivor, and a person in living in recovery from addiction
I’m a later-life identified person of neurodiversity (woohoo!)
I’m a person who knows what it feels like to have the bottom fall out of the “influencer” and “hustle” lifestyle
I’m an outspoken advocate for inclusive & accessible, mental & emotional wellbeing, especially in the workplace
I’m a daily meditator and yoga practitioner
And I’m now, a CERTIFIED mindfulness meditation teacher (go me!)
So when I think about having something to say to actually add substance, support and depth to a world increasingly living by standards of surface-only, seconds of attention and constant interruption, media manipulation and appeasement, I practice: W.A.I.T.
What is my actual purpose and intention here? And then I don’t speak if it’s not aligned.
Since 2019 I have been steadily walking away from the world of “arts & entertainment” and towards the world of “wellness & belonging,” because I am living through one of the most profound shifts in the evolution of human communication and connection: the digital age. And because I recognize my own ability to facilitate space for the messy practices of “coming home to ourselves.”
Hint: it involves A LOT of stillness and NOT talking.
I’ve mentioned in my blogs before, that mindfulness meditation was a game changer in my own ability to move through the uncomfortable yet necessary journey of unbecoming to become. A game changer in unpacking and stripping off all the layers that weren’t actually “me” but were expectations & limitations society builds by default because it counts on us “not paying attention.” Mindfulness was a game changer in regaining my own agency to my own choices. A game changer in learning how to advocate for my own boundaries and needs, how to speak up for my own ideas, my own right to rest and experience joy, peace and stability. A game changer in renewing my inspiration to be out here in the world, being a “masterpiece and a work in progress, all at the same time,” doing what I can, where I can to be my own small part of renovating and rebuilding this beautiful disaster called Earth, with the foundation of radical Love & Care.
And now, I EMERGE from a two-year certification journey, super freakin’ ready to TEACH THESE TOOLS, to you.
I’ve been quieter lately on the forward facing front because life saw to it that I take my time to step back and allow this part of the journey to settle in and out of me. There is no new beginning without an ending, and there is no creation without destruction. One of the lessons I’ve allowed to settle into my being lately is:
If I hadn’t learned how to pay attention to the nuance of what my body, my mind, my emotional body, my overall human timeline of “me” was going through in each present moment I was experiencing, I would have thought the last 8-months since my last blog newsletter were trying destroying me, lol.
I have new chronic health concerns that take daily attention & care and are very much related to past trauma
My dear sweet fur-companion, Miss Bettie, who has been my best friend & only live-in, chosen family during a global pandemic had been very sick, and has thus since, passed away
My home space became unsafe & inhospitable to my own wellness, and forced an abrupt move to a new home…in the middle of winter
My full time work in arts management demanded that I step up to the plate and place definitive boundaries and vocalize needs for community wellness & safety, no matter what feathers I might ruffle in the process
If I hadn’t been paying attention to all of the ways that my mindfulness and other self care practices were actually working for me in all of those situations happening simultaneously, I would have been swept under the tsunami of worry, stress and rage. But I did pay attention. And I attended to myself and what I needed to be as healthy and safe (and expressive of my Divine Rage in skillful ways) as possible in every given moment. And though some days were excruciatingly hard (losing a loved one is always hard), I’m writing this on the other side of all that with even more of myself grounded and stable. Without having disassociated in order to handle the extreme lows. Without abandoning myself or choosing self destruction. Without “pushing to produce” and keep up hyperactivity because “I have to be there for everybody else all the time,” and “if I keep moving I won’t have to feel the hard things.” And without putting off taking my time to be with my sweet baby girl in her final months and days, and grieve her absence hereafter. I miss her terribly (still grieving), AND I was present with her every single day along the way…allowing our love permeate and flow through us, to truly feel her, feel our love & connection, without catastrophizing what it would eventually be like to be truly alone, alone for the first time in over 20 years once she passed.
As someone who has experienced anxiety, panic attacks, depression and substance abuse for most of my life…this is an enormous effort and success of Self Love.
Being mindful about how I spent my energy, my time, my presence was the only way I got through all that. I intentionally chose to put a hold on my weekly mindfulness practice sessions. I intentionally chose to take a break from social media, from producing to “stay on the algorithm.” I intentionally chose to put big mindfulness resource projects on a pause in order to pack, purge, move, unpack, resettle, and feel the space, light and new energy my new home has (I think I found the only apartment in St. Louis with sunlight & space y’all, just look at my reading nook).
I intentionally disengaged with the type of life I didn’t want to lead because it allows me to intentionally engage with the life I choose to lead. And that is a life forward built on the foundation of peace, presence, connection, depth and abundance. I am intentionally choosing to not engage with the societal standards of scarcity, hustle, panic, manipulation, shame, blame and forced competition. Those are standards that I didn’t intentionally choose for me in the past, but were very much blindly forced upon me, and definitely had plenty adverse effects on me. I didn’t free myself of those standards by pretending I could “get around (ahem, bypass) them,” I freed myself of those standards by directly noticing how they felt in my body when I experienced them. And then I paused. And then I checked in with myself, and asked, “is this my shit? Do I want to feel this today?” The answer was always no. Those are not the standards that I choose for myself. I pause to recognize each time these standards come up against my nervous system, that though my body is having a reaction to these standards, they are not “mine” to own and cling to, and that I have a choice to allow my Divine BEing that is resonant and spacious with Love & Care…my Divine Being that is innately deserving of Love & Peace, just by nature of being a breathing, conscious human on this big messy planet, can, should and will emerge forth.
If I want the world around me to be Love & Care, then that means that I also have to be Love & Care. This is not a love & light message. I am not a “love & light” healer. I am someone who advocates for taking the time to be still, own our own shit, and actually experience our own messy emotions for ourselves. When we don’t, our work becomes everybody else’s work.
When we pause to notice, we are allowing ourselves the opportunity to know that just because we feel it, doesn’t mean it’s ours to carry.
There’s a nuanced difference here in all of this, and is why folks tend to shun “mindfulness meditation” under crapitalism. Allowing space to feel our own emotions, to let them process through us, and then release them to the earth, the sky, the river of tears, the fire in our bellies is vastly different than the “spiritual bypassing” that tends to make its way to the surface of “just shift your thoughts” aka “ corporate mindfulness TM.” Ugh.
My practice of mindfulness meditation is both trauma-informed and anti-oppressive. Our spiritual selves, our emotional selves, our physical selves are not separate from our political selves, or even separate from our community selves for that matter, and anyone who tells you to separate your “selves” from “you” or your community, well… bring a mindful eye to that situation…
Look, I’m not in any way going to deny that there isn’t a lot of crap advice out there about mindfulness or meditation in general (just don’t even bother going to Reddit, lol). And I’m also not going to ever say that mindfulness is the end all be all to “self healing.” Theres no one thing that is going to help us along our journey to ease our own suffering in each day any more than there is one way to live our lives, or heal in our own individual, isolated package. The cult of individualism is a false narrative that is fed to us in order to keep us separated, starving, competing, fighting, tired, and tired of competing & fighting. But what I will say about mindfulness meditation is that it is a doorway, and you are your own key.
A key is neither inherently good or bad, it’s a tool.
So if mindfulness meditation teaches us that we are our own keys, doesn’t that mean that we are also neither inherently good or bad?
We are a spectrum of experience. We practice mindfulness to get to know ourselves better, to understand why we tick, why things upset us, why we experience anxiety, and anger, why we might feel numb, why we might have a hard time making choices, or advocating for ourselves, or accessing our joy. None of that is inherently good or bad, it’s just information. What we do with that information is how we bring ease and stability to our situations. We can’t often control the life that unfolds around and through us, but we can learn how to respond with care and compassion when it does.
That’s the nuance that gets lost in the world of commodified wellness culture. I’m not here to “sell you an easy, happy life.” No one can.
What I am here for though, is to hold the space for you to practice turning your own key. That’s it.
I don’t heal you, you heal you.
And “heal” by the way does’t mean “all good, all fixed, everything’s fine, never going to experience unhappiness, illness or stress again!”
“Heal” just means reconnecting the link between “you,” (your “ego,” your “consciousness,” or your “identity”) to your own nervous system, your own internal “communication device” which is threaded throughout your own contained, electrified mish mash of bones, blood and meat.
Heal means learning how to read yourself, aside from the sole filter of trauma-response, illness or oppression.
Your nervous system is just there to supply you with information. That’s it. It’s not inherently good or bad, it just is. And when we learn to decipher our own body’s languages, we learn how to un-learn the shit that society (or our family, our ex-lovers, our workplace, our elected officials) put upon us by default, and learn how to be our own best friend again. Our own advocate. We re-learn active free will to choose the type of life we want to lead and world we wish to live in. And by doing so, we intentionally disengage the world of scarcity, fear, distrust, coercion and violence. We actively weave a society built on Love & Care because we are actively weaving ourselves that way, and no matter what…no matter the voices in our minds or on the TV that tell us otherwise, we are a part of this world, and who we are and what we do does matter.
When we have the “key” in our own hands, we don’t have to choose to open the door and walk through it every day in every situation. We just have to be willing to stay curious enough to notice if we are forcibly locking ourselves down. Because constantly locked doors keep out the things that we want in our lives too.
The pathways of falling together feel like the pathways of falling apart, because both pathways are the same, both lead us back to ourselves.
Can, wholeheartedly, CONFIRM.
I’m Deanna Sophia, a CERTIFIED mindfulness meditation teacher. I am also a working class, neurodiverse, queer, nonbinary, IPV & trauma survivor, and former sex worker and I’m hella passionate about retrieving inaccessible “self care” from the commodified & competition-driven wellness industry, in order to foster sustainable, survival care for all of us… and for Mother Earth herself.
I facilitate weekly, mindfulness meditation practice sessions both in-person here in St. Louis and accessible virtually from anywhere in the world. Click here to learn more about my practice sessions.
My next “Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation” 6-week workshop begins March 1st (in-person at Empowered Spaces + virtual), with sliding scale, equity pricing, and is the recommended way to begin your own meditation practice. The workshop will walk you through the basic practice for skill building, with tools & techniques for a trauma-sensitive / anti-oppressive foundation. To find out more and register online, visit my website at this link.
Drop a comment or a like to let me know you were here, and as always feedback and questions are welcome on my blog or in my inbox (email@example.com). Never hesitate to reach out… I know (like…to the core of my soul) how hard it is to find “the right kind” of support in this world, and that is why I’ve spent the better part of the last decade transforming my own being into BEing exactly who I needed growing up.
“We are not the survival of the fittest, we are the survival of the nurtured.” - Louis Cozolino
-Deanna Sophia Danger-