studio BE will be hosting “Self Care as Community Care,” a meditation and herbalism workshop led by Jessica Zambri and Vivian Mac, on Sunday, May 2nd. In the workshop, we'll explore how meditation practice and herbalism can be powerful resources to nourish our intentions for self care and community care.
We’ve asked Jessica and Vivian to share their thoughts on this topic, and to highlight the ways in which these practices have been holding themselves and their communities up at this time.
Why “self care as community care”? How does caring for self serve others?
Jessica: It took me a second to be really open to “self-care." My habituation leaned toward the belief that self-care was innately selfish and self-indulgent to an extreme. Something shifted for me when I started to feel how deeply connected I am to everything. My relationship to myself directly affects my relationship to another. In other words, the capacity to care for myself fuels caring for everyone and everything around me. I need this direct experience to know what it’s actually like to be kind and caring. And, the good news is, I can practice this! Being kind isn’t a given and it’s important for me to practice self-care so that I’m not out of touch from this way of being: open and curious, loving and kind.
Note to self: If I’m using the practice as a shield to keep from seeing clearly (e.g. avoiding a difficult truth, not acknowledging bias, or constantly craving pleasant experience), I’m missing the point of the practice completely. I’m learning to check in with my authenticity and investigate the stories I tell myself. For me, it’s essential and caring to investigate and interrogate with non-judgmental attention, so I can drop into direct experience without adding a personal spin that may be causing harm.
How do meditation and herbalism support self and community care? How does caring for self serve others?
Vivian: Meditation and herbalism have empowered me to be present to what is occurring within and around me. They have been incredible resources that (continue to) support my journey in being true to myself, facing my shadows, and working through challenging times. They strengthened my capacity to live out my purpose more fully and contribute to others’ wellbeing in ways that I was not capable of doing before, because I was still stuck in my own suffering.
Meditation and herbalism have expanded my concept of self and deepened my connection to community and the Earth in ways I did not expect, growing up in a white supremacist, capitalist culture where disconnection, getting on top at the expense of others, and “I-It” rather than “I-Thou” mentality is the norm. They have helped me see the sacredness in life. Being able to shift how we see and connect is an essential component to the change we seek to create within ourselves and in society. Our inner wisdom and the wisdom of plants are here to support that process.
What are your favorite practices to stay replenished?
Jessica: Taking the practice out in the wild feels fulfilling — meaning, I like to bring mindfulness along with me into daily activity. Sometimes when I’m in a conversation, I notice my body language: am I leaning forward, away? Listening to the sensory language of the body helps me proceed with care in anything I’m doing. If there’s tension in the body while I’m listening, I know that, and take a moment to breathe. If I’m open-chested and at ease, I know that. Being kind with the body is a practice that helps me feel more connected to what’s happening in the moment, without getting lost in the storylines or ruminating thoughts that may arise. Acknowledging the body is here and feeling into that experience without force helps me to be more tuned into my internal and external environment.
Vivian: I love incorporating herbs into my daily life, whether it is through nourishing broths, herbal teas, decoctions, baths, tinctures, oils, etc. I work with herbs internally and topically, and mentally, physically, and spiritually. Practicing and learning herbalism has given me a valuable way of taking care of myself and others, and deepening my connection to the Earth. It has become my form of ritual and meditative practice, and is what helps keep me grounded and connected to myself.
What wisdom or teachings are particularly meaningful or helpful to you right now?
Jessica: One of my teachers, Leslie Booker, says “Move at the speed of trust.” I love this because it reminds me that rushing is harmful and I’m bound to leave things out. So moving through life with intuition and trust helps me to practice being inclusive and accepting, which directly affects the way I interact with myself and those around me.
Vivian: A phrase that came to my mind during a meditation/qigong retreat last year was: “Self sacrifice serves no one.” Having the opportunity to take the time “off” was really time “on” to be present with myself and have that realization. I was able to see the ways that I had given in the past from a cup that was not full, and ways that had harmed me, as I did not factor in my long-term sustainability. Ultimately this also impacts my community, because my lack of sustainability decreases my ability to give. This is not conceptually new or hard to understand, but much more challenging to live and put into practice. I now embrace this wisdom as I move through the world.
Caring for others is fueled by the capacity to care for ourselves.
The experience of nurturing and being compassionate to ourselves, and knowing what that looks and feels like, informs and affects how we show up in community. Self care, which can bring up reactions of shame, guilt, or unworthiness, can actually be a powerful act of resourcing ourselves so that we can resource our communities in a way that comes from a place of abundance and is aligned with our intentions.
In this interactive workshop, we explore how meditation practice and herbalism are powerful resources to nourish our intentions for self care and community care. The workshop includes talks, group discussion, meditation practice, and a herbal medicine demo. Suitable for all levels of experience.
Jessica and Vivian are so excited to share more about meditation and herbalism with you in the upcoming workshop on May 2nd.
Jessica Zambri is a musician, writer and meditation teacher. She began building her roots in New York City in 2003. Over the years, she has cultivated a rich community in performing, writing and producing music. Jessica has released six albums, collaborated on many others and toured internationally. She has also worked for artists such as Arcade Fire, Björk and Paul McCartney in music management. Jessica has been training intensively in yoga and meditation since 2009.
Vivian Mac is a spiritual herbalist and founder of Willow’s Touch, which provides dream-inspired, mind-body-spirit remedies that support you with being in touch with who you are, in order to heal yourself and take inspired action in the world. A graduate of the Sacred Vibes apprenticeship program, Vivian continues to expand her understanding of herbalism through Chinese medicine, dreamwork, meditation, reiki, astrology, yoga, qigong, and Thai bodywork, all of which inform her practice. For more info, visit willows-touch.com.