The Privilege of it All; What does Self Care look like for those in a lower class?

      My research takes a look at what self-care looks like in those who are in a lower class. Within doing that, what is also being presented is the “one size fit- all” aspect of self-care, but the “one size” is typically white people and in this case white women.  Poverty can affect people of any ethnicity and race but this research dives deeper into how self-care looks for BIPOC who are from a lower class. In the era of The 1950s – 70s, the Civil Rights Movement used the ideas of self-care radically and as a political statement. And the Women’s liberation movement followed suit. Their motive behind doing so was to expose the systematic injustice created by white patriarchy. These two groups felt that their needs were not being taken care of within society so they used self-care as an ode to taking back some of their power. Fast forward several years later, with self-care practices becoming so extensive and expensive, it is difficult for BIPOC to utilize that aspect of self-care as it has derived from its origins. Self-care is presented as something that everyone has the ability to do. But as the industry continues to commodify itself, more and more people are being excluded. Self-care ideas go back centuries and many of the tools used in the industry stem from Buddhism. As the years continued, self-care became a booming 11 million dollar industry due to the simple fact the industry has expanded. There are books, videos, social media accounts, retreats, etc, all created about self-care. But this increased commodification has drawn the industry even further away from being a “one-size-fits-all” fix because those who want to practice the self-care that is presented and do not come from a place of privilege,  are now limited in their ability to do so. 

The Privilege of it All (English Presentation)

Aryanna Smith (Reasearch Presentation Cover Letter)

 

Class Notes (5/13)

*Tuesday 5/18 is a college-wide reading day. Our finals week starts Thursday 5/20 with all presentations due. And some will present on the 25th. 

 

Lighting presentation order

  1. Maria
  2. Niyomi
  3. Anil
  4. Aryanna
  5. Robby
  6. Ajah

Final presentation order

  1. Maria
  2. Niyomi
  3. Aryanna
  4. Robby
  1. Anil
  2. Ajah
  3. Reem 
  4. Crystal 
  5. Courtney

Maria’s presentation

The 2 sides of self-consciousness of emotions 

There is two sides of self-consciousness and self-awareness, and balancing the good from the bad takes self-control

Tips

  • Focus on your research question (start your presentation with your research question + an overview so your data is clear)

Niyomi’s Presentation

Practicing Self Love

“Loving oneself” 

Tips on practicing self-love

  • Stop comparison
  • Find your happy place
  • Be nice to others

“People who practice self-love are less likely to suffer from depression.

Tips

  • Be very knowledgeable in your topic, not only know the information you include but be able to field and answer questions from Peers.
  • Think of the presentation as an essay (Introduction, Body paragraph with your evidence and argument, and a conclusion of your research)

Anil’s Presentation

Self Esteem During the Adolescence Period

  • Can lead to depression, changes in mood

Tips

  • Don’t re-present the research you find, there needs to be analysis of the research that is  filtered through the lens of self-help and the information we learned last semester 

Robby’s Presentation

How to obtain acceptable, Physical Help

Ajah’s Presentation

The Importance Self  Love

Prioritize and trust yourself 

Set boundaries

You’ll attract better quality people if you love you self

  • Next Steps
    PLEASE go back and fully read the research project 
  • Practice your presentation (Time yourself)

REMINDER! SET (Teacher Evaluations) are due today, check your inbox and spam folders, you should have received one for each class

The Privilege of it All; What does Self Care look like for those in a lower class?

The research presented, takes a look at what self-care looks like in those who are in a lower class. Within doing that, what is also being presented is the “one size fit- all” aspect of self-care, but the “one size” is typically white people and in this case white women.  Self-care ideas go back centuries and many of the tools used in the industry stem from Buddhism. As the years continued, self-care became a booming 11 million dollar industry due to the simple fact the industry has expanded. There are books, videos, social media accounts, retreats, etc, all created about self-care. But this increased commodification has drawn the industry even further away from being a “one-size-fits-all” fix because those who want to practice the self-care that is presented and do not come from a place of privilege,  are now limited in their ability to do so. Poverty can affect people of any ethnicity and race but this research dives deeper into how self-care looks for BIPOC who are from a lower class. In the era of The 1950s- 70s, the Civil Rights Movement used the ideas of self-care radically and as a political statement. And the Women’s liberation movement followed suit. Their motive behind doing so was to expose the systematic injustice created by white patriarchy. These two groups felt that their needs were not being taken care of within society so they used self-care as an ode to taking back some of their power. Fast forward several years later, with self-care practices becoming so extensive and expensive, it is difficult for BIPOC to utilize that aspect of self-care as it has derived from its origins. Self-care is presented as something that everyone has the ability to do, and there is potential for it to become that. But as the industry continues to commodify itself, more and more people are being excluded.

Presentation: The Privilege of it All (English Presentation)

The Privilege of it All; What does Self Care look like for those in a lower class?

For my research topic, I am choosing to talk about the lack of realization within the Self Help community when it comes to Self Care for those in lower classes. The reason why I’m choosing this topic is that coming from a lower-income area, I’ve witnessed, and grown up with great people who end up making not the best choices, and I can only think about the difference self-care could have made to help their mental health, which would lead them to make better decisions. 

      I’ve found four articles to help me expand on this topic. The first article I found is called “What Happens When You Can’t Afford Self-Care”, in this article Stephanie Land speaks on her personal experience being of a lower income and trying to practice self-care. Within the article, she speaks about how she doesn’t have the ability to practice self-care because all her time is spent trying to survive. She also speaks on how after working all the time to support her and her family, she is left exhausted with no energy left to practice these luxurious practices of self-care. And even with how much she works, she simply can’t afford to “see a therapist” or “pay for a massage” to treat her scoliosis

      The next article is “Prioritising Your Mental Health Is A Privilege That Many Can’t Afford” by Marianne Eloise. In this article, Eloise speaks on how much better her mental health has gotten due to her now being able to afford to take care of it. She speaks on her journey of mental disorders and how her coming from a low-income house and spending most of her time as a young adult working and in school, left her no time or money to practice self-care.

     This next article I love because the author first starts off describing how “abstract” the world of self-care was to them, growing up in a Latinx family. In “Self-Care Is A Privilege That Shouldn’t Be One”, Ren Aguilara” speaks on the lack of accessibility of self-care practices. And how self-help is presented as this one size fits all thing, but the views typically come from those of privilege and do not take into account the responsibilities and the lack of resources within marginalized communities. 

      The last article “White People, We Need to Talk About ‘Self-Care” by Anna Borges, specifically speaks about how those in Privilege, and in this case specifically white people, might use Self Care, as an excuse to tune out of important social issues. This article was written last year not only during the pandemic but during the BLM protest. Writer Borges, seen a lot of tweets from privileged individuals speaking about how stressful all the news is, and how taking a break from it and practicing self-care is important. While Borges acknowledges that, that may be true, she also acknowledges that even the ability for those in privileged positions to take a “step back” from these issues, is a great indicator of their privilege. And how with taking their mental health into consideration they should not simply ignore the issues and should not only practice self-care but also community care.

Works Cited

Aguilera, Ren. “Self-Care Is A Privilege That Shouldn’t Be One.” Medium, Medium, 9 June 2020, renaguilar-5151.medium.com/self-care-is-a-privilege-that-shouldnt-be-one-460f83fab3a4.

Borges, Anna. “White People, We Need to Talk About ‘Self-Care’.” SELF, 10 June 2020, www.self.com/story/white-people-self-care. 

Eloise, Marianne. “Prioritising Your Mental Health Is A Privilege That Many Can’t Afford.” Self Care Is A Privilege, 21 Oct. 2019, www.refinery29.com/en-gb/privilege-mental-health-therapy. 

Land, Stephanie. “What Happens When You Can’t Afford Self-Care.” Talk Poverty, 13 June 2016, talkpoverty.org/2016/06/13/when-you-cant-afford-self-care/. 

Does Self Help = Self Inadequacy ?

I love the idea of self-help and a lot of the ideas the genre as a whole presents. But with that being said, there are many valid critiques of the genre, that even as a self-help lover, I notice and even agree with. It is important to take into consideration critiques no matter how much you love something, and that is what I did researching three articles that discuss critiques of the self-help genre.

First I read Improving Ourselves to Death by Alexandra Schwartz. (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/01/15/improving-ourselves-to-death.  

I really enjoyed this article because it had a “real” feeling to it. I feel as though a lot of concepts in the genre of self-help can almost feel “magical” and unobtainable, and this article discusses the same feeling. In the article, Schwartz speaks about how inadequate self-help can make you feel. There are so many ways to “self improve” ourselves, from practices that “help” the inside, to other practices which only fix outer appearances. But inherently seeking help for something, means there is something wrong in the first place. So in pursuit of this “internal happiness” that is promoted through the idea of self-help, it can also do the opposite by convincing you that you are so broken you need to be fixed. A great example she uses within the article is from the book “Desperately Seeking Self-Improvement: A Year Inside the Optimization Movement” by Carl Cederström and André Spicer. In this book, these two professors set out to try a new self-help technique each month and target those areas of themself that “need” help, for one year. In the end, Spicer reveals that “He doesn’t feel like a better version of himself. He doesn’t even feel like himself. He has been like a man possessed.” He says he spent the year doing things so unlike him he has lost touch with himself. And he also says he lost touch with others because he was so focused on himself. The whole article speaks on this concept of perfectionism within the self-help genre and how completely unhealthy and even selfish it can be.

The next article is by an author that is within the genre. Mark Manson creator of ” The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck” discusses ‘5 Problems with the Self- Help’. Industry'(https://markmanson.net/self-help). I find this ironic since he is within the industry but also perfect for that very reason. At the beginning of the article, before he even starts the list, he says that self-help is “a market-driven, rather than a peer-reviewed industry.” This shows that the focus is not on making sure the information is the most accurate rather on what is the most sellable. The first and the last reason he discusses is similar to the critique in the previous article. He talks about how someone who is already feeling, feelings of inferiority might look at a self-help book and think “A Bad-to-OK person will read the same book and say, “Wow, look at all of this stuff I’m not doing. I’m an even bigger loser than I initially thought.” He says before learning any self-help lesson you need to have self-acceptance and see yourself as “a good person who makes mistakes”. Manson also discusses that self-help practices can easily become a tool for avoidance. If a person complains about not having a job because they drink too much. And they replace drinking with yoga but still don’t have a job, clearly, there is a bigger issue of laziness going on. Next, he discusses how unrealistic self-help can be. Promoting that through certain practices of self-help such as, suppressing certain feelings, or filling an already anxious person with information on relaxation techniques, only temporarily provides relief. Another problem he speaks on is the lack of medical credibility when it comes to the practices, he says majority of self-help information out there is either a placebo at best or complete bunk at worst.”

The last article I discovered was “Why the Self-Help Movement Keeps Leaving Us Feeling Helpless” by Alexandra Davis (https://verilymag.com/2019/05/why-the-self-help-movement-keeps-leaving-us-feeling-helpless).

This article touches on a few of the different critiques within the self-help genre. First, she discusses how self-help typically lacks the answer to “why”. Yeah, meditating can calm you down but why do you have those feelings of anxiousness in the first place. Davis states “And where does this leave us eager listeners? Drinking all the green smoothies, visualizing all the success, and opening all the retirement accounts, but still left wanting.” Meaning once you adapted all these improvement practices, what’s next once you don’t feel this overwhelming, relieving feeling. She also, like the other two articles, speaks on the feeling of inadequacy. And how in this age of perfectionism and seeking to improve every aspect of yourself is impossible to achieve because as a human you will make mistakes. And lastly, she touches on the subject of how self-help blames the victim. Gurus promote that you are in charge of everything in your life, but that simply is not true, and chronic diseases or loss of a loved one is evidence of that.

Sources:

Schwartz, Alexandra, et al. “Improving Ourselves to Death.” The New Yorker, Jan. 2018, www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/01/15/improving-ourselves-to-death.

Manson, Mark. “5 Problems with the Self-Help Industry.” Mark Manson, Mark Manson, 16 Apr. 2021, markmanson.net/self-help.

Davis, Alexandra. “Why the Self-Help Movement Keeps Leaving Us Feeling Helpless.” Verily, Verily, 21 May 2019, verilymag.com/2019/05/why-the-self-help-movement-keeps-leaving-us-feeling-helpless.

Presentation:

Self help critiques (Aryanna Smith)

 

Mindfulness and the critiques

First off, I would like to start by saying that I believe anyone practicing mindfulness should read the critiques of it. I feel like the critiques are a very important component to properly using mindfulness. In the first article “The Mindful Revolution” author Katie Pickert discusses the benefits of Mindfulness from a scientific and evidentiary place. The author discusses her experience of practicing mindfulness in her MSBR class, she explains in the end, after doing the class she did not practice meditation much, but she did learn great lessons out of it that she applied to everyday life. I believe that is an important point of meditation and mindfulness, not to stress yourself out worrying about doing the practice, rather than appreciating the lessons you learn when you do it. She said through her MSBR class she learned to take in the moment more, instead of picking up her phone every time she had the slightest bit of free time. She also spoke about how different mindfulness programs, that show evidence in helping pain patients, Marines, and busy CEOs. Using Steve Jobs as an example the article states “(Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said his meditation practice was directly responsible for his ability to concentrate and ignore distractions.)”. The majority of people know who Steve Jobs was, and using his name I find was somewhat in a name-dropping way.

Honestly, the critique articles were my favorite because they match exactly how I been feeling as I do the class meditation assignment. In the first critique article “The mindfulness conspiracy”, Robert Purser discusses what I believe to be the main critique of new age meditation and mindfulness. Yes, there is evidence that mindfulness can decrease stress levels which leads to a more focused mind. But the problem is not that we are stressed, the problem is why we are stressed. The articles speak on how capitalism creates the problem of stress and answers this issue with the capitalism of mindfulness. There are tons of books, articles, programs, apps, retreats, etc, that focus on mindfulness, most gain a profit from their teaching. Purser states ” Instead of encouraging radical action, mindfulness says the causes of suffering are disproportionately inside us, not in the political and economic frameworks that shape how we live”.  In the article, Purser agrees mindfulness does help, but blaming ourselves as the individual for the reasoning behind high-stress levels, deflects from the truth of the matter. A quote I feel really sums up his point is “However, mindfulness programs do not ask executives to examine how their managerial decisions and corporate policies have institutionalized greed, ill will, and delusion. Instead, the practice is being sold to executives as a way to de-stress, improve productivity and focus, and bounce back from working 80-hour weeks. They may well be “meditating”, but it works like taking an aspirin for a headache. Once the pain goes away, it is business as usual. Even if individuals become nicer people, the corporate agenda of maximizing profits does not change.” Through our meditation assignment for the class I realize yes I feel calmer in the act of deep breathing and soft music, but realities of work and assignments set in as soon as I finish, so is it pointless?

The last article presents a critique that I haven’t really heard of, but am also experiencing with meditating. “The problem of mindfulness” by Sahanika Ratnayake discuss the point of how mindfulness, promotes not thinking at all and learning to just let your thoughts pass by without thinking too deep into them. But the problem with that is you never get to the root of the issue, why are you feeling that way, why is that thought constantly popping up? I would compare it similar to when you have a virus on your laptop and ads keep popping up. Yes, you can continue time and time again to click x so the ads temporarily go away, but your screen will never be fully clear until you get to the root of the issue and rid your computer of the virus. Ratnayake says the reason why new age mindfulness has this issue is due to its lack of morality behind it. Mindfulness and meditation stem from Buddhism practices but removes the religious aspect so the practice can be used by everyone. But the problem is there is no basis for helping you identify the issue. It only creates more questions, which leaves you feeling more lost, which leads to more stress. I definitely agree with this point also because meditating more lately, has me questioning my own emotions, which kind of just makes me feel crazier rather than relaxed.

Meditation

I’m looking forward to starting this assignment so I can get back into meditating more often. Maybe a few years ago, I made it a habit to meditate as much as possible, some weeks I achieved every day, other weeks I only did it a few times a week. But the good thing was I was doing it and keeping up with it. Eventually, I lost touch with that habit, so I’m hoping this assignment brings me back into it.

The first app I looked at was the calm app because that’s the app we’ve been using in class https://www.calm.com. Before when I was looking for different apps to use, I came across the calm app before. As I took a look at it again I realize why I was not a fan. To really get the benefits of any meditation they have, you have to be subscribed. I do realize that most meditation apps have some sort of subscription involved with them, but calm just did not provide enough for non-subscribers.

The next app I took a look at was Headspace https://www.headspace.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIrs_Ki-Tu7wIVGI_ICh26igBqEAAYASAAEgI8EvD_BwE. Headspace is the app I started with in the first place when it came to meditation, so I was somewhat familiar with what the app had to offer. But since I hadn’t been on in a while I figure I should take another look. I’m glad I did because I realize that they were pretty much similar to calm if not worst, to use the majority of the courses you have to pay for a subscription. I do not remember it being so few options for non-subscribers so I’m assuming they changed the app around.

Lastly, I took a look at the app Insight Timer https://insighttimer.com. Once again I’ve been through this process before of looking for meditation apps, so I have come across Insight Timer before. But once again, I wanted to take another look. And I’m glad I did. I think before I avoided Insight Timer because I felt that their app had too much talking during the meditation. Though I like guided meditation, I’m not a fan of constant dialogue because it does not allow me to relax. But the app has so many options, I knew I was bound to find a meditation that I like for each day. So Insight Timer is the app I’m choosing. My goal is to meditate in the evenings because that is typically when I feel the most stressed with so many thoughts running through my head from the day. So about 6:00 PM is my goal for every day, and I will be doing it in my room because that’s usually where I can get the most peace with no distractions. The specific meditation I’m choosing is the “Learn How to Meditate In Seven Days meditation under the “Learning to Meditate” category”. Once those seven days are up I will do a mix of meditations from different categories such as “Self-Love”, and the “Managing stress” categories. (Those are the two categories I’m looking at but if a different one seems more fitting on that day then I might try that out.)

 

 

 

 

Reading Response #6 (The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle)

The Power Of Now speaks on the issues that overthinking can cause you, and techniques on how to stop overthinking. The book starts off similar to most books in the self-help genre, by speaking about his testimony. Tolle describes battling anxiety and depression until one day he found himself loathing so much his mind basically shuts off. He explains that the journey and complete joy he felt just listening to the silence of his mind, is what The Power of Now is and how it was discovered. Tolle says the mind likes to separate people within one entity, so as humans we separate the bad qualities of ourselves as another person when really we are all one being. The author says this is due to ego and how ego only wants to keep the past alive. So the technique to start seeing yourself as one being would be to focus on the present moment that your in and listen to what the mind is thinking without judging it.

Tolle then goes on to describe the emotional pain body which is defined as accumulated pain that is a negative energy field that occupies your body and mind. So your pain-body is just a reflection of your ego. But if you accept what the present moment brings and don’t focus so much on what was and what will be, this creates an anxiety gap.

As the chapters continue Tolle continues to drill the message that only through focusing on the now and you will allow you to reach your ultimate being or your god-like state. He explains that through portals (gateways) such as surrendering and forgiving your unconscious mind or letting go of time perception can help you achieve this conscious mind. Using practices such as taking deep breaths or meditating also can help since you are taking time for yourself and to focus on yourself. Once your able to control your mind by listening to it and not worrying about anything other than the present, that is when you reach this ultimate state and also switch back and forth from using your unconscious mind, to experience pure joy and fulfillment in your conscious, silent mind.

Pandemic Processing

1 year ago is when the whole world stopped. I didn’t know it at the time, most people didn’t, but a year later, that is the best description of what happened. March 11, 2020, was the day CUNY schools were closed and Covid 19 was officially declared a pandemic. I remember so vividly speaking to my friend in the 6th-floor lounge area at City Tech, both of us so excited that classes were canceled. Honestly, it was a rough semester for me so I understand my reaction, but little did we know what was in store from there. I went to my last class for the day and ran home in excitement, finally some time to relax. The next day I woke up, what would I do with my new free time? Maybe I should get a gym membership? Maybe I should get a job? Wait I can’t do that, there’s a virus going around. I shrugged this will all be over in a month or two anyway, let me just relax. The cases just kept increasing, listening and reading about what Italy, in particular, was going through, it was devastating. It was all anyone could talk about. Any conversation that was had, was about the virus. This virus, that was supposed to be gone in a month or two. Everyone quickly realized that was not going to be the case. NYC cases drastically increased day by day week by week even though lockdown, NYC became a hotspot. It was surreal. I remember the heat from the spring brought issues. Everyone was filled with cabin fever.

 

 

 I specifically remember the first warm day of the spring seeing this picture on my timeline. How could people be so selfish? NYC was struggling terribly, thousands dying, and here people are congregating because of “cabin fever”. What really left a mark on me was the stories of medical workers. The horror they experienced, the exhaustion, I really couldn’t fathom this is what the world turned into. I remember hearing about a story of NYC funeral home that ran out of space and started stashing deceased bodies in a unrefrigerated U-Haul truck. I find it unbelievable how the pandemic lead to people doing unspeakable things. And to believe there was naysayers. I remember seeing on my social media comments such as “why is everyone taking this so serious” “ masks are so annoying and unnecessary” “this whole pandemic is fake”. As if the million of deaths meant nothing, and it was just a tale. So not only was the stresses and heartbreak of the pandemic impacting me, so was the stresses and heart break. Before the start of the Pandemic the killing of Ahmaud Arbery had already taken place, another black man who lost his life simply for his skin color. But the case of George Floyd added more fuel to the fire of injustice, enough was enough. Tons of protest, social media flooded with #BlackLivesMatter, it was all overwhelming, but necessary. In the midst of a pandemic, when the world couldn’t be more divided, Black people, and other allies, came together and said no more (while still wearing their masks). As I reflect a year later, I realize that’s exactly what this past year was. A reflection of the poor disease control standards that our country had, beyond that, the poor standards for multiple countries. This past year reflected both an impressive amount of compassion but also a disgusting amount of the lack of. The support and communities I seen come together on social media was beautiful, it reminded me that there was still hope in the world. But the hate that was spewed, the racism, the prejudiced, reminded me of how far us as a society had to go. This past year showed me a reflection of myself. What actually matter to me, once the life I always knew was taken away. I learned that I had a lot to learn. I knew nothing and the pandemic has taught me so much on so many topics. I like to think I came out of this pandemic a better person, but I won’t know until we’re out of it. I tried to reflect the best I could in this post but honestly even with all the hope from the vaccine, I’m really over talking about the pandemic. I’m burnt out from reflecting, from talking, I want to just do, I want to live life. But we’re not there yet and I understand that. Hopefully with so many having access to get the vaccine this is the beginning of the end.

Class Notes (3/16)

Announcements

  • Pandemic Processing blog post due Thursday (3/18)
  • Read the entire book “The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle” (Be sure to have the physical copy of the book). Blog post + Annotations will be due Next Tuesday (3/23)

Definitions

The practice of writing = Journaling

Embodied- To sit/ feel within your body

Transmission of affect (emotional contagion)- A belief that we can “catch” each other’s emotions

We worked on a free writing loop with two prompts, these prompts were…

  1. How are you feeling right now?
  2. Intentionally call to mind something that gives you a “negative” feeling. Visualize the situation, allow yourself to feel the emotions, then write about it.

We then discussed some responses to these prompts and some of the responses were…

  • Fear of presenting for a class assignment
  • To have a positive day try making it a choice to think positively instead of focusing on the negatives
  • The stress that comes with balancing a heavy workload for school, and working at the same time.

We ended class by practicing a daily meditation through the Calm app

* Share your reflection on the experience of meditating in the comments under this post. https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/belli-sp2021-eng3402/2021/03/16/class-discussion-meditation-reflection/