Mental Preparation

The activities, spaces, and situations which you'll be in this weekend can be taxing. This document is intended to help you mentally prepare and to practice. This is collected community wisdom, but remember, this is also just a guide. Remember that you know yourself best, so use strategies that work with your experiences. We want for you to feel grounded and solid and in charge of how you react in potentially high intensity situations. We want you to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, while still respecting your limits.

In Section A, we'll talk about how internal mindfulness work can help support your awareness and your behaviors on the day of. Some strategies include orienting, breathwork, body scanning, gathering information and contextualizing the action, connecting to your own higher purpose, and gratitude meditations.

In Section B, we will talk about how your body and mind may respond on the day of, some triggers that may affect you on the day of, ways you can prepare, and then how to take care of yourself.

Finally in Section C, we'll talk a little about seeking information and understanding within our community.

Section A


Internal changes can support external shifts in behavior

These are some points to ponder in preparation for action How can you slow down and be mindful? (engage your parasympathetic nervous system, decrease the cortisol in your body, increase your executive function)

There are ways to do this in the moment, and also in prep for the moment.

We are encouraged to regulate our systems as practice, to help us maintain calm before heading into an action. It will help all of us in the streets!

The more we can identify and practice our best coping strategies outside of the action, the easier we'll be able to acess those strategies come action time.

Some things might be:

Orienting

You can easily practice any of these while waiting at a stop light!

1. Orienting by feel. Focus on your physical sensation, where do you feel the ground, what are you holding with your hands, can you feel your breath rising and falling?Staying focused on your sensations keeps you present in the moment. This can be really great to practice while eating - how slow can you go and really taste and enjoy thefeel of food?

Orienting by sound. What can you hear in your enviroment around you? Can you name 5 things? Are they steady or changing? Rising and Falling? Etc.

Orienting by sight. What is drawing your eye in your current envinroment? Why do you like it? What are some special details about this thing?

Breathwork

Also easily practiced at a stop light!

Take One Minute. Count your breaths for one minute, count your breaths for one more minute trying to slow them down-notice how you feel

Rhythmic Breathing. Breathe in for four counts and out for six counts. Do this over a course of several minutes. When we have more ryhtmic breath, we have a more rhythmicheartbeat, and our heartbeat controls many systems in the body. Rythmic breath and heartbeat together send a calming signal to the rest of your biological systems. Try it out with a metronome at home or here in this weird visual—you can mute if you don't want the sound. Breathe in as the geodome gets bigger, breathe out as the geodome gets smaller. Watch this example.

Body Scan. Get closer to the feelings in your body. This takes longer, but will bring you preperatory calm.Try this 45 minute guided body scan yourself.

Gathering information. Learn how you are part of the bigger whole (knowing the context in order to participate in action)

Connecting to your Truest or Highest Purpose. Think with your heart, feel with your brain.

In preparation. What are three reasons, related to history, policy, or our collective future which make this action necessary?

In the moment. Remember: This is not about me. This is about all of us, in collective liberation. How do I as one human link, connect into the bigger chain of all the people, on whose shoulders I stand, who have fought for liberation? How does this action, as one link, fit into the greater chain of the long fight towardur body's natural reactions to dangerous situations.

Be Forgiving of yourself and others. You and others have different life experiences, and possibly different trauma. You may not have full control over how you respond. Support each other, express needs, and try to meet needs.

Metta practice, Forgiveness practice, or gratitude meditations (for dealing with fear/uncomfortable emotions).

Life is long. Most likely, we will spend most of it fighting for liberation. The fight will not start nor end today. Because of this, we have to keep some focus on hope, love and graciousness.

From Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams (Black Queer Zen Priest):

"People always tease me about this. I hardly like anyone. But I love everyone. And that is possible. [Activists] were trying to change the world, and I felt that if I could support them with meditation and awareness practices, then they could do it more effectively. What I ran into, of course was that they pretty much didn't love anyone. So love is what I've focused on, because in social justice work the only option is loving everyone. Other- wise, there is no path to real change."

Practicing love, forgiveness, and gratitude outside of the action can help us prep and also post action - we don't want to get "stuck" in the energy of the action, which can be high-vibing and geared more toward confronation. Having a safe space to come down from that after the action, but also practicing this before the action will help us come back down into a calmer energy afterwards.

Look into the following for more:

(Metta for self and friend) Metta (Lovingkindness) Practice, Jill Shephard

Forgivness practice, Ruth King

Gratitude Practice, Oren Jay Sofer (Talk) (Guided meditation)

Section B


Potential Responses & Aftercare

What responses might you have? How do you handle heightened situations, or unfamiliar situations?

Notice what happens when you're in a heightened state:

Try swearing and shouting at yourself in a mirror (if you live with others, please get their consent first).

What did you notice? How did each of your body's systems react? What thoughts ran through your head? Was it harder or easier to be coherent?

How long did it take for your state of arousal to wear off? What were some of the signs of that?

What were you able to control? What were you unable to control?

Past responses. If you feel up for it, think about the last time you were in an intense situation:

– What were some of the signs that you were aroused?
– How did you respond?
– What were you able to control, what were you unable to control?
– What did you notice about your emotional state?
– What were some benefits of being in a heightened state?
– What were some of the drawbacks?
– What, if anything, helped bring you back down?
– What does that process look like?
– How long does it take?

Grounding exercises. A handy two-page lesson on Grounding Exercises for yourself and others

Fight, Flight, Freeze, and Submit. These are our body's natural reactions to dangerous situations

Be Forgiving of yourself and others. You and others have different life experiences, and possibly different trauma. You may not have full control over how you respond. Support each other, express needs, and try to meet needs.

Last Thoughts. How has being present in your body helped you? How do you think being present/focusing on your breath might help you at an action? Can you note some differences about the way you think when you're calm, vesus the way you think when you're stressed out? Which of those ways would help you more in a moment of chaos?

In what ways can you practice mindfulness and/or being present in your day to day life? Even just five minutes helps!

Preparing for potential day-of triggers

This includes that alt-right shit.

Some of the things that you might experience this weekend from the alt-right may be triggering for you. This can include slogans, epithets, flags, chants, and other symbols of hate. Be mindful that you might react in ways you don't expect or that are different from your previous reactions. For some of you it may be the first time you have been in the presence of these hateful symbols. The alt-right brings these symbols in part to try to instill fear.

For many of us, the presence of police may also be triggering. In addition to the awful everyday shit that police do, the police on the day of may also have an armed riot line presence that is intended to instill fear.

Please know your personal limits! But for some of you, it may be useful to know what imagery you may encounter on the day of if you have never encountered it before. Be cautious out there on the internet, and be please mindful of potential triggers to others when viewing in a group or sharing on social media.

Packing and Prepping

Packing can be an exercise that helps you mindfully ground while you're still in with your family, your community, or in your home or other safer place. It's a physical act that also centers preparedness and safety.

Know where you might have your id or bail money safely stored (if you have them).

Know where your phone will be (if you will have one day of).

Where will you write your jail support number? (a suggestion is belly or inner thigh: generally sweat less there, it's less visible, and it's harder to intentionally rub off

Think about who in your network will be your emergency contact, and any arrangements or communications that you may need to make ahead of time. For example, who will feed your pets? Is there anyone you're the primary caretaker for?

This process may also help with mantras/imagery of leaning into the broader web and community that will hold you up as the action heats up.

Aftercare

This video is by a therapist of color with experience in trauma care. She outlines some simple strategies to help begin the healing process

We'll also have both a healing space and a separate ongoing radical group therapy on August 19th, as well as followup care. In addition to care resources, this is also a chance to check in with each other. We also have resources for folks who need ongoing therapy on a free or sliding scale basis.

Section C.


Seeking information and understanding within our community.

Our community is large and diverse. You may not always agree with each other, but we can build stronger understanding and stronger communities.

Question from a place of curiosity. This means searching for meaning not answers.

What do you know? What do you need to know?
How might curiosity engage a movement toward transformation
How might curiosity change the direction of a conflict within the community?

Listen and Reflect. Only you can change yourself, you witness others.

What do you hear? Can you paraphrase it?

In what ways can you reflect their inquiry back to them?

Conclusion


Using the strategies above, we can give ourselves more of a chance to enter into a space where we can increase our ability to choose our actions, instead of slipping into a knee-jerk reaction.