Anaiis Cards EN

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Hello there :) I want to thank you for taking the time to explore these cards and engaging so intimately with this project. There’s nothing that matters more to me than the wellbeing, safety, joy, and the nurturing of all Black & Brown folx and all marginalised people. My personal intention was to share some resources that have been deeply useful to me through difficult times and hope they can meaningfully offer some light as you search for insights and deeper compassion for yourself and your community. Thanks to Dr. Martens for making this project possible and believing in our vision. Eternal gratitude to my phenomenal collaborators Alex Mohammadi, Aldo Hacheme, Sanah Ahsan, Stella Tiendrebeogo, and Lossapardo for your immeasurable contributions, wisdom, and care. Thanks also to Amplify & Kingdom Collective for the dedication and help throughout this process. This project is so important to me and I sincerely hope that our intentions make our way to you. I want to leave with you lots of love and kindness, and a reminder that along our journey towards liberation, amidst our resilience, we must continuously tend gently to ourselves, we must make time to celebrate ourselves, and allow joy to be felt. Lots of love, anaiis

Black feminist bell hooks teaches us that love is not a feeling, it is an action and a verb. Thank you for committing to the loving act of picking up these cards for yourself. There may be something particular that has drawn you to these cards at this point in your life, or you may have come across them through divine timing. Regardless, it takes so much courage and bravery to commit to any act of care for yourself. These cards may bring up difficult emotions for you, so please do be gentle with yourself. It may be that you choose to go through these cards with the support of loved ones around you. It may be that these cards open you up to the possibility of seeking further support, whether that be from chosen family, a therapist, spiritual network, or community group. We hope these cards act as a helpful tool to meet whatever you, or others around you, are carrying, with tenderness and compassion. These are meant to guide you towards self-understanding and growth; they can be absorbed at whichever pace feels comfortable–one at a time or a few at once. We encourage you to take your time with them and with yourself. The condition of existence is one of suffering and joy. Whatever we are holding, we are all deserving of compassion. We have also drawn on black revolutionary thinkers, buddhist principles and liberation psychology in shaping the content of these cards.

There is no such thing as a bad emotion. Black feminist Bell Hooks reminds us, “the presence of pain in our lives is not an indicator of dysfunction.” All feelings have a function, some may be harder to sit with than others, and some may evoke more discomfort when we meet them. All feelings are visitors, inviting us to turn towards them and feel through our suffering and despair, as well as our joy. Feelings are also teachers, carrying information about what we may be living through. Ask yourself the question: what am I unwilling to feel? Can you allow yourself to fully experience the emotion that is calling your attention, and recognise the message the feeling might be communicating to you?

The root of the word compassion, means to “suffer with’’. Compassion is letting ourselves be touched by the vulnerability and suffering that is within ourselves and all beings. The full bloom of compassion requires meeting all suffering with kind action, beginning with our own suffering. For example, we may try and speak to ourselves with the kindness a friend would show by offering ourselves words of self-forgiveness. As we begin to bear compassionate witness to our own suffering we open ourselves up to doing the same with others. We can begin this practice by noticing painful feelings arise, and allowing them to be there without self-blame or blame of another. You may try this by placing your hand on your chest, and saying “My love, I care about your pain.” A part of compassionate living is upholding a fuller humanity - holding space for forgiveness whilst trying to minimise harm to ourselves and others.

What are messages you’ve seen in society that have shaped the way you see yourself and your self worth?

We are often shaped by the experiences we live through. Our suffering is tied up in the world we live in, including experiences of sexism, intergenerational trauma, transphobia, poverty and racism. There is nothing wrong with you for feeling pain or despair or madness, as a result of living through a traumatising world.

It may be helpful to ask yourself or others around you: “what’s happened to you?” Rather than “what’s wrong with you?”

A big part of being resilient includes being vulnerable. Showing our emotions in a world that teaches us to hide them takes courage and honesty. It opens us to connection with others where we can embrace each other's imperfect emotional worlds.

Forces of self-doubt, fear and insecurity will never disappear regardless of our attempts to escape them. We can instead choose to dare to be ourselves, embracing our own and each other’s madness.

Which emotions and experiences do you find difficult to talk about? Who in your life do you feel more able to be vulnerable with? Are you able to meet other’s offerings of vulnerability with compassion?

Compassion is a practice. We may not have much practice at extending compassion to ourselves, and offering it to others may be more familiar to us.

Bearing this in mind, we invite you to engage in two exercises : First, try writing a compassionate letter to a friend who is going through a tough time. Secondly, try and draw on the same tone in writing a compassionate letter to yourself. You might offer statements like “I am proud of you, I admire you for always doing your best, it’s not your fault if this happened, you are worthy of love and forgiveness.”

Reflect back on a time when you were hard on yourself, when you felt disappointment or guilt: Can you offer some kindness to the old version of yourself you were at that time?

The breath is a path to return home to ourselves. We can always come back to the breath as a means of reconnecting with the present moment. Take a moment to notice where your breath is and try the following flow:

4 counts inhale 4 counts hold 4 counts exhale { x 4 times }

Who can you turn towards in moments of distress and moments of joy?

Healing doesn’t happen in isolation. We can create a culture of interdependence by turning to each other on a day-to-day basis, not only in times of need. Break down your community as a “pod” exercise. Map out your pod of people with whom you can cultivate a safe space.

Who do you count on to support you in suffering, as well as hold you accountable? How do we hold each other accountable to be compassionate in the way that we live?

Sometimes we might avoid challenging conversations with others, or situations of conflict. The discomfort that arises in conflict can be an opening for growth and a deeper understanding of one another. We can use this opportunity to practice honesty and transparency. Through expressing our needs we invite a more authentic connection. Avoiding conflict can create more disconnection in relationships and ultimately hinder the possibility for compassion and empathy.

How do you cultivate space for brave and healthy conflict in your relationships? Are you open to transformation and learning from others?

It may be hard to access joy, even when it is available to us. Sometimes we may resist joy, perhaps through fearing we are undeserving of it. There may be a felt risk in allowing ourselves the unfamiliarity of joy–we give ourselves something to lose. Sometimes gloom may seem like a familiar option. We can begin to practice joy, building our cheek muscles with laughter, and regularly noticing the little things that are worth celebrating in the day-to-day. Write three practices of (collective) joy that you share with others – schedule one in for this week.

What does joy feel like in your body? Which relationships re-energise you and bring you joy? How do we celebrate one another?

Healing and liberation from our suffering lies in redistributing power, movement building and social justice. The best collective therapy would be transforming the structures in society that make us suffer. Are you taking action on social injustice and/or are you involved in an organised group for social change? Are you supporting other people around you to be free?