Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pause for Thought

Check this out --> Feminist Activists Find Peace in Thailand

I wanted to link to this article for a couple of reasons.  For one, feminism and VAW (violence against women) work are very important to me.  My training background is actually in assaulted women’s counselling, not mental health, although the two have obvious intersections.  I love learning about what feminist activism looks like around the world.

The other reason is that I found as I read this, I was contrasting the “retreat” experience they describe with the professional trainings and workshops I attend here in Canada.  The focus on “self-love and self-worth as an essential part of their work in the world” sounds really in line with my philosophy, but not my practice.  I certainly haven’t had many experiences in my professional life where there is such an emphasis on this sort of thing.  The perks offered to us at trainings usually max out at a free lunch, and possibly getting to go home a bit early. 

I don’t know much about Thai society or the culture of social service work there, so I can’t really comment on whether the needs of these workers would be different than where I am, and what they might make of their retreat experience.  But as the writer says, seeing “15 women grown napping together on the floor of a conference room after a lively plenary” would be “odd” to see in the U.S. (and I’m considering the U.S. and Canada to be more or less the same in this respect). 

It sounds nice.  But would it work?  Would anyone go for it?  I can imagine the mixed reactions of my co-workers – divided between feeling uncomfortable, and griping about how they could be making phone calls or getting assessments done instead.

Is this because we really don’t value self-care?  We talk a lot about avoiding compassion fatigue, but the general consensus seems to often be that we are responsible for this on our own time. 

On the other hand, is it because sleeping or meditating would be considered a private activity, and we would be asked to let our guard down to such a degree in a very public and shared space?  A lot of what they describe would be strikingly different from our typical professional activities and behaviours, and would (I think) demand a lot of openness to the experience.  Would this cross my boundaries?

I don’t know.  But I’m curious.

Has anyone experienced something like this?

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