Each month, we will be highlighting a member of our Embody Teaching Team. This month, we are featuring Solveig Pedersen. Solveig is an Alaskan Bjork and a magical faerie sister. Her spaceholding and music skills are PHENOMENAL and her class is equally party as it is heart.
She is based in Anchorage, Alaska and offers one-on-one coaching, group coaching, online courses, workshops, Embody classes, and retreats throughout the state and beyond. Solveig sees
Solveig Pedersen is a certified Embody teacher, as well as a Certified Professional Coach, and university Communication instructor. She holds a master’s degree in Professional Communication – and her thesis focused on the way people understand and communicate about nonviolence. Her coaching practice – Sol + Heart – provides heart-centered life, love, and leadership coaching and teaching for changemakers.womxn connecting in with their bodies, their femininity, and their inner power and potency as an integral part of co-creating a more peaceful and loving world.
You can find her work at solandheart.com & her upcoming Embody classes atembodydanceclass.com/schedule
Recently, I’ve been noticing a big divide forming between spirituality and social justice.
This confuses me.
On the one hand, I can understand the dangers of spiritual bypassing as a way to avoid looking at the individual and collective shadow, and the eyeroll-inducing trend of privileged, white women choosing to paint everything “with light and love” as an excuse to not do the work and educate themselves.
However, there’s also been a bizarre schism between recent “social justice warriors” and the mystics & spiritually-inclined of our time.Spiritual practice, at least the non-extreme, non-dysfunctional kind, is rooted in a desire to return to love, connection and one-ness. It is about leading from the heart. It is about recognizing the “me in you and the you in me”.
Now, think about the fire that fuels activists, change-makers, and social justice leaders to advocate changing and dismantling systems/institutions that are creating inequality, pain and otherness… This burning desire comes from the heart as well. From a deep yearning to help people, to change their shitty circumstances, to recognize and dignify populations that have been suffering for centuries.
So I’m finding it incredibly strange to see such a clear and consistent bifurcation between these two movements, which to me, are born from the same energy.
How can something that is working towards advocating a non-binary view of the world be, in and of itself, SO binary?
It seems as those these days, you have to choose between identifying as a “light worker” or a “woke” activist. If you are of the former community, you may find yourself scared shitless of the next social justice warrior that is going to tear you another asshole because you didn’t use the most recent politically–correct term. And if you are of the latter community, you are going to lose it if one more person signs your well-researched, painstakingly-detailed online petition with a “namaste” emoji.
Last week, I attended a powerful event with John Wineland and Kendra Cunov, two phenomenal teachers and space-holders who worked with me on embodying open-hearted rage. Now, this was in the context of romantic relationship and intimacy – but what it left in me is a window into what’s happening for us collectively.
The individual is the collective.
The collective is the individual.
Seemed like paradox to me, at first.
How can I be angry and open? How can I own the truth in my deep-seated rage while also allowing the person in front of me in on my pain? How can I not stay silent about the hurt in my heart while also not blaming or shaming?
It wasn’t easy. It still isn’t easy. With a lot of helping hands supporting me into slowly open my chest, I was able to get a taste of what it’s like to embody open-hearted rage – but there’s a lot more work there. But that taste alone, was enough to inspire me to see this in our collective dynamic.
No matter what your particular individual or community context, you have the right to feel pain, hurt, abandonment, trauma and rage. The system has worked against you. The world has denied your rights. And the privileged have ignored your pain.
The space between us.
Where is it taking us?
adrienne maree brown says in her book Emergent Strategies, “This can’t be all. No one survives this way, not long term. This can’t be the purpose of our species, to constantly identify each other as “other”, build walls between us, and engage in both formal and informal war against each other’s bodies.”
As someone with a history of abuse and sexual assault, it will happen that I will sometimes get super triggered and project shit on my current partner in a way that sets them up to fail.
On the one hand, it happens… I’m human.
On the other hand, if I’m in a relationship with a man, I cannot punish him for the wrongdoings of other men or the system that exonerated such behavior. He does not owe me.
If I want to work towards sustainable partnership, I have to take responsibility for my triggers. I have to go do the work as well.
He can own his privilege. And he can empathize with my circumstance and history. But ultimately, that is not enough. We both have to do the work of learning to communicate from a place of love, transparency and self-regulation.
“If the goal was to increase the love, rather than winning or dominating a constant opponent, I think we could actually imagine liberation from constant oppression. We would suddenly be seeing everything we do, everyone we meet, not through the tactical eyes of war, but through eyes of love.” (- adrienne maree brown, again, because she’s a genius.)
I do not have to erase my trauma, or pretend I won’t have times when I show up unresourced and dysregulated… because, yes, trauma response is oh-so-fucking-real. My partner does not have to erase my trauma, or not be understanding when I show up triggered. But they also don’t have to shoulder the burden or excuse all my behavior just because some men in my past were assholes.
I do want to recognize that we are working with so many complex layers in every individual and every collective scenario, and I understand that certain situations lie more extreme on one end of the spectrum than the other.
However, can we begin with a basic understanding that seeing “the me in you and the you in me” does not erase your unique experience?
Can we recognize that if one loses, no one wins?
Can we accept that social justice that feels spiky and filled with hatred cannot work and that spirituality with bypassing and failure to roll up your sleeves is not love but privilege disguised in a cute flower crown?
And can we come back to the place where we meet? The heart.