A Class on Cultivating Self-Love

We first featured Erica Chidi’s work about three years ago—and our lives haven’t been the same since. Chidi is the CEO and cofounder of LOOM, a well-being brand that empowers people as they navigate their sexual and reproductive health. She’s a wise guide and an incredible teacher; her work (at LOOM, in her book Nurture, and online) has helped many develop body literacy. Chidi joined our senior beauty editor Megan O’Neill for an In goop Health session, where she talked about holding trauma in the body, compassionate connection with oneself, self-pleasure, and how to manage stress. Also appreciated: her very informative refresher on the four phases of the menstrual cycle.

Here are some highlights from the class, but watch the video above for the full experience.

Grief and Self-Love
“In this pandemic, we are in a concentrated grief period,” Chidi says. “If you haven’t had real connection or experience with grief, it’s important to realize that it’s cyclical—it’s on a continuum. You may have moments when you feel really good, focused, and organized. Then you’ll have a tough couple of days where you may be depressed or feeling disconnected from the people you love. But just naming that grief is the canopy we’re living in right now can be helpful.”

“Grief and trauma really impact our ability to want to contact or be in connection with our bodies and cultivate self-love,” she explains. “It can be hard to look for joy—and even when you find it, it can be difficult to comfortably access it without guilt. I think naming the bigger, challenging component at play is one step toward self-permission to embrace whatever joy you can find and to find your way back to your body. Trauma is stored in the body; it’s where you will continue to remember and repeat the uncomfortable feelings you’ve experienced. Which is why the connection to and clearing of the body are a very important part of your healing.”

Understanding the Menstrual Cycle
“What we’re navigating as women is this really fantastic dynamism: [Because of our menstrual cycle] we are not running on the same fuel all month. And what’s interesting about that is we live in a patriarchy—everything is designed around a male experience, and men are able to exist in a much more linear hormonal state. They don’t have as much variability,” says Chidi. “Bringing awareness to your cycle, its different phases, and what those mean, that will help you tap into when you’re up or down and will help you adapt your life. This sheltering-in-place experience is an opportunity to deepen that awareness.”

“What I like to drive home about having awareness around the four phases of your cycle is it’s like cognitive behavioral therapy,” she says. “The idea with CBT is when you understand your thoughts, you can change how you feel. When you understand the phases of your cycle, you can change how you feel about them. So instead of saying, ‘I’m PMS-ing,’ you can say, ‘I’m in my luteal phase. So I’m really tired and sleepy. I guess progesterone is really working right now.’ I think pushing away from terminology like PMS, which has a negative connotation, is another opportunity to be more compassionate and more loving to yourself.”

Gentle Negotiation
“I think it’s so important to find a place of comfort with masturbation. There is no right or wrong amount of pleasure you should be experiencing right now; it’s all about being in constant negotiation with it. It’s the process of creating support for yourself through having that internal dialogue and being aware of what’s happening. That is what soft, spacious connection looks like. When you are thinking about masturbating, think: What’s coming up for me? Am I aroused? Am I sad, hungry, or terrified? None of those things are wrong, but what’s key is that you are thinking about them. Because if we can start to create connection between action and thought, that’s a way we can cultivate self-love. It’s just creating this gentle accountability in your system around why you do the things that you do. That type of gentle negotiation can be really powerful.”

Be in the Marathon
“I really think this is a time of cocreation, a time of softening, and a time for action. And in order to be able to be in action you have to be able to take care of yourself. Because if you can’t, then you can’t be in the marathon. That’s what we’re in right now—it’s a marathon to fight the pandemic, to fight racism, and to support, uplift, and protect Black lives. So do what you can to stay gentle, stay curious, take care of yourself, and fight for a better world.”

You can learn more about LOOM and sign up for their classes here. And find them on Instagram here.

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