"It wasn't that bad,"
"It could've been worse,"
"We're staying high vibe,"
"Oh, it's all good,"
"Everything happens for a reason,"
"Look at the lessons and gifts in this,"
"Just need to stay remain positive..."
STOP. BREATHE. FEEL.
When the COVID pandemic hit, I quarantined solo for 3 months and received a lot of advice on how to manage the experience but most of it bypassed my feelings, which made her feel even more alone.
As I struggled for a better way to process, I started sketching underwater art concepts that conveyed some of the grief, loneliness and longing I was experiencing, dreaming of the day again when I'd be able to return underwater and create with my friends and fellow artists.
Finally, as soon as it was safe, I devised an underwater performance campaign with an incredible team of quarantined creatives in Los Angeles, CA like photographer Justin Lutsky, who also helped build the underwater sets and movement artist Sammy Jane-Gray, as well as a talented support crew.
We all came together to work and shoot late into the night and create photos with a powerful healing message.
The goal of the underwater imagery series called 'Sani/Nation' is to catalyze the full processing and integration of our painful emotions and experience associated with the COVID pandemic like isolation and disconnection and feeling lost, even trapped.
To deny the feelings of loss and grief in our lives, and to deny validating them, risks turning pain into long-term suffering.
If we avoid the pain signaling our distress - anxiety, depression, panic, sadness - it will fester within, lodge in our nervous systems and left unresolved may even be passed down as inherited trauma to the next generation.
This was really my motivation for conceptualizing, directing and performing in the set and prop-intensive photos of 'Sani/Nation' because I believes art can serve as a powerful permissive force to help people feel, process, share, discuss and resolve.
The series' images speak broadly to both the pain of physical disconnection, social distancing and wearing masks, as well as the healing aspects of what we hold onto and continue to hope for again - physical connection, loving touch, togetherness, shared space and support
For the first time in the lifetimes of many, the entire world is in communal grief.
And grief gives us a job.
It's a command to slow down and turn inward; to recalibrate living in a world without whatever has been lost or shifted suddenly.
From all the artists behind 'Sani/Nation,' their invitation is this:
Please, make the time and space you need to fully feel, process and adjust in and after your experience of the COVID pandemic.
Use these images to start a conversation and share openly how quarantine impacted you.
you are not alone.
INITIATE YOUR HEALING
Find online resources for counselors at low or no cost. Join an online support group and connect with others over Zoom to share your COVID journey.
Work to pause the storyline and memory replays and instead tap into your body with your eyes closed. Where does this experience live for you in the body? How does it feel? What textures, qualities, sensations are present? And if you can, even visualize what they look or represent as in your mind's eye.
Your goal should be to just gift these loving presence and train your ability to stay with instead of tap out of the experience. This is a critical first step in processing.
Now allow your body to do whatever it is that it tells you it needs. That might look like punching pillows, or sitting quietly by your favorite pond, or breathing deeply and slowly into your feet, or running in place and shouting or imagining a stabilizing scenario even an evolving inner story of imagery that helps or facilitates a particular area of your body and its sensations in some way.Embrace what comes up and move it through your body.
Or take the time to journey inwards, eyes closed, talking to parts of your body and their sensations, asking what they need, why they are here, how you can support them and use your inner eye to visualize giving them what they need.Allow yourself whatever it is asking for to process this experience - without judgement or criticism.
BECOME YOUR OWN MEDICINE
There's no doubt, COVID has wrought tremendous levels of upheaval, loss, doubt and even suffering into our lives.
It has also forced us to re-evaluate and reset; to sit with and be with and in all of our own pain and past, unprocessed 'stuff' that was oh so easy to avoid in our busy, modern day lives.
If you feel disconnected, disembodied, untethered or floating right now.
Or you're having a hard time staying present and focusing.
Or you're shutting down and freezing, or find yourself in a depressive state in the face of all the stress.
Or perhaps you feel emotionally-numb and are having trouble processing the tough experiences and expressing yourself.,
Maybe You are often combative, frustrated and angry at seemingly small things.
If so, these are perfectly normal responses....
AND you can create the tools and capacity in your life to change them.
HOW? Well, I've put together an amazing capacity-building training, called Permission To Thrive, which is steeped in the modalities of scientifically-backed Somatic Experiencing and Polyvagal Theory techniques.
This online experience is designed to empower you with the psycho-education needed to understand and validate your own survival circuitry -
AND is packed with:
This unique combination of modules will allow you to process, feel, integrate and heal from anything that has happened, is happening or will happen. <3
Concept Art Director & Performer: Christine Ren
Photographer & Sets: Justin Lutsky
Dance & Underwater Model: Sammy-Jane Gray
Production Assistant & Safety: Sarah Tan
Production Assistant & Safety: Kirk
BTS Videographer 1: Heather Lutsky
BTS Videographer 2: Ryan Stuart
Support Crew: Daein Kang & Emily Tan
Video Edit: Abbey Botwell