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An End of Year Open Letter: On Community Care

In a way there is not much to say. I have for many years been a voice within my own communities. To the best of my knowledge I have been an observer of realities and have attempted to put feelings into words that are digestible and as truthful to the best of my current knowledge. It seems a bit futile to spend time putting words to paper which can easily be drowned and silenced through chat gpt, misinformation, spiritual platitudes through memes, hot takes, charlatans, influencers and bite sized reels because the attention of the common citizen is now reduced to a point of frightening proportion.

As it stands, on December 31st of 2023 there continues to be an unfathomable loudness that leaves very little space for stillness and silence. It continues to drown the sounds of those suffering under the hands of greater oppressive powers. Liberation, freedom and peace seem to be more distant concepts as they were a hundred or even a thousand years ago. When the dust settles, and we sit as a collective, head down, two hands on cranium suffering the consequences of actions that were not even entirely ours, my wish is that you have personally taken some time to create art, be amidst beauty, love, taken care of yourself, this planet and your community.

This year was the year where for the very first time in a very long time I have questioned whether doing any of this work even matters?

Yesterday, I taught my final group movement class of 2023 at One Down Dog, a studio in which I have been teaching since the beginning of my career. I recently upgraded my phone and realized that the toggle did not fit in this new iPhone. The two back up speakers were also not working and it delighted me that I got to teach without music. Like in the olden days, I said. We have to hear each other now. I got to hear breath again. I got to hear folks emoting after a deep stretch. We heard each other. And to see and be a part of communal experience, not through a screen, has been a gift I have offered myself since 2020. While many of my colleagues continue to do their work virtually, it is one I am actively choosing not to engage in. Pür Joy was born in 2022 as a creative project to continue doing my work off the virtual space and to create a physical space for community and individual care. As I work to integrate both in my life, as it stands for 2024 Pür Joy will continue to offer mostly in-person sessions and elated to also offer virtual sessions.

So, yes, doing any and all of this really matters. Taking a step back, zooming out, and seeing what needs to shift to zoom back in, matters. And, to keep going if it still feels right. And, it does.

I left that class feeling gratified. It brings me such joy to work with my clients individually and a grander vicarious joy of witnessing a community of people come through the doors for well-being. When the collective leaves a Pür Joy community event with a sense of ease, relief and relaxation, it matters to me. As a human being who cares, it has always mattered to me how people around me feel. As exhausting it has been for my nervous system to care too much at times, I am unwilling to surrender this part of who I am even if it means to go against the stream to bring people into a room, which has both been a challenge and learning opportunity.

And, for this reason alone, the answer is YES. And, it comes from a very deep place within my core and heart that it matters to keep doing community based work. Bringing teachers into Pür Joy who I value and respect, matters. Serving a hot cup of tea in a ceramic cup rather than a paper cup, matters. Making community events sliding scale and accessible, matters. Not squeezing people in and making sure everyone gets to have a comfortable seat and say what is on their heart, matters. Giving and receiving love, matters. Getting off the technology to be present to the people you love, matters. Writing your heart out, matters. Doing something that feels viscerally correct, matters. Keeping people accountable within our communities who are engaging in harmful and violent behavior, matters. Protecting your heart by stepping away also matters. Actively doing the work necessary to not become cold in the heart, matters. Saying thank you, matters. Saying please, matters. Holding the door for a stranger and looking them in the eye, matters. Saying hello to your neighbors, matters. Creating spaces where people can gather, matters. Feeling each others energy and learning not to absorb it, matters. Loving each other, matters! Being in dialogue and conversation, matters. Remembering that you are not alone, matters.

All that said, I am forever grateful to all those who have stepped through those doors and offered their breath and energy to a space that is growing. It has been so organic and beautiful to witness Pür Joy evolve. To those who have inspired and given me breath, offering unconditional support during these difficult moments to keep going, please know that a community space is nothing without you. To my clients who have prioritized their well-being, and kept me in business, which from my understanding has supported them to become agents of change and love within their own communities through their individual wellness, thank you.

This work can not be done alone and without ü there is really no Pür Joy.

I am very much looking forward to a thriving 2024. May this coming year be the one where your desires are fully realized and your heart is full of ease and love. Happiest of New Years.

much love,

armen menechyan

creator of pür joy

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