Healing Humanity Through Movement, Dance And Vulnerability. Rebecca Moore speaks with the founder of Nurturing Me.
We live in a toughened society, one where strength is void of vulnerability. Many of us may hold onto shame from being heckled and shunned for expressing our emotions. We are taught how to be experts at masking and ignoring our experience, instead of learning how to be with our feelings.
Leah Abraham is redefining what it means to be strong, by creating safe spaces for herself and others to feel, express and connect through deep nurturance, sensuality and softness.
Several life-changing experiences, such as losing her aunt to suicide, have inspired Leah to begin holding nurturing refuge circles, specifically for womanhood and sistership. Rebecca sat down with Leah to discuss how movement is her go-to healing ritual and the importance of having the space to be soft.
My name is Leah, these days I go by L-AY-ah. I’m feeling more connected to the name I was given by my father, which is more Arabic. I’m a model and performer, an artist in progress, I’m currently working on defining my practice. I facilitate women’s circles that champion movement and the idea of softness. In many ways for me softness is strength. To be vulnerable when you’re working within a space or within a society that requires constant resilience is radical.
For me it was a form of activism to be a black woman who is soft. Someone who really sits with their emotions and shows up from that space.
In my younger years, I’d come home from university to my mum’s and stay up really late dancing for hours by myself in my room. It was ecstatic! I found that I was lost in the music, the rhythm with no construct of time. By the end, I’d be out of breath, sweaty and completely transformed by the experience. From this, I realised that I had a lot of energy that needed to be released. When activism came to be something I was doing, I really started to feel the weight of the world. Movement was an outlet to release that — to transform and alchemise a heavy emotional experience into something else.
I found that my movements were quite stylistic and I developed more of my own signature dance style. This opened up opportunities to perform and teach ecstatic dance workshops and I’ve even been commissioned to create movement pieces, which is really beautiful and has taken on a journey of its own.
Ultimately I think movement is like breath; it’s life, it’s living, it’s constant. It’s sometimes the only way you can express what can’t be put into words.
I think softness can be a universal concept. It’s something we can all take a bite out of for the better. In so many spaces, from healthcare to the creative arts,, you can find a hardened mentality and nature that isn’t phased or touched by things. We’re starting to see it changing now but for a long time, any sign of vulnerability or weakness would have a negative impact on your credibility.
Previously it made you seem like you are unable to do certain things. People would disregard you. Now I believe that because mental health has become more of a public affair, we are coming to reassess the meaning of vulnerability. For a long time, mental health issues were often kept private and if you were open about your experiences people assumed there was something wrong with you. today however, it is more widely accepted as something that will and can affect everyone.
For me softness is about humanity. It’s about being able to come back to what is true and express our authentic human experience. When we come into softness, we come back to the knowing that we are all human, we are all valuable and we all have the ability to come together and be stronger because of that.
When we can acknowledge someone’s softness we can then acknowledge our own. I want softness to be a global movement for everyone, from male, to female, to non-binary, to the LGBTQI community. It’s a movement for humanity.
I like to talk about this idea of being a space holder. There isn’t a sense of giving advice. I don’t ever want to call myself a coach. Just being able to create a space, energetically and physically that someone feels they can come into and be held, where there’s no judgement. A space to breathe and be.
It came from experiencing an identity loss, during the time that I was working as a model. I was at a point where I didn’t know exactly who I was and I was really trying to find myself. It felt so weird having to play different characters on set and I would question if anyone could see who I was behind the superficiality. I would leave photoshoots very exhausted energetically and I wasn’t sure why.
I think when you’re an empath you’re absorbing all the chaos and the energy. I needed to channel that into something so I started writing about ways to nurture myself and what it means to be soft.
Using the notes on my phone I would write stuff to process all of those feelings. I called them ‘notes on nurturance’. During that time I noticed a desire to connect and share this guidance with other women. The biggest turning point for me was when my Aunt died. She passed away from suicide, it was a huge loss in my family. I realised how easy it is for women’s voices to be silenced, for them to suffer and experience so much pain with no one to hold them. In that period of grieving, I felt called to create a space, a circle of support for myself and other women. I started reading about women’s circles and took inspiration from Queen Afua, who writes about wellness circles in her book Sacred Woman. That book really transformed my journey in many ways.
I remember the first circle I held. It was a really powerful and beautiful evening. I was living in this warehouse in Brixton and it took me hours to set up. The process of putting everything in the right place, pulling the candles out and lighting each one. It was so sacred and I had never felt so moved by an experience before; the energy of the space, the women who were there, and this beautiful connection that was formed.
I spend as much time as I can by myself. I used to be quite sociable, especially when I was at university. I’d have friends over at my house all the time, or I’d stay at theirs. I eventually realised that I have to have my own space to retreat to when I need to come back to myself. it’s really important for me, to cleanse my energy and come back to my own frequency.
I’m very much a sensual being. That is something that defines me and I’ve really come into it more recently. I really enjoy touch, scents and smells and having things around me that invite sacredness. It could be lighting a candle or burning sage. I love the smell of sage.
Something else that I do is to set a daily reminder to do something that brings me orgasmic joy. That could be anything unique to me that gives me that feeling. Orgasmic joy is blissful, it’s like a releasing joy that melts away tension.
I recently started a small business selling facial elixirs. I’ve been working with Sea Moss for a long time, digesting it mostly, but then I began to explore other uses and I realised it can be used topically for beauty too. So I created a softening skin toner made from Sea Moss from St Lucia and other purifying natural ingredients. I really enjoy the idea of softness in beauty and that would be something I’d really like to expand on. Having a full range of products and building a really interesting journey with the brand.
Find out more about Leah Abraham here.