Healing from racial injustice and trauma: The path of Mindfulness

The practice of mindfulness helps us to stop and notice what is going on in our body and mind. As we notice, we can begin to take care of the places of imbalance inside. Only when we are moving toward balance inside can we truly contribute to balance outside. Our healing selves offer evidence of the healing that we con contribute to outside of us.

Join Baltimore and Beyond Mindfulness Community on March 3, 4, 5 in Pikesville Maryland for a retreat for People of Color. We will learn and deepen different  mindfulness practices, such as being aware: of our breath as we sit, walk, lay down, stand up; of what we are eating instead of chewing on our worries or our tasks; where our tensions and worries live in our bodies through deep relaxation to release tensions and stress. And build community through sharing from our hearts and looking deeply to see what is nourishing and what is challenging us. Mindfulness practices do not require us to become Buddhist. Whatever faith denomination we practice, or not, we can practice mindfulness guided by the ethical principles of non-harming, truthful speech, non-stealing, non-intoxicants, and right sexual conduct. We find stillness so we can be more aware of how and when we are pulled into behaviors, perceptions, thoughts which do not support these ethical principles and actions we all strive toward. Mindfulness allows us to see clearly, to notice our racing thoughts, and to decide which of these thoughts we will follow and which we will put aside. The practices of mindfulness slowly allows us to take control of ourselves, moving us toward true freedom.

Self-mastery is the supreme victory-much more to be valued than winning control over others. It is a victory that no other being whatsoever, can distort or take away.

The Dhammapada

Whether you are  a beginner or a current practitioner of mindfulness, all are welcome to meet up on this path of peace, love, justice, and community.

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Is peace too radical for activists? Taking time to stop and find calm

The lives of activists are busy. The work of social justice activists, community organizers, and human rights defenders is challenging and almost always leads to burnout.  Through diverse means, we struggle to right the wrongs of unjust systems. These systems maintain disproportionate control in the hands of the powerful, and have marginalized and disenfranchised people of color, low income and working class people, women, lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer/intersex/questioning (LGBTQIQ) individuals, people with disabilities, immigrants, non-English speakers, and non-Christians.

To ensure that we do not perpetuate the injustices we seek to change we must take good care of ourselves, our pain, our conflicts. We must recognize our tensions, our traumas. And we must stop, become aware of the breath, calm the mind and body, and find stillness. This stillness leads to seeing more clearly, who we are, the person on this path of justice. Do we have balance inside of us, as we seek balance and justice outside of us?

Stopping, resting, healing, finding spaciousness allows us peace. We bring that peace, that clarity, that healed self into all our encounters, on the front lines, behind the computer, in the board room or the city hall. We do not only seek peace outside, we are peace inside and that radiates to others.  This is the justice movement, a movement that is radical enough to value peace at its base, and assure peaceful means as we seek just ends. Our means become the goal we are seeking, right there in every moment.

Join us as we stop, and find the space to heal and bring peace inside. Join us as we value ourselves, as much as we value the work. Can we stop?

What: Mindfulness retreat for social activists

When: December 3, 4 2016 (Saturday and Sunday) 9am – Saturday to 3pm – Sunday.

Where: Trinitarian Center, 8400 Park Heights Avenue, Pikesville, MD

Why: Because justice outside cannot happen without balance inside! Come reconnect!

How: Register here!

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No peace, no justice!

How do we cultivate a justice movement, based in peace? Could it be that peace must start in ourselves, to spread into the movement? Join us for a space and time, to rest, reflect, and fellowship with others on the healing path of peace and justice!

Mindfulness two-day residential retreats for People of Color and Social Activists
August 7, 8 Friday, Saturday People of Color
August 9, 10 Sunday, Monday Social Activists

More information at www.baltimoremindfulnesscommunity.space

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Building equitable communities: Black women and girls lives matter

Fragmentation of community affects policing and is affected by policing: the lost of black lives to violence, and black women and girls lives to violence continues to fragment our communities. Recognizing, respecting, celebrating to rebuild communities toward equity, the matter of black women and children lives is a critical part of this transformation.
Join us to create a powerful collective energy that will assure change in Baltimore, and beyond!

Saturday June 20 3pm Rekia’s Rally
Sunday June 21 2pm Natasha’s Jubilee

Rally and celebration for black women and girls lives

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Moving toward individual and social equity

It’s a new year, 2015, and we have much to be grateful for. Our health, our families and friends, and all the other pieces of life that make us smile, and sometimes groan. The new year offers us an opportunity to keep doing the same thing as the previous, or do something differently. After some reflection or contemplation, we may decide that staying with the current status is good enough, or not. 


The label of “revolution”

For those in some aspect of counter-culture movement toward equity, maybe we can take a period of reflection and decide if our perceived revolution is simply a different angle or smaller imprint of the status quo of inequity. For example, some of us who have been involved in “social justice” struggles may be tired of dealing with the sexist attitudes of our male colleagues who promote racial and class equity but grow their egos by disrespecting females. If you have been involved in ANY movement, you know this pattern. The same goes with those involved with class struggles who time and time again practice racial inequity- talking down to racial/ethnic minorities. The white liberals who feel that their progressive stand on racial equity erase their white-skin privilege might also take a look at their continued participation in racial inequity when they claim their struggles are equal to those of people of color. There are others…the anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-elderly behaviors many of us practice while participating in our favorite issue of social change. Many of us have lost sight of the different nodes making up the network of oppression that stifles all of us thereby binding us together in oppression. This network of oppression will continue to exist, made up of all the factors of injustice, until all the factors are challenged to accomplish a social transformation.

A network of freedom

This type of social transformation- of all the factors- will result in a network of freedom for all. Each node or factor making up these multiple oppressions must be unraveled so its energy supports the freedom of the other for a new network to take effect-a network of freedom. These structures that allow injustices to grow- based on class, race/ethnicity, neighborhood, gender, sexual orientation, place of birth, language, spirituality, physical and mental ability- allow for the age-old human need to find self-worth through demeaning another human form. Yes, we stand on the backs of our sisters and brothers so we can appear taller to ourselves and others. A deep reflection in this new year is to consciously become more aware of the times we demean someone else in order to make ourselves feel more powerful or better. Such a violating path toward happiness and self-appreciation causes harm to others. The structures of social hierarchies or network of oppression-racism, classism, sexism, etc- offer each individual a way to make themselves feel superior to another, for each one of us maintain multiple identities within society. A white female has white-skin privilege in the very moment she may be demeaned by a male while a black male has male privilege in the same moment he is demeaned by a white-skinned individual. And so it goes for all the different ways we walk through this lifetime. And no, there is no math that can add up the “oppression” score and rank us within this violating system. But maybe you get the idea? This awareness and undoing of the personal hierarchies and violations will offer us insight into the larger social hierarchies and oppressions and allow a more truthful and connected revolutionary movement.

It’s up to us…to commit to a new year with new awareness, alertness, and ardency. We can begin to transform an oppressive society toward one of equity and freedom when we are conquering the very seeds growing in us that we say we want to uproot in society.

May we all dive, step, stand, sit in freedom, together!

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Finding the space/peace to nurture our collective struggle

Upcoming event to nourish the peace and calm we NEED to continue our struggle for justice and equity!

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Register at: Registration site

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Honoring our Pain, Nourishing our Joy: Coming Home to Peace
A non-residential mindfulness retreat for People of Color

Friday, August 1st 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Saturday, August 2nd 9am to 5pm

Please plan to attend both Friday and Saturday
$50-$80 sliding scale
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Sacred Activism: Creating Justice through Peace and Understanding
A Day of Mindfulness for Activists

Sunday, August 3rd 9am to 4pm
$35-$60 sliding scale
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For both events: Sliding scale; please give at the highest level you can afford so others can attend.
No one will be turned away for lack of funds.
Please bring a dish (vegetarian preferable) to share for a potluck lunch on Saturday and Sunday.

Location and more details soon to follow. To receive updates or more information contact Marisela Gomez at socialhealthconcepts@gmail.com

Facilitators for both events: Sr. Jewel and Marisela Gomez

Sister Jewel (Chan Chau Nghiem) is of African American and European American heritage. She has ordained with Thich Nhat Hanh as a Buddhist nun 14 years ago and became a Dharma teacher 7 years ago. She has led retreats in the U.S., Europe, Thailand, Brazil, India and Southern Africa. She initiated the first People of Color retreats in the Thich Nhat Hanh community from 2004 to 2007. She is energized by sharing mindfulness and compassion, especially with children and young people, and by bringing mindfulness to teachers and schools. She spent the last 5 years at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Germany. She is editor of Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children by Thich Nhat Hanh, and has articles and chapters published in several books, including Together we are One; Dharma, Color and Culture and others.

Marisela Gomez is a mindfulness practitioner, public health scholar activist, and physician. Of Afro-Latina ancestry, she has spent more than 20 years in Baltimore involved in social justice activism and social determinants of health research, writing, and practice. Since 2004 she has been studying and practicing mindfulness and other forms of meditation at Buddhist practice centers in US, Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand and France. She has helped to organize retreats for People of Color at Blue Cliff Monastery in New York since 2007, a monastery in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh.