2017: So Many Ways for Engaged Contemplative Practice

  • Non Violent Communication (NVC) and Mindful Presence 
  • Listening Posts at Women's March on Washington and EVERYWHERE
  • Call to Action /Call to Practice: ARISE-Awakening through Race, Intersectionality & Social Equity
  • White Awareness Workshop from Mindful Peacebuilding
  •  Can Conversation change bigotry?
  • How do you say ‘I Love You’ in the era of ‘Trumpism’: love in action

 There are so many ways to be a Contemplative Activist, there is no one way to be a Contemplative Activist. Contemplative Activism takes many forms and all forms are needed, especially at this time. SO if you feel that you are not doing enough because your heart/mind/spirit does not call you to participate in a specific event or gathering, listen inside to what you are being called to. For inspiration listen to Roberta Wall's interview here or below

What contemplative activists have in common is a self reflective/meditative perspective and healing, interconnecting approaches to personal, collective and social change.

As you explore these offerings, you may notice that most fall within the realm of healing the divide (in ourselves, our families, our communities, our nation and the world) through connectedness.

What you will notice that many forms of contemplative activism are very local and specific even when taking on larger issues and social injustice.  As you explore these hoping that you may see new (or already existing) ways to be engaged in the healing and transformation that these great times are calling forth. Supporting us all to becoming the change we want to see in the world is the intention of this blog.


1) Non Violent Communication (NVC) and Mindful Presence 

Click here to listen to Roberta's interview on NVC/Mindfulness/Activisim
Roberta Wall, former Labor Organizer, Civil Rights Lawyer, current Order of Interbeing member and NVC teacher working in the Middle East and USA. One of the founding members of the Brooklyn Sangha shares her personal practice journey living in the South.

2) Listening Posts EVERYWHERE and at Women's March on Washington
 We live in wonderful Takoma Park, MD, on the border of Washington, DC.  Our community is mobilizing to greet you when you come to the Women’s March on Washington in January with trainings in non-violence, sign-making, etc.  We hope to meet and do walking and sitting meditation once the details of the march emerge. Click here for Mindful resources Women's March on Washington
Here is one idea we can start right here, now!  Listening posts!  
 In an interview shortly after 9/11, Thich Nhat Hanh responded to this question:
“If you could speak to Osama bin Laden, what would you say to him? Likewise, if you were to speak to the American people, what would you suggest we do at this point, individually and as a nation?”
“If I were given the opportunity to be face to face with Osama bin Laden, the first thing I would do is listen. I would try to understand why he had acted in that cruel way. I would try to understand all of the suffering that had led him to violence. It might not be easy to listen in that way, so I would have to remain calm and lucid. I would need several friends with me, who are strong in the practice of deep listening, listening without reacting, without judging and blaming. In this way, an atmosphere of support would be created for this person and those connected so that they could share completely, trust that they are really being heard.”
I envision this happening at the Women's March, but we can start doing it in our communities and neighborhoods now.  The idea: Get at least four volunteers to just LISTEN to whatever feelings another person wants to express for 2-3 minutes at a time.  There would be a sign “Free Listening - to your feelings” (2-3 minutes each).  One person would handle getting people in lines, timing the sharing, ending with a bell perhaps, keeping order.  The other 3-4 Listeners would stand or sit back to back (to support one another, just sitting and breathing for 10 minutes together before beginning to listen, calming their own bodies,minds, hearts). The speakers could line up, take their places in front of a listener (one on one) when the bell ends the previous listening session, begin all the sharing at one time, end on time.  ANYONE can listen!  Children, elders, people of all ethnicities, religions, political views.  To listen to someone without interruption, judgment, facial reactions or body movements is a very powerful gift.  It often “cuts suffering in half or doubles joy.”
Our aim would be to have many “listening posts” at the Women’s March on Washington January 21(where there will also be DT supporters here for the Inauguration).  But we also want to practice, become skilled at listening, do it in our families, neighborhoods, organizing meetings.  In TP, we could set up a “listening spot” (perhaps the gazebo or someplace close to metro.) Quite naturally, in a large crowd like the Women’s March, some speakers draw audiences of listeners, so their talking becomes dominant.  This method would highlight the listening, and train us in deep listening from the heart.  So if someone is very upset, we might break off and give them 4-5 listeners, just listening.  If the listeners get tired, they can ask someone who has been speaking to take their place.  Another model that is used in some Native American gatherings is to form a large circle of listeners, passing around a “talking stick.”  Spread the idea!  Try it!  Let us know how it works!

Supported by the ARISE Sangha – Awakening through Race, Intersectionality, and Social Equity.
Calling all Mindfulness Practitioners to 

Go As A River at the Women's March on Washington

Saturday, January 21

~ Meditation is no longer the work of individuals; meditation in our time should be a collective practice. Thich Nhat Hanh, Calming the Fearful Mind, p22.

Call to Action

Join members of the Thich Nhat Hanh Sangha and other traditions from across the country as we march together in peace for justice for all at the Women's March on Washington. People of all genders are invited. We will practice Marching Meditation to hold love for each other as a Beloved Community committed to justice for the disenfranchised as so many of our ancestors have done before. Sangha members will also participate in marching meditation in New York CitySan Francisco and other sister cities. 

Click here for the Sangha facebook page organizing housing and events in Washington DC (including sitting meditation, Dharma Sharing, Deep Listening and more) to turn the march into a true Day of Mindfulness. Please reply to this email if you would like your local event linked to this. See the full description of the march and other links below.

Call to Practice
We invite all practitioners and Sanghas in the United States and beyond to dedicate their practice during the week of Monday, January 16th (Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) to Sunday, January 22nd (the weekend following the inauguration) to cultivating understanding and compassion for ourselves and our country, and healing from the violence, hatred, and fear that has intensified during the past year's election. We recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all.
We encourage you to dedicate your walking meditation and sitting meditation practice to generating the energy of compassion and healing with each step and each breath you take. Practice Deep Listening with someone you don't understand and bring Loving Speech into your conversations (see the 4th MT below). Read Thay's “Calming the Fearful Mind: a Zen Response to Terrorism” and practice Dharma Sharing on the topics raised. These teachings are remarkably relevant today. Practice Touching the Earth (below). Listen to and meditate upon Alone Again, the song created from Thay's poem Recommendation.  See a full list of resources for practice here.PV Racial Equity resources

We cannot escape our interdependence with other people, with other nations in the world. Let us take this moment to look deeply and find a path of liberation. (TNH Calming the Fearful Mind, p.9)

4) Can Conversation Change Bigotry? 
This article points to the power of dialogue and relationship-building to change hearts and minds.  In both instances, someone who had every reason to fear for his life, befriended a committed white supremacist, ultimately having a significant impact on their belief systems.

The Atlantic article, "The Audacity of Talking About Race With the Ku Klux Klan" cotemplates how and why a Black musician, Daryl Davis, ame to befriend three leaders in Maryland's Ku Klux Klan, all of whom eventually ended their affiliation with the group. Davis explained his philosophy this way:"The most important thing I learned is that when you are actively learning about someone else you are passively teaching them about yourself. So if you have an adversary with an opposing point of view, give that person a platform. Allow them to air that point of view, regardless of how extreme it may be...

You challenge them. But you don't challenge them rudely or violently. You do it politely and intelligently. And when you do things that way chances are they will reciprocate and give you a platform. So he and I would sit down and listen to one another over a period of time. And the cement that held his ideas together began to get cracks in it. And then it began to crumble. And then it fell apart."

5) White Awareness Workshop from Mindful Peacebuilding
 Here is a quick reminder to register for this upcoming class that is offered once a year on the topic of White Awareness. Many friends who took the class last year found the class very beneficial and are planning to take it again this year. We hope you will prticipate ad invite other friends. If you are interested in this important topic and would like to create a similar circle among friends or help with setting up such a frame of dicussion, please send us an email at mindfulpeacebuilding@gmail.com
 White Awareness Class 2017
Beginning on January 22 for 9 weeks, Mindful Peacebuilding is sponsoring an educational class on white awareness and white privilege facilitated by AJ Johnston and Maxine Heiliger. The class is on every Sunday 4-6pm in Berkeley. The sessions will consist of meditation, discussions, readings, films, writing exercises, and sharing  life experiences related to how the concept of race has worked to separate us.
All sessions are donation-based. The registration deadline is January 15, so anyone interested can contact AJ Johnston directly at pathofmindfulness@gmail.com

​Here are a few quick descriptions of the class from the instructors:
​"​The group is participatory and you will be asked to share your life experiences related to race. We will use mindfulness and peacebuilding practices to support us. These practices help us listen with respect and compassion as we share our personal stories and reflections. As white practitioners we want to think, say and do things that come from a place of accepting all people as equally of value. But too often, despite good intentions, we unconsciously collude with a system of injustice.  Insight and understanding can arise from looking deeply together as a group. We will consider how to liberate ourselves from the superiority complex of whiteness that continues to harm all of us.  The way out starts with awareness, so we will shine light on the ways in which racism functions in our society and ourselves.  Sometimes we may find the subject matter challenging.  Difficult emotions such as guilt, shame, and confusion may arise. Defensiveness is common.      ​

​The class will bring together mindfulness and social action, explore micro-aggressions and unconscious bias​, identify skills white people need to have an authentic cross-cultural friendship in a supportive environment in order to heal racism together.  
To help frame our conversations, we will read together Robin DiAngelo's book, What Does It Mean to Be White? Developing White Racial Literacy​, revised edition 2016"


7)  How do you say ‘I Love You’ in the era of ‘Trumpism’: love in action
 Marisela B Gomez PHD MD Community activist and author of Race, Class, Power and Organizing in East Baltimore. Blogs at www.mariselabgomez.com

 Writing a love letter or saying ‘I love you’ to any person who behaves in a racist, classist, xenophobic, misogynistic, separatist way, in their speech and action is a practice: a practice of love in action. When this person has the power to cause harm to not only the individuals they come in direct contact with but to large populations and countries, this adds another layer to practice with.

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