A Weekly Gathering for People of Color


 

We invite Black/Indigenous/People of Color (BIPOC) to join The Garrison Institute’s new BIPOC meditation sangha on Thursdays 12-1pm EDT.

Recently we celebrated a year of connection in this sangha. Read more here.

The Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) Sangha is a weekly gathering of self-identified BIPOC practitioners that provides a safe place to meditate and explore contemplative practices. This sangha cultivates an environment that welcomes diverse voices and builds community.

The guided meditations will be facilitated every Thursday by experienced teachers and practitioners Kaira Jewel Lingo and Dr. Marisela Gomez.

REGISTER HERE

 

Registration Tips

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An invitation from the teachers:

“We welcome a vibrant community where all self-identified Black/Indigenous/People of Color are invited to practice in a welcoming space of mindfulness and transformation. Whether you are new to meditation or have been practicing for years each moment offers the opportunity to learn and grow.

Each week we will gather to meditate together, reflect on Buddhist-based teachings on love, wisdom and liberation, and share our experiences. These practices support us to embrace and transform our pain and suffering and start getting free! With an open heart, we can learn to live more fully in the present moment.

We invite you to read and reflect on this Gatha for Healing Racial, Systemic and Social Inequity formulated by the ARISE sangha as a framework for our community.

Aware of the suffering caused by racial, systemic, and social inequities, we commit ourselves, individually and as a community, to understanding the roots of these inequities, and to transforming this suffering into compassion, understanding and love in action.

As a global community of practitioners, we are aware of the disproportionate racial violence and oppression committed by institutions and by individuals, whether consciously or unconsciously, against African Americans, Indigenous peoples and people of color across the United States and beyond. We know that by looking deeply as individuals and as a community, we can engage the collective wisdom and energy of the Sangha to be our foundation for Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Mindfulness, and Right Insight. These are the practices leading to nondiscrimination, non-harming, and non-self which heal ourselves and the world.”

Fierce Vulnerability Considerations

Recent readings & reflections:

The Five Mindfulness Trainings

The Sangha is currently studying the Five Mindfulness Trainings and the contemplations associated with them. We will share them here as the weeks progress.

The First Mindfulness Training: Acknowledging Beauty as Reverence for Life

Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating Right View and compassion, and to learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking and in my way of life. Seeing that actions motivated by fear, anger and craving have their roots in dualistic and discriminative thinking, I am determined to cultivate openness, non-discrimination and non-attachment to views in order to transform fanaticism and intolerance within myself and in the world.

The Second Mindfulness Training: Belonging and Connecting as True Happiness

Aware of the suffering caused by ignorance and aversion of my own and other’s racial, ethnic, cultural, and social history, its legacy and how this affects me whether I am aware of it or not, I am committed to connecting to these histories. I know that turning toward these histories with an open heart is my journey of awakening to true belonging. I will take the time to learn the history of the racial and ethnic group with which I identify as well as for other socially constructed racial and ethnic groups. Aware that there is no genetic or biological difference between different racial and ethnic groups, and that these identities were constructed by one group to establish dominance over others, I will turn toward racial and other forms of othering with an open heart and compassionate action. I know that this history has led to fragmentation inside and outside body and mind and brought much suffering to all beings. I vow to transform this suffering through the practice of connecting with an open heart. I will notice when emotions of belonging and othering arise and I will ask myself ‘why’? Whatever feelings, perceptions, or mental formations arise, I will embrace and when needed engage with love in action. I am committed to practicing Right Resolve, Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Livelihood so I can help relieve this legacy of racial and social suffering. I will practice looking deeply to see that true happiness is not possible without true connecting leading to belonging and understanding.

The Third Mindfulness Training: True Love

Aware of the suffering caused by sex that is disconnected from love and wisdom, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. Knowing that sexual energy is different from love, and that sexual activity motivated by craving always harms myself as well as others, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without affirmative consent, true love, and care for the long-term implications for myself and others. I will make my relationships known to my family and friends, provided it is safe to do so. Recognizing the diversity of human experience, I am committed not to discriminate against any forms of gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. Seeing that body and mind are one, I am committed to learning appropriate ways to take care of my sexual energy and cultivating loving kindness, compassion, joy and inclusiveness – which are the four basic elements of true love – for my greater happiness and the greater happiness of others. Practicing true love, we know that we will continue beautifully into the future.

The Fourth Mindfulness Training: Loving Speech and Deep Listening

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and compassionate listening in order to relieve suffering and to promote reconciliation and peace in myself and among other people, ethnic and religious groups, and nations. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to speaking truthfully using words that inspire confidence, joy, and hope. When anger is manifesting in me, I am determined not to speak. I will practice mindful breathing and walking in order to recognize and to look deeply into my anger. I know that the roots of anger can be found in my wrong perceptions and lack of understanding of the suffering in myself and in the other person. I will speak and listen in a way that can help myself and the other person to transform suffering and see the way out of difficult situations. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to utter words that can cause division or discord. I will practice Right Diligence to nourish my capacity for understanding, love, joy, and inclusiveness, and gradually transform anger, violence, and fear that lie deep in my consciousness.

The Fifth Mindfulness Training: Mindful Consumption

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental for myself, my family and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking and consuming. I am committed to looking deeply at how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments in my daily life: namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition and consciousness. I am committed not to use alcohol, drugs or any other products which contains toxins, including T.V. programs, magazines, books films and even conversations. I am committed to coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not allowing regrets, sorrow, and fear to carry me away from the present moment. I am determined to avoid consuming in order to cover up my suffering, loneliness and anxiety. I am committed to looking into the nature of interbeing and to consuming in such a way that can preserve peace, well-being and joy n my body and consciousness and in the collective body and consciousness of my family and society.

Contemplations

Contemplation of the First Mindfulness Training:  Acknowledging Beauty as Reverence for Life

Aware of the suffering caused by oppression and generational harm based on racial, cultural, social, and ethnic inferiority and superiority and its resultant structures of injustices and harm, I acknowledge the beauty and violence inherent in life. I vow to resist being complicit in systems and structures that continue to perpetuate violence and hatred instead of reverence of life for marginalized groups. I recognize that each person contributes to my individual and our collective awakening, and the co-creation of a world that celebrates and affirms differences and similarities. All living beings can teach me something, when I remember to pause, breathe, listen deeply with a calm and open mind and heart, and ask myself: ‘is there more’ or ‘ what else is here with me’’?’ I honor and respect all life guided by Right View and Right Energy.  

Contemplation of the Second Mindfulness Training: Belonging and Connecting as True Happiness

Aware of the suffering caused by ignorance and aversion of my own and other’s racial, ethnic, cultural, and social history, its legacy and how this affects me whether I am aware of it or not, I am committed to connecting to these histories. I know that turning toward these histories with an open heart is my journey of awakening to true belonging. I will take the time to learn the history of the racial and ethnic group with which I identify as well as for other socially constructed racial and ethnic groups. Aware that there is no genetic or biological difference between different racial and ethnic groups, and that these identities were constructed by one group to establish dominance over others, I will turn toward racial and other forms of othering with an open heart and compassionate action. I know that this history has led to fragmentation inside and outside body and mind and brought much suffering to all beings. I vow to transform this suffering through the practice of connecting with an open heart. I will notice when emotions of belonging and othering arise and I will ask myself ‘why’? Whatever feelings, perceptions, or mental formations arise, I will embrace and when needed engage with love in action. I am committed to practicing Right Resolve, Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Livelihood so I can help relieve this legacy of racial and social suffering. I will practice looking deeply to see that true happiness is not possible without true connecting leading to belonging and understanding.

Contemplation of the Third Mindfulness Training: Cherishment as True Love

Aware of the suffering caused by discrimination and oppression, I vow to understand its roots. I will acknowledge and practice to transform seeds of discrimination in myself as well as in my sangha and the society at large. I vow to recognize the ways in which I have benefitted or not-benefitted explicitly or implicitly from systems and structures that foster discrimination and injustice. I am aware of the legacy of violence, especially unlawful police violence, perpetrated against Black people, indigenous people, people of color, differently abled people, people of various gender identities and expressions and sexual orientation, and others who are marginalized. I acknowledge the lived experience of all people to deepen my capacity for understanding and for greater compassionate action. I am aware that narrowly constructed, prevalent interpretations of intimate relationships constrain how we cherish each other in our expression of love, leaving many further isolated and alienated. I am committed to looking tenderly at my suffering, knowing that I am not separate from others and that the seeds of suffering contain the seeds of joy. I am not afraid of bold love that fosters justice and belonging and tender love that seeks peace and connection. I cherish myself and my suffering without discrimination. I cherish this body and mind as an act of healing for myself and for others. I cherish this breath. I cherish this moment. I cherish the liberation of all beings guided by the wisdom and solidity of the sangha. This is my path of true love.   

Contemplation of the Fourth Mindfulness Training: Vulnerability as Loving Speech and Deep Listening

Aware that vulnerability is the essence of our true nature, our humanness, I vow to risk listening and speaking non-judgmentally with understanding and compassion to alleviate suffering and support peace in myself and others. I vow to live with empathy, compassion, and awareness and to listen for understanding rather than disagreement. When I’ve hurt others through my unskillful action or speech, I vow to practice making a good apology that acknowledges what I have done and offers sincere regret, knowing that this supports the other person and me. I am committed to speaking that aligns with my highest aspiration and encourages honesty and truthfulness. I am committed to generous and courageous listening that bridges differences and supports understanding of others who may be different from me. I am committed to taking meaningful steps to become a true instrument of peace and to help others to be the same. When I am not able to understand the experiences of others, I vow to come back to my breath and my body, and to offer myself gentle patience while learning to support myself in developing greater awareness and skill. I vow to practice awareness of my beliefs, perceptions, and feelings, aversions, and desires and to take refuge in mindful breathing and in the sangha to support greater stability, peace, and understanding. Through my practices of vulnerability, patience, forgiveness, and deeply listening, I know that my speech will be guided by love and understanding. Practicing in this way supports Right Speech and Right Action and guides me to Right Insight.

Contemplation of the Fifth Mindfulness Training: Welcoming as True Nourishing and Healing

Aware of the suffering caused by the consumption of an inadequate history of racial and ethnic forms of social segregation, I am committed to healing myself and the world by welcoming, and practicing with this awareness. I will notice how my thoughts, perceptions, feelings, words, and actions may have been influenced by this inaccurate history. I will look deeply to understand how both physical and mental health, for myself, my family, and my society have been influenced by embracing and denying this racial, social, and ethnic history of inferiority and superiority and its legacy of inequities and injustices. I will cultivate joy to support me toward individual and collective wholeness. I will practice mindfulness of the Four Kinds of Nutriments to become aware of how edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness are all influenced by this history. Practicing with Right Energy and Right Resolve, my Right Action of consumption will include awareness of certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations and how they continue to foster wrong perceptions of racial, ethnic, and social injustices. My understanding of interbeing supports my conscious consumption that sustains a healthy understanding of differences, one that does not oppress or discriminate. This Right Insight will preserve peace, joy, and bring healing in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth. To assure that my descendants do not live in a racially, ethnically, and socially unjust world, I commit to diligently practicing with true welcoming on this path to nourish and heal myself, the sangha, and society.

 Teachers:

Kaira Jewel Lingo is a Black and biracial meditation and mindfulness teacher with a lifelong interest in blending spirituality and meditation with social justice. She grew up in Chicago and Nairobi and after earning a MA in Anthropology and Social Sciences, at the age of twenty-five she entered a Buddhist monastery in the Plum Village tradition and spent fifteen years living as a nun under the guidance of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. She received Lamp Transmission and became a Zen teacher in 2007, and is also a teacher in the Vipassana Insight lineage through Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Today she sees her work as a continuation of the Engaged Buddhism developed by Thich Nhat Hanh as well as the work of her parents, inspired by their stories and her dad’s work with Martin Luther King Jr. on desegregating the South. In addition to writing We Were Made for These Times: Skilfully Moving through Change, Loss and Disruption, she is also the editor of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children. Now based in New York, she teaches and leads retreats internationally, provides spiritual mentoring, and interweaves art, play, nature, racial and earth justice, and embodied mindfulness practice in her teaching. She especially feels called to share the Dharma with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, as well as activists, educators, youth, artists, and families. Visit kairajewel.com to learn more. 

Dr. Marisela Gomez is a mindfulness practitioner in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing, public health scholar activist, preventive/alternative medicine physician. Of Afro-Latina ancestry, she lives in Baltimore involved in social justice activism and community building/research and co-facilitates mindfulness gatherings with Baltimore and Beyond Mindfulness Community for BIPOC and Social Activists. She is the author of Race, Class, Power and Organizing in East Baltimore, and numerous book chapters in popular and scholarly publications. She has blogged at Huff Post and mariselgomez.com on the intersection of wisdom justice and mindfulness.