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October 17, 2022

Let Your Light Shine: a Fellowship Forum with Ali & Atman Smith and Andres Gonzalez


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This special Forum invites you to co-explore with authors Ali Smith, Atman Smith, and Andres Gonzalez as they reflect on how mindfulness tools can help children and communities not only survive – but thrive.

The Garrison Institute Fellowship Forum is a series of conversations with extraordinary leaders with expertise and experience in awareness-based contemplative wisdom, the science of interconnection, generative action, and collective healing. Co-facilitated by the Garrison Institute Fellows and Fellowship Director Dr. Angel Acosta, this discussion will be an insightful and generative experience to process this current moment –  in community. Audience members will have a front seat to this compelling discussion and have the opportunity to engage in the dialogue by asking questions.

In their new book, Let Your Light Shine: How Mindfulness Can Empower Children and Rebuild Communities, the founders of The Holistic Life Foundation describe how they have spent the past twenty years teaching yoga, meditation, and breathwork to thousands of at-risk children in Baltimore schools helping them to develop deep reserves of patience, empathy, resolve, and—when needed—the righteous anger that fuels deep structural change. Their work has received wide national attention due to their remarkable results: The schools that have participated in their programs have seen suspension rates plummet and graduation rates go through the roof.

These gatherings are a rich and inspiring opportunity to hear updates on the GI Fellowship, while also joining a community of people who are interested in exploring the aforementioned topics.

This forum will be a live meeting, which will be conducted on Zoom at 6:00 p.m. ET on Monday, October 17th. The meeting link will be emailed to participants within twenty-four hours of your registration. Registration closes one hour before the event. Please email us at events@garrisoninstitute.org with questions.

Speakers

Ali Smith was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. He is a graduate of the Friends School of Baltimore and the University of Maryland, College Park. Ali started his journey with contemplative practices as a small child, learning meditation from his father and attending the Divine Life Church of Absolute Oneness, run by Swami Shankarananda. He deepened his practice and learned the art of teaching as a young adult, studying many forms of yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and breathwork from his teacher and godfather Will Joyner. Ali has almost 20 years’ experience teaching these practices to a broad demographic spectrum, internationally. He is a published author, and is a pioneer in the fields of yoga and mindfulness in education, as well as trauma informed yoga and mindfulness, developing best practices that are used around the world. He co-founded the Holistic Life Foundation in 2001 and The Involution Group in 2019. Ali is also a co-host of the Look Again Podcast which you can find at www.theinvolutiongroup.com

Atman Smith is a Co-founder of the Holistic Life Foundation, where he served as Director of Youth Programming for ten years, Director of Fundraising for five years, and currently serves as the Director of Development. Since 2001, he has been teaching yoga and mindfulness to a diverse population including underserved and high-risk youth in Baltimore City Public Schools, drug treatment centers, wellness centers, and colleges. A native of Baltimore, Atman attended the University of Maryland, College Park where he was a letter award winner for the University’s men’s basketball team. He graduated with a B.A. in Criminology and Criminal Justice. His work with the Holistic Life Foundation has been featured on Making a Difference on the NBC Nightly News, CNN, and CBS, as well as O the Oprah Magazine, The Washington Post, Upworthy, Mindful Magazine, Yoga Journal, Shambala Sun, and many other publications.

Andres Gonzalez is one of the Co-Founders of the Holistic Life Foundation. For eighteen years, Andres has taught yoga to diverse populations throughout the world, including Baltimore City Public School students, drug treatment centers, mental crisis facilities, homeless shelters, wellness centers, colleges, private schools and other various venues throughout the nation and throughout the world. He has partnered with John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health and the Penn State’s Prevention Research Center on a Stress and Relaxation Study and is a published author in the Journal of Children’s Services. His work with the Holistic Life Foundation has been featured on Making a Difference on the NBC Nightly News, CNN, and CBS, as well as O the Oprah Magazine, The Washington Post, Upworthy, Mindful Magazine, Yoga Journal, Shambala Sun, and many other publications. He is a certified Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, maintains a B.S. in Marketing from University of Maryland, College Park and an MBA from the University of Maryland, University College.

For the last decade, Dr. Angel Acosta has worked to bridge the fields of leadership, social justice, and mindfulness. He holds a doctorate degree in curriculum and teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University. Acosta has supported more than educational leaders and their students by facilitating leadership trainings, creating pathways to higher education, and designing dynamic learning experiences. His dissertation explored healing-centered education as a promising framework for educational leadership development. After participating in the Mind and Life Institute’s Academy for Contemplative Leadership, Acosta began consulting and developing learning experiences that weave leadership development with conversations about inequality and healing, to support educational leaders through contemplative and restorative practices. As a former trustee for the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, he participated as a speaker and discussant at the Asia Pacific Forum on Holistic Education in Kyoto, Japan. He continues to consult for organizations like the NYC Department of Education, UNICEF, Columbia University and others. Over the last couple of years, he has designed the Contemplating 400 Years of Inequality Experience–a contemplative journey to understand structural inequality. He’s a proud member of the 400 Years of Inequality Project, based at the New School.

Also, join Ali Smith, Atman Smith and Andres Gonzales with Sharon Salzberg on December 9-10

Your support matters. Our vision for a more just, compassionate world has never felt more urgent. While we cannot share physical space together, we remain committed to a shared practice of social and spiritual care. We are thankful for the support to create a virtual sanctuary during this time. Your donations help to the expand the Fellowship’s program offerings. If you feel called to support our work, we welcome your tax-deductible contribution towards our efforts. Please consider making a donation below.

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