There is so much trauma in social justice spaces, including my own, and I have realized that developing the ability to apply mindfulness practice, to see things clearly, without judgment, has helped me navigate what are at times challenging and stressful environments. Three years ago I went through the Practice in Transformative Action (PiTA) program, and that cemented my relationship with the EBMC community. I knew that I could no longer keep the pieces of my life in silos, and the concrete mindfulness skills I could apply to my organizing and social justice work became very clear.
I realized that if I could show up differently at work, I could transform the space – not by proselytizing or by doing so loudly – but just by showing up in a different way, I could change things.
I first got involved with EBMC several years ago and I was struck by how EBMC was intentionally building a space for people you don’t usually see in a meditation center – queer and trans people, people of color, low-income folks. It was rare to be in a place where the default is that the teachers fully reflect the people they are trying to be in relationship with and to serve, and it enabled me to see how I could put this kind of mindfulness into practice in my own life.
When I began to meditate, I wasn’t sharing it in any of my work, and definitely not in my paid work with the Center for Story-based Strategy, because I was feeling shy and insecure about my personal practice. EBMC gave me tools to recognize that during times of transition within organizations there is both intellectual and emotional labor that need to be done. Historically, it had been inconceivable in my organization to take time to pause our external-facing movement support work and deeply reflect on what we were doing. We introduced a practice we called “the pause,” in which we took a break for three weeks to stop and seriously look at how we were doing our work. The world didn’t fall apart, and in fact, that pause allowed for a huge pivot in the organization, helping us to become more focused and strategic.
After being in meditation spaces for several years now, I can see that EBMC is one of the only places that prioritizes bringing those of us who are in the margins to the center. And while there are other places I could pursue mindfulness practices, there aren’t others that fully embrace my radical politics and commitment to social justice at the same time. When I walk in, I don’t have to choose parts of myself; I can show up with my whole person.
I am now excited to be involved in supporting the brand new Social Justice Sangha, which is meeting on the second Tuesdays of the month at lunchtime. I am also a Friend of EBMC monthly donor. For me there is no way to quantify or monetize what I have gained from EBMC as a person and a practitioner. I do believe in planting seeds forward to grow the environment for others to find similar transformation, and I believe deeply in the model of gift economics EBMC has embraced, which allows me to match my (modest) resources with my highest values. I see my giving as a part of my practice, and I am so deeply appreciative of the opportunity to be part of this community.