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Gillian Sanger

What mindfulness techniques or teachings would you like to learn more about?

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This week's question asks:

What mindfulness techniques or teachings would you like to learn more about?

Whether we teach mindfulness ourselves or are exclusively students, we all have room to grow and to learn. This week's question invites us to consider what we'd like to learn in relation to mindfulness, meditation, and wisdom traditions. Are you interested in learning more about Buddhism? Zen meditation? Or perhaps you are interested in learning how mindfulness can support a particular group of people or concern? Whatever you'd like to dive further into, share your yearnings with us here. Feel free to also offer suggestions or pointers to others who have expressed their curiosities.

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I'm interested in learning how mindfulness and Buddhism can help the black community, particularly given the climate right now. I completed a course on teaching mindfulness to prisoners, called Path to Freedom, and prisoners are disproportionately black, so I look forward to that opportunity. Unfortunately, at this time, prisons are not accepting volunteers due to the coronavirus. I've talked to the founders of HumanizeMyHoodies about bringing the lessons into the black community and we're beginning to discuss the possibilities. I want to be as proactive as I can in helping the black community and I know how incredibly useful these teachings have been in my life and that of so many others. 

I am somewhat knowledgeable about Buddhism but I'd like to study it more in depth and really ground myself in the principles. I just haven't made the time to do so at this point.  And in terms of types of meditation, I've dabbled in so many varieties but I would like to immerse myself in as many types as I can for the experience and to get a sense of what works best for me. 

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Jo- We are thinking alike!

1.  The foundation of my mindfulness practices are all pretty much rooted in Buddhist traditions.  I have done some informal reading and study and have found it aligned with my personal values and aspirations as a mindfulness practitioner and teacher.  It also aligns with how I aspire to show up as a parent and urban educator.  Most of the meditations I lean toward are from Buddhist teachings- Loving Kindness and Tonglen, for example.  Pema Chodron talks about Compassionate Abiding, which is an extension of Metta, and I really resonate with her teachings, as well as those of Thich Nhat Hanh, Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, and Tara Brach, all of whom teach from the Buddhist traditions.  My own spiritual teacher/retreat leader/dear friend is also trained in the lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, so much of our work together is influenced by it as well.

2.  Because of where I live, and where I have spent my career (both large urban centers on the East Coast), I am very interested in, and sensitive to, the Black community.  I have been so fortunate to have close friends who are Black who have been able to answer some of my questions about white savior-ism, white privilege, and the difference between being non-racist and anti-racist.  These difficult, but necessary conversations are/were the living embodiment of mindfulness- full presence, open, non-judgmental, receptive.  I would love to continue learning (especially in light of the current state of affairs and the momentum for change that is building) about showing up with sensitivity and understanding up in Black communities as a white woman, where I plan to share mindfulness with my students and their families, as well as my colleagues.

There is so much to learn!  Grateful for this community.

Have a good day, everyone.

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Wow- Rachel, we are on the same page! I am fond of all of the teachers you mentioned, and practice Loving Kindness and Tonglen. I love Pema Chodron and I believe I have all of her books. I was going to go to one of her conferences in New York a few years ago but it sold out and I was so disappointed! Thich Nhat Hanh is probably also my favorite, but I admire the others you mentioned, and also Sharon Salzberg and Jon Kabat-Zinn. My yoga teacher is very spiritual and while she doesn't mention mindfulness or Buddhism, she leads her classes and meditations that are very powerful and along the same wavelength. 

I'm glad to hear that you also engage in the difficult but necessary conversations with your friends. My best friend also happens to be Black so we talk about that all the time.  I look forward to continuing to learn, and I'm grateful for the number of resources I'm discovering from the various networks I'm part of. I can forward you some but you probably have plenty of access. Let me know. I, too, want to show up with sensitivity as I try to share my knowledge of mindfulness and yoga with the Black community.  I want to learn as much as I teach.

As an aside, twenty years ago I dated a Black man for over five years and I thought nothing of it, nor did my family, who welcomed him with open arms. It pissed me off when people on occasion would give us looks when we were in public. I tried so many times to engage him in dialogue about what it was like to date a white woman, and what it was like to be Black in a predominantly white state, but unfortunately he didn't want to talk about it.

One thing I noticed in terms of the difference between his Black family and my white family became apparent when I compared our family reunions one summer. My family gathered in Colorado. Picture a bunch of stoic, tough-acting men drinking beers (except for the numerous alcoholics who gathered together in a corner) and a bunch of women dressed carefully and fixing their hair and makeup, gossiping, noticing who's gained weight and who's lost weight (never mind the fact that two family members weren't present at the reunion because they were in treatment for eating disorders.) The kids played together but were scolded if they strayed or got too loud.  The food is picnic food- bland and pretty gross, lacking flavor or creativity. People are pretty subdued, some laughs but generally mellow and the reunion ends early without a bang. Everyone leaves likely thinking, "thank goodness that's over for another five years!" 

Contrast that with his family reunion in New Orleans. I was the only white person there but welcomed like a member of the family. Everyone was loud- greeting each other, laughing, singing happily. Kids ran around with free spirit and joy. The men enjoyed conversation and grilled. The beautiful women wore tight, bright clothing proudly, not caring about body size or shape, and danced around. The food was spectacular and everyone wanted seconds and thirds. We all stayed til nightfall, telling stories, laughing, getting to know one another. I noticed that my boyfriend used a different tone and vernacular than he did in MN, and he laughed more easily. I'd never seen him so free and I tried to capture the moment in my mind because it made me so happy. 

You can probably guess which family reunion I preferred🤔

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I truly have no idea what to say about the black community and relationships.  I have not met a nice black man.  Many nice black woman.  I know they are all nice.  I do not look at color.  I see everyone as energy light.  It is terrible to have to feel like there is anger to someone who had nothing to do with anything.  I does not matter who treats who wrong, because it is wrong no matter what.  I am Scottish, German as white as can be with freckles so I have no judgement for anyone.  My interest is diving into not only the being in the present but also understanding what the present is.  Emotionally, physically and consciously.  Sean and I am looking at the emotional part at this time of mindfulness.  Funny I teach it but not looked at it for myself.  I just know I want peace and I know how to have it.  I am finding that there are some issues emotionally the are connected to my present that are concerning past relationships.     

I have recently noticed if I have more than 1 drama happening, even as small as losing something I can go into exhaustion and shut down.  That is not right.  I never connected it before.  I am very interested in the connection of mindfulness and presence when doing Chinese Medicine in mind, body, and spirit. 

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