A Mindfulness Center in the Midwest: Our First Year

Left to right: Lisa Pinsker, Sydney Spears, Aimee Eckhardt, Tracy Ochester, Angie Hardage, and Marla Herron

It started as a calling and seemed like only a dream. A small tribe of mindfulness teachers, longing for community, began to ask ourselves, “What if?” Could we offer mindfulness to Kansas City on a scale that would reach all kinds of people from different walks of life? Could we make the concepts and practices available to those who would otherwise likely never be exposed? We thought maybe we could…

It Takes a Village

The Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness (MAM) started as a small group of passionate practitioners meeting together informally in local yoga studios, coffee shops, and in each other’s living rooms. Slowly we grew to a size that required something more substantial – we saw the need for infrastructure, a common vision, and our own space where we could continue to grow. This required the imagination and cooperation of a courageous and adventurous community. Together we poured our hearts into a solid foundation from which there was the potential for something beautiful to blossom. Thanks to the generosity of the members of our amazing community and the forward thinking pioneers we serve, here are some of the meaningful services we offered in our first year:

  • Lead over 300 mindfulness classes including weekly practice meetings, special focus classes, mindfulness based programs (MBSR, MBCT & MSC), retreats, and continuing education programs.
  • Provided applied mindfulness training to the staff at Good Samaritan Project, an organization dedicated to counteracting the impact of HIV in Kansas City.
  • Lead Pleasant Ridge Middle School teachers of Blue Valley Schools in a series of mindfulness training and practice sessions.
  • Collaborated with and offered mindfulness training to Alive and Well Communities Kansas City, an organization working to create a more trauma informed and resilient community.
  • Provided a 6-week modified MBSR type program called Mindfulness For Stress Reduction to incarcerated individuals preparing to re-enter the community through Journey to New Life, an organization built on a restorative justice approach focused on healing, hope and the power to change.
  • Shared mindfulness training with the staff at the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City to help address burnout and moral distress.
  • Provided monthly mindfulness training and practice to the Jewish Family Services Career Skills & Connections Group for un- and under-employed job seekers to help with stress and transition.
  • Collaborated with Cornerstones of Care, an organization dedicated to improving the safety and health of children and families, to provide mindfulness practice meetings on site for staff, consumers, and the greater community.
  • Offered continuing education to staff members of reStart, Inc, an organization providing wraparound services to people who are homeless.

Mindfulness isn’t sexy or dramatic, but we think its revolutionary – and we are seeing that many folks in the community agree. Here are some reflections from a few of our founders on our first year as an official entity and what being a part of the “revolution from the inside out” has meant to us:

It’s been a joy to witness the Mindfulness Alliance evolve over the past year from a heartfelt inspiration to a thriving community. As “fake news” has become normalized in mainstream culture, it’s a welcome relief to know that I can rely on the steadfast truth of my meditation practice and my nourishing friendships with MAM co-founders to ground me back into reality. When gobsmacked by the news of life, MAM is a great place to rest. It’s a privilege to be involved.Aimee Eckhardt

As Desmond Tutu wisely said, “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and figure out why they are falling in.” As a mental health professional and mindfulness teacher, I’ve personally and professionally experienced the power of mindfulness skills and practices to improve lives, relationships, and communities. I’m proud to be a part of a diverse, innovative, and passionate group of professionals dedicated to inspiring a “Revolution from the Inside Out.” Since acquiring our new space (the “Peace Pod”) this past summer, we’ve been able to expand our offerings to include weekly practice groups, mindfulness-based programs, mindfulness classes, mini-retreats, mindful movement, and continuing education opportunities for licensed mental health professionals. And I’ve met some of the most amazing people along the way!! I’m grateful to be a part of this unique community resource working to empower others to create a kinder, more peaceful, and more compassionate world.  My work with MAM allows me to enliven my values while sharing opportunities for greater peace and vitality with others as they navigate their own path.  – Angie Hardage

This is one of the most fulfilling endeavors I have had the privilege to be involved in. A special kind of synergy happens in the coming together of this diverse group of open-minded, compassionate and courageous individuals, and this is what makes MAM possible. I am deeply grateful to be a fellow traveler in this heartfelt journey.Tracy Ochester


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