A Mindfulness Center in the Midwest: The Terrific Twos
January 1, 2020 is the second “official” anniversary of the Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness (MAM), Kansas City’s premier secular mindfulness and meditation center. Though we breathed ourselves into life a number of years ago, we are gratefully marking two years as a business entity (see our year 1 post here). It’s so incredible to me when I look back at all we’ve experienced together. We’ve grown to a team of 13 trained mindfulness teachers and a community of over 100 members. Over the last two years we’ve taught over 400 people though our 600+ offerings. We’ve fully inhabited our own space and are just finding our groove.
In order to inspire a revolution from the inside out and contribute to changing the world for the better, we’ve had to be willing to take some risks. We believe mindfulness is not just a mental exercise, but a way of engaging in our lives and with our communities in a manner that’s in alignment with our deepest values. In 2019 we created offerings mindfully exploring consumerism, social activism, implicit bias, trauma, addictions, identity issues, diversity, equity and inclusion, radical compassion, and forgiveness. These are tender subjects confronting the causes of some of humanity’s most painful personal and social suffering. Offering these programs challenges the feel good message that is often used to “sell” mindfulness, yet our community has responded with an openness and willingness that touches our hearts. Here is a summary of some of the innovative efforts we initiated during our second year:
- Designed and filled a Mindfulness Teacher Training Certificate Program – the first of its kind in our area.
- Spearheaded the Mindful Kansas City initiative to nurture a kinder gentler community.
- Created and/or road tested many new classes and services such as the iRest Yoga Nidra, Inner Revolutionaries, Mindful Attitude Adjustment, Acceptance & Commitment Training (ACT) for all manner of things, Recovery Friendly Ashtanga Yoga, & Qigong.
- Debuted several affinity group mindfulness practice opportunities such as the Community of Color, LGBTQIA+ and First Responders practice communities.
- Made mindfulness training available in Spanish.
- Offered charitable donations, pro-bono services and strategic partnerships in collaboration with a number of philanthropic and civic-minded organizations.
- Launched a corporate campaign.
There has definitely been a learning curve to this unique endeavor. We are so thankful that our members and participants have been patient, gracious and flexible as we work thought this experimental stage, finding out what is of interest to folks and what days, times, and seasons of year work best. At times we’ve had to cancel classes due to under-enrollment and at other times we’ve had to purchase additional equipment to meet high demand. Our own mindfulness practice has been invaluable during these times, helping us to find equanimity amidst the unpredictability.
Our greatest asset by far is this amazing community of people we’ve cultivated from all walks of life, practicing together toward greater compassion, peace and wellbeing. My heart swells every time I hear about what a kind and welcoming group of human beings gather in our space. Sharing the calm, soulful energy of the practice room during our Thursday evening Mindfulness Community Practice Meetings is something special to experience. I love to watch folks linger in the atrium to talk or make plans – I imagine that new connections are forming and some of the loneliness in the world is decreasing.
Come celebrate with us during our 2nd MAMiversay event Friday January 31, 2020 from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm – please RSVP here so we know how much cake we need 🎂
We have worked hard to keep our fees low so we can reach people from the spectrum of socioeconomic situations. Those who are able to pay more make it possible for us to serve others who have less. Most of our teachers have full time jobs that pay their bills, some have children, and some are primary earners for their families. One of our teachers is legally blind and must hire transportation to and from the center. All have invested much time, effort and money in their own training and continuing education. We have had to make some difficult choices and set some boundaries with this delicate symbiotic balance in mind. Fortunately, we have begun to be able to provide some remuneration for our teachers’ services and give back to the community through donations and pro bono services while keeping our costs for our memberships and classes reasonable. We are especially grateful to our members who provide a regular stream of revenue that we can count on for our operations.
Sometimes people ask why we would do this strange, crazy and beautiful thing. For most of us it’s a calling, maybe even a compulsion, sharing these practices that have been so healing and dear to us with others. Perhaps the best way to answer the question is with this poem – one of my very favorites:
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
– William Stafford, The Way It Is
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