January 1, 2021 is the third “official” anniversary of the Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness (MAM), Kansas City’s premier secular mindfulness and meditation center (see year 2 post here and year 1 post here – or skip ahead to year 4 here). 2020 was a year of tremendous change and disruption for most people and we were no exception. Fortunately, we had the refuge of our practice and our community to lean into as we found our way forward through the unknown.
Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. ― James Baldwin
We had to abandon our practice space and learn to create a sense of community through online classes – and what a learning curve it was! Certain initiatives and classes were placed on pause while new needs emerged. We experienced a shuffling of membership and a change in teachers (read about our newest teachers here). Amidst it all, according to our mission and values, we worked together to address important concerns impacting humanity as they unfolded. Despite the pandemic, by the end of the year we will have led over 400 classes reaching over 300 practitioners. Here is a summary of some of the ways we responded this year:
- Designed a more easily navigable website.
- Designed a website for the Mindful Kansas City Initiative.
- Offered a number of free classes to help people cope with, navigate, and cultivate resilience amidst the changes and isolation of the pandemic.
- Created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion page for our website as well as a statement on social justice and racial inequity.
- Moved our Mindfulness Teacher Training Certificate Program online and graduated the inaugural cohort – the first of their kind in our area.
- Added the DiversAbilities community practice meeting for people with disabilities.
- Designed and led a mindfulness of white identity workshop.
- Offered classes to help people engage mindfully in the political process and cultivate resilience in the wake of the presidential election.
- Held our very first 5-day, secular, silent mindfulness retreat online.
- Offered outdoor, socially distanced classes guided via Zoom.
- Provided pro-bono and low cost talks and services to almost 20 local organizations.
- Added a closed captioning option to selected Zoom classes.
- Purchased a special 360° camera to help integrate on-site and online participants into the classroom experience.
Disruption has two sides: the things we need to let go of, and the things that are about to emerge. How can we respond in ways that help this enormous potential for change to manifest? – Otto Scharmer
Perhaps now more than ever we appreciate our community’s patience, graciousness and flexibility as we navigate the ongoing changes. It hasn’t been easy. We’ve had to tighten our belts and work hard to maintain meaningful connections. We are especially grateful to our members who keep showing up for the practice and providing a regular stream of revenue that we can count on for our operations. While we’re eager to return to the practice room, we are also thankful for the new skills, capabilities and friendships we’ve gained.
It’s important to remember that what we’re facing today isn’t a sudden series of calamitous events, though it may seem that way to some. Rather, it is the interconnected culmination of years of mindlessness and delusion. Many of us have imagined we’re exceptional, separate, and self-sufficient. We’ve treated our planet, it’s beings, and one another as commodities or as competition; conquerable, disposable, and dispensable. Others of us haven’t imagined at all – never pausing to look more deeply inside ourselves – sleepwalking through life as we’re told it is and should be. Through the practice of mindfulness we are waking up – it’s not too late to correct our course. Together, may we all have the courage to face what is here with clarity, justice, compassion and wisdom.
You have a lot of skill navigating discomfort on the mat. You know coming into alignment when one has been out of it for a long time is uncomfortable.
I used to have a teacher who’d say the practice begins when you want the asana to end. For you, the deep discomfort may have just started and you already want it to stop. Or you want the solution to feel good, be simple, or quick. Remember, The Montgomery Boycott lasted 381 days. Revolution is not a one time or one week event. This path we are on requires devotion. Just like our practice.
This is your practice now. Let us support one another, yes. Discharge discomfort, no.
Let what’s waking up within you lead you to consistent and daily examination about your relationship to access and privilege. Dismantle yourself.
Don’t ask yoga to make your disquiet “vibrate away” or lull anyone to the faux light. Ask it to make us real. Ask it to reveal to you just how fierce love really is.
Ask it to grant you courage to look at how you’ve been the beneficiary of the very privilege that allows those who vow to protect and serve to kill innocent people with impunity.
“Can you love an ugly truth more than a beautiful lie?”
The level of light you need to bring forth right now won’t emerge without long intense labor in your own shadow. You can’t skip that part.
You will contract. You will expand. You will cry. You will shake. Who you thought you were will disappear. The world you knew will continue to fall apart in this labor. The beautiful lie must implode to birth the truth.
The only remedy is to fully engage from the inside out. Examine every thing you have been told.
Be uncomfortable. Do not go back to sleep.
America -the land of dreams, liberty and justice for ALL has not existed, not yet.
I am ready, are you? To birth who we are destined to be.