Embodied Spiritual Practice as a Tool for Effective Activism
Last week Transforming Hearts Collective co-leader Teo Drake served as one of four leaders of a powerful four-day training on mindfulness, compassion, and social justice, organized by the organization Off the Mat, Into the World.
The training was intended for yoga practitioners who wanted an intensive exploration of effective social justice activism grounded in compassionate practice. Each day of the training featured a mix of practice, teaching, exercises, small group work, individual reflection, and integration of all of these elements. Mindfulness meditation and daily yoga practice created a foundation for participants to open their hearts to the pain of injustice, heal themselves and their communities from the trauma of oppression, and foster the resilience they need to stay in the struggle over a lifetime.
Over fifty participants dug into the impacts of injustice and inequity and grew their skills in being agents of social change, supported by embodied practice. Those who were new to social justice work gained an understanding of systems and historical context for our current political moment, as well as learning how yoga and meditation practices can support their ongoing engagement. Participants with marginalized identities and/or those who have been in the struggle a long time were able to have space to be together, share wisdom across identities, build solidarity, care for their bodies and spirits, and gain hope from being in community.
In the current political moment, it is more important than ever to help each other stay present, be able to sit with discomfort, and meet this moment of increasing awareness of oppression—particularly racism—without becoming too overwhelmed, shying away from culpability, or shutting down. Embodied spiritual practice is one key way to meet these goals.