Happy Year of the Earth Dog! I am so excited to continue offering and expanding my Intro to Mindfulness Meditation class this year, and I’d really love your support and vote of confidence for this work that speaks so much to why I’m here.
In 2016, inspired to share this practice of mindfulness that has brought me so much healing and happiness, I launched Inner Peace, Outer Peace Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation class at my acupuncture clinic. While this class was and is joyfully offered to everyone, I felt called to provide the same safe space for people of color that has supported my own practice. Some early students of color from my class also reflected the need and desire for such a space here.
Last year I offered the first Inner Peace Outer Peace class for People of Color and, aware of race-based economic inequalities, applied for and was awarded a grant from the Red Envelope Giving Circle to set up a scholarship fund. The class and the fund was a huge success! More than half the class benefited from full or partial scholarships, and it was clear that they would not have been able to participate if not for the scholarships they received. Grants like these are limited, and in order to continue providing this scholarship program it was clear that we needed grassroots fundraising.
We want this to be a program we can offer year after year, so my goal is to raise $4000 over the next month to help seed a scholarship fund. It would be such an honor to have you, my dear community, support me in providing mindfulness meditation instruction to those who might not have access otherwise, by giving a donation of any amount to our People of Color Meditation Scholarship Fund.
How Meditation Spaces for People of Color have Helped Me and Why I Want to Pay it Forward
My first meditation retreat was also the first ever retreat for people of color offered by Thich Nhat Hanh. Prior to this, I had attended dharma talks and meditation practice day-longs - but always felt a little alienated in these settings. These spaces were disproportionately white, and while I wouldn’t necessarily say there was more overt racism than in society in general - there could be a denial of the dynamics of race while implicit bias continued to be rampant.
Moreover, spirituality goes to the deepest parts of ourselves, brings up a vulnerability that requires a feeling of safety to drop into. For people of color, it’s one thing to experience the expected ignorance, microaggression, and racism of day-to-day society, but it’s much more jarring, and very distracting, to have it come up in a spiritual setting. In these early experiences, I wasn’t sure this was for me, even though I also received great benefit from practice.
At the Colors of Compassion retreat, Thay talked about travelling to the United States in 1966 to try to stop the war that was devastating his beloved homeland of Vietnam, when the Vietnamese government revoked his passport and placed him in exile. France eventually granted him asylum, and he lived in his adopted land for 39 years before being allowed to return to Vietnam.
At this retreat, Thay taught us that he learned how to find his true home, one that is with him all the time, during his exile. For a room full of people of color - those whose ancestors were torn from their own homelands via enslavement, or sought reprieve from desperate economic and political situations often brought on by colonization, or who are second class citizens in their homeland due to histories of colonization and genocide - this was a profound message. Our true home is always within us, and practice helps us access this, to tap into deep reserves of peace and power despite what’s going on around us.
It is very much because of the availability of practice spaces specifically created for people of color that I was able to continue to reap the benefits of practice over the next 15+ years. In 2013 I ordained as a lay member of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing. And, I’ve been inspired to pay the benefits of practice forward from there. It continues to bring me so much joy to hear and witness how much practice is helping transform the lives of people I’ve been reaching through this class.
Here's what graduates are saying about the program. Here’s more about why a meditation class for people of color is important . And, why meditation practice is crucial to help us meet this moment of increasing suffering and uncertainty in the world.
Thank you for your generous support, and for helping provide tools for healing and transformation to those who may not have access otherwise!
- sophy wong
- christine schoefer
- Shirley Liu
- Shayan Sarkar
Organizer and beneficiary
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