The Genetics of Sexism

 For #AudrieandDaisy

In a culture that continues to lack the ability to rise to the occasion to view both males and females as equal participants in society, it is going to take all of us in of our communities to make meaningful changes in the genetics of sexism.

I am continually baffled by the notion that my culpability for being female needs to be the only thing questioned when a crime has been committed. However, I am left with the recognition that we are losing in our ability to raise our boys. We lack the courage to even recognize that the derogatory and covert remarks against women continue to be at the heart of why males will blur the lines between a comment or gesture and criminal behavior. If a female is supposed to just tolerate whatever is said or how she is touched, no matter how subtle or direct, then what are we actually saying to half of our society?

Let me answer that question for you: We continue to inform our boys that girls are just a commodity, no different than my messy nightstand. And if you are not clear about how your behavior is not potentially translated into the blur that becomes rape, let me provide just a few examples of what this looks like from the perspective of a woman.

  1. Sexist behavior is when your first inclination in evaluating a female person in the public is to judge what she is wearing and whether she behaved appropriately.
  2. Sexist behavior is when a male orders their partner to do something for them without consideration of her needs much less her existence.
  3. Sexist behavior is when you grab at a female in public expecting her to follow your expectations or assume your gesture is simply a form of play.
  4. Sexist behavior is assuming that another female will give you attention simply because you asked for it and if she does not respond in a ‘nice manner’, you become self-righteous in an attempt to knock her humanness off its block.
  5. Sexist behavior is assuming that when a female speaks up about the horrible thing that happened to them, you say, ‘they just want attention’.
  6. Sexist behavior is hearing others making derogatory remarks about a female and remaining silent.
  7. Sexist behavior is calling a woman who has sex a whore while the males are champions making notches on bed posts.
  8. Sexist behavior is downgrading a woman’s success, basing it upon luck or what other people gave her.
  9. Sexist behavior is having an even higher standard for women, expecting her chastity and accomplishment to be pristine in order to be worthy.
  10. Sexist behavior is assuming that a girl or woman is a “bitch” because she speaks her mind and has an opinion, especially if it does not suit you.
  11. Sexist behavior is being told that ‘you should know your place’ when as a woman you state a clear opinion that does not favor men’s behavior.
  12. Sexist behavior is continuing to overlook one’s unacceptable behavior in the name of some false higher good labeled as politics or position.

 

I wish I could say the concept of rape culture was not real or true. And if it’s not clear what rape culture is, refer back to my examples and make the connection. I would hand over limbs in an effort to wake up our culture to the fact that our subtle acceptance of sexist jokes and seemingly little things is at the heart of why young boys and men continue to rape and why we continue to tolerate it. And each time we are either a participant or witness, another sexual assault is built upon the sexist comment tower we created. I know it is a difficult challenge to swallow the notion that our process addiction to daily sexist behaviors creates this monster, but it does.

This is exactly why when a sexual assault occurs in our neighborhoods- we want to separate ourselves and lay no claim to the possibility that a crime could have occurred. We would all have to admit that we played our part in the acceptance of the process that leads men to believe that women are things and not humans. It is why in watching the documentary Audrie and Daisy, Daisy stood zero chance at a fair opportunity for justice. Wanna know what rape culture looks like? Watch this movie and hear the words, REALLY hear the words of several of the officials. One just couldn’t believe that their beautiful golf course wasn’t the more important topic in their town than a young girl who was sexually assaulted.

We are called to something better than this. We should demand a concentrated effort on recognizing our own biases and ask ourselves, for once, honest questions about our own internal struggle and what we accept on a daily basis that creates the monster of rape. Monsters are not born, as written in the documentary, they are made. And if we are the tower’s architects, then it could take very little to obtain the permit to burn that shit down. We would not condone words or actions built on the misogyny of sexism. This does not have to be our DNA- we can shut off this belief that somehow the presence of a vagina automatically implies less than. Perhaps one day, a young woman like Audrie will not take her own life in an attempt to escape the rape culture she lived in.

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My 25 Truths

My 25 Truths, Challenge Accepted

  1. I believe in Love and relationship. The deep messy ones where we are left with grime on our faces, but we can say without doubt; we have loved fiercely. It seems to be all we have when everything else washes away. And for me, it is the only thing that makes all the other pain of life worthwhile.
  1. I am not in love with children. I like the idea of them, but they seem so grabby and handsy that I get anxious and worried they will just slide through my hands like Jello. It’s not polite for a woman to say she would rather not hold your kid or gush over its smooshed up face, but I would rather not. Now, when they are mine- it’s different. I experience this electricity in the bond. That seems to override the fact that I feel like I am holding a gigantic chicken nugget.
  1. My body is a vehicle not an ornament. I love how strong and graceful it can be. I get excited by the experience of owning power in my bones, like there’s hidden magic I can unlock by building muscle. I am not impressed by corporations selling me skinny and I am certainly not interested in people who judge me by some odd made up standard of beauty.
  1. Vulnerability is beautiful and sexy. Breakdowns are beautiful. I know it seems the opposite of sexy, but we were not meant to line up like drones in the “I’m fine” crowd- that is made up crap to keep us sterile and lonely. Being vulnerable will mean taking risks and making mistakes. It will mean being bold with our love and daring ourselves to have the kind of relationships we deserve. It will remain as superficial as jam on toast if we don’t dig deep and share the guts of what we’re made of.
  1. Food is the most amazing gift! I love to eat and although not entirely true (see #3), I do exercise, in part, so I can eat. Given that women are supposed to be small and invisible, it’s generally wrong for a woman to even act like she likes food! We are supposed to pick at it and pretend we aren’t starving. I get hangry if I skip meals so, not to worry, I will enjoy EVERY bite!
  1. Being judgmental is a kind of toxic venom that we slowly inject ourselves with. But I am still guilty of it. Just noticing when we are sizing another person up and sending them kindness instead can change your entire perspective on yourself. I realize when I am super judgey, I am simply caught in my mind with MY junk taking up precious real estate in my head.
  1. I am truly silly and love to laugh- especially at totally inappropriate and clever things. Like REALLY inappropriate things. And given that being happy is the most rebellious act, I love to be silly in public and make others laugh- or worry.
  2. Practicing yoga is the one thing that keeps me from committing murders. It would be nice if I were as even toned as my husband….but I’m not. The price of passion is getting fiery mad at shit you don’t like. Yoga reminds me to come back to my center, sit and be quiet.
  3. There are some people who are just more lovely and special than others. I have the distinct pleasure of loving many of them.
  4. Writing cleanses my soul. When I am not doing that in some way- I lose sight of the observer in my own life…..and am likely going to be in trouble.
  5. I like my music loud and to drive my car fast. My husband rolls his eyes so far in the back of his head when he gets in my car, I swear they roll into the back seat. In the recent years of spontaneous dancing, I have turned into a pop princess. Sometimes the bass in my Prius (yes, you can laugh) is up so high the back window bounces!
  6. I think my choices in cussing are simple. It’s my daily ‘Fuck You’ to the patriarchy that continues to attempt to tell me I should remain a silent bystander to some other man’s life. I even have a ring to go with it. I like to point at it when my trainer tries to tell me what to do (although I do pay him to do that).
  7. Although I readily sunburn like a mutha-fucker, the ocean is a healing place. It’s a sanctuary in the blistering oppression of people.
  8. I like things. I don’t generally have issue with things. I like to shop for things- especially shoes. However- I am not attached to them. They can come and go- if you need it, it’s yours. I value the expression and meaning behind those things much more than stuff itself.
  9. I don’t believe in soulmates- but I am a complicated bird so I do believe it’s tough to really get me. Not because I pretend, but mostly because I don’t. Men generally appreciate confidence only if they can capture and box it. It takes a special human to take the risk to love a wild bird. I believe my spouse is a rare soul who can weather the death and rebirth.
  10. I am a most tender soul. I will cry at commercials and cuss you out for an injustice. Both are an alert that I am hurt and I may get stuck in those painful feelings for days at a time.
  11. My daughter says she believes I could beat someone up. I half palm plant my face and am half impressed with the astute observation of my 11-year old. I am happy she can see women who are self-assured and are not afraid to take a stand.
  12. I believe in equality. ……. every kind, without borders or exceptions. My middle class white mind continues to need to learn. I find listening with an open heart serves this conviction.
  13. I believe we are both human and divine. The many stories we hold precious speak to this desperate desire to know the divine within. We struggle instead to worship others rather than follow our own divinity.
  14. I believe in therapy. Next to being a mother, it is the biggest privilege to be in the presence of another person’s emotional sanctuary. Given that we are all feeling humans- we should not do this alone. Having a special person to walk the journey who will have your interest at heart over EVERYONE else is an experience we should all have in this messy life.
  15. I believe in kindness. Given that I still struggle with my judgey pants and my daughter is aware of the asshole prowess, it is always a work in progress.
  16. Life is stunningly harsh and joyous. I’ve learned that when people are seemingly “fine all the time” – they are truly not showing up in their lives. If things don’t fall apart a few times, I am afraid you are just not doing it right. Rigging it all together with tethered strings makes for one holy monkey mess (as my friend would say) when the shit hits the fan.
  17. I am a trauma survivor and I know I’m not alone. I know that so many of us carry the deep shameful burden of a past that haunts us. If we only gave ourselves the freedom to speak our most breath taking truths, shame would die and the war we rage on inside of ourselves could wave the white flag of surrender.
  18. The need to stop and reflect is like needing the breath. Therefore, I believe in therapy. And Yoga. And Writing and pajama days!….and whatever allows you to slow it down, and watch the wind. We need all the kinds of self-compassion our minds can muster. I try to speak to myself with kindness and give myself the same kinds of breaks I do to others I love.
  19. I accept ambiguity and change. I try to hug them like old friends and offer them a seat at my table, give them warm food and yummy treats. Occasionally, I want to starve them out with stubbornness. It never works and is a clear reminder that growth’s invitation can’t come without them.

 

Fierce Friends

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She sat across from me trying to be a million miles away. Hiding her face behind a tissue as if she could just disappear like an infant playing peek-a-boo. Be blissful and innocent-where there’s no pain. No words like death. I grabbed her hand against her will and collapsed it into mine. Allowed it to melt and the world wash away for just a moment. I asked for us both to take a deep breath and talk about IT. Talk about death.

Now who in the hell wants to lay in that pile of shit? And like all smelly things, its messy.

Death means body parts stop working, things breaking down like a salvage junk yard. “Welcome to Pull-A-Part! Where you slowly loose yourself against your will!” Parts fall off along the way to the back door. First the front end. Then a carburetor. Then the whole damn transmission. The rest of us are left standing on the side lines having been invited to a show we did not want admission to. With not one DAMN thing we can do; helplessness is like swallowing a box of rusted nails for dinner with no chaser.

I asked her what she needed. She finally sobbed and shook her head unknowingly. How do we ever really know what the reaper will leave at the feet of the living? Perhaps just more rusted nails to swallow. And although I cannot swallow them for her, I can be the chaser that makes the pain sting a little less. I can SHOW UP. You don’t leave your people to stand in the wasteland on their own. You show the fuck up. Not in the let me toss a casserole at you while I whiz by your house, but the kind where you are there. In IT.

As a friend, I am fierce. It may be intense at times- and it’s not uncommon I get that look of, ‘WHY oh why are you saying this hard-ass thing to me right now?’ But I will. I have made the mistake of letting it pass by and it is one of the few regrets I live with today. I think it’s a regret that at the end of of life, we all think about.

I hear story after story of humans attempting to make another human connection. Craving that rich, deep sense of good love shown in bright eyes staring back at them- smiling, laughing and maybe even crying. What is so painful is how often the moment gets lost in the business of life and soon the friendship is lost because one too many moments have crept on by.

I can’t say I won’t be guilty of some moments- but I refuse to not show up when it matters. It is the sugar of life that makes so much of the bitterness melt away. When moments are difficult, we cannot cut and run. If we do not want to be left in the wasteland lonely, eating our rusted nails of grief and loss, then we are called to do the same. I said to my spouse recently that we are entering into the season of our lives where death is knocking. If we are friends- I will be your fierce warrior. I could also be a little intense and annoying (like I am licking your face non-consentually), but I will be there. And I hope you will too.

LIVE.OUT.LOUD.

Fear of Being Not Needed

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I sat across from my now 11 1/2 year old kiddo the other day and she asked me about a struggle I have obviously been grappling with for many months. As she completed a task that I once did for her, she wondered about my fears in the loss. Of course it’s part wonderful, like magic in that some time has been returned that was once lost in the abyss of bathtime and food preparation. But, I am not needed in the same way I once was.

I have never been the mother of the year type. I sometimes lack in the “appropriateness” department and my honest and very open relationship with my daughter puts worried looks on even the Not-moms. My sweet husband would like to curb my language and gives me this look when she repeats a story I have obviously said in her presence….that she remembers word FOR WORD. Perhaps what I lack in rich emotional love I make up for in unprecedented style.

But so it goes. The world changes and I gotta get on the bandwagon of different or I will be left behind. And although I believe there will always be a way to make relationship with my daughter, I really worry even more that I will not always be able to create and re-create a relationship with my truth. Do you ever fear that all the truth will run out? I fear all the words will be used up and there will be no more to say. Not in the scarcity kind of way- like the Meltons and Brown’s of the world have used up all the spaces to speak the truth- but more like, it has been said and now there is nowhere else to go.

It is so difficult to tell our truth in words. And I have done that most of my adult life. I have journals beginning from the age of ten and I have started, wrote and continued to write stories in conjunction with those journals for the past decade along with writing here for the past four and half years. And so I wonder, when all is forgiven, when you tell the world your truth and you make those honest attempts without pushing it into people’s faces, is it over?

I so often feel I have so much more to give, like I literally bleed all over the place with words and feelings and truthyness. But I sometimes ache for a little gratitude and someone to take notice of it. That can already be difficult in my line of work because what is transformed is completely behind closed doors. Sometimes I am left unsure if what I do as a therapist even has the kind of impact on those around me I wish for. I wonder sometimes if all the silent things I do in the name of humility even get noticed. I then begin to wonder if I am just a selfish bratty truth-teller, who cannot get it their way and should really stop acting like a spoiled bitch who has nothing- when in fact, I have so much.

The fear of not being needed is complicated. Showing up and paying attention to my life and yours comes with heaps of joy and consequences. I grow. You grow. Things change. And the words that are so hard to tell get written and I feel free. But are they still needed? Will I ever cross the threshold to a larger path that takes me to a place that wants to hear what I have to say? I grossly deny chasing the platitudes and yet, truth telling gets lonely sometimes. I think its why I hang onto people like Brené and Glennon, as if we are friends-it feels like they speak my complicated and sometimes garbled language.

Today, I am afraid all the truth in me has been used up. I know in part it’s ridiculous, but what happens when we are really not needed any longer? Does anyone pay any attention and does it really matter if anyone is paying attention? Cuz the humility monger in me reminds me that if I am not humble then I am just another yackity girl blabbering away about how I need shiny lights on me…… And that, friend’s, is flattering to No One.

So whether I like it or not- I sit slathered in IT. I have buttered myself into this corner and I am unsure of how to clean the grease away. I always tell a client that my goal is that ‘I am no longer needed.’ Although true, how about a sprinkle of irony coming from a girl who fears at 41 years old becoming obsolete?

Where Is The Love?

Today I made myself sit and stare at it. Just sit and look- see it more closely. Normally, I would flip past it, hide it and even become angry about it. Why did I have to see this? Why am I being tortured with the notion of having a seemingly mindless moment to only be flooded with memories of his face- HIS FACE!

But today, I just examined without judgement of myself or him.

I took a moment to wonder about the lives of those that did care about him, those that suffer because he is gone and remember that his (possible) children lost him for so long because of what I did.

Just a year ago my brother and perpetrator took his own life. My sweet sweet sister told me, I suppose knowing that I would want to know- but not exactly why. I looked at the message and slumped down onto the bedroom floor and began to shake with grief-relief. Maybe we call that griefalief? All my life I have been attached to this person whether it was in my heartache and rage as an adolescent to the rebirth out of the ashes of his abuse as an adult. I have learned how to carry him with me inside the story I tell, one of pain and loss; one of redemption and passion. Like my very own tiny tale of life and it’s my story- my ending.

Since that time, my sister, who shared a relationship with him ongoing over the years, has posted pictures of him on social media. The devil that it is, Facebook too offers us growth if we decide to accept it. And at first, I said, “FUCK THIS!”, had my verbal tantrums and avoided seeing his face like it would some how burn mine off. Like really Alicia- you give no one your power, why would a photograph get yours now? But his face……. Burned in my brain like the scar on my forehead. I thought I had done all the embracing of my story in his, but like all of life….there is always more to learn.

And as I cried on the floor, my daughter and husband sat on the floor to comfort me. They were confused as to why I would cry and frankly, so was I. And yet I realized his time of potentially haunting me at some future family gathering was over. I would not have to discern between my mental health and making my family happy. But I was also so very sad for him- unlike some- it was a shitty and fucked up existence from what I could see from a distance. Life had never really let up and he had no relief or redemption. And although I will never stop saying that the best revenge in this life has been my happiness, for him, it would have been a nice ending to hear he had gotten help or maybe just some relief.

All this may sound crazy, but I have learned more about his life. My mother told me about how he had come to live with her and my stepfather at a young age after being left in cars for hours as a toddler so his mother could party and gamble. He was locked in closets and hurt by other people…..abandoned by his own mother. He came into this world broken and the only thing he knew to do was break others. He often drank, smoked marijuana and did terribly in school. I was just another thing on his path of destruction.

I have grown so bold with my mother that I told her about how much it hurt to see his face invading my phone screen and how others’ kind and sweet sentiments about his life were like puke in my mouth. She was understanding and I was able to ask about him further. She gave me a gift in that moment. I asked her why she did not think to recognize his potential to hurt others? She told me of stories of how she knew to look for adults- she knew to be weary of the sweaty conniving men who may hurt and abuse little children, but no one talked about the cycle of sexual violence occurring from one child to another.

And that’s just it. Here we are once again crossing paths with the three-headed Dragon of Shame. It seems I am doomed to the role of broken record, pleading with people to see how our silence shreds through the option of healthy existence. And here with him and his face glaring at me through my phone, I am reminded of how we have the capacity to destroy one another. We pick one another off like ticks on mangy dogs inflicting as much pain as we can muster in the hopes that we can squeeze out our shame onto another human and rid ourselves of ours. Or worse yet, we cannot bear witness to the happiness and innocence of another human and instead whittle our way through their bodies until we successfully excavate their soul.

I suppose all that truth is a little harsh. We are not all by nature mean or cruel and I remain well aware of the fact that most of us would crash our cars before hurting that squirrel hurling himself onto the highway. And yet I demand answers. This is one of the reasons I say ‘WTF!’ to myself twenty times a day! When are we going to catch onto the idea that when we see ourselves as unworthy humans, it is not a play option to physically, emotionally, spiritually or sexually violate another? At what point in my lifetime are we going to stop failing ourselves? When are we going to get together as a collective and do whatever it takes to nurture, grow and create a sustainable world that promotes the FACT that there is NOTHING that removes us from our worthiness of love and belonging. NOTHING and NO ONE- not even my stepbrother.

Sure, there was an incredibly long time I would have rather stabbed his eyes out and there is no doubt justice was never served. But then again, who am I to actually be angry at? Can it really just be him? For myself, the answer is the Dragons of Shame. I am not bad and neither was he. The people in my life who did nothing were responsible, but who gave them a sword of vulnerability to be the Dragon Slayer? How far back in the generations do I go seeking a courageous people? It is so risky to show up in our lives and even more risky to turn up the volume on vulnerability. I can only imagine what it would have been like for my brother to have had the freedom to say that he was ashamed of his existence. Perhaps he would have not made me feel ashamed of mine.

So just for today, I stared at his picture. I stared without judgement of myself or him. And for the first time, I realized there was a time he was somebody’s baby. Maybe he earned being a shell of a human for all he did, but since our stories will never be separated, perhaps he can finally live in peace in my story.

I will never forget. But I forgive you brother. I forgive my people for passing up the swords of vulnerability lodged in the stones of life. As Maya Angelou said in her most dignified God like voice, “We do what we know until we know better”. I know better and I will do better. I will not be silent and no matter how heavy the words of vulnerability, I will practice taking the risk as often as I am able.

I AM ENOUGH. Broken but Whole–glued back together with the sticky, messy words of vulnerability. And this is MY Story- I get to decide how this will end. I do not have to live inside generations of shame before me. And guess what? Neither do you.

LIVE.OUT.LOUD.

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Mindfulness to Meditative Practice: The Basics

A friend asked me about transitioning to a meditative practice, wanting to calm the anxious monkey mind. I am sharing here the  basic process that may allow you to begin to transition towards a quiet meditative practice. I personally find it difficult and often consider my yoga practice as a way to calm the mind. If you are interested in growing this part of your life, I share the process here to support your mindfulness movement. 

Basic Mindfulness to Meditative Practice

The following are long term guidelines to incorporate a mindfulness meditation practice to support the reduction of anxiety, worry and stress and allow the mind to repair itself over time to support a greater sense of well-being and happiness.

There is significant evidence that a consistent practice can support reduction in generalized and obsessive anxiety and encourage greater happiness. MRI Results from Buddhist Monks show their ability to successfully calm the monkey mind, as well as, consistent evidence for the “happiness” parts of the brain (in the mid brain where our pleasure center resides) to be significantly better than the average person.

Step 1:

Consider reading Calming Your Anxious Mind by Brantley. This will take you deeper through the practices of slowly moving towards the possibility of sitting quietly in meditation. It is NOT necessary to get to a significant quiet meditation practice, staying in guided meditation will still provide the results needed. Also, the book suggests 30 minutes. This appears to be a much more long term practice, perhaps something to work towards after a years worth of consistent work.

A daily guided meditation also is available and a greater starter book, especially for those who do not enjoy reading as much.

Step 2:

I would like to have you take up a consistent gratitude practice. Get yourself a composition book and suggest that each day you write the date and three things you are grateful for in that day. It does not matter if you write many of the same things, the practice matters. Studies show that we get caught in foreboding joy, creating more anxiety and fear and once again, a consistent practice of staying out of judgement and focusing on what you are grateful for will improve the minds struggle to jump to the negative and get emotionally hung up in there.

Step 3:

Begin a daily mindfulness practice. Take just a few minutes to stay in the present using a typical daily practice. For example, consider spending your energy staying present in the moment by focusing on a chore that you often do mindlessly. Consider folding the laundry and talk with yourself as you fold the next piece of laundry, “I am folding this shirt, I fold the left over the right and then in half.” This can be done with any mundane task that suits you. The idea is to stay focused as much as you can on just being present with what you are doing. Talking to yourself can enhance focus. Don’t worry, you WILL get monkey mind and wander off into remembering, perhaps, ‘where did I buy that shirt?’ Without judgement, just notice you have wandered and come back to the task. Work towards doing this for about five minutes and when you feel like it has become less difficult, then move on.

Step 4:

Utilize a guided meditative practice. Many are as long as thirty minutes and again, I believe that length of time is for an advanced practice. Break the guided meditation into 10 minutes increments to begin with. Consider practicing at least once a day, perhaps grow towards once at the beginning and once at the end of the day when you, again, feel it has become less difficult to do one time a day. Over time, the idea is that once you have reached the end of ten minutes, you will begin to feel like you have taken in a much needed, long cool drink and taken in the deepest breath of the day (at least some of the time).

When sitting in meditation find a comfortable seated position. Consider sitting somewhere different than you normally do in your home. Elongate the spine, do not cross the legs (unless on the floor in a cross legged position) and place the hands comfortably on your lap/legs. Either find a fixed gaze forward or close or your eyes if it is comfortable. Again, over time it is suggested to have a special meditation spot. I like the use of a Zafu and Zabuton to sit in practice. You can find these for a reasonable price on www.dharmacrafts.com

*Try to practice when it is quiet and no distractions. This will mean silencing your phone.

Here are Some guided meditation practices (listen initially to decide if the person’s voice is soothing):

Jon Kabat-Zinn: He has many to choose from, each have about 8 different 30 minutes practices.

Ronald Siegel: www.themindfulnesssolution.com    This is a free site that utilizes the traditional Theravada Buddhist practices. They are quite beautiful and I believe appropriate to any religious belief system. Again, they are about 30 minutes long and can be broken up.

There are many, these two are the big players in the mindfulness meditation American arena.

Consider using the Mindfulness Bell App (or something like it). It is a gentle timer to bring you into and out of practice. This will keep you from worrying how long you have been sitting.

Happy Awakening! ~Namaste

A Day of Mindfulness with Thich Nhat Hanh

As Thay recovers following health issues, I reflect once again on the holiness of being in his presence in Mississippi.

Transformative Trauma

As strange as it seems, one of the largest American Buddhist Monastery’s is in Batesville, Mississippi called Magnolia Grove Monastery and Meditation Center. Yes- Batesville, MISSIPPI (did you just spell it in your head?!). I know you may need a moment to locate it on a map because it truly is in the middle of rural earth. The Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh has three in the United States; New York, California and Mississippi. Thich Nhat Hanh (called Thay) was nominated for a nobel peace prize during the 1960’s when the civil rights movement was at its height. He worked along side Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote peace here, as well as, his home country of Vietnam. Because of his activism, he was exiled from his own country and lives most often in Plum Village, a monastery in France. With the south the heart center of the civil rights…

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