Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Being Change: The Way of the Activist

"I have no bucket, and the well is deep. . ." --Brian Wren

Sisters & brothers,

If you yearn for reflection & retreat so you can approach your social change efforts with renewed energy, I invite you to check out these retreats on "Being Change: The Way of the Activist," offered in June (MA) and August (NM).
The events are offered by stone circles, whose mission is to sustain activists and strengthen the work of justice through spiritual practice and principles. I think that this event will strongly speak to some of you on this list. Let me know if you decide to go!


Being Change: The Way of the Activist
Retreats for Activists

June 13 - 18, 2006
Angels' Rest Retreat and Conference Center
Leyden, Massachusetts
August 6 - 11, 2006
Vallecitos Mountain Refuge
Taos, New Mexico

why a retreat?

Success in our work for peace and justice will never be achieved if we continue to think of peace and justice as issues external to our selves. The embodiment of peace, of freedom from internal and external forces of oppression, is the only way in which these forces can begin to be effectively challenged in the larger society. When we neglect to examine our selves with clarity and compassion, we recreate the conditions of conflict, delusion, and suffering in the very work that is supposed to be countering these forces. Our work for justice is adversely affected by our stress, unhappiness, and unhealthiness. We need refuge. We need sanctuary. We need time to be non-productive. Social change agents need places to withdraw where we can gather, relax, and inspire each other to grow.

In most religious and spiritual traditions, periods of retreat serve people in vital ways. Retreats offer a shift in daily routine that allows for us a deeper examination of values, priorities, and habits. In a retreat space, new levels of mindfulness become possible. Daily needs are provided for. Communication devices of all kinds, including our minds, are given a chance to rest. As the days unfold at a slower pace, both the body and the mind begin to unbind from their habit-energies and deeper understandings of reality, truth, happiness, and change are possible.

what will we be doing?

A. Individual consciousness practices
Consciousness is at the heart of many spiritual paths. For this retreat, we'll be using the primary awareness practices and frameworks that we are trained in. These include Vipassana or Insight meditation from the Buddhist tradition and yoga from the Kripalu tradition. These are our two primary tools for engaging in contemplative practice and will be offered as fundamental parts of the retreat format.
Beyond these, we’ll engage in a range of spiritual and contemplative practices that engender deep levels of awareness. Some key aspects of the retreat, like silence, are common across the religious spectrum. Others, such as journaling or collage are not from any particular tradition at all but can be used as vehicles for presence, awareness, and connection. The retreat will be accessible to people of many faith and spiritual traditions, complementing existing practices and rituals participants may have.
B. Relationship practice
So much of social change work happens in the relationships between people – through organizational work, collaboration, coalitions, mentorship, even opposition. Retreat is a unique time to examine our ways of relating to people and groups. We’ll use a series of simple relationship practices to explore our verbal and non-verbal interactions with other human beings: How do we listen? How do we communicate? How do we support and challenge each other? How do we sit in the fire of conflict? How do we witness? How do we instigate change?
C. Integrated Liberation Spirituality Framework
Our historical moment is complicated and troubling. The forces of oppression, delusion, greed, and hatred are powerfully aligned and history is calling for a response. Appropriate and effective responses require of us our highest degree of wisdom, compassion, integrity, risk, and clarity. Where in the matrix of the personal and the societal do we find and create liberation? What is required of us? What steps need to be taken? In the paradigm of inner and outer suffering and liberation we seek the answers.

For additional information please contact:

Margie Hattori


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