Zen Blog

This blog collects various internet feeds aimed towards information, experience and technique exchange in support of our shared spiritual journey..... ”Namaste - may the light in me, honor the light in you…”

Mindfulness Resources by and for the LGBTQ+ Community

Everyone should be able to unapologetically live their truth and feel safe doing so. As we all strive to make the world a more inclusive, loving place, we can take steps to ensure that future comes sooner rather than later.⁠

This list is a non-exhaustive collection of resources, teachers, and organizations that offer mindfulness training and support by and for LGBTQ+ folks. This is a list we hope to continuously develop so if you know of an organization or person who should be on this list, please reach out to us on social media or at [email protected]

Mindfulness Organizations and Programs for the LGBTQ+ Community

1. CHA Center for Mindfulness and Compassion

The Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) for Mindfulness and Compassion focuses on enhancing health and well-being by integrating various mindfulness practices into healthcare and communities. They regularly offer mindfulness workshops and classes specifically for people who identify as LGBTQ+. 

2. Family Equality

Family Equality works to advance lived and legal equality for LGBTQ+ families. They offer a multitude of resources, educational tools, and activities. Head to their Youtube channel for free, LGBTQ+-centered guided meditations.

3) imi 

imi is a free digital mental health tool designed with the help of LGBTQ+ teens to support and affirm their identity. The program was developed in response to the need for safe, accessible, and research-backed support for LGBTQ+ teens and breaks down important topics like stress, LGBTQ+ identity, internalized stigma, and gender identity and expression through interactive resources, stories, and activities. 

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A Breathing Meditation to Gently Bring Your Attention Back with Awareness

Adobe Stock/mavoimages

This breathing practice is inspired by the Paiute story of the North Star. It’s about a mountain ship boy named Nagah who journeys into the sky and how his father’s love, despite grief, transforms him into the North Star, the star that shines with the luminosity of 2500 suns, and that has provided guidance for our ancestors that live in the Northern Hemisphere for centuries.

Start by sitting in an upright, comfortable position. You can keep your eyes softly closed if that’s comfortable for you. Now bring to mind a bright star sitting still in the sky. That’s the North Star. Imagine breathing in from the North Star and breathing out to the North Star. In from the North Star out to the North Star. In and out. From there, direct your attention toward your breath. Follow your breath, anchoring it to your nostrils, following your breath into your nose, feeling the sensation of breath there, and then following it out. You might notice vibration in your nostrils or might even notice that the air is a little cooler going in. And as it circulates around your lungs, it warms up a bit. So it’s a little warmer going out. You might notice that you might not. Either way, it’s OK. Just be curious to see what you notice. Continue to follow your breath, focusing the spotlight of your attention on your breath coming in and your breath going out. Focus your attention on your breath in your chest. Notice the rise of your chest as you breathe in and the fall of your chest as you breathe out. Try that for a couple of breaths. Now move your attention down to your abdomen. So this time, following your breath into your abdomen, feeling that sensation of breath there, and then following your breath out. Just try that for a couple of breaths. Be curious. Notice what that’s like. Follow your breath all the way in until it stops. And just notice the stopping. Notice the space between the in-breath and the out-breath. Follow your breath all the way out until it stops again. Noticing the stopping. Noticing the space. Noticing that in that space is stillness. The North Star sits still in the sky and in between breaths. That stillness also resides in you. The North Star isn’t perfectly still. It’s almost still. Just like your body as you follow your breath in and out to the place you’ve chosen as your anchor. Now choose either your nose or your chest or your belly as the place that you want to anchor your breath. It doesn’t matter which one. Just pick one. Continue following the breath in, noticing that space and stillness between the in-breath and out-breath and between out-breath and in-breath. You might also notice that your mind is also not perfectly still. That is natural. And you might notice that it wanders from your breath to other things. Like thoughts, emotions, memories, sounds, other bodily sensations. When this happens, gently bring your attention back to your breath. This act of noticing your mind wandering elsewhere and gently bringing it back increases your capacity for mindfulness. If your mind wanders off every second, just bring it back every second. In this way, you build the stillness in yourself. With stillness you gain more clarity and you can find your direction much easier. You can also expand your attention to your whole body. Instead of focusing your attention like a spotlight, focus your attention more like a floodlight. Just notice your whole body breathing itself. And you can even imagine that you are the North Star almost still. You can stay here. Following your breath in and out from this expansive place. Or you can go back to narrowing your attention to following one breath in, one breath out at a time and anchoring it to your belly, your chest, or your nose, and noticing that stillness in between. Choosing one of those expansive or narrow anchors of attention to follow the breath, you can continue with this for five minutes or for as long as you’d like. You can end the practice when you’re ready.
(Originally posted by Renda Dionne Madrigal)

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A New Mindfulness Intervention for Ukrainian Refugees Launches this Week

This week marks the launch of Mindfulness-SOS for Ukraine, a digital mindfulness-based intervention for Ukrainian refugees. Once displaced people have found physical safety, Mindfulness-SOS for Ukraine is designed to help them cultivate the inner resources of trust, resilience, and compassion. 

“Our program aims to help people find those moments of refuge,” says Amit Bernstein, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Haifa, Israel, and director of The Moments of Refuge Project. Bernstein and his team developed Mindfulness-SOS for Ukraine in partnership with the Ukrainian refugee community, Global Empowerment Mission, Pandemic of Love, the Ukrainian Mindful Awareness Project, and Mindful.org. 

“It’s hard to recover and heal if you’re not in a state where you feel safe,” Bernstein says. Throughout his years of working to support refugees, he’s found that although people may physically arrive in a safe space, recovering a felt sense of safety is often a lingering challenge. 

“Mindfulness-SOS builds on a pre-existing capacity in people to be resilient, recover, and flourish. It’s not magic. It’s not medicine…it is about empowering a pre-existing capacity through these practices.”

Amit Bernstein

“Collectively, we have an ethical obligation to help people recover from the trauma of displacement because I think the consequences and the costs of not recovering are extraordinary,” Bernstein says. “Not only in terms of individual mental health, but in terms of what we know happens with intergenerational transmission of trauma to kids. There are long-term generational consequences that can lead to tragic cycles of violence when there isn’t this kind of healing and recovery.”

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A 12-Minute Meditation to Find Stability Amid Change

Adobe Stock/ carballo

We live in a world of constant change and this week, Aden Van Noppen invites us to find what roots us. Aden is the founder and executive director of Mobius, a collaboration between leading neuroscientists, meditation teachers, and technologists to work toward the creation of digital technology that enhances our individual and collective well-being. Aden is also one of the 10 powerful women of the mindfulness movement 2022, and here she guides a meditation on impermanence. 

Let’s begin with a little grounding. Gently move your attention to the place where you are most rooted to the Earth. Whether that’s the bottom of your feet or where your body rests on a chair or a cushion, take a moment to just rest your attention there. Feeling the rootedness. Feeling the ground, the floor, the chair, the cushion holding you, holding your weight, grounding you. Gently move your attention toward your breath. Take a relaxed breath, feeling the in- and out-breath like a wave. A wave of breath in and the wave as it moves out with your breath out. And just like the quality of a wave, it’s washing over you and through you. You don’t have to control it. In and out, without controlling it. And just like a wave, no two breaths are the same. And just like every moment, no two moments are the same. Let this breath be a reminder of impermanence. As you breathe in, you can gently say to yourself, “This breath.” Each moment, each breath is a chance to begin again. “This breath.” Just like a wave. As you take in your next breath, imagine the feeling of soaking up the nutrients of that breath, the life force of that breath, and with your out-breath, letting go. In—”Soaking up.” Out—”Letting go.” “Soaking up. Letting go.” Just as we do over and over in our lives. “Soaking up. Letting go. “ And combining them: “This breath. Letting go.” As we transition to close this meditation, gently move your attention away from the wave of your breath and back to the rootedness of your seat, of your feet, wherever your weight is held most by the ground. Even with the constant change, the moving in, the moving out, we always have this rootedness. It is always available to us, to remind us that we are held amid the change in our lives moment to moment. When you’re ready, you can bring your attention back into the room and gently open your eyes. Thank you for sitting with me.  
(Originally posted by Aden Van Noppen)

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Unlearn Management, Relearn Being Human

Management and leadership: The two words may seem synonymous, but in practice they are quite different. Management is about managing others. Leadership is about seeing and hearing others, setting a direction, and then letting go of managing what happens next.

If you want to be an effective leader, there are a few critical things you need to understand: First, nobody wants to be managed. Second, who you are is more important than how smart you are. And last, leadership is all about developing and enabling meaningful and trusting human relationships. 

Regardless of hierarchies and power structures within a company, we are all first and foremost human beings. We want to connect on a human level with each other. Many leaders rise through the ranks thanks to a mastery of management skills—setting direction, managing plans, and solving problems—and less so the interpersonal and relational side of leadership. But massive disruptions to the workplace in the past few years have upended the role of leaders and demand an integration of both the performance and the human aspects of leadership. Employees are looking for leaders who can make tough decisions and drive results, but at the same time create an environment that provides flexibility, connection, and a sense of belonging. Now is the time to unlearn management and relearn being human first.

Opening to Our Common Humanity

To be more human in the workplace, you must remember and acknowledge that we are all alike in our shared desire to be happy and to avoid experiencing difficulties. But we’re also alike in that, regardless of our role or identity, life doesn’t spare us from suffering. We all have expectations of life that are not met. We all want to be kind to others, but sometimes find ourselves impatient and frustrated. We all do our best. And, yes, we all fall short. This is our common humanity. 

We’re not managing employees, we’re leading humans.

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