The reflection I have had with many of my closest circles is that we are in a time when because of widespread urgency from a very real imminent threat on our communities, with the election of Donald Trump, we are being called on around us and within ourselves to serve our communities deeper than ever before. It is such a complex feeling to look around you and see people who you could never get to a rally, or who never cared to talk “politics” finally show a sense of need to MOVE. For those of us whose life’s work has been connected to serving the dismantling of the system, decolonizing mentalities, resisting the structures of oppression that have always been in place, defending and protecting communities, speaking and helping others to speak who feel they cannot, healing those (including ourselves) who have been broken by experiences of hate, violence and inhumanity of this country – this time is very different- because this time we are not working behind a veil or iron curtain, this time those who could not see, can see because it’s being lifted so abruptly and loudly to the surface. And because of it they also are looking to us to lead.
It is complex in the way that it feels so important to be there ready with urgency, to respond to that call to lead, and also, in moments it feels like we didn’t have to let it come to this, had all those that are waking up because of the very real violence and threat that is happening with immediate response in the streets. They are seeing what we as activists and community workers, just how much we were being fooled into upholding a system that has been built upon the back, the bones and the blood of the marginalized. I release this, because this is not the time to divide and stand in any resentment rooted in ego- this is rather the time that we have to look to one another and invite a more powerful unity than ever before. I take deep breaths and look to all those around me rising, and I hold together the pieces of my heart that have been aching and I speak, I act, I create from my deepest prayers of love, that I have always held and I seek to remind us that we belong to each other, and we have so much work we can finally do TOGETHER so that truth can ring the truest for all of humanity.
This curriculum is for my organizers, because we need to be held to. We need to be healed in the deep processes of healing, we forget this so much sometimes.
Release, Re-Member, Reclaim–Healing the Activist (Curriculum for Holding and Uplifting Leaders in All Communities)
Activity #1: Grounding Ourselves in What We Want to Call In
Check-In: What is something that you want to call into the space to energize and uplift our gathering today?
Activity #2: Release- Uncovering the Layers that Weigh on Our Spirits
Everyone will be invited to stand in a circle and have a piece of paper and a writing utensil behind them that they will use when called to. The idea is that we will be releasing the things that we are holding that keep us from rising fully in our work of serving others. Each stage will be different.
Stage 1: The Simply Stated
There will be exchanges in the circle answering questions posed and making one word statements to be answered. When everyone has finished each person will go to their paper and write what has been released. Then return to the circle. The idea is that this is a circle of energy, so we need to make sure that we keep it up, that we cultivate in a way where nothing is dropped, but it is held, and then released onto the paper. I will help to keep the energy moving. With each question or prompt, someone will begin and the energy will flow to the left, closest to our hearts. Keep your answers succinct.
Use these or Come Up With Others, Do 5-7 Prompts:
- Release a sound that releases everything that you have been carrying since hearing the results of the election and having to confront the reality of what the world is carrying
- **You may want to have them release this sound multiple times- throughout the exchange.
- What is a word that describes how you felt the moment that you found out about the results of the election?
- What is one thing that you FEAR most about the results of the election for your communities?
- What is one thing that you FEAR most about the results of the election for yourself?
- What is something that you have heard, or read that made you ANGRY in relation to the way others have been processing the results of the election?
- What is something that you have heard, or read that made you SAD in relation to the way others have been processing the results of the election?
- Who is someone you WORRY about because of the result of the election?
Stage 2: Flowing Stream of Thought
In this round we will release fully, let it all flood out of you- sounds and word, but support it with movement continuously moving through the room as you speak what you are saying, let it support the release of your words. Let it be what it needs to be without judgement, be loud, RELEASE! And also use your body to help with the release, shake it off, rub it off, from your head to your toes. I will speak a topic and you will release.
Use these or Come Up With Others, Do 4-5 Prompts:
- Donald Trump
- White Supremacy
- Systematic Oppression
- People who Are Racist, Sexist, Homophobic, Islamaphobic
Stage 3: Deep Listening Exchange
In this round we will create exchange. Carry your paper and your pen in your hand. We will be in touch exchange the entire time that we are in this round. Touch is a part of communication that we often leave out, this is an invitation to hold one another, to exchange energy that is connected to deep listening. Everyone pair up with someone in the space and you will,use a touch of intention to be a recognition of holding that person in listening exchange. Then you will take turns answering the questions that are posed. I will give 2 Minutes for one person in your pair to answer and 2 minutes for the other for each question.
Do your best to not let go of each other, instead think about the exchange being one that is continuously holding. Make sure to thank your partner each time.
Use these or Come Up With Others, Do 3 Prompts:
- What are the things that you feel you are carrying since hearing the results of the election?
- What are moments that you have witnessed that have shook the reality you were living before the results of the election?
- What are the large things that you are tackling in your communities right now that you feel are your responsibility and the heaviest for you to hold?
Stage 4: Individual Reflection
This is a time for freewrite, for anything else that needs to be released
Last Step Letting Go- to Make Room for Letting In
The next step is to release these, I usually opt to burn them away, and let them be carried away with the fire. But I know this can be difficult with large groups, you also can tear them up and bury them- or instruct folks to do it on their own accord.
We must look at these feelings, listen deeply to ourselves and understand how we hold space for each other and give to school other to help heal and fill from the places we confront and release.
Activity #3: Re-Member- From Victim to Vision (Shifting our Language and Mindset to Empower Our Movements)
This portion of the work will be directed toward our understanding of self and where we hold ourselves as a community and individuals from rising. How can we check ourselves in this.
Chart this out:
From Victim to Vision
(Making sure to give homage to source understanding that these are universal knowledges that have been codified) Adapted from the El Puente Global Justice Institute and the work of David Gershon & Gail Straub at the Empowerment Institute
Make examples of this in relation to the elections, how we as individuals and as a community are already doing these things on all ends, from Trump Supporters, to mixed responses from those against Trump results.
The Four Characteristics of Victimhood:
4) Staying in a State of Confusion
**Where have you been living victim in your life? Where have you seen others living victim?**
Think about how our communities and selves are living in victim, and have been living in victm. How do we move to vision?
Small Groups: Reflect on these concepts and ideas in particular around the happenings that have occurred in the last couple of days. We will do this in small groups.
Share and write down what comes up for you as a group.
Large Group: What are some things that came up? Some things that we have witnessed and participated in that keep us in victim?
To move from Victim to Vision we must move from:
“Fixing” –> “Creating”
“Healing” –> “Excelling/ Thriving”
“Reacting” –> “Envisioning”
“Healing is very important- but often our greatest commitment to healing develops out of a desire and a vision to have a more empowering perspective on our lives. This vision can provide tremendous incentive to MOVE.”
We are more equipped than we ever have been to make the change that will push forward the plight of our ancestors. We have the knowledge, the capacity, the technology, the numbers that make us no longer the minority- to finally make the change we wish to see.
The movements have been growing and growing and the way we communicate, the way we congregate, the way we strategize has advanced more and more. We are creating consistently. We are remembering that before all else, we as human beings are creators and so long as we continue with deep intention, to move from victim to vision.
Individual Time: Take a moment to write a declaration to yourself about what it means for you to move from Victim to Vision and hold space for others in your life to do the same in this time of needed Healing.
Activity #4: Reclaim and Re-Visioning the Self In Power
Vision Boards are an activity meant to help you manifest images that will serve to remind you of your purpose and sacred calling, to bring to light what you wish to create from your imaginings and from your desires inside you of the life you wish to live. These are usually constructed on large paper, a board or can be manifested in many different ways- ie. Books, shadowboxes, sculptures, etc. You can use Magazine cuttings, images from books, photographs, print outs and can also create images through drawing or painting- the sky is the limit just as our visions of creating our lives are..
- Image Materials- Magazines, Image Books, Scrap Fabric, Printouts, Photos, Stickers, Drawing paper, etc.
- Scissors, Exacto Knives
- Paint, Markers, Crayons, Pencils, Pens, etc.
- Adhesive- Glue, Tape, Glue Gun/Sticks
It is important in all facilitation to create the environment/ space to hold the energy that you wish to create. In this particular exercise the setup of the room is the most important. Take the time to form with the image materials that you have collected a labyrinth- a maze created for spiritual reflection and meditation (ie. a spiral pathway, or a maze within a circle in any configuration that you feel would be to the energy you wish to cultivate- example below). Set up the space with the other materials in the middle of the room.
These are the Prompts That Will Lead Your Visioning:
- Where are you rooted- what communities have you been placed in? What
- What role you play in your communities, how do you hold that role?
- Who is in your circle? Who are your mirrors? Who holds you? Builds with you? Creates with you?
- What universal lessons have you received that you are sharing forward
- What skills and talents do you offer to the your family, your communities, to the world?
- What is the world you are contributing to that you may never live in, that will be our childrens’?
. Opening Meditation:
Start by taking a deep breathe, in through your nose, filling up your lungs, and then breathe out of your mouth. And continue breathing in through your nose breathing in presence, and with an exhale breathing out and releasing through your mouth. With each breath release anything that is pulling you away from this moment. Continue in this pattern of breathing in presences and releasing distractions, attachments, and anything calling you away from this moment with your breath.
Let yourself see how your breath moves through you, and let that breath fill you in a way that helps you re-member your entire self from your head to your toes and out your fingertips. See how your breath connects to your physical being, and how every curve, every dip, every dimple, every wrinkle on your body is connected to a history and a herstory, a legacy before you, a story of ancestry shaped by geography, by experience, by walks, by adventures, by battles and wars waged, by moments of stillness, and by prayer. Every part, every muscle, every organ. every bone, every vein, every cell, every particle was a gift from your ancestors. Connect this all with your breath with gratitude, with remembrance and then with a breath of intention gently let it float away, so what is revealed to you is your soul.
See how your soul is also connected to your ancestry, a history and a herstory, a legacy before you, a story of ancestry shaped by wonderment, by belief, by heartache, by struggle, by joys, and by love. See what they lived out so you could become and what they dreamed you would become. See how your existence is a piece of something they prayed would live beyond them. Remember yourself so deeply in this way. Connect the dreams your ancestors dreamed in you with the ones you dream for those who will come after you. As you live out your Sacred Calling today. How do you serve? Who do you serve? What do you give to the world? What can you give in a deeper more intentional way?
Know this “You are a living ancestor.” How can each experience serve your learning, your growing, your creating, your living? How can this very experience serve your learning, your growing, your creating, your living? What are you Reclaiming? What is the world you are contributing to that you may never live in, that will be our childrens’? What will you give to the building and creating of that tomorrow? Starting in this very moment? In this very room? Release, Remember, Reclaim- and let this be what heals you in your action and your creation.
Who are you? What does it look like for you to stand fully in your power? How does it begin here? How does it contribute to the greater Legacy of who you are and will become for the upliftment of the future.
Take 3 last deep breaths on your own time, and with each breath allow yourself to give gratitude, to return back to your body, putting back together every particle, every cell, every vein, every bone, every organ, every muscle, back into your skin. And whenever you are ready just start putting vibration back in your fingers and toes, take a stretch and then with the most ease and gentleness open your eyes.
Take three more breaths in on your own time. And when you’re ready hold onto that vision and ever so slowly, ever so gently, open your eyes.
1) Have the participants walk the labyrinth set up with the magazines preferably one by one, following these steps
- State your intention as clearly as possible– in this instance to find the images that were awakened in their vision.
- Center yourself by taking a couple of deep breaths. This is important because doing this you instruct your subconscious and all other parts of yourself to pay attention to your sincere wish of solving your problem.
- Acknowledge your coming meditative or spiritual journey within the labyrinth. You may also say a short prayer or smudge yourself, depending on which faith you adhere to. Closing your eyes and reflecting or taking a simple bow are other nice ways to begin the process.
o Decide whether you will walk barefoot or with shoes on. With bare feet, you can feel the texture of the earth beneath your feet and connect to its grounding forces.
- Begin your walk. The first step sets the pace for your walk. It can be fast or slow. Choose your intention for the walk. Are you being spiritual, reflective, mindful, playful, creative or something else? If you’re problem solving, your walk becomes a meditation when you surrender all your problems and just walk. Other parts of you have now a chance to process your request of a solution.
- Continue to walk. Keep your mind quiet, and still pestering thoughts each time they arise. Concentrate on the placement of one foot before the other and rhythmic, gentle and regular breathing.
o Surrender to walkng with mindfulness of what surrounds you. Let all else fall off your shoulders. Various parts of your being are now processing your wish for solution. Let it be and let go of any expectations. Let it all go. Surrender to the experience of walking the labyrinth.
- Find your answers in the Labyrinth. As you walk pick up the images that you feel call most to you that speak to your vision. Try to only pick up 2-3 to begin with and then on your way out of the circle 2-3 more. When you reach the center, pick up the materials you need and walk out of the circle.
- Accept the insights and gifts you may have received. Adopting a sense of gratitude will always facilitate resolutions. Offer your thanks for what you have retrieved.
- Find a space to Reflect, Pause, and Create. Find a space for self and pause there for awhile, sit or lay down if you feel like it and meditate or reflect. The main thing is to let yourself surrender totally to your inner process. It feels so good to have all the time you need.
o Begin constructing your Vision Board with the collected materials.
o If you don’t have a problem, question or quest for inspiration, just sit quietly and let things be.
Gallery Walk- Group Share: Everyone will display their Vision boards on a chair with their statement of visioning and everyone will get post-its that they will use to write messages to those whose boards and declarations speak to them.
Once everyone has gone around, go back to your board and give yourself a moment to sit with what has been given to you. And then come back to the big circle when I call you back.
Big Group Reflection: How are you feeling? What is coming up for you?
*Give time for reflections
When I say the time is NOW it’s because this time is very different and for everyone who sees and didn’t before- we have work to do because many still do not see, and many do not want us to see. The time is NOW. If you are called to protest then fill the streets, if you are called to educate then gather folks to exchange in knowledge and equip them with the understanding they need to stand with youand share the knowledge further, if you are called to create then create so powerfully it will move masses, if you are called to give of monetary support then give everything you can to those who are on the ground serving, if you are called to heal- remember in the process to heal yourself, whatever you are doing- let it be with Love of our brothers and sisters and let it be to uplift us in a time when it is easy to feel like we are drowning- rise up, make change, we are together.
Closing: The most powerful and healing statement we can offer ourselves is- “I AM” to close we will say one thing that we are taking away and say an “I AM” statement speaking the person we choose to be for this community and all communities that we hold space for and serve in this time of deep healing.