In the Spring 2022 issue of YES! Magazine, I share A Journey from Rage to Mindfulness. This is an intimate account of my lifelong spiritual journey of open heartedness, reparation, and reclaiming tenderness.
A Journey from Rage to Mindfulness is an approach to examining systems, navigating emotional distress, and increasing social harmony. I'm excited to share a few highlights of this article in the Wise Talk Blog. I invite you to read the full article in the Spring 2022 issue of YES! Magazine. In that issue you'll also find many other amazing authors sharing their personal journey.
I grew up in South Central Los Angeles, where my mother and our community were intensely involved in the civil rights and Black Power movements of the 1960s. This was an atmosphere of fear, high control, and violence. Emotionally, I often felt gut punched by words and ambiguity. Life felt scary, and I simply didn’t know what to do with my tenderness. What I knew was that it was dangerous to have it.
An Unexpected Shift
By my mid-20s, I was advancing in the career of organizational development and undertaking a second graduate program to become a clinical psychologist. While my background brought awareness and understanding, it did not transform my relationship to rage or racial distress. Then, at the age of 27, I unexpectedly had open-heart surgery. This experience dramatically shifted my openness to self-examination and wise ways of seeing others. Especially White people. Before then, I hadn’t really considered them integral to my own aspirations for a restorative community.
Fast-forward to 1995. I was in Beijing, China to teach a workshop on generational healing at the World Conference on Women. The conditions were ripe for something to shift yet again in my life. One day on a side trip, I stood next to a stunning African American woman before a four-story golden Buddha. We didn't know each other yet, but I noticed we were both tearful. Our hearts were moved by the silent gaze of this benevolent figure.
Months later, Marlene Jones Schoonover, Ed.D., would invite me to hear her teacher, Jack Kornfield, co-founder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center, a spiritual training institution grounded in the Buddha’s teachings. Marlene was on the board of Spirit Rock and chaired the Spirit Rock Diversity Council, which she co-founded.
At Marlene’s invitation, I not only joined her on the diversity council at Spirit Rock. I began meeting with an intimate wisdom circle of eight women of color organized by Alice Walker and Jack Kornfield to study the dharma, the Buddhist teachings. We met monthly in the Bay Area for 10 years until I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, to join my wife.
In the YES! article, I fill in other details about my journey. This includes a Celebration of Rage nationwide retreat for women that I led for more than 15 years. I published my first book, Healing Rage: Women Making Inner Peace Possible in 2007. My second book, Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out, came out in 2018. Since then, I have been leading retreats on this body of work. Both publications are ways of looking at systems and navigating a reduction in emotional distress and an increase in social harmony.
I hope you check out the full article A Journey from Rage to Mindfulness in YES! Magazine.