Lesson 1: Creating space for contemplation and self-/shared-healing strengthens justice work.
People struggling on the front line around issues of justice; people vigilantly working to stop harmful practices of institutions, corporations, other people, etc.; people whose lives are organized around simply putting food on the table, a roof over their heads, and a safe environment for children; people who do not stop until every ounce of energy has been shifted from them to other places...these people often do not take time to rest, to create space for their own healing, to reflect upon vision, purpose, successes, lessons, and mistakes. And the mere thought of doing so is foreign, something for someone else, something that time and circumstances don't permit. Yet not only is it possible to carve out space - there are many ways to do so - but it is necessary. How many of our front line warriors are weakened or suffer from debilitating illnesses accelerated by stress? Far too many. Possible solutions:
- Carve time each day to meditate. Stilling one's body and mind for 5, 10, 30 minutes for more each day has made a tremendous impact on people's lives and work. Identifying a time and place to sit each day supports this practice. A wise teacher once said that just as putting a toothbrush and toothpaste in the same, easily accessible place in the restroom makes tooth brushing easy to remember; creating the meditation space and designating the time makes meditation practice easy to remember.
- Engage in healing/meditation with others. Setting up time once a week/month or based on some other time frame to practice healing and/or meditation with others creates a community of people to support one another's activism AND well-being.
Lesson 2: It is important to root theory in practice.
Theory is summarized practice. Theory not rooted in practice provides the content for fables. There is tremendous value in conducting research, synthesizing data and drawing conclusions that lead toward deeper understanding of processes, systems, history, etc. However when not rooted in the communities, populations, movements, etc. about which it draws conclusions - in other words, if it does not reflect reality - research remains at the level of abstraction and is disconnected from material reality. Thus, people interested in deepening their understanding of reality, must live in it, work in it, be in it.
There have been many more lessons, however i need time to reflect upon them before sharing. The fall is a great time for evaluating the past (near or distant), sitting with the present as it is changing, and envisioning a meaningful winter period of contemplation and quiet. All the best to you who have read this.