Tag Archive: training

September 28, 2018

A Meditation: Re-Imagining Mental Health Care for Black Communities

Image by Osajus, shared under provisions of Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.

 

At IISC, we are using guided meditations to spark transformation in the hearts and minds of participants in our facilitation and training rooms.

This is one I offered to thirty Black leaders brought together by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in New York City this summer. They were asked by First Lady Chirlane McCray, wife of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, to develop recommendations to increase the numbers of Black mental health providers. But our job in the end was so much more. It was helping them to discover ways to re-imagine mental health care for Black communities, and to encourage Black people to go into mental health fields to free Black people from the emotional and spiritual binds of pain rooted in systemic and historical injustice.

It was the deepest honor to create and share this meditation with the group as I lost my mother in 2002 to mental illness and the health care system that “treated her”.

Get comfortable
Anchor your feet and back
Breathe natural breaths at your own pace

See what’s on your mind about today
See your obligations outside of this room and let them float past you and away

Call on your images of your ancestors
See the faces of your family
Present
And Past

Think about the history of Black people
What images do you see of pain?
Of pain as they face hardship? As their mental health deteriorates?

Of triumph?
As they triumph over, and their mental health improves and sets them free?

What supports did they have to help them heal and achieve wholeness?
Who helped them?
How?

Who helped you in times of need? In times of mental burden and stress?
How?

Thank your ancestors
Thank yourself
Breathe once again those breaths of life
And come back when you are ready

1 Comment
August 25, 2011

Love and Sustainability

loving sustainably

|Photo by Shykh Seraj|http://www.flickr.com/photos/51937229@N05/5648441691|

Perhaps feeling wistful in these late summer weeks as we lean towards fall, I seem to have a penchant for all things poetic. Who better to read then, than my friend and colleague Danny Martin, who blogs at a site entitled, “The Art of Working WITH Life.” Danny wonderfully and naturally spouts poetry, his own and others’, as he reflects on what it means to live and lead sustainably. In a recent post on relationships, he writes, “sustainability is about learning to work with differences in a way that will allow us to address the challenges of everyday living and also thereby deepen the relationship with the world we live in.” In other words, it is about learning to love, or as Humberto Maturana has defined it, “respecting the other as a legitimate other.” I have noted that the whole notion of love resonates more and more deeply with people in leadership trainings. The mention of the word does not lead to the same kinds of winces, embarrassed grins, and occasional rolling of the eyes as it did even 3 years ago. What’s love got to do with it? “Everything!” a couple of people shouted in my most recent training in Connecticut.  As we discuss it, we revolve around the many different splendors and interpretations, but at the end of the day most everyone agrees that while it may be difficult to define love, we know when it’s absent. And we know we suffer for its loss.

So with thanks to Danny for drawing my attention to them, I pass along these poetic ponderings of Czeslow Milosz, and invite you to consider the link between love and sustainability: Read More

Leave a comment
May 25, 2011

Elephants on Strings (and Other Mind Tricks)

baby elephant

|Photo by wwarby|http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwarby/2310975386|

A friend recently relayed the following story about how some baby elephants are tamed, for cirucuses and other forms of work. As part of its training, the baby is tied it to a steel stake in the ground, strong enough to prevent it from breaking free when it tries to do so. Eventually, the elephant will give up and stop trying to escape.  I imagine that this is not the complete story, but keeping with this trajectory . . .  At a certain point, the trainer can replace the steel stake with a smaller wooden one, despite the fact that it would never hold the elephant if it tried to break free.  An elephant trained to believe that the stake is strong will not try to break loose and run. Read More

Leave a comment
August 26, 2010

The Power of What Isn’t

empty

|Photo by brew ha ha|http://www.flickr.com/photos/redfishid/3164273464|

“The Uses of Not”

Thirty spokes
meet in the hub.
Where the wheel isn’t
is where it’s useful.
Hollowed out,
clay makes a pot.
Where the pot’s not
is where it’s useful.
Cut doors and windows
to make a room.
Where the room isn’t,
there’s room for you.

So the profit in what is
is in the use of what isn’t.

-Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

It was the afternoon of the second day of the three day training and I noticed that the coffee cake still looked pretty much as it had on the morning of day one.

“Sure does look good,” said one of the participants, now standing beside me.

“Not good enough to eat, apparently. ” I responded.

“Oh, I think everyone likes having it here,” she said with a grin.

“To look at?” I asked.

“To resist!” she replied, with a distinct tone of satisfaction. Read More

Leave a comment
August 26, 2010

The Power of What Isn't

empty

|Photo by brew ha ha|http://www.flickr.com/photos/redfishid/3164273464|

“The Uses of Not”

Thirty spokes
meet in the hub.
Where the wheel isn’t
is where it’s useful.
Hollowed out,
clay makes a pot.
Where the pot’s not
is where it’s useful.
Cut doors and windows
to make a room.
Where the room isn’t,
there’s room for you.

So the profit in what is
is in the use of what isn’t.

-Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

It was the afternoon of the second day of the three day training and I noticed that the coffee cake still looked pretty much as it had on the morning of day one.

“Sure does look good,” said one of the participants, now standing beside me.

“Not good enough to eat, apparently. ” I responded.

“Oh, I think everyone likes having it here,” she said with a grin.

“To look at?” I asked.

“To resist!” she replied, with a distinct tone of satisfaction. Read More

5 Comments
June 9, 2010

The Learner’s Plea

freedom

|Photo by Scarleth White|http://www.flickr.com/photos/iloveblue/3302032125|

Thanks to Ginny McGinn of the Center for Whole Communities for introducing me to this poem by the Chilean biologist/philosopher Humberto Maturana.  We used it to launch this week’s The Masterful Trainer workshop, and it generated some wonderful reflections on the role of teaching, training, facilitation, and leadership in this day and age.  Enjoy . . .

The Student’s Prayer

Don’t impose on me what you know,
I want to explore the unknown
and be the source of my own discoveries.
Let the known be my liberation, not my slavery.
The world of your truth can be my limitation;
your wisdom my negation.
Don’t instruct me; let’s walk together.
Let my riches begin where yours end.
Show me so that I can stand
on your shoulders.
Reveal yourself so that I can be
something different.
You believe that every human being
can love and create.
I understand, then, your fear
when I ask you to live according to your wisdom.
You will not know who I am
by listening to yourself.
Don’t instruct me; let me be.

Leave a comment
June 9, 2010

The Learner's Plea

freedom

|Photo by Scarleth White|http://www.flickr.com/photos/iloveblue/3302032125|

Thanks to Ginny McGinn of the Center for Whole Communities for introducing me to this poem by the Chilean biologist/philosopher Humberto Maturana.  We used it to launch this week’s The Masterful Trainer workshop, and it generated some wonderful reflections on the role of teaching, training, facilitation, and leadership in this day and age.  Enjoy . . .

The Student’s Prayer

Don’t impose on me what you know,
I want to explore the unknown
and be the source of my own discoveries.
Let the known be my liberation, not my slavery.
The world of your truth can be my limitation;
your wisdom my negation.
Don’t instruct me; let’s walk together.
Let my riches begin where yours end.
Show me so that I can stand
on your shoulders.
Reveal yourself so that I can be
something different.
You believe that every human being
can love and create.
I understand, then, your fear
when I ask you to live according to your wisdom.
You will not know who I am
by listening to yourself.
Don’t instruct me; let me be.

2 Comments
April 30, 2009

The Golden Hour

Last week Melinda and I had one of those experiences where everything seemed to come together. We were in Farmington, Connecticut with grantees of the Graustein Memorial Fund’s Discovery Initiative, training them in collaborative leadership techniques for their community-based work around improving early childhood education and care. For starters, the group was remarkable. The chemistry of those that came together from around the state was what any trainer or participant dreams of, and the shared passion for and commitment to their work was nothing short of inspiring. Beyond that, Melinda and I just seemed to be on our game, pulling from a wide range of tools with a well-coordinated readiness to go as deep as the group seemed willing to go. Collectively we created a space that filled gradually with rich learning, self-revelation, strong connection, and things that are still difficult to articulate. It was the kind of session that people left saying, quite literally, “I am different than when I arrived.”

Later as Melinda and I were driving back home on Friday evening, still savoring those three days, we turned a corner on the Mass Pike, and the city of Boston leapt up to greet us. It was around 7:30, the end of a beautiful clear spring day, and the sun was in such a position that it illuminated everything in a rosy hue and accentuated every nook and cranny, making buildings seem almost more than three dimensional. I have always loved that time of day, when the world becomes softer and more vibrant. Come to find out from Melinda that there is actually a name for this in photographic circles – “the golden hour” – the first and last hour of sunlight during which the sun’s rays travel obliquely through the atmosphere, lending indirect radiance and enhanced color to whatever they touch. Read More

Leave a comment