march mindfulness 2017 | on justice, liberation + healing


Each year I launch this campaign to uplift wisdom, values, teachings and affirmations that nourish our capacity for compassion, skillful understanding, and authentic connection.

Aligned with Sangha’s monthly contemplation and culminating with my upcoming workshop, When + Where We Enter, we’ll shine the light on and look deeply into practices of Justice, Liberation + Healing.

March Practice Schedule

touching the earth | a reflection on zenju’s “Way-Seeking Mind of Martin Luther King Jr.”

As a Zen practitioner in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, my study of his teachings and personal history provided a surprising lesson about the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This gleaming insight into their relationship renewed my appreciation and broadened my understanding of King’s legacy as it elucidated the global impact of his compassionate mission. Several years ago, inspired by the “inter-being” between these two leaders as well as my own dharma as a Black American woman on this path of practice, I led my root sangha in the Touching the Earth prostrations to honor King and Thay as spiritual teachers.

Since then, my Monday evening Yin+Yang Yoga class has fallen on this national holiday. Each asana that brings our hearts closer to the earth (like these two favorites: Child’s Pose + Anahatasana) becomes a prostration, in which we fully embody the mindfulness practice of remembrance and reconciliation. We remember our origins and connections: to ancestors, by blood and spirit; to this Earth that sustains us and upon which our complex and interwoven histories have been built. We may began to penetrate the deep suffering emanating from our painful histories, which continue to manifest in new forms and to impact our experiences and abilities to relate to one another because of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, disability and a whole slew of “differences” that seem to separate us. Breath by compassion-filled breath, we may began to reconcile these histories as we acknowledge, cradle, and heal our own suffering. We give it back to this wondrous Earth to absorb and transform it, as from the mud blooms a lotus. In every class, I invite the practitioners to cultivate compassionate understanding of their bodies, minds and hearts through the alignment of breath and posture. Generating such mindfulness and loving awareness for ourselves teaches us how to skillfully extend compassion and loving-kindness to others.When we abide in mindfulness, our senses become clear and fully attuned to the spectrum of beauty and suffering in the world.  We acknowledge our own contribution to that stream–how our actions increase beauty or increase suffering. We make amends when we cause suffering and begin anew, watering seeds of compassion. Each heart-driven act–embodied on the mat, the cushion, among our beloveds and within our communities–commemorates the King’s legacy. On this path, as teacher and practitioner, I know I am a continuation of Dr. King.


[Originally posted 31 January 2013; Updated 20 January 2014]


Zenju Earthlyn Manuel |The Way-Seeking Mind of Martin Luther Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. | King’s Nobel Peace Prize Nomination Letter for Thich Nhat Hanh
Rev. Dr. Andrew C. Kennedy | Martin Luther King Jr. + Thich Nhat Hanh

[Broken links updated 16 January 2017]


on the danger of delusion + co-signing craziness


Requiem: Prelude, Coda, Encore 

This. Againa million hoodies, a million hearts: metta behind the movement for trayvon martin.

I didn’t know where to physically place this section in the body of this writing. An overlapping marker on the timestream — the beginning, the end, the looping back to repeat for impact and emphasis — it wasn’t a part of the original thought-piece (consciously, anyway).

Read it as you will: first, for a sneak peek; or last as a behind-the-scene bonus. Either way, I offer it as insight into process and synchronicity.

Eager though I was to get these pressing thoughts out of my head, there is something to be said for respecting intuition. For cultivating shamatha. Pausing, stepping away, and allowing things to simmer and deepen when you sense your work needs more time to stew (like any slow-cooked dish).  In those days between drafts, I got a ping-back notifying me that another site had linked to the piece I’d written four years ago. Turns out Baltimore + Beyond: Mindfulness Community had just added a million hoodies, a million hearts to its updated list of selected dharma readings to be shared at its activists and people of color gatherings. 

I had not read it since 2012 and was astonished that I could have just as easily written yesterday about James Means or Joe McKnight and all the others like Sandra Bland and Rekia Boyd whose names have become engraved upon our wailing hearts.

Understand then — yes, really dwell in the cries of despair and protest and the calls for action until clear comprehension prevails — why being here, stuck in this maniacal cycle is fucking tiresome. To exist in it and to constantly have to explain it to people who have not the ears to hear or hearts to feel. We are weary. But we are (getting) ready.

Cutting Through

We cannot afford to participate in the delusion
that we are absolutely powerless,
that change can happen without us,
that our fears are over-hyped,
that things will be alright,
that our right to protect our well-being
should take a backseat to playing nice
in the face of bigotry, violence, and injustice.
These times are too dangerous to co-sign craziness.
I cannot, will not, and unabashedly refuse do it.
And my loved ones, who hear me say this repeatedly, will attest that this is more than a favored turn-of-phrase.
Not co-signing craziness is at the heart of my commitment to the work of being a good spiritual friend!

This is the craziness that manifests as willful ignorance, denial, and delusion in our personal lives as well as in the world-at-large.

In our current state of crisis where cultural warfare is being waged against Otherness, it is the absurdity that refuses to see how quickly the vile rhetoric spewed throughout the campaign has become reality in the form of bold-faced white supremacists being appointed to key roles of leadership in the new (return-to-the-dark-ages) administration.

It is the problematic hushed-and-haloed spiritual and inspirational messaging (gaslighting wrapped in sanctimony), blanketly chiding the wounded:

to transcend anger because we’re bigger than that,
to not abandon or “throw away” folks who don’t regard humanity as we do,
to try to understand those who refuse to understand us,
to yield to our divine capacity for open-heartedness and forgiveness for they know not what they do…because they are suffering too,
to trust thin assurances that — guys, c’mon — it’s only class resentment.

Let’s get very clear:

Resentment is a near-enemy of hateResentment + Implicit Bias = A Gateway to the -Isms.

And through that narrow passage, it is a short walk to discrimination, bigotry, and the bartering of lives for the false promise of economic and job security from a racist, homophobic, misogynistic, xenophobe with no basic skills in decency and civility, let alone diplomacy.

Sorry, folks, platitudes and passivity cannot transform hate and delusion.

“And this deluded person, overcome by delusion, his mind possessed by delusion, kills living beings, takes what is not given, goes after another person’s wife, tells lies, and induces others to do likewise, all of which is for long-term harm & suffering.”

“Yes, lord.”
“So what do you think, Kalamas: Are these qualities skillful or unskillful?”
“Unskillful, lord.”
“Blameworthy or blameless?”
“Blameworthy, lord.”
“Criticized by the wise or praised by the wise?”
“Criticized by the wise, lord.”
“When adopted & carried out, do they lead to harm & to suffering, or not?”
“When adopted & carried out, they lead to harm & to suffering. That is how it appears to us.”

“So, as I said, Kalamas:
‘Don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, “This contemplative is our teacher.”

When you know for yourselves that, “These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering” — then you should abandon them.’
Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

“Now, Kalamas, don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This contemplative is our teacher.’

When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness’ — then you should enter & remain in them.

from the “Kalama Sutta: To the Kalamas” (AN 3.65),
translated from Pali by Thanissaro Bhikku

Now is the time to unburden ourselves. To release the fetters that bind us to a dysfunctional codependency on a corrupt system that has plotted for centuries to diminish our agency, deny our wholeness, and compromise our right to survive and thrive. To get clear. To get equipped. To get connected to good spiritual friends who are willing to leverage their privilege to aid and abet us as accomplices on the path to anti-oppression and liberation.


straight outta the dhamma:

In the foundational Buddhist tome, Visuddhimagga, the commentaries on the Divine Abodes (brahma-viharas) make reference to the “near” and “far” (or remote) enemies of these four esteemed virtues — love, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. Near enemies bear such close resemblance to the virtue itself that it is easy to miss the unskillful dimensions. On the other hand, far enemies are easily recognized as the opposite of the virtue. For example, pity can be seen as a near enemy of compassion and apathy its far enemy.

for more skillful understanding:

Implicit Bias

White Privilege, Resentment + Politics


healing wisdom: on the embodiment of peace

“For a number of years, I believed God would
finally and dramatically intervene on earth,
initiating a worldwide reign of peace and justice.

I no longer believe that.

My Quaker morality will not permit me to assign to God
the work of peace that rightly belongs to us…


Jesus and other great spiritual teachers
provide signposts pointing the way to peace,
but they do not magically speak it into being.”

~ Philip Gulley, Living the Quaker Way



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touching the earth: adopting a beloved park

Old Stomping Grounds, New Refuge

As a child growing up in this Southside neighborhood, I have a lot of memories playing and swimming at Moores Park.

In recent years, it has become a place of refuge where I’ve hosted free walking meditations at the labyrinth each spring and summer. This year, 3 Jewels Yoga has officially adopted Moores Park through the City of Lansing Park and Recreation’s Adopt-A-Park program!

On June 12, Sangha participated in our first mini “cushion-to-community clean-up” and will continue our efforts to maintain the beauty of this park and the labyrinth through the practice of environmental stewardship after every meditation.


Landmarks to the Labyrinth

The Labyrinth is nestled in the lawn just a few steps off the Lansing River Trail, where its path funnels in from the Beal Avenue parking lot. It is bordered by two black benches and, perched above on a hill to the south of it, is a Pavilion (which can be rented out for parties).

Trivia + other points of interest: The Grand River, Michigan’s longest river, runs along the northern perimeter of Moores Park. This segment of the river is intersected by the Moores Park Dam, which provides power to the city’s oldest power plant.  Also sitting across the riverbank is the GM car assembly plant.




abiding in light

We have not forgotten nor begun to recover from the massacre in Charleston on June 17, 2015. And here we are once again, nearly a year to the very day in a month that has become bloodied by another act of terror against people who were simply being themselves in what was thought to be a safe haven to celebrate, dance, laugh, connect with others.

With hearts heavy with sorrow, let us turn toward and abide in light to cast away this looming darkness. I bow deeply to dharma teacher Rev. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel for the healing wisdom she offers in this relentless cycle of violence and recent loss of 49 precious lives in Orlando.



For All Beings
excerpts from the chant written by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel

May all beings be cared for and loved,
Be listened to, understood and acknowledged despite different views,

Be accepted for who they are in this moment…
Be allowed to live without fear of having their lives taken away or their bodies violated.

…Be treated as if their life is precious,
Be held in the eyes of each other as family.

…Feel welcomed anywhere on the planet,
Be freed from acts of hatred and desperation including war, poverty, slavery, and street crimes,
Live on the planet, housed and protected from harm…

Read and share Zenju’s Chants Against Hatred.


#MarchMindfulness2016: The Power of Collective Energy

margaretmeadquoteLining Margaret Mead’s quote up alongside Thich Nhat Hanh’s, we can begin to understand our capacity as a spiritual community to multiply the compassion, skillful understanding, and authentic connection beyond the sacred time we spend together each week. Collectively, we carry this nurturing energy from the cushion into the community.


“The Sangha is made out of the work of individuals, so we have a duty to help create the energy of the Sangha.

Our presence, when it is mindful presence, contributes to that energy…

Don’t think that we sit for ourselves. You don’t sit for yourself alone, you sit for the whole Sangha–not only for the Sangha, but also for the people in your city, because when one person in the city is less angry, is smiling more, the whole city profits.

If we practice looking deeply, our understanding of interbeing will grow, and we will see that every smile, every step, every breath is for everybody. It is for our country, for the future, for our ancestors.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“Go As Sangha” in Friends on the Path


March Mindfulness 2016


It’s my fourth annual “call-to-action” to promote the practice of bringing skillful and compassionate awareness to how we engage, are impacted by, and then respond to the world around us.

March heralds the coming of Spring and, with it, a sense of renewal! Let us take a few moments to refresh our commitment to self-inquiry and spiritual self-care by tending to ourselves with loving awareness so that we may notice what moves, blooms, dissolves, transforms and even becomes reconciled within body, heart, mind, and relationships.‪


What can you do each day to foster
compassion, skillful understanding, authentic connection, inclusion, freedom, belonging?
No action is too small!


Submit stories + images to be featured on 3 Jewels Yoga’s site. Email:

Post them to 3 Jewels Yoga’s Facebook page with the hashtag #MarchMindfulness2016


On “Building A Community of Love” – bell hooks + Thich Nhat Hanh | Lion’s Roar

“…from childhood into adulthood we are often taught misguided and false assumptions about the nature of love. Perhaps the most common false assumption about love is that love means we will not be challenged or changed.”

Sixteen years and six days have passed since this conversation between bell hooks and Thich Nhat Hanh was published. It recently resurfaced in my social media network and incredibly — in ways both unfortunate and impressive — the message is so timely, it seems as if it was written today.

Thây and hooks have both figured prominently in my journey of spiritual awakening and self-understanding. Though I only held a cursory knowledge of their connection to one another, I am following the magical-mystical thread that connects us all (and merits its own reflection). This is the interbeing they speak of, what we Buddhists touch through our practice of looking and listen deeply in order to understand, to heal, to embrace, to love.

Read the full conversation on Lion’s Roar: Building A Community of Love

#WholyHappyHour [Sunday, 10/25]: “Holding Space” + Cultivating Skillful Communication

This Sunday at Heartdance Studio, we’ll continue our month-long discussion of “The Suchness of Sangha: Holding Space for Ourselves + One Another” by looking deeply into the practices of Loving Speech + Deep Listening as the grounds for building skillful understanding, trust, authenticity, compassion and accountability.


Nov 1st | 11 AM – 1:00 PM ~ Inviting Mindfulness: Reconciling with the Body at Just B Yoga.

Nov 8th | 11 AM – 12:30 PM ~ #WholyHappyHour: 3 Jewels Yoga Sangha at Heartdance Studio.

Nov 15th | 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM ~ Conscious + Fit: Building Body Awareness at Heartdance Studio.

Nov 22nd | 11 AM – 12:30 PM ~ #WholyHappyHour: 3 Jewels Yoga Sangha at Heartdance Studio.