Begin With Your Body: Dharma Practice and Racialized Trauma

Thursday, November 12, 2020, 7:00 pm

This offering is a collaboration between Common Ground Meditation Center and Clouds in Water Zen Center.

For registrations received after November 10, detailed information will be sent before Thursday, November 12

Connecting with our bodies is critically important for our work in the arena of social and racial justice. It is equally important to connect with our bodies in the practice of the Dharma. During our time together, we will engage deeply with meditation while inviting ourselves to awaken to the racialized trauma in our own bodies. Only when we wake up to our suffering can we allow it to be transformed. Only when we connect with our own bodies can we truly access compassion for others. 

Affinity Groups

After receiving some feedback during and after our introductory session on November 5, and with careful consideration on the part of the facilitators, we are making the following changes:

Small Groups

Small groups of 5 – 6 people will meet in the weeks that the large/facilitated group does not meet. We will set these up by next month, and the groups will begin by January if not sooner. Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) will have the opportunity to meet in racial affinity groups. The composition of these groups will depend on how many BIPOC ultimately register. White people will be assigned to small groups, more or less randomly. 

While we said in the introductory session that we would allow those already in white racial affinity groups to stay in their already formed groups for this class, or to request people that they wanted to be in their groups, we have now decided that we will not be doing this. The main reason for the change is that we feel strongly that this is an opportunity for white folks in particular to lean into being uncomfortable and do the hard work of healing racialized trauma. We believe that the grounding body exercises provided in Resmaa’s book, along with our meditation and dharma teachings, will help provide a framework of just enough comfort so that you can do this difficult, uncomfortable work.

Breakout Groups during the Large Group (Facilitated) Sessions:

Most large group sessions will include some smaller breakout groups. These will be mostly random, except:For BIPOC who wish to be in BIPOC-only, or majority BIPOC breakout sessions, we will find a way to make these arrangements.

The large group will meet on Thursdays, November 12 and 19, December 10 and 17, and then meet every other Thursday from January 7th until May 13. Meeting time is 7 – 8:30 pm central time. All meetings will be via Zoom. Participants will also be part of racial affinity groups of 6-8 people. These groups will be expected to meet on the weeks when the large group isn’t meeting.


We will use the book, My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem, as our main text. The facilitators will use supplemental teachings and practices from Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love and Liberation by Jasmine Syedullah, Lama Rod Owens, and angel Kyodo Williams, and the Satipatthana Sutta. 

If possible, Please order My Grandmother’s Hands ahead of time and read the introductory sections (Do Not Cross This Line, Watch Your Body, Acknowledging Our Ancestors, and Our Bodies, Our Country before the November 12th session.

About the facilitators:

Sosan Flynn is guiding teacher at Clouds in Water Zen Center. She serves as facilitator of the Dismantling Whiteness group at Clouds and as a member of our Race, Love and Liberation LAB (the group that plans programming by and for people of color). She is a former member of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access committee of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association (SZBA) national board and currently serves as a board member of the SZBA. She is white.

Chee Xiong (he/him/they) grounds his practice in intergenerational trauma and healing justice work. He is a member of the BIPOC Meditation Collective. Chee previously served on the Race, Love, & Liberation Laboratory at Clouds and the People of Color Leadership Council at Common Ground Meditation Center. He is of Hmong descent and was raised in the river valley of the Gichi-Ziibi/Wakpa Tanka.

Pamela Ayo Yetunde is a Buddhist practitioner, Zen student, and pastoral counselor.  She is the co-founder of Center of the Heart and co-editor or Black and Buddhist: What Buddhism Can Teach Us About Race, Resilience, Transformation and Freedom.

Mark Nunberg began his practice in 1982 and has been teaching meditation since 1990. He co-founded Common Ground Meditation Center in Minneapolis in 1993 with Wynn Fricke and continues to serve as the center’s Guiding Teacher. Mark continues to be a grateful student of Buddhist practice. He is white.

Shelly Graf has been practicing at Common Ground since 2003. They are currently being trained by Insight Meditation Society as part of the four-year teacher training program. Professionally, Shelly has been a clinician and administrator in the Social Work and mental health fields since 2005. They have a special interest in waking up to whiteness as part of this total path of awakening. 

Stacy McClendon has been a Common Ground community member since 2006. She now serves as the Chair of Common Ground’s Board of Directors and on our Advisory Committee on matters of equity and accessibility. She is a graduate of Common Ground’s Dharma Leadership Training, and has been supported and encouraged by Guiding Teacher Mark Nunberg to teach locally, including the POC sangha at CG which she co-founded, co-leading retreats for people of color, community based offerings, and as part of the teaching team for our Living the Practice workshops.

Devin Berry has been meditating for over 20 years. His practice is primarily informed by the classical teachings of early Buddhism and the Insight Meditation tradition. He has undertaken many periods of silent long-term retreat practice. Devin completed the Dedicated Practitioners Program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, where he is a visiting teacher. He is currently in the 2017-2021 Insight Meditation Society Teacher Training Program. Devin served as a core leader with San Francisco POC Insight Sangha. He is a community teacher at East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, CA where he co-founded the teen sangha and the Men of Color sangha. 

A native of El Salvador, Nils Heymann started meditating at the age of 16. He made a commitment to be a monk for seven years and lived in monasteries in England, New Zealand and Italy. He helped translate talks by Ajahn Chah into Spanish and has given talks in a variety of venues including The East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland. The first discourse of the Buddha is the framework by which he lives his life. He currently teaches art to a bunch of beautiful urban high schoolers.  Nils is a member of the Alphabet Brothers of Color Deep Refuge Group. 

Kyoko Katayama, a psychotherapist for over 30 years, has made an intention and practice of integrating her spiritual life, her professional work, and personal experiences towards ease and integrity in all that she does. She has been a student of dharma, practicing at Common Ground since 1999. She has completed a two-year study and practice on Satipatthana (The Foundations of Mindfulness) with Matthew Flickstein.

Gabe Keller Flores is Common Ground’s Office Manager and serves on the Board of Directors. He is a dedicated dharma practitioner, having spent about one year of his life doing intensive retreat practice. He’s been practicing at Common Ground since 2008, and his appreciation for the dharma continues to deepen. He approaches teaching as an opportunity to practice honest and compassionate reflection on current inquiries, insights, and challenges in his practice.

Additional guest speakers may also be invited.

This class is offered on a “pay-what-you-can” basis. When considering what to pay, we ask you to be mindful that this is an 8-month seminar class that will meet weekly with three instructors and a number of guest speakers. The value of this class is estimated at $650. If you would like to pay in installments, please go ahead and make your first installment and write a comment with your payment indicating your plans. (Note: a  minimum payment of $1 is needed to activate online registration.)


Click here for registration link.

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