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"The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house." Audre Lorde 

Dear Ones,

This month's newsletter is for Black Folx. 
Dear White Friends, do keep reading, there's definitely some stuff in here for you as well! 
But what I have needed explicitly in these last few weeks, are places to be with other Black Folks;  to mourn with, to rest with, to march with, to cry with,  and most importantly, to laugh with. 

As a Queer / Black / Woman, I am triple marginalized in some ways in this country;  and in other ways (and the way I like to view myself), I am a triple threat...like an EGOT, in human form. 
So yes, I am strong and gentle, empowered and resilient.
But this resiliency, this capacity to recover quickly from hardship, comes from living in a country that has US so damn vulnerable. 

Vulnerable that we won't be believed, and therefore mis-diagnosed when we go to the doctor, leading to greater illness or even death. 
Vulnerable that police can legally break down our door in the middle of the night, without warrant or identifying themselves, and shoot our partners 8 times.  I am speaking in the collective, Dear Ones, because we belong to each other.  The survival of Black folks in this country...of Queer folks, women, immigrants....and all other vulnerable groups, did not happen by chance.  It happened because we protected, and looked out for each other. 

This is not the time to stop or to turn away. 

 

As most of you know (and as you will see from the rest of this newsletter!), I love seeking wisdom and counsel from elders.  It's one of the beautiful things I've learned how to do through my meditation practice. So I loved when I caught an episode of Iconoclasts several years ago, with Dave Chappelle.  After years of being on sabbatical, he sits down with an elder for advice about the anger he was still feeling in his body.  That elder, was the great Maya Angelou.  He asked her how she continued to create beautiful art through her words during the Civil Rights movement, when so many of her Brothers had been murdered. This is what she said:


“If you’re not angry, you’re either a stone …or you’re too sick to be angry.  You should be angry! Now mind you, there’s a difference. You must not be bitter, and let me show you why: Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host; it doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure.”  So use that anger, yes. You write it, you paint it, you dance it, you march it, you vote it, you do everything about it…, you talk it, never stop talking it.” `
               
 ~ Maya Angelou in conversation with Dave Chappelle

If you hadn't heard yet, or if you're still confused or doubting...YES, Black Lives absolutely Matter! And they need to be protected, counted, bailed out, respected, resourced, healed and financed!  Here are a few ways to get in on it: 
Minnesota Freedom Fund supports protestors by paying bail and offering legal services
Give to the global or your local Black Lives Matter chapter 
FREE 5 Day Racialized Trauma Home Study Course with Resmaa Menakem 
Learn How to Register to Vote
Find your Local Elections Site 
Healing The Racial Water: A Virtual Half Day With Dr. Robin DiAngelo
Reparative Community Consultation For White People With Resmaa Menakem
Free At Last: Identifying Our Suffering Around Race
with DaRa Williams and Karen Williams
Saturday, June 6th, 2020 | 10:00am – 4:30pm 
Online | NYInsight
**Dear White Friends, please consider offering this retreat to a Friend who could really use this space right now.  Thank you. 

In this online workshop we will create connection and build sangha in order to explore our individual and group level relationships to systems of oppression, e.g., race, immigration, gender, class, etc. We will devote time to better understand how we can integrate wisdom from the Dharma with contemplative practice to find freedom from pain and suffering. We will do this through engaging with small groups, dyadic exercises and other experiential activities. By reflecting on liberatory teachings we will develop skillful ways of responding to the dissatisfaction, discontents, and disappointments we experience as People of Color.

This program is open to all self-identified People of Color. Beginners to advanced practitioners are welcome.

Please register at the highest level that your generosity offers.

 

Fierce Love, Fierce Change in the Time of COVID-19
Gina Sharpe
June 7th & June 21st, 2020 | 10:00-11:30am EST

My Dear Teacher and New York Insight’s beloved Co-Founder, Gina Sharpe returns to lead a series of online Sunday sittings, sharing observations about how COVID-19 has demanded of us fierce love and fierce change. In each session, she will offer a guided meditation, her reflections and time for questions and discussion.

Knowing these are difficult times, we are especially and poignantly grateful for your financial support. 
Gina will be graciously donating these teachings. Honoring such generosity with your own is an act of abundant faith in the refuge and steadfastness of sangha, and we thank you for joining and supporting us to maintain and extend our reach to all who can benefit from these teachings.

Drop in for any or all sessions. 

Tuesday Dharma Gathering
Tuesday, June 9th 2020 | 7:00 - 9:00pm
Online | NYInsight 


Folks, I'm not going to lie to you....I have no idea what my offering will be on Tuesday night!
I know that it will probably be about grief / joy / rage / and dropping into the felt sense of the body to experience them all.  It will not be about your individual liberation, but will point to our collective freedom. 

Many have said to me that they do not need Sangha. My response has been, “Then where will you go when you begin to experience liberation? Who will know the journey you have taken and your vow to be awake?     ~ Rev. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel 

The Tuesday Dharma Gathering provides an introduction to Insight Meditation, as well as an opportunity to meditate in a supportive environment. These teacher-led gatherings offer the opportunity to meet teachers, hear a dharma talk, and participate in a dialogue about how to apply the principles of Buddhist meditation to our daily lives.

Black Wellness in the Era of COVID-19:
A Retreat for and with Black People
A virtual retreat with Ruth King and Kamilah Majied
Sunday, June 7th | 3:00 – 5:00 pmEST


**Dear White Friends, please consider reading Ruth King's book Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out.  


We are painfully living through what the emerging data confirm: that Black people are dying at disproportionate rates and experiencing more negative economic, legal, health and safety consequences due to COVID-19. It is time that we gather as Black practitioners, educators, artists, activists, and leaders and share the wisdom of our beautiful collective community.

We invite you, our beloved Black community, who do so much holding, caring, and leading, into a space of learning about how meditative practices can help us awaken to and sustain our physical, emotional, social, and communal wellness. 

There is no fee to participate in this retreat.
Dear Friends, if you wish, you may make gifts directly to the retreat leaders Ruth King (donate button can be found on the bottom of Ruth’s home page) and Kamilah Majied (via PayPal, Venmo or CashApp at her email address kamilahmajied@yahoo.com).

My Upcoming 4 Week Course 
Exploring the Paramis as a Practice of Liberation
Thursdays June 18th - July 9th, 2020 | 6 - 7:30pmEST 
Online | New York Insight 
*Please reach out to NYI for the Discount Code for POC | LGBTQI+ 


The 10 paramis are qualities or states of heart and mind that lead the way to liberation.  As antidotes to some of our biggest mental obstacles, they work together, enabling us to deal with everything that life throws at us — they are some of most useful Buddhist teachings for bringing the path of awakening into everyday life. We’ll be exploring these 10 perfections through study, discussion, leaning on the wisdom of the body, and formal meditation practice.

Join Booker for a 4 part online course exploring these qualities so that we can realize our full potential, bringing the highest benefit to ourselves and others.


The Fierce Vulnerability of Heart Practice: A New Look at the Brahma - viharas 
Sunday, July 12th | 10 - 5pmEST 
Online | New York Insight 
*Please reach out to NYI for the Discount Code for POC | LGBTQI+ 

 

The brahmaviharas, or “divine abodes”, are some of the Buddha’s primary heart-teachings. These qualities of the heart are: metta (loving kindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (joy), and upekkha (equanimity). They are sometimes referred to as the “levelers of social barriers” as they provide the remedy to social conflict and the balm for the wounds brought on by systems of harm and oppression. To explore heart practices during these times takes a fierce vulnerability; the ability to consider joy and to keep an open heart in the face of sickness and death, and to protect the heart and mind from being colonized by the three poisons of greed, hatred and delusion.

This daylong will be a way to explore how we can cultivate these states of heart and mind in our own personal practice – giving us the opportunity to live with more ease as we move through this world.

Needing a Bit of Support Right Now?
MNDFL Mentoring is Back!


This is not the time to navigate these waters alone, Dear One. 
MNDFL Mentoring is an opportunity for folks to work with me directly to support them in deepening their mindfulness-based practice, and to support during these uncertain times. Mentoring manifests differently with everyone I work with, so schedule a 15 minute Chemistry Call, and we’ll see if we’re a good fit.  I'm looking forward to holding and guiding you in your practice. 
Connecting with Communities
A few times a month, I have the great honor of (now virtually), stepping into the worlds of different industries and institutions to offer a keynote address, a workshop, a training.  I always learn something new, and sometimes I get to really be held. It's such a beautiful reminder of our shared need to be seen, heard and our experiences reflected back to us.  Here are some folks I got to spend time with last month. 
None of us can do this alone.  Not one of us.  I'm held by many elders, Dear Friends and my lovely honey, Cristina. This year, I'm also held by an incredible cohort of Black Womxn as a Sojournor Truth Leadership Circle Fellow through Auburn Seminary.  They are dedicated to equipping leaders of faith to live out self - care as a mandate to prophetic ministry. PREACH! 
Last month I mentioned my total professional crush on social workers. Running a close second, are NYC public school teachers! The past few years I've had the immense honor and pleasure of offering workshops to the Peace Corps Jaffe Fellows at Teacher's College at Columbia University. Usually it's about mindfulness, trauma and how to create and hold culturally responsive spaces. This year, I find myself teaching them how take a sacred pause for their own self - preservation, and how to love their kids.
visit LeslieBooker.com for more info!
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Our mailing address is:
Leslie Booker
PO Box 132
New York, New York 10031

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