Our final training in 2015 is right around the corner! We're coming to Ojai, CA, Dec 3-6 for our Leadership Training Intensive on Social Justice & Community-Building. We revamped this 4-day retreat-style intensive, making it more of an introductory training on social justice issues & effective activism. Read on to learn why Hala and Tessa (who will again be joining us this year) are jazzed about this training, what you can expect, and who we've designed it for...
OTM: Tessa, as both a co-designer and co-leader of this training, who do you think this training is geared towards? Who would benefit most?
Tessa: This training is for all those who wish to make a difference in the world and who are seeking tools, knowledge, community, and personal growth that can aid in doing so effectively. Raising consciousness about social justice is crucial in order to understand where/how we each might play into the injustices that exist in the world and where/how we each can intervene, prevent, and transform these injustices. This training is especially for those interested in taking their personal practice of yoga or community service to another level in order to enact social change and critical community engagement.
OTM: So, does someone need to be a seasoned activist or social change leader to attend this training? Or could this training be an introduction for someone who is maybe just starting off in social justice and is interested in expanding his or her knowledge and understanding? - a way to gain tools and greater confidence in the concept and practice of social justice.
Hala: Yes! I think that often people shy away from talking about issues of inequality, racism, sexism, etc. because it can be scary. We worry that we’re going to offend someone or say the wrong thing. Some people have the privilege to stay away from this conversation because they don’t feel that their lives are directly impacted by inequality. Others don’t have that same opportunity. And it’s true: conversations about social justice can get very heated, and even ugly. But what's so exciting about a training like this one, that brings yoga and mindfulness into the experience, is that we are cultivating embodied tools to be able to have the difficult conversation in a grounded and non-reactive way.
OTM: So how does this relate to yoga? Are social justice and yoga mutually-beneficial? Why does OTM offer a training that includes both at the same time?
Tessa: Both social justice and yoga operate on the premise that we are caught in a false perception of duality when in fact we are all interconnected. Yet, while we are spiritually one, we are not all the same. The ideal of "oneness" can sometimes obscure the reality that real inequality and oppression occur at the intersections of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and religion that implicate each of us in the perpetuation of dualities that exist in our world today. Learning how to reflect candidly about ourselves and the world, transform personally amidst discomfort, push ourselves to our edge and find our breath there, negotiate not-knowing and difference with compassion, patience and grace-- these are the lessons we must confront both in our yoga practice and social justice education.
When we confront our lessons with humility, mindfulness and honesty, we learn to see duality of self and other as something we must dissolve while recognizing the realities of pain and injustice that have resulted from the divisions imposed in society. We can take personal responsibility for dissolving these tensions in our own mind-bodies-spirits as well as the communities we are a part of. We can recognize our social responsibility to Martin Luther King's charge that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" and use the tools of mindfulness and yoga to making tangible and lasting peace within and with community.
OTM: Love that quote! That illustrates a fantastic reason for someone who is interested in community engagement to attend this training, right?
Tessa: Definitely. Anyone interested in advocating for or directly making small or big changes in the world around them must think through the critical approaches to community engagement that ensure that individual participation is carried out ethically, respectfully, with integrity and with purpose. Understanding the structural, political, economic, environmental, social, cultural and personal causes that have led to the inequity and injustice that exist in our world today will not only broaden our scope of knowledge and personal awareness but will allow us to more effectively tackle big issues through tangible strategies in the communities near and far from us.
OTM: Beautifully put. We feel so fortunate to have you, Jacoby Ballard, and Leslie Booker as co-facilitators again at this year's training along with Hala, Seane, and Suzanne. Now that's one powerful collective of leaders!
Hala: One of the things that all of our co-facilitators bring to this training is beautiful role-modeling in being authentic and real with what they feel, while being both compassionate and curious about others’ experiences. Last year’s training was so powerful, in a huge part due to our amazing faculty, which included Tessa, Jacoby, and Leslie. Each of them modeled such wisdom and grace in their own way.
I’m excited to have our students spend time with them and see how it’s possible to engage in these touchy dialogues in a grounded, honest, and self-responsible way.
Interested in attending this Leadership Training in Ojai?
Get more info and register HERE!