As much as work on social systems change and equity are important, too often, we neglect the “inner dimensions” of our own healing and well-being. These inner dimensions (and our attention or inattention to them) shape who we are and what we bring to every engagement and activity in our lives. How present (or not present) we are; our degree of clarity, receptivity, flexibility and openness; our resilience; our creativity and our dynamism; our compassion for ourselves, one another and the earth, etc.; is all profoundly shaped by our internal state of awareness, and the health of our physiological, energetic/emotional, and cognitive selves.
Many draw on training and support from a number of arenas: meditation; yoga, tai chi, other martial arts and physical practices; breathwork, grounding and centering practices; various somatic fields; mindfulness and compassion training; spiritualism; mantra, sacred song and call-and-response; mudra, sacred dance and movement; visionary experience; engagement with the natural elements; and formal training and initiation in sacred traditions such as Buddhism, Christianity, Sufism, Judaism, and African, Latin American and Native, indigenous traditions from around the world.
My work in these areas draws on my experience as a practitioner and priest in Lucumi, an African-based spiritual tradition (from the Yoruba people) for over 20 years; a two-decade practice and ngakma ordination in yogic (non-monastic), Tibetan Buddhist Vajrayana (Nyingma lineage); authorization to share methods based in Bön Buddhist Dzogchen; experience in Christian seminary; and work with individuals and communities on social systems change, peace, justice, equity and the role of deep listening, wellness, kindness, healing and authentic compassion in our ability to transform the world. (See the Tree of Contemplative Practices from the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society for examples. See also the Hidden Leaf Foundation’s Awareness Practices for Social Change resources.)
I provide: individual spiritual coaching, life coaching and mentoring; presentations and public speaking on the intersection of inner work and social systems change; writing; and design of field-building strategies and co-convening of gatherings with change agents across roles, backgrounds and institutions to vision, link, learn and transform ourselves and our collective life.
I have recently been working with Sheryl on the intersection between contemplative practices and social justice in education but it seems we've known each other for a much longer time. Sheryl is an incredible combination of warm, open and joyous along with brilliant, analytical and insightful. It doesn't get better than that in a colleague!"
— Rona Wilensky, PhD, Director of Mindfulness Programs, PassageWorks Institute, Boulder, CO; Founding Principal, New Vista High School
NPQ (Non-Profit Quarterly) article: "Toward Love, Healing, Resilience & Alignment: The Inner Work of Social Transformation & Justice." Co-Authored with Kristen Zimmerman and Mark Leach. May 2017.
The Initiative for Contemplation, Equity & Action (ICEA) Journal, Editor: "Social Justice, Inner Work & Contemplative Practice: Lessons & Directions for Multiple Fields" July 2017. Born out of a keen sense of separation between the social justice and contemplative practice fields, ICEA is led by a team from 8 national organizations and focuses on creating intentional field-building structures for multi-identitied communities (across sectors, geographies, grassroots and grasstops), to support the thoughtful integration of these two streams of essential work. Our work includes creating bridge-building forums and network development; pathways for training and tools; and publications to promote vision, voice and visibility.
Pomona College (CA). Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization conference. Invited Presentation on the relationship between integrative, transformative, ecological values; institutional and field change in higher education; and contemplative practice. June 2015.
Garrison Institute (NY), Symposium Design Committee, “Healing Ourselves, Our Schools & Our Communities: Equity, Contemplative Education and Transformation” May 2015.
"Mindfulness for Social Transformation." Keynote Presentation. Bridging Hearts & Minds of Youth Conference. Hosted by the University of California, San Diego, Center For Mindfulness and Center For Integrative Medicine. San Diego, CA. February 2015.
Movement Strategy Center “Transitions Lab” participant – national, cross-sector, reflection, contemplation and strategy sessions focusing on “How do we transition from a world organized around domination and extraction to a world organized towards resilience, regeneration, and interdependence?” 2014-2015.
A Tale of Two Movements: Why Contemplative and Transformative Education Need Each Other. Design Committee Member and Pre-Conference Closing Joint Keynote with Arthur Zajonc. Mind & Life Institute. International Symposium for Contemplative Studies (ISCS). October 2014.