Off the Grid to Journey Deep Within (January 10-February 12, 2017)

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People frequently ask me how I do the trauma specific work that I do in the world.  There are two specific unwavering and non-negotiable supports that literally enable me to do this work: therapy and vipassana meditation

Since 1992, one of my continuous core sources of support has been Dr. Clara Whaley-Perkins who is a licensed clinical Black feminist psychologist, author, and the founding executive director of the Life After Trauma Organization. Over the past two decades I've been able to journey far and deep within the sacred confines of Dr. Whaley-Perkins' office. 

Additionally, I've been a student of and practitioner of the teachings of Buddha through Vipassana Meditation, as taught by S.N. Goenka in the tradition of Sayagi U Ba Khin since I completed my first ten-day vipassana mediation course in January 2003.  My first ten-day course was a transformational experience. I experienced this universal, non-sectarian technique/practice to be one (not the only) way to lead to one's own personal liberation.

Since my first vipassana meditation course course, I’ve had the opportunity to sit and/or serve courses every single year.  I've also worked diligently to establish a practice of sitting everyday, twice a day, for an hour at each sitting. This was not, and at times, it is still not an easy feat for me at all. However through lived experiences over the fourteen years since my first ten-day course, I’m learning that my daily practice of sitting must be non-negotiable. As one cleanses their body daily, I experientially learn that one must work diligently and consistently to purify the mind. A daily two-hour practice sometimes barely cleans the surface, let alone the depths.

#LoveWITHAccountability is a deeper continuation of the work that I began with my film NO! The Rape Documentary. It is also a product of the tools that I learned through my work with Dr. Whaley-Perkins and my practice of vipassana meditation. I talk about this in my interview on The Spin with my mother Dr. Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons and producer/host Esther Armah. I do not believe the concept for #LoveWITHAccountability would exist were it not for the consistently hardcore work that I've been doing since both 1992 when I first entered Dr. Whaley-Perkins' office and 2002 when I sat my first vipassana course. 

Therapy and vipassana meditation are integral components of my work. They are not separate from the work and should not be viewed as extra-curricular activities. My work would not exist without either one of them. 

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From January 10, 2017 through February 12, 2017, I will be off of the grid completely to sit a 30-day vipassana meditation course. This will be my second 30-day course. I took my first 30-day course in 2013. I am unwavering in my belief that my work during my first 30-day course gave me the final push that I needed to tackle my own child sexual abuse work with my family. 

To be clear, vipassana courses are not vacations, not by a long shot. They offer an in-depth period of time to do a compassionately rigorous self-examination that begins at 4:30am and ends at 9:00pm every single day. This work (including during rest periods and when one retires for the evening) is done without any contact with the outside world including: no reading, no talking, no music, no writing, no chanting, and/or no food after noon – unless you’re pregnant, diabetic, hypoglycemic or other special reasons. It is through this deep meditative work that I work diligently to emerge with more compassion and insight about myself and by extension my work in the world.

Ever since the early morning of November 9, 2016, I have vacillated about whether or not to cancel my participation in this 30-day course so that I could bear witness to this painful inauguration and participate in protests in response to it. I decided to move forward with my plans that were confirmed in August 2016. These struggles will continue and my affirmation is that I will be able to engage in them with more insight, compassion, and mettā.  

May All Beings Be Happy.