To See and Be Seen: Building on Understanding and Compassion

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What happens when we take 10 minutes to deeply gaze into another person’s eyes without saying a word?

“This sounds so intense, I don’t if I can do it.”

“WOW! Yes, count me in.”

“This is so weird, why are you asking me to do it?”

I kindly asked people to step out of their comfort zones and get real. Although there are risks to this exercise, I think it’s a great opportunity to take a closer look at how we see ourselves, how we see others and what it feels to be seen. Our biases and judgments stem from past experience but also from not truly seeing what’s in front of us in the present moment. The question that got me going was: What would happen if we take some conscious time to sit and see? 

Initially, I was interested in the topic of gender inequality and how my married friends in Mexico perceive themselves as a wife or husband. In the process, although I gathered interesting data, which I will share in a later post, I thought it would be compelling to ask them to do something they may have never done before: Five or ten minutes of deep gaze either at themselves in the mirror, or with a partner, paying attention to the thoughts and feelings that arise, for the purpose of taking a moment to become fully present. 

Take a close look at some of the responses and the pictures they shared:

“German is always making eye contact, but I always turn away, I don’t know why, so when we first began the activity he said: ‘Finally I will be able to see you intensely.’ He said that for the most part, he was thinking how excited he was that he could see me for such a long time. Then he started thinking: ‘What if I am not able to be here tomorrow? What if this is the last time I see her?”

“As for me, I was laughing at first, then felt overwhelmed with one thought: ‘Wow! I love him so much’. Then I noticed how he was analyzing me and I just enjoyed how he was looking at me. I also remembered that when we were dating we used to gaze at each other and say that we could be sitting there quiet, looking into each other’s eyes and deeply enjoy each other’s company. We really liked doing that, and it was cool to remember that. Then I thought what would happen if I don’t ever see him again? I said to myself: ‘Enjoy his eyes, his presence and the way he is looking at you because you don’t know what will happen tomorrow.’” – Christian

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“I did it with a very close friend of mine. We sat down, set our timer for 10 minutes and began. At the beginning we were laughing, I was thinking that this is awkward, and I could tell we both felt embarrassed, feeling like we were a bit nuts. After a while I started to remember when we were roommates, and we both started work at 7 AM, and at 6:50 I would go into her room and ask if she was going to go to work because she was still in bed, then she would frantically get up and go.

After the alarm went off, we reflected on our friendship, how long it’s been since we know each other and funny memories we’ve had together. Then I wondered what it would be like if I do this activity with my husband? It was easy to do it with my friend because we trust each other and we know that we each care for the other, but what if I did it with someone who I don’t really like, such as a lady at work whom I see every day? She is always negative and complaining. It would be interesting to do this exercise with her.” – Amanda

Amandan

 

“It was very difficult to keep eye contact with myself. Much harder than doing it with another person, I think. I had never done that before in my life. I was very critical and demanding of myself. I went through my whole life during those ten minutes. As I was evaluating myself I realized everything I have gone through, how everything has shaped me and felt very satisfied with who I am and what I have. Obviously, I cried. It was a combination of sadness because I thought of my dad, and joy because I see my daughters. In 42 years I have gone through many stages, physical and emotional, but ultimately there is peace and reconciliation.” – Diana 

Diana

 

“This was a very different experience. It was like talking to myself without words, just through my eyes. I felt like I understood everything that I have gone through, and the person behind the mirror perfectly understood everything as well, without any judgments. It was a very intimate moment with myself. There was a time when I felt that the person looking at me was somebody else who knew me perfectly. I even felt like the person behind the mirror was the one looking at me. I thought it was going to be difficult to do it for that long, but the 10 minutes went through very fast. Maybe I’ll try it with my wife.” – Alfredo

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“This exercise was very powerful and interesting. I felt no fear in letting you in. I said to myself: ‘I open my eyes, the door to my soul so you can penetrate into me. You already know me, but I allow you to know me even more. I don’t hide who I am, here I am, I allow you to truly see me, see everything there is, everything that I am.’ During the exercise, I could see the path of light that we have walked together. That is really how it has been for us. The light is there, and it will be there forever. I thought how proud I am of you, grateful for who you are. I support you with everything you do in life, and even though there are ups and downs, I know that your soul, your energy, and strength will always elevate you above any difficulties. Oh, how I love you.” – Ana (my mom)

“As I was looking into your eyes, for the first time in my life I saw you as a woman, not as my mom, but as a successful woman with achievements, goals, and a life already made. I felt a deep admiration for the woman that you are. After a while I realized that this exact moment will never repeat itself, it was a unique and very special moment I wanted to savor as much as possible. I saw myself in the far future when you are no longer here, and wishing I could see you and be with you fully. So here we were, both present in this moment. I repeated to myself: “here…love…”. I then felt like a baby, seeing the most stimulating thing there is, a human’s face. Then it hit me that you were the first face and set of astonishing eyes that I ever saw. I felt how much I had learned about human interactions and the world, just by looking through your eyes. I began to tell you in my mind: “I love you, I am infinitely grateful for you”. Then I thought that you might have been communicating messages to me, so I focused on deep listening. Resting in your presence.” – Me

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Eye contact and gaze are the most important nonverbal actions that we take to connect with another person. It is the first connection a mother has with their child, and the first interaction that child has with another person. It may have seemed somewhat of a challenge or even easy for some to see their partners or themselves closely, but what would happen when we decide to see a person who has offended us in some way? Despite our feelings about them, they too have hopes, dreams, fears, and weaknesses. Would we be able to see beyond our triggers and apply curiosity and understanding?

This was the closest I got to give it a try:

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Martin, my boyfriend, as Kim Jong Un, Dictator and “Supreme Leader” of North Korea. (Don’t worry, his hair is back to normal!)

In a world where we communicate through screens more often than face to face,  looking into our own or another person’s eyes can be refreshing, and even transformative. When there is no opportunity to edit our message, we are exposed to vulnerability and raw emotions, which may feel uncomfortable, but are necessary in order to cleanse and decolonize our mind. What’s comforting is that we can all relate to those uneasy feelings, no matter where we come from, and as we sit with curiosity and softness, we may have the potential to reach acceptance, and understanding within ourselves. 

Catching someone’s attention, engaging in conversation and having meaningful interactions is what we are naturally designed to do. Whether we’ve had destructive experiences which might have made us too cautious to engage, human interaction along with self-awareness is what reminds us that we belong, that we are a part of this world. 

Now I challenge you to join in on this practice of radical compassion. Let yourself see and be seen. Just being, noticing the judgments and expectations as you see, and reminding yourself that it’s not about changing who we are or how other people are, but to affirm what is, with an open heart.  

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Popular Education Towards a Conscious and Collaborative Society

Community Collaboration

I believe that Popular Education is a strategy that should be getting much more attention when building academic models and organizing for social change. Similar to Paul Freire’s philosophy, Dara Frimmer, in her talk reminds us that story telling is how we connect best to create allies and positive social change. Sharing stories connects us and our listeners to our emotions, helps us find common ground and build accountability for change. For example, which one of these two statements are you most likely to be interested in and support?

A) “When a child is born, their brain still has a few more years to finish its development. Meaning that their environment dramatically shapes the way their brain develops at a fundamental level. For example, if a baby was abused and neglected, later on in their adult life they may feel uncomfortable with intimacy, may have a hard time keeping relationships, and may not even know why. As a society we must commit to give our children love, care and plenty of attention, in order to build a happy, healthy and productive society. Will you join me?”

B) “When I was four years old my parents got divorced, and my dad got re-married within that same year. My mom was overly stressed, with virtually no help from my dad, as he later got into substance abuse and trouble with the law. One might think that I grew up hating my father for what he did, but that was not the case. I remember my dad as a charismatic man with lots of love to give. He clearly had his weak spots, but we all have them to some degree.

You might have assumed that when my dad remarried, my mom was angry and bitter and obviously passed that on to me. However, when he got married she said to me, in a very excited tone of voice: ‘Sasha, guess who got married? Your dad! Isn’t that funny? That’s so wonderful right?’ Naturally, I mirrored her response and I was happy for my dad too, even though that might have been a very difficult thing for my mom to do. I never learned to averse my dad. From early on, I began to understand that people have their own hopes, dreams, and desires, just like me, and I could respect that.

What concerns me is that I often see parents and caregivers pass on their anger to children, and without knowing, they are shaping the way their child sees relationships, the world around them and experience their mental health. I believe that every person has a right to a safe start in order to develop their full potential. Would you join me in sharing love, care and respect for the children in your community?”

Hopefully the second option touched your heart and would make you more likely to support my campaign. If it did, I think this is exactly why Popular Education and the power of story telling may be a useful strategy when tackling oppression. Stories convey emotions and open the hearts of people. Once that’s done people may feel more related to each other, and as a facilitator we can promote critical consciousness so people would tap into their own motivations to work towards a better society.

From an Interpersonal Practice perspective Popular Education can be used while sitting together with a family working through their differences, with an individual alone – emphasizing that the social worker and the client are both equal and work in collaboration, and also with our colleagues in order to build strong commitments for positive change.

As a Community Organizer, the opportunities to use Popular Education are endless. Just like Dara suggests in her TED talk, what if instead of sending mass emails about community events, with little conversion rates, we would take a few minutes to call or meet face to face with every person in our list, to share who we are, what we care about, and inspire them to share their story? Probably more people would come to our events.

Although I have kept some of these values in mind while facilitating parenting classes, running support groups for years, and even as a certified Strengths Coach, I acknowledge the never ending learning process towards developing the skills and the sensitivity that would enable me to create a safe place for people to connect and hold each other accountable. More specifically, I am working on taking a few breaths before I begin to give advice. In many occasions I have watched myself thinking that because I have research to back me up, people should listen to what I have to say and strive to do “the right thing”.

However, as we can see from Freire’s model, first we must listen and acknowledge that each person is already packed with the wisdom that would make them take the first steps for change. In doing so, we would be recognizing and honoring their Higher Self. Furthermore, I recognize my need to develop reflection and affirmation skills, as the person in front of me expresses from their heart. What I do know is that despite the mistakes I will probably continue making in the process of developing as an effective facilitator for non-violent action, my Highest Self has a passion for building human connection and will always strive to offer compassion, love and understanding across the board. 

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Heart full Meditation Over Oppression

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Last night at a Halloween party, I spotted a guy who seemed like he was having a good time, but he was by himself. I felt drawn to him and we started talking. Our conversation went from small talk to heart talk fairly quickly. He began telling me his story about how it had almost been a year since he had started meditating, and he was already amazed by how much peace and productivity he had experienced ever since. He had gotten to the point that he was tired of getting so angry so often, going to bed mad, and waking up mad, carrying tension in his body, everywhere he went. His mind changed when one morning after going to bed mad, he woke up feeling calm and content, but then he remembered that he was mad, and his body and mind fogged up again. He stopped and realized that this was not normal, this was a real problem that was taking over his life.

He followed by writing a public post on Facebook asking his community for help. First of all, he was surprised with all the responses; people suggesting special work outs, therapists, and yoga. He ended up buying a book on Zen Buddhism and he claims that it changed his life. “My thoughts were eating me up, but then I realized that we all experience similar emotions and thoughts like: ‘I am not good enough’, ‘I won’t even try’, ‘I can’t take this anymore’…” he said, and “as an African American male looking to thrive in a competitive world is hard to talk to other guys about this, so I had to find my own way to feel good about myself”.

What would happen if we all enhanced our ability to be present, to be aware, and ultimately more in control of our biased reactions? As a meditation practitioner myself, and with the perspective above, I do believe in the power of meditation as a way to feel more connected and confident in our body, mind, and spirit, and connected to everybody else around us. I also believe that simplifying the basis of oppression could move us into a more unified direction.

However, Mullaly suggests that social workers need to step away from oversimplifying the causes and effects of oppression, but rather think about it as how all main factors (classism, racism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism, and ableism) combine and multiply, creating unique realities of how oppression can be expressed. Each person has unique realities, which must be named and taken into consideration in order to understand them better. But, I challenge this stance and say that thinking in such complex terms will hardly revolutionize the way we look at oppression, and what we do about it. As social workers, we might end up shying away from attempting to combat oppression, since it is so dense to comprehend the unique situation of each individual.

Orthodox Marxists, with a single-strand model, identified classism or exploitation of the working class as the primary source of all oppression. If we are to eliminate classism we would be free from oppression. On a different tone, Black radicals and nationalists such as Malcolm X argued that racism is the oldest and most fundamental source of oppression. Which mirrors the views of Lena Nominally, a progressive social worker today.

Martin, my boyfriend, says that inherent pride from culture and grouping is what creates segregation. If there are no groups, is hard to oppress and be oppressed. Although this is true, we debated about the value of culture and traditions. I reminded him of the time we went to Bali and noticed how the natives make offerings a few times a day and lay them out on the sidewalk, and as tourists, we had to be careful to not step on them. And how we bonded with an old men as he was telling us the significance of the offerings and other bits of their rich culture. It is fascinating!

Also, let’s not forget about the inherent tendencies of domination and subordination, which has been helpful to maintain order in society. From chimpanzees to bees, and human beings, we reap the benefits of dominance and subordination. We have companies, organizations and groups of all sizes working in synch for a higher cause. Managers and subordinates collaborate to achieve their goals. However, if for arbitrary reasons, we start to believe that we are better than the other, then oppression begins. Respect and meritocracy are key, in a world were we thrive by living in communities.

What would happen if we all give and receive to and from a higher purpose? Without ever considering that we or somebody else is better than the other. No matter our individual limitations, if we acknowledge that underneath all intersections of oppression, we are human beings who are capable of awareness and consciousness, then we find the roots that connect us all. When we change the desire to win as individuals, and we focus on listening, communicating assertively, and winning as a collective, then there is no need for losers.

It is heartbreaking to see how people are being so strongly impacted by the many layers and intersections of oppression, such as the high rates of African American women experiencing poor pre-natal care and increasing chances for mother and/or infant death, and complications, largely attributed to high-stress environments. I believe that by sharing our stories, openly talking about concerning issues like these, agreeing on respect, and enhancing our sense of self, through heart full meditation practice, we can truly make a difference.

In loving awareness, we can find self-acceptance and appreciation, as we dive under our thoughts and feelings. Just like my new friend at the party reminded me, meditation is a practice of stillness, and being open to listening and receiving the love inside our heart. I say that it may be a simple way to bathe ourselves in peace, inspiration, and possibly even overcoming the complexities of oppression.

Holler over if you would be interested in joining a meditation group over at the social work building!!

Thoughts on Final Project

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PhotoVoice Project:

Gender Inequality in Mexico

In the past few years I have had quite a few of my girl friends in Mexico get married and experience living with their partner for the first time. I noticed how some of them stopped working, and others got pregnant within their first year. I respect each and everybody’s life goals, especially when they seem happy and they don’t interfere with anybody else’s well-being. However, I could not help but wonder, if they were making these choices because of the norms of society, which emphasizes a perceived sense of gender inequality, or because it is what they truly desire.

For my project, I want to interview my friends around the topic of roles within a relationship and ask them to take pictures that will help depict how that plays out in their lives.

Some of the questions I want to ask are:

  1. What’s your relationship like with your wife/husband?
  2. What do you expect from him/her?
  3. What do you think they expect from you?
  4. What is your role as a husband/wife?
  5. What are the social norms in terms of male and female roles?
  6. What is your role as a husband/wife?

This project is particularly interesting for me because I was raised in Mexico by a hard-working  single mother who dedicated all of her energy into providing for us, while living in the context of an extended family who followed the norms of women staying at home and men being providers.

 

Love Over Fear

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After analyzing the chapter on oppression at the personal level by Mullaly, the additional articles and news about the recent events of social injustice in our school, I am both excited to be able to be part of this social movement, and heart broken due to the inhumane and irrational actions taken towards people throughout the years of human existence.

It stands out to me how the concept of being “different ” or “other”, which is what developed oppression in the first place, is still being used as we try to overcome the epidemic. We refer to the oppressors as “the other”, the “bad ones”, when these members are also part of our community. I believe that in order to make change we must change the equation, and by belittling people because we feel like they should be punished and they deserve it, is only keeping us entertained, but is not offering anything new. I believe that by coming together to acknowledge the members of our community who are struggling with such high levels of fear (which I believe is the basis of oppression), and offering our love and compassion, is the first step towards a more dignified society.

In an ideal world, I imagine all people seeing each other for who they are and how we are more alike than different. The fact is that we are all unique because our history and our mental structures have been shaped differently, and that is what makes relationships exciting, but looking at the big picture, we are more alike than we think. All of our bodies are composed and function more or less the same way, we all draw from the earth to be fed, and we depend on the activity of the cosmos in order to survive. I might even say that above all we all agree that being happy is our common goal.

As a society we have lived through and learned from many different eras and stages of society with many influential events in between. We are now living in the era of knowledge, were our greatest tool is the abundant education that is readily available to us.  However, although half of the world is still without access to education and the internet, it seems like those of us who are privileged enough to have it are often still influenced by destructive mental patterns that continue existing since generations ago.

The events of oppression and injustice that enraged many of us recently in our university, as well as the many events alike that happen everyday are an example of how as a society we are still (and hopefully we will never stop) working towards building a safer community for all.

With all respect to the president of our university and to all the people who it may concern, I share a perspective directly from my heart. We are all doing the best we can to face these issues, and just like Prof. Mike told us at the beginning of the semester, we have to start with truth and this is my truthful view. I am also not attempting to dismiss the severity of the actions that have been taken against African Americans and Latinos in our university, but I am proposing, perhaps, a radical approach to facing the events of oppression and social injustice.

The following quotes are from the President of the University of Michigan Mark Schlissel in response to the disturbing actions:

“There’s a person with a Sharpie who is trying to hurt us, and there’s probably more than one, but it’s not representative of who we are as a community.”

“I apologize if you haven’t heard from me loudly enough or often enough – I don’t know what you expect to hear,” he added. “We are trying to catch the people doing this and tell them this doesn’t belong here, while protecting the students here.”

I wonder, is a person with a Sharpie really going to hurt us? They definitely have the power to trigger us into fight or flight mode because of all the pain that has been endured and learned through many years, but I believe that our capability to understand, and feel compassion is even greater. 

Below is the email that Mark Schlissel sent all of us on Sept 21st regarding the concerning incidents. Afterwards you will find a fictional email with a similar message, but including my ideas for eradicating oppression and social injustice. Please know that if I offend you is not because I want to, is because I don’t know that my perspective may be offensive and insulting. Please make me aware!

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To the University of Michigan community:

We have begun the academic year with both pride and pain. We are proud to welcome students back to campus from every corner of our state, across the nation and around the world. Yet it is painful to see our Latinx community targeted during Welcome Week with a painted rock and our African-American community with racist graffiti in a residence hall as classes were starting.

As disgusted as we are by these racist acts, we also feel a tremendous sense of pride over how our broader community has come together to counter these acts. Outreach and statements of support have taken place across our campus community.

The Black Student Union issued a strong statement regarding the racist graffiti in a residence hall and that message was amplified by university leaders.

Outreach to affected communities took place through LSA, the Dean of Students Office, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and many others. The U-M faculty leadership has issued strong statements regarding these incidents.

All of these actions and more are detailed here:
https://publicaffairs.vpcomm.umich.edu/racist-slurs-on-residence-halls-doors/

We also appreciated the opportunity Wednesday night to hear directly from many of our students of color and their allies about the individual and community impact of these racist incidents.

We heard anger and frustration in the voices of our students and we share that frustration and anger. Words and actions meant to hurt someone based on their identity have no place at the University of Michigan and we condemn them. We are committed to doing everything within our power to halt these disgraceful incidents.

As these incidents were reported, the university immediately reached out to the targeted students to offer support and to begin an investigation.

We want to assure our community that the university’s Division of Public Safety and Security takes each one of these incidents very seriously and continues to vigorously investigate. DPSS officers immediately reached out to the targeted students and continue to pursue any additional potential witnesses and gather evidence. Please contact U-M Police at 734-763-1131 if you have information that may help investigators determine who did this.

If investigators are able to identify those responsible, the university will pursue these matters to the fullest extent provided for by the laws of the state of Michigan and university policy.

It was important to hear Wednesday directly from those students most affected by these cowardly acts and we genuinely hope that further discussions and collaboration will lead to meaningful measures that will help us all combat these incidents. Each of us needs to do everything in our power to be the kind of community where such behavior is universally condemned.

It remains more important than ever that we support each other. If you see something, say something. You can report incidents such as these to the university’s Bias Response team here:
https://deanofstudents.umich.edu/article/bias-response-team

The Bias Response Team also is in the final stages of developing both an annual report on bias incidents addressed during the past year and an online log of current incidents that would be updated weekly.

Finally, these efforts will only be successful if we, members of the leadership team of this great institution of higher learning, are able to effectively work together with all members of our community to create a place where each one of us feels at home. We stand in firm belief that all members of our community have a place here at the University of Michigan.

Sincerely,

Mark S. Schlissel & Team
President

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To the University of Michigan community,

We are always working towards becoming a stronger and resilient community. Awaken by the recent actions based out of fear and hate, we are upset just as much as you are. We applaud to the voices of the people that have come together to make these events and emotions be known.

The Black Student Union and the LatinX community broadcasted a friendly invitation to a BYOBBQ (bring your own barbecue) to the people responsible for the actions. They widely invite anyone in the mood for smokey bites and a friendly conversation. Members of the Student Union are currently searching for the people responsible for the recent acts, they want to listen to them and personally share the invitation to the community event.

Last Wednesday it was uplifting to hear your voices of action and compassion, we share the same values. Together, we came to an understanding that as our brain is triggered into fight or flight mode by these threats, the most important thing is to practice catching ourselves in the moment, tell ourselves that it is okay to let the dark thoughts come in and feel the sensations that come along with these disturbing events, and that every action we take must be infused with the intention of building ourselves up and our community. 

The Student Union has interviewed the targeted students and everybody else about their perspectives on the topics of hate and fear, and have gathered a compilation of events of disruption and interventions throughout the history of the University of Michigan. In addition, we collaborated with students from Film Studies at Michigan State University and we are proud to announce the upcoming release of a documentary describing the history of oppression and injustice in the context of a university campus, and how as a community of learners, we continue to learn and enrich ourselves with each of these experiences. If you would like your story to be heard please reach out to the Student Union.

When a strong earthquake hits and there is no one to blame, it is all about giving and receiving with a higher purpose in body, mind and spirit. I believe that as we witness actions of oppression and social injustice, we must approach it with the same mentality. There is no one to blame, but the entire history of human thought.  It is my sentiment that instead of continuing to react aggressively to fight the actions that are preventing our development, we must face ourselves and each other face to face, build each other up, learn from each other, rescue ourselves and support those that need to be rescued, and ultimately come together to manifest love and kindness for the sake of our selves and our future generations.

Lastly, if you are still wondering what to do to better the situation for yourself and everybody else, my suggestion is to express yourself, tell your story – as many times as you need, listen to other people’s stories with your heart, and hug, high five, fist bump or shake somebodies hand with confidence.

With love and respect,

Sasha Lizarraga & Team
Fictional President

In my search for truth, I came across an article written by a an African American woman that helped me gain more insight to what it is to be born and raised as an African American in a world affected by oppression and social injustice. It is called “Why I’m Absolutely and Angry Black Woman” by Dominique Matti, and it was highly illuminating to me. What I got out of it is that it is heart breaking to realize the way people are treated just because of the color of their skin, and it is very difficult, perhaps impossible to be able to recognize, challenge and act upon such deep rooted thoughts, beliefs and ideas about ourselves and the world around us. However, I think that our survival instinct has much more power than we would like to acknowledge. Instead of continuing to feed hate with more hate and expecting a different outcome. Call me naive or hippie, but I believe that as we manifest more love and compassion towards ourselves and everybody else, we throw something different into the mix and we might slowly be actively working towards a more just, loving and wise society.

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My Story (Mo’olele)

My name is Sasha, and I am from the intense heat of the Sonoran desert in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.

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I am from a warm family who despite all differences and challenges, we mostly value quality time spent engaged in conversation, fun activities, cooking traditional meals or simply being in each other’s presence.

 

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I am an only child, and my parents divorced when I was 5 years old. My parents created very different lives for themselves as individuals once they separated. My mom has always been an entrepreneur, passionate about making meaningful connections and determinant to meet her goals. My dad was a charismatic and very friendly man who struggled with drug addictions and criminal charges for most of his life, until he created a different life for himself and rediscovered his passion for the outdoors and nature. I identify myself with the lives of my parents, as they have inspired me to pursue a career in social work, creating meaningful connections and providing support to people in need.

Thanks to the way my mother raised me, I am aware about the relationship I have with myself and constantly work towards a positive development as a mindful individual in all contexts. In addition, I identify myself with practitioners who acknowledge the individual’s mind, body and spiritual aspects of their human experience towards achieving a greater sense of wellness.

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I hope to learn about my colleagues’ own perspectives on social justice issues and their experience in the field. I know we all have very different ideas about the concepts we talk about in social work, and it would be very interesting to dissect my own beliefs and thinking structures to allow a more inclusive way of interpretation.

In class I hope to contribute to the perspective of being a Latina living in the United States, and as a Latina being raised in Mexico in a middle class household. My experience at work has also been mainly with Hispanic families and children, so I would be able to share life through their lens. Furthermore, I have great  passion for including the body and spirit into the therapeutic practice, and have taken many trainings, facilitated workshops and regular classes on mindfulness, functional movement, and meditation, as a way to enhance well-being.

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My personal belief about diversity is in recognizing and celebrating the richness of our society by acknowledging the different backgrounds, personal  beliefs and tendencies that each of us hold.

Social justice to me is the work towards spreading resources and education in a way that is equal through all members of society, from the financially privileged to the most vulnerable populations. 

In my experience I have seen that diversity and social justice issues directly relate, as typically one affects the other. For example in the picture below these mothers were able to receive the service that they needed in their own language, so that was something to celebrate. However, these women also have other needs that they are not able to meet because of a language barrier, education, cultural differences or their legal status in this country.

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Proud Hispanic mothers as they graduate from their 12 week Parenting Program

 

As I participate in my diversity and social justice class I will remind myself to be open and receiving of everybody’s perspective, while cultivating the curiosity to experiment on my own and investigate all sides of a topic. I am enthusiastic about connecting with my colleagues, learn more about decolonizing social work and collaborate to make positive change. 

En mi opinion

Un ser humano que entiende a la mente, o llámese todas las dimensiones, capas, fuerzas, o energías que nos integran y forman parte de nuestra percepción de la vida, va avanzando a la escalera de la luz infinita que dirige a la nada pero termina en la grandiosa iluminación con la que se inicia. Si lo pueden imaginar conmigo como esa luz siendo el túnel que termina tu ciclo de vida y luego te presenta a la succión e inexistencia de toda materia, luz, o gas que va ocasionando el cierre del ciclo de vida provocada por esta “energía” inexplicable, que la podemos entender mejor expresada en la característica de lo que podemos observar a gran escala en los agujeros negros en el espacio… la nada, el vacío. Que si se pone uno en contacto con este espacio, esta nada que succiona y contiene toda la información y capacidad de contener todo lo mas brillante y posibilidades de este mundo; el túnel de luz. Al salir del túnel, se crean los objetos más brillantes en una gran explosión de luces y creaciones, que se ven expresadas en inmensa escala a las grandes explosiones estelares como supernova. Esta, se conoce como una gran explosión en el espacio donde no se encontraba rastro de componente previo que lo ocasionara, hay varias teorías que proponen su origen pero esta es la mía. Se me hace fácil pensar que pudiese ser de un agujero negro apunto de cambiar de su propio ciclo y comenzar una nueva vida. Termina en la nada y de pronto estalla en todo. Así pues en los humanos, aunque a diminuta escala pero siguiendo los principios de este descubrimiento, algo explota, ocasionando luz, materia y todas las fuerzas de lo mas rico y poderoso que resume este túnel de succión inexplicable de luz al avanzar de ciclo. Yo lo entiendo como conectado al aspecto espiritual que algunos de nosotros podemos reconocer, experimentar esa energía compuesta por elementos que no podemos observar debido a el limite que permiten nuestros ojos de humano, algunos con mejor vista, otros con peor. El caso es que si estando en vida, uno se pone en contacto con esta energía, espacio, la nada, que al final succiona, pero conserva todo lo radiante para después volver a explotar siendo renovado e intensificado, uno tiene acceso a todos los atributos de volver a nacer, o del gran despertar a todas las posibilidades terrenales. Que significa para una persona común, que vive una vida normal con momentáneas alegrías y ocasional sentido de amor, estrés y problemas, decepciones, que se cuestiona sobre sus acciones o duda de su innata capacidad? Significa que para esta persona como yo, y tal vez como algunos otros que me leen, damos inicio a vivir la realización   ya que cada ciclo va avanzando, cambiando y aproximándose en su propio ciclo de vida que le continúa. Nuestra galaxia Milky Way, se dice que la posee un masivo agujero negro justo en el centro, que es lo que se podría decir, mantiene el balance y posición en todos los trillones de sistemas solares que la compone. Mi mente como ser humano entiende que funciona con este mismo patrón y que significa que si me hago consciente de ello, obtengo acceso a lo que conserva lo más brillante, enriquecedor y  placentero. 

No estoy pensado en nada…

Estoy pensando en nada y esto es lo que entiendo: cuando medito pienso en nada, cuando duermo pienso en nada, en ocasiones del día pienso en nada, el pensar en nada no se detienen mis pensamientos ni acciones. Fácilmente puedo pensar en nada creando posibilidades inimaginables, como cuando duermo y sueño. Puedo también sentir cambios físicos en contra de la ley gravitacional cuando medito.  Durante el día cuando pienso en nada puedo alinear mi comportamiento con lo que es apropiado y benéfico en ese preciso instante para yo poder sacarle el mayor provecho y aprender de lo que se me presenta. Dejando a un lado cualquier tipo de dialogo interno que no apoye mis buenas intenciones. Esa nada que experimento se convierte en todo. Todo lo necesario para navegar y servirle a mis semejantes y a mi misma de la mejor manera posible. La nada la experimente por primera vez una vez que entendí la práctica de la meditación. Me tomo alrededor de tres meses de práctica regular para por fin sentir la nada y el todo. Es frustrante y tiene la característica de hacerte pensar que esta uno perdiendo el tiempo, pero al final, el compromiso de estar simplemente con uno mismo, nos lleva a conocernos aun más y sacarle provecho a nuestras capacidades innatas de ser humano y reconocer la intención y propósito de nuestras actividades de la vida diaria. No soy una experta ni profesional que domina el tema, si no una persona que experimenta y aprende conociéndome a mi misma y así los componentes básicos que me conforman. Decido compartir lo que estoy viviendo con ustedes porque asi de grandiosa es mi experiencia.

Walking On Water And Stuff

The other day as I was on my way to the grocery store, there were some puddles of water randomly on the sidewalk. At first, with precaution and skill, I jumped away from the water to avoid getting my shoes and pants wet. After a few jumps, my back that had been recently injured, started aching again due to the motion. I realized that the best thing was simply to walk on water, after all it is not going to kill me.
Walking on water reminded me of many mystical figures that have been able to connect fields with the lowest possible energy a system can have and suspend themselves into the air, aka levitation.  At first, I thought it made sense to think of walking on water as a metaphor that relates to people who elevate over the little things in life. Of course that is relative, as we all have different ideas. However, I like to think that anything relating to something material is a little thing simply building a greater, more important thing such as values, feelings or a higher mission with the universe. As Oliver Wilde expressed: “Life is too important to be taken seriously”.  Even my back ache reminded me of how in a moment of weakness it is easier to let ourselves be reminded of negative feelings of the past with the only purpose of bringing ourselves down. Then, I realized that I can be in such control of my field to even affect gravitational laws!
So, it is possible to elevate in this way? How close am I to reach this level of consciousness? What’s it for?
Yes, it is possible for any person truly wanting to feel the nature of their beings, and are brave enough to mentally step out of themselves as a human body to acknowledge the energetic being that we all are. It is all about practice and trust. Practice and patience, just like we learn everything else. Trust, in the safe environment (body and space) in which we choose to practice and confidence that it is okay to let go of the internal chatter and follow the light. I am talking about sitting down in meditation. It is important to connect with the soul every once in a while. Every day, if possible.
What makes us different from others in this process is the starting point in which we begin to experiment taking our mind to the next level (the level of full understanding). The reason why its different for all of us is because we have all been raised in a unique way. Specific information has been presented to us throughout our lives; information that guide us into our belief systems and values. However, what we use to describe ourselves is not set in stone. We are all granted with the power to take positive elevated action and remain integrity in every situation. Levitation is the ultimate manifestation of this concept as it hits the mind and therefore reality.
I am closer to reach this level each day that passes. It is all an adventure, a once in a lifetime opportunity. A time and space provided to learn, grow and manifest our ideals. This is for our own sake, for the enjoyment and worthiness of our existence.
About my job search, I can now proudly share I will be happily enriching my life as a Montessori preschool teacher and academic coordinator of an after school program for children and teenagers. I am ready to expand and lead my mission to reality.
Thank you for reading. It is my heart that speaks, always meant to transmit with the best of intentions.

The fun of Job hunting and Career building

What is fun about it? For most of us, it is a stressful moment of transition. From being at a safe situation to uncertainty and excitement (positive or negative). I have been in this process officially for the past two weeks now and luckily I had kept myself pretty busy with interviews and follow-ups. However, it can be a diminishing process for some. If we lack to see immediate results, some of us may take it personally and take our minds into obscure ways of processing. The great part is that there is nothing obscure about getting neglected for a position, even if its the one that you wanted, as the mentality about this is that either way, you are putting yourself out there. Getting rejected means that you tried, failing is not even trying. Every step of the process is learning, and through experience of getting rejected you learn to better adapt to your situation.

How to see this process in the bright light? Yes, you have head it maybe 832 million times but this is a perfect opportunity to shape yourself and become whatever really drives you. Most of the times you just have to try and bend different ways to find out if it works or not. It is exciting, in the positive way. For the mind and soul, developing a career is simply a great opportunity to connect our true intentions to the material world that we live in. What is that we are most passionate about and how can we make other appreciate and value that work? Those are just fun things to think about that would give some meaning into our lives. We are all valuable individuals with amazing qualities that can be put into action at any time we truly desire, so there is no need to lie about our qualifications, instead committing ourselves to the set of skills we want to acquire and stand tall to ourselves to say loud and clear that WE ARE able to develop any skill we want. 

Getting intimidated by employers, companies or requisites is simply a loss of valuable time for your brain to execute important actions. For example, keeping a cool-headed sort of attitude in this process would definitely get you moving faster. They want to hire someone as much as you want to get a job, so when you walk into that door, they are really hoping that you are it. If you are already there, you have all the qualities to be the chosen one. I believe that confidence, positive energy turning into working action and value and intrigue towards the business is what employers are recognizing as important characteristics to hire. Furthermore, that positive energy will help develop the skills you need for the specific position so it really comes down to: Do you REALLY want this position or are you just slacking off and really hope to get the job with the least demands?

We each have our own style and depending on our field we intend to transmit certain qualities. However, demonstrating intrigue and curiosity in the other and appear humbling but giving value to ones own knowledge, definitely leaves a great impression in any scenario. 

Success to you!!