Social Action – Shambhala View
“The magical element that binds the words “society” and “enlightenment” into “enlightened society” is the wholehearted motivation by individuals to engage personally in a social transformation that will lead to the betterment of the society.”
— Sakyong Mipham, Rinpoche
Society is any interaction between two or more people. Whenever two or more people interact they do so through mind and body, through perceptions and interpretations. By examining the nature of this interaction we can move closer to understanding the reality of the world we live in. By dealing directly with reality with can begin to sanely shape the world we live in.
Ceasefire/Cure Violence Illinois
Cure Violence/CeaseFire Illinois is based on the view that violence is a disease which can be contained and stopped. Cure Violence is guided by clear understandings that violence is a health issue, that individuals and communities can change for the better, that community partners and strategic partnerships and are the keys to success, and that rigorous, scientific, professional ways of working are essential for effectiveness.
To learn more about Ceasefire’s work, the Interrupters documentary is quite extraordinary.
Because Ceasefire’s goal is to become an organization that incorporates mindfulness into all aspects of its culture as well as the population it serves, we work with Ceasefire in a variety of ways:
- Teaching mindfulness meditation to the CeaseFire Illinois staff and embedding meditation in their culture.
- Teaching mindfulness meditation and peace circles with CeaseFire to the students at Orr Academy High School, located on Chicago’s west side in a high-risk area.
- Continuing to create monthly community events with CeaseFire West staff.
In 2014, we were awarded the Lenz Foundation Grant to offer mindfulness meditation training to all Ceasefire Illinois staff. The training curriculum is being written by two long time Shambhala teachers, Shastri David Stone, and Blessie Selvig. Each Ceasefire hub is being interviewed by Aarti Tejuja, David Stone, and Janet Hasz, to learn how to create the most effective curriculum. This two year training project will begin in Fall 2014 and continue through 2014-15.
Future projects with Ceasefire may include the development and teaching of a “train the trainer” session for CeaseFire trainers so that they can take this to their locations in other countries. We may also have the opportunity to work with Shambhala Centers in other cities where Cure Violence is located to help them replicate the staff meditation training.
Thresholds Veterans Project
To date, more than 2.4 million men and women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. For many, the return home is fraught with challenges:
- 1 in 4 have sought treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder/depression
- 1 in 3 struggles with substance abuse
- 1 in 5 is unemployed
- 18 commit suicide every day
Veterans of past conflicts represent 8% of the U.S. population yet 30% of the homeless population. Illinois is one of seven states with more than 10,000 homeless veterans. Currently, government funding serves only 1 of 10 veterans in need. Whether they served in the Vietnam War, the first Gulf War, or the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of soldiers return from combat with scars both physical and psychological. For many, reintegrating into their communities and their former lives proves impossible. Unable to cope, the tragic outcomes of homelessness, hopelessness, and helplessness are often the result.
In the summer of 2012, Thresholds and Shambhala held a fundraiser to raise funds to bring Mindfulness to Threshold’s current staff. Two Shambhala Instructors, Shastri Marita McLauglin and Claudelle Glasgow, have put together a curriculum to train Threshold’s staff in mindfulness meditation and other practices. This year, the program will be offered to the veterans themselves. For the next 10 months, the veterans will be invited to the West Loop space once a week to learn about mindfulness and to cultivate community. In addition, Shambhala member Dasha Zabelina, who currently studies cognitive neuroscience at Northwestern University, has been conducting neuro-scientific measurements for the project.
Rush University Medical Center – Palliative Care
Rush University Medical Center encompasses a 664-bed hospital serving adults and children, including the Johnston R. Bowman Health Center, which provides medical and rehabilitative care to older adults and people with short- and long-term disabilities. The Ada F. Addington Inpatient Hospice Unit is a collaboration between Horizon Hospice and Rush. Hospice care is end-of-life medical, psychological and spiritual care that provides patients with comfort, dignity and compassionate care during their final days. Hospice caregivers provide palliative care, which focuses on controlling pain and other symptoms so a patient can remain as alert and comfortable as possible. Hospice programs also provide services to support a patient’s family.