Current Projects

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:

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.

The Shambhala Meditation Center of Chicago has partnered with Rush University Medical Center since 2012 to offer mindfulness-based programs for providers in End of Life Care and closely related medical fields. An initial weekend workshop collaboration between Dr. Mitchell Levy, a Shambhala Acharya, and Dr. Sean O’Mahony, the Director of Pain and Palliative Care Section at Rush, has led to two $30,000 grants from the Prince Charitable Trust. In the Fall of 2014, the team adapted training material developed by Dr. Levy and implemented a curriculum for an 8-week training in resilience for palliative care providers.
The Prince Charitable Trust grant was renewed by the foundation and in the Fall of 2015, a second 8-week training program will be offered to palliative care providers working with children. The program is taught by James Gerhart, PhD, assistant professor in clinical psychology at Rush, assisted by Shambhala Meditation Instructors.  Dr. Levy developed a training specifically for meditation instructors who participate in these programs.


Abundant Ventures

Abundant Venture Partners is a venture capital firm that acts as an active mentor, supporter, and accelerator to its portfolio companies, which are focused on media and healthcare.  They seek to create or invest in early stage companies that share their values and beliefs which are:

  • It is still possible to do well while doing good
  • If it is big enough to care, it is big enough to share
  • We are accountable to ourselves, one another, and for the world around us
  • Diverse perspectives with shared purpose is the best way to create value

Shambhala Chicago is working with Abundant Ventures by providing meditation instruction and training during staff lunch hours, once a week.  We look forward to seeing how incorporating mindfulness directly within a company, on-site, can affect its workers general well-being.