Reflections on Healing Together Virtual Gatherings
When the COVID pandemic become a global reality six months ago, I wanted to offer a place for people to come together, build virtual community, face our fears, grieve our losses, un-numb with support, and process our new uncertain present—and even more uncertain future. We began offering our Healing Together Virtual Gatherings (HTVGs) for people to access the truly profound, transformative theory of healing that is the foundation for all the work we do:
- Being deeply listened to and listening to others using Constructivist Listening
- Experiencing emotional healing in community
- Receiving compassionate, non-judgmental support through a lens of oppression theory
We provided these events for free as part of our dāna practice, and through March, April, and May we welcomed hundreds into a communal space of transformative healing.
At the end of May, when a 17 year-old’s video of the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police went viral and a racial justice uprising grew like a groundswell in all 50 states and 18 countries around the world, I realized the virtual spaces we had created in our response to COVID could also powerfully meet this moment. As one of our long-term clients shared:
“I appreciate… how powerfully poised you are to support so many of us in changing our system at the core.”
Our LJIST team came together to offer HTVGs exploring Racial Justice and Transformation throughout the summer, including a three-part summer series exploring White supremacy and anti-Blackness in our communities and families and in ourselves. Together, we faced our collective grief and expressed our shared outrage, making room for vision and action for racial justice that won’t inadvertently replicate our pain.
We didn’t know what to expect when we started offering free HTVGs, but the responses have been truly inspiring! As one participant put it:
“I never cease to be blown away by the impact of these experiences.”
And another wrote:
“I am always deeply grateful when I get to participate in any sessions [sic] from the institute, they are so deeply healing and soul nourishing… Thank you for creating such a beautiful, vulnerable space for healing and connection to change the world.”
We created an intimate space online for people to come together across identities and constituencies for listening, healing, understanding, and action! How precious is that?! People are longing for places to acknowledge and release the hurts, confusions, and isolation of living in a world full of oppression which, at best, offers us ways to numb or distract. We believe that sanctioned spaces for emotional healing are part of a just society.
Henceforth, LJIST will offer HTVGs as a healing space on a monthly basis. These 90-minute sessions allow us to stay connected with our community and for everyone in our community (both those new to LJIST and previous participants) to know that there’s a place they can come without judgement, prerequisite, expectation, or cost. They can be listened to and learn the core healing practice and are fully welcomed.
In September and October, our 2-part HTVG series will explore “Transformational Care,” decentering the individualism and escapism of “self-care” and building on radical practices of intention, healing, well-being, and rest that have been part of our workshops for the last 26 years. In November, we’ll offer a special post-election session to gather in community the day after the 2020 US elections.
After a December hiatus, we will resume offering HTVGs on the fourth Wednesdays from 11:00A-12:30P (Pacific)/2:00P-3:30P (Eastern) starting on January 27th. Mark your calendars! You must pre-register to attend. We will close access after the first 100 registrants log into the Zoom meeting or 10 minutes after the session begins: whichever comes first. We are not offering recordings of these sessions: you must be present to heal! 😊
Upcoming HTVGs will include one-time topics or two- or three-part series. Please let us know if there is a topic you would be interested in exploring in 2021. We look forward to seeing you online!