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Lions Roar : September 2016
close my ears or my heart. But as MLK put it, I choose love. Though I am privy to only a sliver of each litigant’s life, I am struck by how often I hear my sorrow in their voice, sur- prised by how often I see my own weariness in their eyes. In those brief moments, I get a small taste of the transformative power of King’s vision of justice. Then I bow to Kwan Yin and to King. And start again tomorrow. ♦ GRETCHEN ROHR is founder of Justice in Balance, a restorative justice forum dedicated to reconciling communities impacted by vio- lence. She serves as a magistrate judge at the D.C. Superior Court. My Body, My Life How mindfulness has helped LAMA ROD OWENS live as a Black queer man in America. FOR ME, PRACTICING MINDFULNESS is about showing up in the best way possible in my body and in my life. As an authorized lama in the Tibetan tradition of Bud- dhism, I am trained in Mahamudra, a system of meditation and philosophy that is concerned with revealing the true nature of mind and phenomena. Mahamudra emphasizes calm abiding (shamatha) and insight (vipashyana) meditation. Calm abiding is learning to allow the mind to be as thoughts, emotions, and perceptions flow in and out. Insight is the practice of discern- ing what the mind is by exploring and analyzing phenomena of mind. Training in the initial stages of calm abiding is essentially mindfulness training, and it is taught that without the stability derived from concentrated calm abiding practice, insight medi- tation would be difficult. Though I have no formal training in sutra-based mindful- ness, I have been working with the Satipatthana (Four Foun- dations of Mindfulness) Sutta in my personal practice. It has been a foundational text for me as I continue to understand meditation and what Michel Foucault called “technologies of the self ”—the various means through which we may affect personal mental and physical changes to produce more happi- ness, contentment, wisdom, etc. As I practice mindfulness each day, it becomes a practice of being in my body, knowing my body, and moving with my body as it moves through the world. It is breathing with it, hurting with it, and rejoicing with it. When I am with other bodies shar- ing spaces, communing together, or making love together, then mindful- ness is knowing that I am there show- ing up with my body and breath. For me, mindfulness must first emerge from my body as it is positioned in the world, open and sensitive to the many ways it is interpreted by others, sometimes in ways that are trauma- tizing and wounding, and sometimes in ways that celebrate my body. When I started focusing more on mindfulness, I noticed that it was something I had been practic- ing acutely for most of my life. It hadbeensomuchapartofhowI have survived as a Black queer man in this world. It was being aware of how people notice me in space, like Lama Rod Owens at the Buddhism and Race Conference at Harvard Divinity School in May. “Dharma,” he says, “has greatly increased my capacity to be in the world as a change agent rooted in love and compassion.” LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2016 69