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Lions Roar : September 2019
When you’re walking around with unconscious trauma, you’re doing things and holding things that shape you, and you do not even know exactly what it is that’s running through you.” To start to heal his own generational trauma, Berry first undertook a solo retreat on a former slave plantation in Virginia. There he practiced ton- glen, a Tibetan Buddhist meditation for cultivating compassion, and a version of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Touching the Earth ceremony, which is a prostra- tion practice for connecting with our spiritual and family ancestors. “Touching the Earth was the first practice that allowed me to see through collective trauma and connect my ancestors with dharma teachings and practice,” he says. After his solo retreat, Berry went to the annual three-month retreat at the Insight Meditation Soci- ety in Barre, Massachusetts. “With Insight practice, I was now able to touch the resilience of my ancestors that was embedded in my DNA and hiding in plain sight in my body,” Berry says. “For the first time I realized I didn’t need anything other than me sitting to be in touch with my ancestors. It was the actual meditation practice—sitting there, quieting the mind, observing the mind, observing sensations in the body—that helped me touch deep places of his- torical trauma and break down familial stories and habitual patterns. I’ve been on a clear path to healing since then.” To offer the healing he experienced to others, Berry joined forces with Noliwe Alexander, a gradu- ate of Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s community dharma leader program and participant in the cur- rent teacher training program there. In the first pub- lic iteration of Deep Time Liberation (DTL), they hosted three daylong retreats at East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, structured around the themes of “Honoring the Ancestors,” “Bearing Witness,” and “A Portal to Healing.” They were then joined in the DTL leadership team by Rosetta Saunders, a longtime meditator, drummer in West African and Afro-Cuban tradi- tions, and educator focused on the histories of people of color in the United States. “It is a power- ful shift in our psyche when we begin to recognize those places of trauma within us,” Saunders says. “You have to be honest about trauma—where you hold it in your body and how you work with it—to begin the process of releasing the cellular memories. Drumming has been my medicine in working with and healing my own personal trauma.” The leaders of Deep Time Liberation created a healing community of laughter, conversation, food, drumming, and ritual. Left to right: Teachers Devin Berry, Rosetta Saunders, Noliwe Alexander, and DaRa Williams with retreat manager Diane Yaski. PHOTOBYDHINILPATELPHOTOCOURTESYOFDIANEYASKI RIMA VESELY-FLAD is a professor of religion and social justice at Warren Wilson College and a meditator in the Vipassana tradition. She’s the author of Racial Purity and Da ngerous Bodies : Moral Pollution, Black Lives, and the Struggle for Justice. LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2019 34