Grant Funding in Action: Mindfulness with Turkeys

Thanks, Diane Leonard, for recently reminding us that grant professionals are superheroes. We need to hear this, especially when we are fighting to make the world a better place despite current troubling events. As grant professionals, we must remember to take a breath, stay positive, and pat ourselves on the back.

In July 2018, thanks to grant funding, I had the privilege of attending my first silent retreat at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California with the Executive Director of Purple Mountain Institute. The retreat title was Mindfulness for Everyone, and there was a wide variety of people with beginning to advanced mindfulness experience.

The setting was beautiful and peaceful where we all lived simply and were served delicious vegetarian meals without talking, tv, radio, phones, internet, or social media. I loved watching the wild turkeys peacefully strolling around us and communicating with us. On the last day of the retreat, when people could talk again and rushed around getting ready to travel back home, I found it sad that the turkeys were also scattering away due to this abrupt change from peace, silence, and camaraderie with humans.

The daily schedule consisted of sitting meditation, walking meditation, guided meditation, mindfulness instruction, eating mindfully, and sleeping completely in silence. We could talk with staff if needed or when meeting in small groups with teachers who checked in to see how we were doing. The first day of silence was incredibly hard for me, and I wanted to run home screaming. The following days became easier, and I grew to absolutely love it. However, this intense silent practice causes one to look deeply inside and reflect. It can bring up difficult emotions, memories, or trauma. The biggest takeaway for me was realizing how awful the critical voices inside my head were, and how I needed to mindfully address those mean comments. I needed to remember to be kind to myself, and therefore, I would achieve more kindness to others.

I’ve written about mindfulness before, and here are five more tips, resources, and quotes that I hope can help my fellow superhero grant professionals.

  1. Ray Buckner says “Diminish fear by facing it directly with honesty, clarity, and compassion.” Read his article, and remember to be compassionate towards yourself first. Listen to your inner child.
  2. Practice mindfulness daily by being aware of the moment through ordinary activities such as brushing your teeth, walking, or showering. If you forget to do this during some very busy days, don’t beat yourself up. Treat yourself with kindness instead—celebrate moments of mindfulness.
  3. Dr. Jan Chozen Bays created Mindfulness on the Go Cards: 52 Simple Meditation Practices You Can Do Anywhere. Some of his suggestions are “taking three breaths whenever a phone rings” or “resolving to pay a compliment daily.”
  4. Read Fully Present by Dr. Susan L. Smalley and Diana Winston.
  5. “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete” (Jack Kornfield).

Thank you for all you do!

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