“Lamps Unto Ourselves”: 2013 3rd Annual Spiritual Wilderness Retreat for People of Color

“Be a lamp unto yourselves.” – the Buddha

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On the weekend of the Fall Equinox, Sept 20-22, 2013, 12 hardy and enthusiastic folks of color ventured out to the gorgeous Salmon La Sac area to be inspired, to connect, and to rejuvenate. We were expecting rain but ended up with only a few sprinkles over the entire weekend. One blessing of countless from the incredible healing spirits of Nature!

The theme of the weekend was bringing our light into the impending time of darkness. We also delved further into last year’s theme by meditating as well on loving all other living beings, including the beautiful pine trees, the river, the mountains, as “our other selves”. We shared practices in community ranging from powerful meditations, yoga on the shore of the gorgeous Salmon La Sac River with our awesome teacher Nari Baker, hiking, swimming with spawning sockeye salmon, and beautiful ritual. DSC_0096

One of many highlights includes our Fall Equinox ceremony. We fashioned lanterns out of found and crafting materials, while reflecting on the light we will carry with us as we move into the season of darkness. Later that night we had a powerful ceremony in which we shared our deepest wishes for Autumn and ended by bringing our beautiful lanterns out onto the dry riverbed where we sang to the rising harvest moon.

We give thanks to all the incredible participants this year for all of your beauty and love!  Thank you for shining your light in the world. And we are so excited at the possibility of a Winter Retreat in early 2014. Stay tuned!

Image DSC_0194  “It was such a pleasure to be able to usher in a new season in the company of folks that I feel safe with. It is one of those rare moments that will stand out in my life where I felt completely at peace, in my true essence, whole and safe. I felt that in a way we were changing the world by cultivating the light we did in the woods! You all are amazing! Thank you so much!”  – Kirin Bhatti, Food Justice Organizer

“Zenyu is an incredible organization. The leaders, April and Christine, are wise spiritual teachers and bright lights in the QPOC community

DSC_0107and beyond. The community they have built is truly diverse, open and loving. Zenyu functions are always well-planned, uplifting and educational on every level. I feel very lucky to have Zenyu in my life and as a resource in my communities. Thank you so much Zenyu!”

                -Nari Baker POC Yoga Teacher and Program Manager at Yoga Behind Bars

“Christine and April provide such a strong and safe space that people can come as thier full selves. It is so hard to find that in this world, and with the work we all try to do in our communities, we need people such as them, and organizations such as Zenyu to replenish our spirits, and reconnect with our strengths, so that we can continue to do the work we do. Not only does Zeny help me become centered around work, I thank Zenyu for helping me center myself, to be present, healthy, and a positive human being. Thank you so much for all your love.” – Anonymous Participant

DSC_0354“I love Zenyu retreats! As a youth worker and cultural worker, my capacity is often being tapped by the demands of my job. Zenyu retreats helps me to reflect on and remember my personal and spiritual power and recharges and re-inspires my desire to give to my communities. As a queer person of color who has encountered multiple forms of violence in my life, Zenyu has helped me regain a sense of safety and resiliency in my self and in others. I look forward to these retreats all year!” — Meng Yu, FEEST

“Zenyu is a space holder for connecting me with unconditional love, compassion, and deep healing. I have grown and expanded into my fullest self and it has been a journey of falling in love with the divine every time I attend Zenyu events. Before Zenyu, I questioned whether I would be able to truly live and embody the person and reality I wanted to live in. While being part of Zenyu, I have been able to heal my sense of isolation and disconnection, having grown up in a very small family with never a true community of support, a rather more common experience for an immigrant family trying to make sense in a very individualistic country. I finally feel like there’s a community that I can ground that is not attached to a work, a cause, or some motivation driven by transactional reasons. Outside of family, we live in a place where communities are attached to the phases in our lives that doesn’t last if we move our jobs or changing our hobbies. Especially this is hard when there are already limiting spaces for people of color in general and even more so for queer and trans folks of color. In fact, I finally “came out” and embraced my identity as a queer person! How can I heal the wounds passed down from generations, embrace my sexuality, actualize my life purpose, while being in a community of deep love? I haven’t been able to do all of it without the awesome healing support of Zenyu. Thank you April and Christine for holding space and your loving presence!” – Noory, educator and facilitator

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