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

“Be a lamp unto yourselves.” – the Buddha


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

“In Honor of Trayvon: a Special Healing Ceremony and Meditation”

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Ceremony is from 7:00pm-9:00pm, Doors open at 6:30pm


2828 S Frontenac St

Seattle WA 98108



Suggested Donation: $5-20 (no one turned away for lack of funds)


ImageIn the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal of the murder of Trayvon Martin, Zenyu will host a special Healing Ceremony and Meditation in honor of Trayvon. This special Healing Ceremony will be open to all members of our communities and will be held on Monday, July 22nd, from 7:00-9:00pm at Zenyu.  Doors will open at 6:30pm.

It is easy to feel hopeless and dejected in these dark times. Now more than ever, we need each other. Let us come together as Beloved Community to mourn, to heal, and to send out our most loving intentions to Trayvon’s family and all young people of color living daily with racism and violence. Let us express our outrage, let us call out to the Power of the Universe for healing justice.

Please join us for this special evening of meditation, encouragement and rebuilding of strength.  Christine and April will guide us through a grieving and healing ceremony, and the amazing artist-teachers, Christa Bell and Rebekka Goldsmith, will lead us in powerful singing throughout the evening.  Suggested donation is $5-20.  All proceeds will go directly to the Justice for Travyon Martin Foundation and to the NAACP for their work in building a civil rights case against Zimmerman.

If you haven’t already done so, please sign this petition urging the Department of Justice to file civil rights charges against Zimmerman, a man who stalked and murdered a black child: http://www.naacp.org/DOJ-petition-FB

Accessibility Information

All Zenyu events are FRAGRANCE-FREE*

(For those with pet allergies, we do have a geriatric dog that lives in our home, but we do our best to constantly clean.)

To reach the Temple where we hold our events, there are a total of 13 steps (6 steps to the main entrance of the building and 7 steps inside the building.)  The bathroom is on the main level of the house, which can be accessed either by 6 steps, or by the back entrance behind the house (which has an incline and 1 step).  The community center across the street also has accessible bathrooms on the main level. If you have any accessibility concerns or questions, please email us at zenyuseattle@gmail.com

*Questions about “Fragrance-Free” check out this article.

An Abundant Spring!

making way for some raspberries!

making way for some raspberries!

It’s been an abundant spring for Zenyu!  We had an intimate and fun Gardening Skillshare and Work Party at Hester Angus’s homestead on Beacon Hill. 5 hardy souls and one geriatric Beagle came out one foggy, drizzly Saturday in April to dig big holes in the ground, plant beets and beans, share food, and reflect on our connection to place. In exchange for our hard work, a few weeks later we got to harvest as many pea vines as we wanted (yum)! We look forward to more of these work parties in the summer. Stay tuned!

And! Zenyu was recently awarded not one but TWO grants: a small one from Lily Divine Productions, a local production company that produces queer burlesque shows, and a $20,000 grant from the Self-Development of People Committee of the Presbyterian Church.  These may be small in terms of nonprofit grants, but it’s HUGE to us!!!

Rachel Anderson, Community Advisory Group member and Emil Paddison, our new Sustainability Director, working hard!

Rachel Anderson, Community Advisory Group member and Emil Paddison, our new Sustainability Director, working hard at Zenyu’s 2012 New Year’s Crystal Soup Ceremony!

Further, we are excited to officially welcome longtime Zenyu supporter and beloved ally, Emil Paddison, as Zenyu’s new Sustainability Director!  Emil comes to us with over 10 years experience in Tenants Rights work, anti-oppression and cross-class allyship with Resource Generation.  Coming from her most recent position as Deputy Director at the Tenants Union, Emil will be helping us with Organizational Development, Strategic Planning, Fundraising and Administration.  We are excited to grow Zenyu’s work with Emil’s incredible expertise and passion for building Beloved Community rooted in compassion, justice and connection!



Zenyu is excited to offer the 3rd Annual Spiritual Wilderness Retreat for People of Color September 20-22, 2013. Yoga, guided meditation, gorgeous hiking opportunities in the world-famous Icicle Creek Canyon and the Enchantments, bonfires under the stars, and delicious food will be offered throughout the weekend, as well as ample time for solitary reflection and exploring. It has been a time of Great Change and there is no better place to seek healing and clarity than in the powerful presence of Nature, and with other like-hearted people. We will be camping and will have no access to cell service, electricity or other distractions, giving us a rare chance to reflect and go inward in healing community with wonderful people. For those who are new to the outdoors, this is a gentle introduction to the wilderness. We expect good weather, fall foliage, a beautiful waxing Harvest moon, and a powerful healing adventure.

WHEN: September 20-22, 2013. Participants should plan to leave Seattle by 9AM on Friday, Sept 20 in order to get the most out of our time away. We will return by 8PM on Sunday, Sept 22.

WHERE: Ida Creek Campground in the Icicle Creek Canyon near Leavenworth, WA. We will be hiking nearby as well as in the world-famous Enchantments region of the North Cascades.

COST: $85-185 sliding scale ($85 covers the basic cost of food, accommodation and organizing costs but no compensation for leaders). Limited work-exchange scholarships available.

REGISTRATION: Spots will fill up quickly so please email Christine Cruz Guiao at christineguiao@gmail.com to receive a registration form. A non-refundable (but transferable if we find someone to take your spot) deposit of $50 is necessary to hold your space. The remaining balance will be due August 31, 2013.


Christine Cruz Guiao is a Brooklyn-born, Northwest-grown Pinay mystic artist and healer, who has explored and worshipped in wildernesses all over the world, including the Canadian Rockies, the Himalayas, Alaska, and her own wild heart. Born into the mystical Catholic tradition of her Philippine ancestors, she has also studied for over 15 years with esteemed teachers of Tibetan Buddhism, yoga, and the Earth-based spiritualities of the Coast Salish, Aleut and Native Hawaiian people. She has led regular meditations for People of Color since 2006 and has guided urban POCs in unforgettable wilderness adventures. She is Founder and Co-Director of Zenyu. Check out: tawahealingworks.com

April Nishimura has studied in the Theravada Buddhist tradition with esteemed teachers & monastics from the U.S., Thailand, and Uganda as well as the Shamanic tradition of the Shipibo people of the Upper Amazon. She is a Structural Medicine practitioner who loves movement, the body and the healing power of nature. April specializes in ergonomic design and anatomy. In her healing work, April draws on her eclectic experience as a longtime Co-counselor, a labor organizer and her work in the prevention of intimate partner violence in order to understand the root of suffering/trauma and the avenues for our transformation and healing. She is Co-Director of Zenyu.

Nari Baker grew up on a small organic farm on Vashon Island that included a multitude of animals, family, community, and flowers. As a youth, she backpacked in the Cascade and Olympic mountains and sailed in the Puget Sound waters with her family. In 2009, Nari began a serious yoga practice and started teaching in 2011. As a new teacher, she is humbled and inspired by her teachers at Seattle Yoga Arts and students at POC Yoga and Rainier Health & Fitness. Nari deeply believes in the transformative healing powers of yoga, and embodiment as a radical tool of resistance for people of color.


Gardening Skillshare/Work Party

Have you ever wanted to learn about gardening but were too afraid to ask?  Well then, this is the event for you!  We are excited to be doing a gardening skillshare with Zenyu community member, Hester Angus, at their homo-stead on Beacon Hill (a stone’s throw from Yummy House).  In exchange for the work you will be putting in digging dirt, possibly planting things, learning about the incredible world of gardening, etc, you will be guaranteed a bag full of organic vegetables during summer/fall harvest.  Amazing or what?

Participants will not only learn valuable gardening skills and deepen their connection to earth and community, but this project will also provide equitable access to fresh, organic and local produce, normally inaccessible to our communities of color in South Seattle. This work builds off of our successful HUG It Out Work Party at Hilltop Urban Gardens, a community-based urban agriculture, justice, and equity organization in Tacoma, WA in June 2012. (check out:

GARDENING SKILLSHARE/WORK PARTY: Saturday, April 27th, 2013, 10am-3pm. Hester’s Homostead, Beacon Hill, Seattle WA.

ALL ARE WELCOME, although you must RSVP to join us, as spaces are limited. To register, please email us atzenyuseattle@gmail.com by Sunday, April 21, 2013.


SACRED SOUND WORKSHOP: Reclaiming Our Voice, Reclaiming Our Power

All over the world, music and singing has had a primarily spiritual purpose.In this workshop, we will experience how our voice can connect us to deeper levels of ourselves and to the incredibly healing world of sound. In a loving and supportive environment, we learn to listen intuitively, making sacred sounds and using the power of intention to heal ourselves, each other and our communities. Together, we will discover and reclaim our own voice as a source of inner power. For all those who wonder why we are making all those strange sounds when we meditate together and yet have no idea why you feel so good after, this is the workshop for you!  Equally accessible for singers and non-singers alike, believers and non-believers!

Opening Ceremony with Altar Creation
Balancing, Aligning and Tuning our Energy Centers
Exploration of Silence, Sound and Our Creative Instincts
Sound: the Science and the Sacred
The Role of Body in Sound and Healing
Circle Singing, a leader-led improvised community sing
Simple songs and rounds
Intentional Singing for Healing


ImageChristine Cruz Guiao is a sound healer, spiritual guide and community-builder, with extensive experience leading retreats and experiences that profoundly connect us to ourselves, each other and Nature.

She currently leads and organizes monthly sound meditation classes, and regularly holds meditation workshops at organizations such as Seattle University, Shoreline Community College, & YouthSource, a program for previously-incarcerated youth.



Rebekka Goldsmith is a vocalist, social artist and improviser who teaches vocal improvisation as a technique for developing music skills, personal intuition, risk-taking, creative capacity and healing.

Rebekka has taught with master vocal improviser, Rhiannon, and facilitates beginning through advanced vocal exploration workshops and retreats for youth and adults throughout the United States and Canada.

New Year’s Crystal Soup Ceremony: A Fundraiser for Zenyu

New Year’s Crystal Soup Ceremony: the Space of All Possibilities

A Fundraiser for Zenyu

Monday, December 31st, 2011 6pm-9pm, Doors open at 6pm

Yummy House & Temple

2828 S Frontenac St

Seattle WA 98108



Suggested Donation: $25-100 (no one turned away for lack of funds)


 Zenyu joyfully invites you to start off 2013 in a sacred and delicious way! Join us in a beautiful intention-setting ceremony, as we gather together to plant our intentions in the Space of All Possibilities. With guided meditation and a purifying fire we will cast away the old and invite in the transformational and (r)evolutionary energies of 2013…all in the presence of like-hearted folks who wish to live a meaningful life. And not to worry, the ceremony will end early enough so you have time to go home, primp, and party the rest of the night away!

We will also end the night with a delicious soup, created from our collective vegetable contributions. Remember that StoneSoup fable? Well, instead of a boring old stone, we’re substituting an energized crystal (for a more woo-woo touch). To make this nourishing and sacred brew, we invite all participants to share a single vegetable offering (washed and chopped, please!).  Vegan/Gluten-free options will be available!

Space is limited so please buy your tickets now at Brown Paper Tickets. And if you can’t make it, you can still make a donation and sponsor someone else!

*This is a fragrance-free event.  Other accessibility concerns?  Please contact us at zenyuseattle@gmail.com.


Zenyu creates opportunities for developing connections with ourselves, with each other and with the natural world through a spiritual, social justice lens. Zenyu is a grassroots, multicultural organization that cultivates the holistic well-being and leadership of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Inquiring (LGBTQI) People of Color through meditation classes, wilderness excursions, and spiritual retreats. Zenyu supports long-term social change by developing solution-centered leadership based on compassion, mindfulness and co-operation among marginalized communities.

The Fruits We Are Reaping

crowdZenyu is exhilarated and exhausted from all the indescribable experiences of this past week and a half, as we have reaped the delicious fruit of all the seeds we have sown in this past year….YESSS! 🙂

Community Organizing and Healing for the “OuterSpaces Tour: Power in the Margins

We continued our commitment to creating accesible (r)evolutionary healing spaces as community sponsors of the “OuterSpaces: Power in the Margins” tour. As proud community sponsors, Zenyu promoted the show by telling every single person we know (and just met), co-organized a very special community dinner and offered an incredibly epic Sound Healing Meditation for the artists, Las KrudasInvincible, and Climbing PoeTree.  All of this culminated in what many audience members say was the most powerful performance of the year at Washington Hall on Thurs, Nov 29th (one just told me that it was the best performance he had ever witnessed)! The IMG_5642Light and Healing that came through that night was indescribable! To bear witness to their sacred expressions of Truth and Justice through their mastery of hip-hop, spoken word, and multimedia performances (including beatboxing on a panflute…whaat?!) was truly an honor. A few of the artists have credited the power of the healing work we did with them for the magic and depth of their performance (*blush), showing again the collective power of healing in community that brings us to a place of sacred connection to our voices and to each other. We are excited to welcome Invincible, Alixa, Naima, Odaymara, and Olivia into the Zenyu family. And of course, much love and respect to our other community partners, Uzuri Productions, YouthSpeaks, Social HeARTistry Educators, Jewish Voice for Peace, and all the amazing orgs that helped to put this glorious celebration together!


Grant Site Visit from Self-Development of People Committee

IMG_5660“There are so many people I work with who would hunger for what you are putting together here. The vision of the community that isn’t yet, but that ought to be, is really quite beautiful. That’s what I like about Zenyu. Thank you for the privilege of hearing.”
– a quote from one of the Grant Committee members

As an answer to our prayers, we finally heard back this past month from the Self-Development of People Committee of the Presbyterian Church regarding a grant we had applied for over a year ago. We spent an inspiring couple hours on Saturday, December 1st, with the 3 members of their West Task Force (one who traveled from San Diego to meet with us) and a beautiful smattering of Zenyu Family. We gathered to share our experiences of community and healing with Zenyu. It was so moving to hear all the stories of lives transformed, lifelong friendships and relationships forged in the beautiful creative fire of community, and a deep yearning for “a community that ought to be”. At several points, there was not a single dry eye in the Temple!! April and I were once again humbled to hear and see how beautiful our Family of Light is by hearing about all the amazing work they do in the world! Thank you so much for sharing so deeply and generously your inspiring passion for justice and Spirit and why you are part of our community. We feel so honored and blessed to walk this path with you all (and to so many more of you who weren’t there tonight but who are part of the Zenyu family!). Please pray for the Highest and Best to occur in this grant situation–we really need it 🙂

Leading from the Heart Retreat

ImageWe co-organized and co-facilitated the successful Leading from the Heart Retreat, which took 16 social justice leaders from around the Puget Sound to the gorgeous Chinook Institute on Whidbey Island to teach them inner transformative practices. Amongst other activities, Zenyu led participants on a deeply insightful and inspiring Journey Mapping exercise that got all to reflect on their ancestry, our collective histories and our Highest and Best Selves. Particpants also learned about various frameworks to support cooperative collaboration, including Polarity Theory and Power, Rank & Privilege. Beautiful!

Trans* Day of Remembrance

Zenyu was humbled to lead the Healing Circle for the Trans* Day of Remembrance (TDOR) Gathering and Vigil on Tuesday, November 20, 2012. TDOR happens on November 20 of each year for Transgender, gender non-conforming, and gender-variant people along with their allies, both to memorialize those killed due to Transphobia and to call attention to the continued violence against Transgender communities worldwide. This has been a useful tool for bringing awareness and calling people to action against the ongoing invisibility of systematic and state violence against Transgender people. TDOR was a collaboration with the students of the University of Washington Q Center, Seattle University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, Queer Youth Space, Zenyu, and other community sponsors.

The intention this year was, in the words of Sabina Neem, Chair of Zenyu’s Community Advisory Group and assistant director of SU’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, “to do a different kind of Trans Remembrance Day. We wanted to do one that didn’t erase the reality of Transphobic violence and institutional violence that leads to the death and losses in our communities, but rather captures all of that while not re-traumatizing people. … We are really doing our best to create spaces for people to really honor those that we lost in our communities in ways that focus on ways that they lived.”

For more info, check out Lulu Carpenter’s great article at Seattle Gay News: http://www.sgn.org/sgnnews40_47/page8.cfm

Trans* Day of Remembrance 2012


Trans* Day of Remembrance 2012


In Collaboration with University of Washington, Seattle U, Zenyu, & Queer Youth Space

Tuesday, Nov 20th 5m-8pm

Meet at Queer Youth Space:
911 E Pike, 202, Seattle, Washington 98122 

Trans* Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is a time set aside each year to memorialize those killed due to transphobia. TDOR is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder in 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most trans* murder cases — has yet to be solved. Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgender/trans*, each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgender and gender non-conforming people.

This candlelight vigil will be a space to show our love and respect for those murdered due to hatred and transphobia while celebrating the lives led by trans* folks— this will be a space for our Seattle transgender/trans* and allied communities to mourn & heal collectively.

Participants are more than welcome and encouraged to bring a poem, song, prayer, or loving words.

NOV 20th 5m-8pm

Meet at Queer Youth Space:
911 E Pike, 202
Seattle, Washington 98122
[QYS is a youth-led and youth-run nonprofit organization that provides the space, tools, and resources queer young people need to be effective leaders, organizers, and advocates.]

  • Food will be served
  • Creating an altar where we can remember people who we’ve lost to institutional violence as well (lack of access to healthcare, mental health svc, housing, mistreatment in services/ schools/ jobs, etc)
  • Healing Circle– Sound Healing with Zenyu Director Christine Guiao
  • Lighting candles to close and walking over to Cal Anderson (for visibility to community)