Empowering people to maximize their purpose & lead from their heart & mind


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About our 4th Annual Mindfulness Retreat

Mindful Action and Education Retreat is a day-long retreat providing individuals with support to spark and produce innovative practices for contemplative action and education including a racial equity lens for liberation. This approach recognizes the power of individuals and communities to use a variety of tools, from traditional advocacy to the arts from spiritual practice to social practice, in order to impact change. We aim to support professionals who are influencing public education, government, wellness, incarcerated person advocacy, and the racial justice field. With a diverse team of presenters, including but not limited to activists, spiritual teachers, academics, artists, and organizers, we will offers workshops with meaningful impact. We invite you to come and engage with the Mindful Action and Education approach to racial justice, contemplative education and beyond.

Speakers and Workshops

Featured Speaker: Mindfulness for the People: Dr. Angela Rose Black

Dr. Angela Rose Black is a Thought Leader in mindfulness research, teaching, and practice. Named by as one of the “10 Powerful Women of the Mindfulness Movement” and TIME magazine as “The New Mindfulness,” Dr. Black brings racial justice to mindfulness initiatives, and mindfulness to racial justice initiatives. Learn more about Dr. Black

Featured Speaker: Atman Smith Community Action through Holistic Education - Holistic Life Foundation, Inc.

Atman Smith is the Co-founder of the Holistic Life Foundation, where after 15 years of serving as Director of Youth Programming, he currently serves as the Director of Fundraising. He is also Co-Founder and Co-CEO of For the People Entertainment, LLC. He is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and attended Friends School of Baltimore for twelve years, but graduated from Baltimore’s Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High School. He went on to attend the University of Maryland, College Park where he was a letter award winner for the Men’s basketball team and received a BA in Criminology and Criminal Justice. His parents were yogis and taught him contemplative practices as a very young child. For the past 15 years, he has been teaching yoga and mindfulness to many diverse populations. Go to their website to learn more about HLF! HLF website" width="197"/>

Mindful Music - Embodied End of Retreat Workshop with Max Bent !

Max Bent is a human beatbox artist. His mission statement is brief: “Breath, life, creativity. I am just where I want to be.” Whether working with youth through the Baby Beats! live music and movement program, in public schools around the state of Maryland with his arts integration program “Outside the (Beat)box” or as a musician in the Afrohouse (disruptive music culture) ensemble, Max seeks to draw audiences (and himself) into the present moment using breath and music. Success is achieved when the border between audience and performer has dissolved into a single universal Om. Areas to be explored include sacred music, mantra chanting, breathing exercises and present listening.

The Intersection of Intergenerational Trauma and Mindfulness: Vanessa Durrant

In this workshop, we will explore the current psychological research in the field of trauma, particularly intergenerational trauma. You will gain a foundational understanding of the types of trauma and the impact it may have in students learning trajectory. We will learn about ways in which intergenerational trauma shows up in the classroom and how to utilize mindfulness effectively to provide a supportive trauma-informed learning environment. We will explore cutting edge methodologies to feel confident as educators in supporting traumatized children. 

Vanessa believes that we are all wired for connection, healing, and growth. She loves working with children who are struggling to feel heard and understood-at home, school, or with their peers; because of trauma, anxiety, or other painful experiences. She also enjoys working with invested parents who are looking to delve further into attachment informed, positive, and conscious parenting. In reality, Vanessa enjoys working with all populations, as long as there is a yearning for growth and a deeper consciousness This includes, working with adults who are looking for more integrative methods to heal from trauma.

Connection and the Land: Food Justice: Ben Friton

Benjamin Friton was born and raised in Maryland and spent over 10-years as a speech professional working with politicians, Heads of State, CEO’s, and philanthropic icons from around the world. His passion expanded to the cultivation and implementation of agro-ecosystems that would impact and support future generations of the world and reduce food insecurity and ecosystem collapse. He has patented growing structures designed to help densely populated regions of the world. In 2010 he co-founded a non-profit called Can YA Love. He studied with Dr. Elaine Ingham and the Rodale Institute and began his quest to create SELF-perpetuating agricultural systems and restore degraded ecosystems. He has focused his efforts on studying and learning to mimic thriving ecosystems from the micro to macro level. In 2014, he joined Forested, a 10-acre research-based food forest located in Bowie, Maryland growing hundreds of species of edible, medicinal and otherwise useful plants without the need for irrigation or synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, while restoring the land degraded by 300 years of tobacco and other conventional practices. Ben has been consulting, holding educational seminars and lecturing to audiences of all ages on four continents, focusing on the past, present and future of humanity and agriculture. He currently resides in Maryland with his 10-year old daughter and is designing a 150+ acre research and production farm in Middletown, Maryland, where he will be implementing a wide variety of innovative agricultural systems and land practices.

Visit :

In the Middle

Middle School students have different needs during this transition in their lives. Using the research of Dr. Dan Siegel Jennifer will highlight different activities she uses in her school that help students assist them as middle school students.

Jennifer Hutchins has been an educator at the Salmon River Middle School for 17 years. Three years ago she started her mindfulness training with Mindful Schools. Since then she has trained with the Holistic Life Foundation of Baltimore Maryland and continues to train in mindfulness and yoga with Holistic Life Foundation. 

At Salmon River Middle School she implements daily mindful moments through morning announcements and coordinates a mindful ambassadors program.

At her studio, Foothills Holistic Center, she conducts a variety of workshops on mindfulness and yoga. She has conducted mindfulness workshops and sessions with FEHB, Parent Network, and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe.

Universal Dance of Peace: Community Care w/ Michele Blumberg

She will be doing an activity with all centered in Loving Kindness and Leading is in Dances of Universal Peace !

Michele Blumberg is a graduate of Naropa’s MA in Contemplative Education program and has been on the faculty since her graduation in 2003. Her undergraduate degree is in Early Childhood Education with Montessori training. She has taught in various schools and was director of her own small school for over a decade.

Michele feels blessed to have been able to receive teachings from a number of spiritual teachers. She was ordained by Satguru Sant Keshavadas in 1990 after 18 years of study in Sanatana Vishwa Dharma, and holds the title of Acharya in that tradition.

She is a certified leader of the Dances of Universal Peace and was mentored by Saadi Neil Douglas Klotz.

Michele is one of the curriculum developers and teachers at Global Village School, an online homeschooling program. Presently, she is the School Specialist for the Positive Parenting Program of Jewish Family Service, and has been a consultant and program developer at JFS for 17 years.

With 4 adult children and 6 grandchildren, education and family are her passion.

Head Start – Mindful Wellness in the Community - Open Minds, Inc. with Bonnie Hamberger and Panel Discussion

She has been teaching yoga, art and the natural sciences for over 5 years. She believes in spreading Mindfulness to the most vulnerable and underserved parts of the population and has worked passionately in prisons, schools and community centers in Western Maryland. Her goal is to inspire curiosity, empathy and self-discovery through wellness education and therapy. Bonnie is also a political activist and hopes to influence others to never be a bystander in the face of injustice and to speak up for the disenfranchised. She believes we all have gifts we are meant to use to be a blessing to others and that those who are born into privilege have a duty to the less fortunate. 

Bonnie has worked both as a volunteer and employee for Open Minds since its beginnings and currently is a yoga instructor at Headstart of Washington County. She is also a program instructor at the Catoctin Creek Nature Center and occasionally helps out as a creative movement coach at her husband's gym, 4-star Obstacles. She has a B.A. in Art from Hood College and is a certified Childlight yoga instructor. She loves traveling, hiking, practicing yoga and making art and spending time with her husband and 5 year old son.

Seeing the Whole Student: Culturally Competent Teaching Practices for Diverse Populations

Teaching yoga mindfulness and yoga is a radical act of love. It is a bold way to embrace humanity and offer life skills to adolescents that are often in need of support. Sometimes, our teaching takes us to a place where the population we serve is very different from us and our life experience. When working with a culturally diverse student population, we still teach from love but we also need to embrace the whole being – to see their culture, to understand how our own biases may interplay with our ability to be present, to include their experience in our teaching. The session will help to broaden participant’s awareness of their cultural competency. Participants will spend time looking at their own experiences, knowledge, skills, beliefs, values and interests and how that might influence their lens and perspective.

Learning Outcomes:

1) Increase their awareness about the characteristics of culture and diversity

2) Increase their awareness of cultural competence for awareness-based teachers

3) Describe how they will work with children and families from diverse cultures

4) Strategies to maintain an open heart in times of difficulty or confrontation

5) Increase awareness of the role of unconscious bias, personally and systemically." width="222"/>

Tawanna Kane - Inner Resource Project - Baltimore, MD

Tawanna aims to help individuals and communities identify and cultivate their internal support systems and resilience through mindfulness-based approaches. She has worked, as a consultant, on successful clinical trials, in public schools, with universities and community-based organizations offering tools to increase awareness and strengthen individual’s ability to connect to themselves and their community.

Understanding Autism through the Lens of Basic Goodness

This presentation is for those who support individuals on the autism spectrum, including educators, therapists, and other health care or school professionals. Taking a respectful approach to gleaning insights into the experience of autism, participants will explore how to apply contemplative wisdom in their understanding of human differences, and why this approach matters in the way we value, appreciate and interact with autistic people and people with other neurophysiological differences. Participants will explore relationship dynamics through a contemplative lens, allowing them to:

• honor individual differences with deeper understanding, respect & integrity

• more compassionately support & interact with individuals on the autism spectrum

• more meaningfully enrich relationships with the autistic people in their lives

Kelly Petrie is a graduate of Naropa’s MA in Contemplative Education program and has been teaching as adjunct faculty since her graduation in 2012. She has been involved in the field of education for nearly 20 years, working with students in early childhood through postsecondary education, with a primary interest in supporting students with diverse learning needs through holistic approaches to education. 

She is also a certified yoga instructor with advanced training in therapeutic elements of yoga and a practice leader with the Tergar International meditation community. She is a teacher and board member for YogAutism, a Wisconsin based non-profit whose mission is to enhance the lives of people with autism &/or other neuro-physiological differences across the lifespan through yoga-inspired programs & practices.

The Transformative Power of Presence: An experiential workshop for those who believe in transforming the world from the inside-out.

This workshop is based on the belief that the most powerful tool there is for transformation in our world is found in the deliberate work to transform ourselves. It is the POWER found in our PRESENCE that ultimately impacts and ignites transformative experiences for others. In Parker Palmer’s The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life he says, “good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher… as I teach, I project the condition of my soul onto my students, my subject, and our way of being together.” It is for this reason that it is essential for teachers and change agents alike to engage in practices that ultimately cultivate our own spiritual compassion, strength, and soul.

Aikta Suri - Aikta’s career background includes facilitating transformational experiences for people of all ages. Starting with mastering the art of service-learning while working for Loyola University, to obtaining her Masters in Contemplative Education from Naropa University. She also served as a Transformation Specialist in her personal Brilliant Butterflies tutoring service while teaching in a variety of classroom settings - university through elementary school. She has provided professional development for university faculty, in-service and pre-service teachers, and has hosted a variety of retreat and spiritual workshops across the world. She has also directed educational programs for 2 reputable non-profits, focused on the topics of environmental education and arts & human development, in Washington, DC. She currently serves as a curriculum specialist for Life Pieces To Masterpieces, and co-owns and operates her own business, Transformative Travel LLC.

Art & Social Justice: The Transcending Power of Creativity & Image

Join contemplative artist and educator, Myra Jean Smith in this 90-minute workshop. Participants will dive into meaningful discussion around creating from places of being, the power of creativity, art, and image in current and past social justice movements, and creative practice as a means of transcendence. Participants will use thought-provoking discussion and the experience of contemplative practice to inspire creative expression as they generate their own works of art.

Myra Jean Smith M.Ed CYT-500 Contemplative Artist & Educator - A life long artist, educator, and learner, Myra has twenty five years of experience spanning four continents. She enjoyed many years as a visual arts educator in public and private schools. Through her own necessity to heal from loss she found contemplative practices and pursued those deeply at Naropa University in the Contemplative Education program. The founder of Mindful High School, she currently teaches mindfulness to teens and adults in the triangle area in North Carolina. She and her husband Greg, enjoy travel, music, photography, antiques, Contemplative Arts, and especially their dog Roscoe.

Workshops that will be described soon !

The Awakened Family: Strategies for Effective Communication

Uncovering Compassion, Transforming Violence: The Power of Storytelling and Non Violence in Education

Contemplative Justice: Kenya Prison Systems - Mindful Leadership - Jan Hummer of Open Minds and Guest

Morning and Midday Session Yoga 

Snacks, Paper Bag Lunch, and Community Dinner are included in the price of ticket.