We offer teachings, practice and guidance that nurture a healthy and resilient body and mind. During an in-person retreat, an online event, or a course in our Academy, you may see us blending Buddhist practices with trauma-informed teachings and research in neuroscience and psychology. This transformative work also involves play and curiosity.
Where is your organization based?
North Carolina and Mexico.
How many regular members do you serve?
Tell us a bit about how the group was conceived?
The Lotus Institute was founded in 1996 with the support and guidance of Thich Nhat Hanh—Zen Master, poet, activist, and founder of the Plum Village tradition. Dr. Larry Ward and Dr. Peggy Rowe Ward, two of Nhat Hanh’s senior Dharma teachers, were inspired to offer teachings, training and Sangha support in service to individual and collective healing, transformation and liberation. We are continually growing this vision, focusing now on areas such as: rediscovering our kinship with nature and one another; accelerating our embodied awakening; connecting people of diverse backgrounds; building relationships between people who care about the future.
Tell us about one exciting project, program, retreat or other offering you are currently working on?
We have recently launched an online course called the Wind Gate that has been two years in the making. This is the second in a four-part series that offers simple practices to identify and understand trauma in our bodies and minds, so that we become more skillful in how we care for ourselves and others. Combining mindfulness and meditation with neuroscience and trauma-informed teaching, the Wind Gate explores how our minds and nervous systems sustain racialized thinking, speech, and behavior.
How do the Three Tenets inform your social engagement?
Our work is inspired by the Bodhisattva vow, which we see as an expression of the Three Tenets. Thich Nhat Hanh’s name means “one action” and, just as his teachings are based on engaged practice, so are our programs and the very core of our vision. A recent retreat at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies illustrates our approach. Our aim was to share embodied Buddhist practices for resiliency, healing and social engagement. Doing so begins with understanding our precious body-mind somatically, not just intellectually. During this retreat, we offered tools for coming home to our bodies, rewiring our nervous system, and healing our trauma. In trauma resiliency terms, we want to support one another to move from self-regulation to co-regulation, and ultimately to what we call co-imagination – a mind and heart-space where we are available and open-minded enough to engage with one another in wellness, justice, and community.
What is the most meaningful challenge your organization faces?
Like many Buddhist communities, we want to remedy the lack of diversity at our gatherings and in our wider community. We are seeking ways to include more BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) and all young people in everything that we do. With a small staff and limited funds, this remains a significant hurdle.