By Thomas E. Mills
Most of the attendees came seeking community. Many of them have been on the Ed Portal mailing list for years, and others had the session recommended to them by friends. However, they got there, they all came from across Greater Boston, and all came with an open mind.
Hosted by the Harvard Ed Portal, Memory, Social Justice, and Mindfulness was a re-imagined one-off course based on a four-part Ed Portal program hosted last year.
The session was led by My Ngoc To a mindfulness instructor who also happens to be a Harvard College alumni. My Ngoc noted her deep Buddhist lineage when she introduced herself, and encouraged participants to be sure to take care of themselves and connect with their inner strength.
Most of the participants said they came to the session not knowing what to fully expect. Some in the group had experience with meditation, and that was the draw of the event. Others were interested because of the social justice aspect of the conversation. No matter what brought someone to the event however, they all were open to the exercises My Ngoc was teaching.
At the outset of the program, My Ngoc led participants in a breathing exercise where she guided everyone through techniques and asked people to think about how they were breathing – she called this a settling in practice. Poetry, music, meditative techniques, and conversation were central to the evening's events – following each activity, My Ngoc asked participants to share what they were feeling with the group.
Together they explored the 400 Years of Inequality Project timeline, a timeline of events that shines a light on inequality, and then read aloud entries and discussed what came to mind for each participant.
The event was part of the Ed Portal’s Wellness programs, offerings that would typically be taking place in person in Allston, but due to the pandemic have shifted online.
The wellness programs planned by the Ed Portal include activities meant to stimulate both mind and body – from programs such as Yoga Nira, a low impact yoga practice, to a partnership with Harvard Recreation focused on strength and movement. The Ed Portal is also offering discounted memberships to Harvard Recreation’s online offerings and hope that anyone who is interested in staying active will be able to find the right opportunity for them.
For more information, or to register for an upcoming event, please visit the Harvard Ed Portal website.