What is the central aim of meditation? Why do we sit? And how can our lineage serve as the blueprint for our survival? When we allow ourselves to return to body, we can imagine a world without prisons, war, capitalism, and police violence. We can bring into manifestation the world we want to see. And we can experience joy with every breath. Hear Charlotte’s journey into mindfulness and fiction.
GET CHARLOTTE’S FREE GIFT HERE: MEDITATION FOR HEALING TRAUMA
*The last 10 minutes of this interview is also a guided meditation.
“I was a temple kid and was officially introduced to meditation as a child, but really became devoted to the practice in 2007 and have held a daily practice of meditation in the Vipassana and Theravada lineage…. I was advised early on against getting caught up in the philosophical infatuation of the concepts…. For me and my body, I just remember experiencing this intense joy and just letting my shoulders drop, and just being quiet for 45 minutes was a total revelation for me. I was always just ‘Go, go, go!’ I would describe it as diving underwater for the first time.”
“With mindfulness being a buzz word these days, i think we forget that mindfulness and meditation is so much more than spiritual calisthenics or being more calm so we can be more productive at work. There’s actually a really robust lineage of teachings that this practice is engaged in. The central aim of meditation and mindfulness has always been the alleviation of suffering of the world and the safety of all.”
“I feel the presence of my grandfather... I come from a long lineage of spiritual Buddhist peace activists during the Vietnam war.”
“My whole sense of spirituality shifted when I left the nonprofit space and my health was completely deteriorated, and this was also during the last presidential election. I felt this sense collectively that everyone was trying to understand, ‘How do we cope with this?’ This led me to really want to dig into my lineage for a blueprint of survival.”
“For Vietnamese folks, our stories are rich in resilience and overcoming. We’ve faced conquest and the loss of our land and language, our religious ways and being via French colonization and Japanese imperialism.”
“ We’re really in an exciting time in our culture where we’re asking questions like, ‘How did our ancestors be? What did they eat? How did they pray together? What were there grief ceremonies? We’re trying to understand these questions in a way to disrupt the colonial project.”
“All social change work is fiction. Everytime we want to enact a world without war, without prisons, without capitalism, without police violence, those worlds don’t yet exist. But being able to collectively imagine it means that we can begin to pull it out of the dream world and into reality.”
“We can analyze and critique all we want, but very often that leaves us rooted in what is and we so often forget to envision what could be.”
“Imagination and fiction allows us a process in creating a new world, and when we free our imagination we question everything. We recognize that none of this is fixed, and we have the strength to connect the world however we will and that is why i think decolonization of the imagination is the most dangerous, the most subversive decolonization process of all.”
“Seeing ourselves as visionaries and creators of fiction demands that we don’t see ourselves as victims, but as leaders and recognize.”
“Our joy and our suffering can and does coexist with one another. Radical joy empowers me to feel righteous anger and rage for the ways in which children at the border are being ripped away from their families, and at the same time, I can hold that and still sit in my garden and delight at the beautiful flowers and the breeze on my face.”
“I think that we’re here to be spiritual warriors and not escapists, so our imagination and meditation can be a refuge. But these are not practices in real life is ever excluded…. These are tactics that can support us on the path to liberation, but they are not inherently the solution. There needs to be both the work of personal liberation and collective liberation.”
Recommended books: Octavia’s Brood & Angel Kyodo Williams - Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, & Liberation.
Charlotte Nguyễn is a meditation teacher, spiritual advisor, activist and a safe space. Coming from a Southeast Asian background, spirituality and mysticism have always been part of her experience; but like the children of many immigrant families, survival was the guiding force that shaped her early years. After the death of her first love in 2006, she began a quest to be free from suffering. Meditation, sacred movement, tea and community each played a role - weaving together her love of spiritual practice, social action and creative expression. She now facilitates healing justice programs as the creator of Get Free!, a creative consultancy that helps changemakers and visionaries become more inspired and emotionally healthy through mindfulness. She is blessed to serve and share this practice which has so profoundly changed her life.
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