Empowering future generations

Yogis painting at mural during Empowered Youth Initiative 2011.

If you’ve been following Yoga Modern for a while, you’ve read many stories and reflections inspired by the transformational experiences Off the Mat Into the World facilitates worldwide. Back in April, regular contributor Lauren Znachko shared thoughts on Yogis, Weirdos, and At-Risk Youth. We’ve also heard about finding the Sacred in the Shadow and At-Risk Youth and the Rape of Mother Earth.

I have not spent 20 years in jail, but I have known the suffering of my own emotional jail and the winding road to recovery to feel like a normal and functioning human. I could relate to many of the journeys that were shared with us that week.

It got me thinking about what has allowed me to create the reality that I now live in. At 40-something, I finally have a handle on my emotions. I have survived physical violence, energetic, emotional and verbal abuse, early life trauma, and deep abandonment. Throughout my hardships I refused to turn to medications, and I now don’t have a single self-medicating habit. Instead it took 25 years of healing spiritual medicines, rituals, community learning, somatic bodywork, expressive dance, art and yoga, meditation, and shamanic journeys. I wonder if it’s my connection to Source, higher guidance, and protection that got me to where I am today.

Read more of Yemaya Ruby’s poignant and heartfelt reflection on the OTM blog here.

2011 EYI participants at a rec center in LA

Yoga Modern’s primary intention is to facilitate dialogue around the challenging questions that our yoga community faces today. Now, Off the Mat is preparing for their second annual Empowered Youth Initiative, and they’ve asked us to share this opportunity to engage with and learn about the plight of youth with Yoga Modern readers.

Young people who do not have adequate support around them are often considered “at risk.” They are at risk of engaging in criminal activity, drugs, joining gangs, violent behavior, or being the victims of violence. Psychologically they are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and mental illness.

The Empowered Youth Initiative aims at addressing the larger context that these young people are brought up in. Their behavior is a product of what is going on in their home, community, school and district; as well as their ancestry and physiology. The more we as conscious activists can understand this larger socio-economic and political context, the more effective we can be in serving this community.

To learn more this year’s program or sign-up to embark on the journey yourself, click here. If you decide to do it, maybe you can come back and share your own reflections here on the YM blog. For now, we want to hear from you.  What does the term “at-risk” youth mean to you, and what are the challenges young people in your community face?

Photos courtesy of James Wade

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