Finding Refuge: Heart Work for Healing Collective Grief (Paperback)

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Learn how to process your own grief--as well as family, community, and global grief--with this fierce and openhearted guide to healing in an unjust world.

In unsettling and uncertain times, the individual and collective heartbreak that lives in our bodies and communities can feel insurmountable. Many of us have been conditioned by the dominant culture to not name, focus on, or wade through the difficulties of our lives. But in order to heal, we must make space for grief and prioritize our wholeness, our humanity, and our inherent divinity.

In Finding Refuge, social justice activist, social worker, and yoga teacher Michelle Cassandra Johnson offers those who feel brokenhearted, helpless, confused, powerless, and desperate the tools they need to be present with their grief while also remaining openhearted. Through powerful personal narrative and meditation and journaling practices at the end of each chapter that explore being present with your heart, Michelle empowers us to see that each of us has a role to play in building enough momentum to take intentional action and shift what is unsettled and unjust in the world. Finding Refuge is an invitation to pick up the shattered parts of yourself and remember your strength, wholeness, and sacredness through this practice of presence and attending to your grief.

About the Author

MICHELLE CASSANDRA JOHNSON is a social justice warrior, author, dismantling racism trainer, empath, yoga teacher and practitioner, and an intuitive healer. With over 20 years of experience leading dismantling racism work and working with clients as a licensed clinical social worker, Johnson has a deep understanding of how trauma impacts the mind, body, spirit, and heart. She has led Dismantling Racism Trainings with large corporations, small nonprofits, and community groups, including the ACLU-WA, Duke University, Google, This American Life, The Center for Equity and Inclusion, Eno River Unitarian Universalist Church, Lululemon, and many others. She published Skill in Action in 2017 and teaches workshops nationwide.

Praise For…

“Finally, a skillful, actionable resource that addresses healing beyond merely the individual and recognizes the necessity of addressing the grief that results from impact of social and collective trauma. People both marginalized and privileged will find tangible practices to reclaim the heart and humanity that oppressive systems have sought to rob every single one of us of. Finding Refuge is an essential offering for these times.”—Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Sensei

“Too many of us try to use spiritual practices to lower the charge and weight of our grief. Michelle Cassandra Johnson wisely encourages us to do the opposite—to accept, embrace, and metabolize grief's full charge and full weight. Instead of shying away from our breaking hearts, we need to lean in and experience the breaking. Thus, we find refuge not from our grief, but in it. As Johnson wisely reminds us, 'Spiritual practice is about awakening and becoming aware—it is not about bypassing our collective trauma.'”—Resmaa Menakem, bestselling author of My Grandmother's Hands 

“Perhaps the greatest task for us in this new era is the work of allowing our hearts to break. In Finding Refuge, Michelle Johnson weaves together a path of practice that becomes a balm tending to our unexpressed grief. She helps us to understand that when we allow our broken hearts to be tended to through practice, care, and attention, we are doing the liberatory work of grieving. Finding Refuge is a gift to anyone lost in sorrow.”—Lama Rod Owens, author of Love and Rage and Radical Dharma

“What Michelle Cassandra Johnson offers is essential--both a sacred space and pathway for our grief to move, change, and transform ourselves and one another. Here, grief is not erased or avoided, rather it is embraced as a throughway to our collective liberation. In Finding Refuge, Michelle reminds us that we have the capacity to hold both the heartbreak and the hope, and guides us back to the refuge of the heart where all healing and possibility emerge. She is both teacher and healer, as she calls us to pick up the pieces of our shattered past so that we can weave a new future in the present. It is the essential book for these times.”—Kerri Kelly, founder of CTZNWELL and co-founder of Race and Resilience 
“This book is spirit embodied. It is a prayer and a hymn. Michelle Cassandra Johnson channels a deep invitation to turn towards, rather than away. Towards our brokenheartedness. Towards our pain. Towards our grief. She reminds us of the ever-present space that has infinite room for the wholeness of our experience. She illuminates the path of healing and models resting in the heart for refuge. For this, Michelle Cassandra Johnson deserves more than the title of author and teacher. Johnson is a healer in the most profound sense of the word. Finding Refuge is her medicine for us now. It’s for you. It’s for us. It’s for collective liberation. It’s born of love. It’s wake is love.”—Caverly Morgan, founder of Presence Collective and Peace in Schools, author of A Kids Book About Mindfulness

“[Johnson] empowers us to see that each of us has a role to play in building enough momentum to take intentional action and shift what is unsettled and unjust in the world.”—Shelf Awareness

“Yogi, Dismantling Racism trainer, and therapist Johnson's cathartic second book is a guide to healing collective grief written largely amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the concurrent social unrest of 2020. Drawing from her life experiences, Johnson creates userfriendly, meditative spiritual practices to assist readers in confronting grief head-on to bring healing and learning from it.”—Booklist

“Social worker and yoga teacher Johnson suggests uplifting methods for processing grief resulting from cultural trauma and systemic oppression. Spiritualists interested in social justice will get much out of Johnson’s engaging stories, practical advice, and contemplative practices.”—Publishers Weekly
Product Details
ISBN: 9781611809367
ISBN-10: 1611809363
Publisher: Shambhala
Publication Date: July 13th, 2021
Pages: 168
Language: English

How to read more
( Birmingham Museums Trust’s Digital Image Resource shares thousands of images that span decades of Birminghams vibrant past)

How To Read More

If you love reading, but for some reason you read less and less, know that everything is fine. It happens.
Our lives today have so many things that distract us - how can we not put books away when all these movies, TV shows, YouTube videos, social networks and endless surfing in online stores are around ...
Yes, it's really hard to resist, but you certainly can!

In this article, we want to share with you some tips to read more often and more successfully.
These are some notes and some practices that we have collected for our SUNDOG BOOKS readers club.
And maybe it will bring more books into your life!

Why do we want/need to read more?

To start reading more, you have to understand why you need it.
And you will be surprised, but your goals can be quite varied:

- for work
If you read a lot on duty, then you definitely need to speed up the process. The logic here is simple: read faster → work faster → more time for books for yourself.

- for education
you need this for your educational career or sometimes you just want to read to learn. And, with all the new alternative ways to gain knowledge (podcasts, online courses and videos), the book still does an excellent job of this task too.

- for self-development
all exercises for increasing speed, one way or another, improve cognition and memory.

- for fun
because good books always = fun!

Book lovers have an additional special goal for reading more often. If you love literature, you will understand what we mean: you want to catch everything - to follow modern literature, and not forget about the classics, look into non-fiction and children's publications. And there’s so much you want to reread! The goals are ambitious, but attainable if you read a lot.


And so - How to read more:
We will tell you about the methods that we use ourselves. Perhaps some will suit you as well.


15 minutes a day

You've probably already heard this rule: if you want to start a healthy habit, devote 15 minutes a day to it. Once upon a time, we all read irregularly, in jumps and starts. Sometimes we cannot open a book we have begun weeks ago. Therefore, you should decide to create a rule: devote at least 15 minutes a day to reading. Try reading before bed, or maybe during lunchtime, or even when you are having your morning coffee.

You will see progress immediately. You will notice that almost always your 15 minutes will grow into half an hour or more. But the most remarkable thing is that in three weeks your hands themselves will be looking for a book.


50 First Pages
This method advises - If the book hasn't hooked you from the first 50 pages, put it aside! Life is too short to read uninteresting books.

It is necessary to change the approach to books. At first it will be hard for you to stop and put the book down. Even if we put the book away, it will seem to reproach us from the shelf, mocking us as quitters. But in the end we should come to one simple thought: if it doesn’t hook your attention, you should not force yourself to read it.

***Fifty pages is not a bad test. Not the most objective, but definitely effective. It helps to determine whether it interests you or not, and whether to spend time on things that do not excite.


Reader's Diary

This should be used to improve the quality of reading - to make it more conscious. For starters, it can be a simple notebook with headings:

  • Author
  • Year of publication
  • Main characters
  • Scene
  • Plot
  • Theme
  • Quotes

And, yes, a reader's diary is not a thing about quantity, but about quality. But, it can also motivate. When you open your diary and start looking at quotes (especially quotes), you immediately really want to read.


Maybe a Book Bet?
Several people can participate. Members of the betting group can come from friends, family, and also your colleagues. And of course you can set your own rules for participation, but we'll give you a simple example:

Everyone in the group should read and review a book over the course of a month with weekly updates. Anyone who does not finish a review buys the book for all other participants for the next month.


Speed Reading

Another effective way to increase the amount you read is speed reading. The logic here is simple - the faster you read, the more books you can enjoy.

*There are many online courses on speed reading, and you can also study on your own using instructional books. But, it is worth noting that this is a serious learning process that will require some effort on your part.



Reading every day is quite attainable, the main thing is to try to make it a habit.
Sometimes, instead of heading for Facebook, try opening a book and soon you won’t even remember why you needed to wander around social media.
And also - don't forget about audiobooks. They are a cool way to take the load off your eyes sometimes and just immerse yourself in the story. Some books are really strong in voice acting.


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