“It is pretty awesome witnessing the brilliance of a generation that has changed and shaped so much of the world as we know it. A generation of artists who created vibrant colored sprawling masterpieces reminding us all to wake up and see the truth about our changing climate. A generation of revolutionaries that marched across the cities most populated bridges shutting down traffic beckoning to be heard, demanding that all deserve to live more abundantly than just a 1% few. It has been your determined and justice seeking generation that has walked out of schools, chartered buses to Ferguson, Missouri and other cities across the nation to stand with thousands of people from all backgrounds and communities proclaiming the lives of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Rekia Boyd, Trayvon Martin and Sandra Bland matter. Your generation’s efforts towards creating change and seeking freedom, are the very hopes and dreams that have gone deferred and that are now lived realities.
So what now? What else is there to touch, to hold space for and to set free?  YOU.  
There is something special that happens in stillness. There is something you hear in a pause as you notice your breath, that is truly a revolutionary act. There is a freedom you feel, vast like the outer spaces that once touched, one lives fully as their most perfectly imperfect self. This is what can happen when we begin to find that we are more than enough.”
— Beatrice Anderson, Director at Awake Youth Project


The Awake Youth Project, Brooklyn Zen Center’s teen mindfulness and meditation program, hosted our second teen mediation and mindfulness retreat. 

Free to Be Me

 April 29th and 30th, 2016

Over our day and half long retreat, teen participants from across the Tri-State and Northeastern region found new ways to reaffirm and love who they are, to cultivate a deeper understanding and compassion for others, to see the ways all our lives our interconnected and to develop new methods of working with difficult thoughts and emotions like anger and sadness, anxiety or fear.

Through guided meditation, honest and safe discussions, creative expression workshops and supportive talks from staff and teachers who are long term practitioners and experts in their fields, participants deepened their awareness of themselves and others.

Meditation and What? Mindfulness.

The core values for Awake Youth are to nurture a space of agency, vulnerability, trust and community. These are key components to what we hope to co-create with our teen participants, staff and faculty during the retreat.

While on the retreat teens gathered to explore what happens when we give ourselves permission to show up somewhere new, in a community of new friends, as our full and whole selves, trusting we will be seen, heard and supported. The activities of mindful eating, formal sitting and walking meditation, will support an environment for the retreat that allows each participant to calm the mind, navigate the inner workings of their own mind and body, and support others in doing the same.

Our collective POWER.

To truly be heard and seen we at Awake Youth believe that it is important to honor a space of self agency, self accountability and self affirmation. Too often in intergenerational spaces, dynamics of power centered around age challenge the ability for honest communication, open and trusting dialogue and shared support. To avoid recreating these habits, most of our discussions are inquiry based and all participants are encouraged to share their own process or insights alongside the staff and teachers facilitating the retreat. At the start of our retreat we together as a community will share what it will take individually and collectively for us all to show up to ourselves and one another during our time together. These needs from ourselves and community will serve as the shared agreements the full retreat community will adhere to while together.

“I believe in You and Me”

Each participant has a deep and abiding wisdom that we trust surfaces and has the room to be expressed when the teacher and student are honored and seen within each person. Our learning and sharing styles are built on a practice  of trusting the insight within each individual, allowing the roles of facilitator to change within any given. During the course of the retreat our more advanced youth practitioners from the Awake Youth Program will co-facilitate group discussions and foundational sitting practices. This offers the opportunity for retreat participants to hear about the practice through their own words and experience. 

Creative Expression

In an effort to further explore how mindfulness and self reflection can be apart of our everyday lives, retreat participants will have the chance to choose from one of the wide ranging fun and interactive creative exploratory activities that include, movement, painting, a hip hop/poetry cipher and more. Each activity will ask the questions what sensations, emotions and thoughts are arising and what is it that needs to be fully expressed.

Dates: April 29th30th, 2016  
Retreat Times: 4:00 PM9:00 PM on April 29th / 9:00 AM7:00 PM on April 30th
Location: Brooklyn Zen Center, 505 Carroll St, Suite 2A, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Ages: 13-19

Rod Owens, Teacher, Activist, and Writer
Jessica Morey, Executive Director, Inward Bound Mindfulness Education (iBme)
Beatrice Anderson, Director, Awake Youth Project
Sara Shapouri, Curriculum Development and Instructor, Awake Youth Project
Greg Snyder, President, Brooklyn Zen Center. Founding Instructor of the Awake Youth Project