Tag Archives: Mindful activism

Teri Gerritz, mindful activist

Linda, Matt, Teri

Teri (R) celebrates Arbor Day in 2015 with Linda Currie and Matt Eremko at Green Gulch

Teri Gerritz, Green Sangha member and group leader, has been hosting meetings and retreats at her home in Berkeley since 2010.  An avid hiker, bicyclist, and world traveler, she has worked on political campaigns, habitat restoration, and plastics awareness.  She spoke with board member Jonathan Billig on Wednesday, August 12, 2015.

JB: How did you discover Green Sangha and why were you drawn to it initially?

Teri: I heard about Green Sangha from a friend who lives in Marin. Compassionate action is what really drew me to Green Sangha. My mother was an activist, but she was always in tears about the state of the world, and I didn’t want to be upset all the time as she was. I wanted to find a way to become involved that wouldn’t take such a heavy toll on me.

JB: What are some of the things that you learned through your Green Sangha experiences?

Teri: Finding common ground with other people instead of focusing and playing up on the differences is very helpful, and Green Sangha has helped me with that. I have a good friend whose politics are very different from mine, and her husband has VERY different politics, yet I can find common ground with him. Before my time with Green Sangha, I’m not sure I could have done that.

One of the things that I learned was that you never make anyone else into the enemy. It’s a matter of education, and we question ourselves and know that we might have something to learn, too. You can be a lot more effective if you hear where other people are coming from, and you might find a better entry point.

JB: What is your current involvement with Green Sangha?

Teri: The East Bay chapter meets at my house every month, even sometimes when I’m gone. I also work a lot of the events. Every meeting I provide the coffee and tea in my house and set up and clean up afterward. I also pay membership once a year.

JB: Are there any specific techniques that you have found useful?

Teri: Green Sangha gave me the meditation and the activism components of Buddhist practice. I did do a silent meditation retreat about ten years ago, but I had some trouble applying what I learned to everyday life because I wanted a more active process. Because of Green Sangha I have been involved with a regular meditation group, so the connections have been very helpful. I like Margaret Mead’s idea, that change can be significant even if it seems small, and it has to start with you, not with other people.

JB: How is your experience with Green Sangha connected to the work you currently do?

Teri: Well, for one thing I really like the Green Sangha principles. They’re on the wall in my office!

I work with an organization for retired teachers, and I’ve introduced some Green Sangha practices at the retired teachers meetings. I’ve found that the board meeting is more productive, calmer, and people listen to each other more after we do a simple body scan. At our most recent meeting, I led part of Jack Kornfield’s forgiveness meditation. I also share mindfulness with some of my students, many of whom suffer from anxiety. It helps them a lot.

JB: Do you have any advice for mindful activists or social-change oriented educators like yourself?

Teri: It’s easy to feel like we’re not doing enough, and I try to remind myself that I’m doing what I can and that other people are doing what they can. Mainly it’s Principle 5 from Green Sangha’s list: we meet injustice without becoming lost in it. That sums it up. I just think it’s a fun journey.

Also, I find that when you sit with other people it’s more powerful than sitting alone. Even if they’ve never meditated before, there’s something about the group energy. Something about being in that room together, and community – it’s very powerful.

Teri (back R) with fellow watershed stewards Allison Vogel (L) and Rebecca ines (R)

Teri (back R) with fellow watershed stewards Allison Vogel (L) and Rebecca ines (R)




March for the Climate August 3

Climate March
Moving Planet Day, Sept 24, 2011

For months we have been happily planning and looking forward to the Green Sangha Gratitude Gathering scheduled for Saturday August 3 in Point Reyes Station. In the meanwhile, a major Climate Action demonstration was organized by 350.org for the same day in Richmond. We have decided to postpone the Gratitude Gathering and instead put our mindfulness into action at this important gathering of earth stewards and climate protectors.

Please join us in marching peacefully for climate sanity and a speedy transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The organizers are hoping for 1,000  to 2,000 participants.  Our experience on other 350-organized events is that the crowd is positive and upbeat, and that bystanders are often interested and even vocally supportive.  It is a moment for inspiring awakened action.

Here’s the overall plan:

Gather:  Richmond BART station

Time: 10 am, Saturday August 3

March: From Richmond BART to Chevron refinery (approximately 2.4 miles)

Rally: Chevron refinery, S. Castro St. gate, approx. 12 noon

Adjourn:  1 pm or so

Bus transit is available back to BART from the refinery

A shorter March & Kids’ Event will begin at 10:30 am, George Carroll (aka Washington) Park, Pt Richmond.

Green Sangha’s role

Have you been reluctant to participate in demonstrations because the energy feels negative?  Our goal is to contribute to the loving, joyful atmosphere of this event.  To maximize the coherence-creating effect, our group will begin with a circle in the nice grassy area just west of the Richmond BART station.  It is the area bounded by Metrowalk Way.  See this map.

Green Sangha board member and yoga teacher Bet Muth will lead us in a standing meditation and invocation.  We’ll have our banner in hand, or hanging nearby; just look for a circle doing gentle stretches or standing in silence.  The circle will be open to all who want to join, so please invite friends and family.  When the time comes, we will join the larger group at the BART station and set forth for the refinery, sometime between 10:30 and 11:00.

If you want to participate in the Green Sangha circle and prefer a shorter walk, there is bus transit from Richmond BART to either Washington Park or the rally site.

Practical reminders from the organizing team

  1. Bring your own water bottle.
  2. We’ll have porta-potties at the rally site, and possibly near the start (assuming we can either use BART or the Bobbie Bowen Center).
  3. Remember to bring sunscreen and a hat.
  4. Wear comfortable shoes and clothing!
  5. This is a family friendly event. (Children are encouraged to join the kids’ march from Judge George Carroll Park, formerly Washington Park).
  6. Non-violence includes no verbal abuse or threatening motions (although spirited chants are a big part of our demonstration).  No weapons, no alcohol, no non-prescribed drugs.  Be respectful of all participants and on-lookers.

If you have additional questions about Green Sangha’s participation, please e-mail Bet Muth, bet.muth [a] gmail.com

We look forward to participating in this awakened action with you on Saturday, August 3!

For More information on the March:

Saturday, August 3rd

Richmond Chevron Convergenc– No Tar Sands, No Fracking, No Dangerous Refineries, Save the Rainforest

350.org and the 2013 Summer Heat Coalition

Learn more here and here.


Inner Restoration for Eco-activists

Energy from within – yoga for environmentalists
Everyone needs energy to make it through the day.  Whether you are a community activist, a home-maker, a care-giver, or a civic servant, you know the importance of self-renewal when you want to do your best.

As our bodies age, though, energy tends to decline.  Exercise reverses this trend by activating every system that gets used in the physical activity that you perform.  Yoga exercises are especially helpful.  By releasing tension, stimulating all the major organs, and working consciously with the breath, yoga restores vitality and a deep sense of optimism.  Simple practices of relaxation and concentration complete the exercise equation, adding a new dimension to physical fitness: grounding in restful alertness.

Workshop: Sunday, June 17, 3-5 pm
Learn timeless techniques for contacting your reservoir of energy and inner peace at the Stress Management Center, 1165 Magnolia Avenue, Larkspur.

Instructor: Stuart Moody, M.A., Registered Yoga Teacher and Transition Director for Green Sangha
$20 for the workshop (free for Green Sangha members).
To register, contact info@greensangha.org or call (510) 532-6574.

I came away with a greater appreciation of the power and importance of meditation and mindful thinking.  I felt more centered and now realize that rather than ‘taking up time,’ meditation actually gives us back time as we gain more focus, clarity, peace and energy to take with us in our busy lives.”  – Julie Dowling, co-founder of Sustainable San Ramon

Cultivating the Inner Activist

Learn the art of Sustainability from Within, Saturday April 14, 2:00-5:30 pm, United Church of Christ, 825 Middlefield Drive  Petaluma.
The World Federation of Scientists has identifed 63 “planetary emergencies” threatening our earth’s life-support systems.  With issues such as soil erosion, deforestation, ocean acidification, and increasing concentrations of industrial chemicals in all of our bodies, environmental protection and restoration is the immediate and personal requirement of our every significant individual, and it cannot wait for tomorrow.

In the face of this great need, how do we maintain our balance, sustaining our own lives as we work on behalf of the life we hold in common?  You may be writing letters to Congress and the EPA, organizing an action group, setting up a green committee at your work place, or leading a large organization.  Whatever your field of action, you need deep inner reserves to continue the work with energy, confidence, and effectiveness.

Sustainability from Within is designed to give you the skills you need to start the day with grace, renew and recharge yourself throughout the day, and let go of stress at will.  Stuart Moody, certified yoga teacher and President of Green Sangha, will share a treasury of simple, rejuvenating exercises for tension release and settling into silence for deep meditation.  To complement these practices, we will also explore the technique of Passage Meditation as taught by Eknath Easwaran, and the use of a mantram for calming the mind and deepening awareness.

“Sustainability from Within” means taking care of yourself, practicing the same personal stewardship that we all need to practice in regard to our common body, the earth.

At the deepest level, practicing sustainability from within not only sets a standard for material well-being, it also opens the door for spiritual progress — the restoration of our sense of oneness and expansion of the qualities of the heart.  Friendliness, compassion, happiness, and impartiality are the fruits of inner development, and are the fundamental interpersonal qualities at the basis of a culture of cooperation and peace.  In this way, mindful practice lays the groundwork for a new earth community.

Program:  The workshop will focus on the following ideas and skills fundamental to awakened activism:

Somatic awareness

  • Greeting the day with energy and alertness
  • Simple movements for releasing tension and improving posture
  • Moving into stillness

Spiritual development

  • Calming the inner chatter
  • Concentrating the mind
  • Passing the time with purpose

Price:  $30 (Green Sangha members: $20)
To Register:

Instructor:  Stuart Moody, MA
Saturday, April 14, 2012, 2–5:30 pm.  United Church of Christ, 825 Middlefield Drive, Petaluma, CA 94952

“This is a gift to yourself.  Leaders feel such heavy burdens with so much to accomplish and with such little time and money to do vital work. Mindfulness for leaders helps us go to our strong and calm center and let go of the burden.  It nourishes the soul and frees the spirit.”  Maureen Parton, County Supervisor’s aide


Mindful Activism training

At the heart of Green Sangha activism is personal grounding in inner peace and skillful action.  Mindful Activism Training is designed to refresh and enhance your practice of a range of leadership practices, from meditation and relaxation to constructive communication and organization.  In three workshops we will explore these foundational skills and the Green Sangha Principles of Activism.

Session 3:  Sustainability from Within
Saturday, April 14, 2:00-5:30 pm
Learn mindfulness practices for relaxation, renewal, and peace throughout the day.  These exercises will help you increase inner clarity, calm, and confidence in all of your endeavors.  Instructors:

  • Michael Nagler, President, Metta Center for Nonviolence
  • Stephanie Van Hook, Executive Director, Metta Center for Nonviolence
  • Stuart Moody, MA, President of Green Sangha

Location:  United Church of Christ, 825 Middlefield Drive Petaluma, CA 94952
:  $30 for the workshop (Green Sangha members $20)

                          When the mind rests steady and pure,
                           then whatever you desire
                           those desires are fulfilled,
                           and whatever you think of
                           those thoughts materialize.
                           So, you who desire good fortune
                           revere the knower of the Self.

                                    Mundaka Upanishad