Let us live, feel and be together in Ubuntu. Let us celebrate Juneteenth!

Dear TGI Community –  let us celebrate Juneteenth and honor freedom! 

Today marks the first celebration of Juneteenth – the anniversary of the day that the Emancipation Proclamation reached the last U.S. state under confederate control to bring freedom to enslaved Africans.

We know the story of America is violent, hopeful, aspirational and complicated.

The Graduate Institute fosters holistic thinking and perspectives that help our community develop capacity together so we can hold multiple perspectives, build empathy, and live with ambiguity.

We learn and grow together both in the classroom, as well as with our families, our work colleagues, and in our home communities.

As we join with our Black siblings in remembrance and celebration today, we focus on freedom and hope.


Juneteenth band. Photograph by Grace Murray Stephenson of celebrations in Eastwoods Park, Austin, 1900.

It took two years for the Union army to reach all of the confederate states and declare liberation for the enslaved Africans there. Freedom wasn’t immediate, and relief wasn’t guaranteed. We know the history of African slavery in this country is traumatic, and African Americans, and Black Americans continue to be marginalized across all sectors of society. And yet, there was celebration in the streets.

That year and in the 156 years since, Juneteenth celebrations are a recognition of hope for a future that was different from the present, and are, in themselves, an act of resistance.

Today we remember together the pain and the suffering. And today we celebrate freedom and liberating futures.

Ubuntu is an African term that describes a new vision of humanity.

Here is how Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu describes Ubuntu:

“It is the essence of being human. It speaks of the fact that my humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound up in yours. I am human because I belong. It speaks about wholeness, it speaks about compassion. A person with Ubuntu is welcoming, hospitable, warm and generous, willing to share. Such people are open and available to others, willing to be vulnerable, affirming of others, do not feel threatened that others are able and good, for they have a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that they belong in a greater whole. They know that they are diminished when others are humiliated, diminished when others are oppressed, diminished when others are treated as if they were less than who they are. The quality of Ubuntu gives people resilience, enabling them to survive and emerge still human despite all efforts to dehumanize them.”

We encourage you to learn more about Black liberation in the U.S. by engaging with this reading list from the New York Public Library, Schomburg Center, for adults, and this one for kids and teens.

You can read scholarly articles, curated by the Journal Storage Digital Library, here.

Let us live, feel and be together in Ubuntu.

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Mindfulness Reset Part 1: Time to Share and Serve. 

Mindfulness Reset:

Mindfulness apps and classes are flooding the internet and after the challenges of 2020, it makes sense that we want to fix the problem of distraction but it can be confusing to know how to actually do that. John Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Center at UMass Medical Center says “an attitude of non-striving is essential for mindfulness”, I recently read someone promoting another mindfulness class with the slogan, ‘Join Us as We Strive for Mindfulness’.

Taking a class or downloading an app to learn techniques can be helpful, but if there’s a goal or an expectation that ‘doing’ mindfulness will fix something, then it may end up like all the resolutions that are forgotten by Valentine’s Day.

Mindfulness is not a fad or a trend. There is no place to get to or goal to be achieved. It is the simple yet profound realization that we are not our thoughts but the one who is aware of the thinking. With practice, we can learn to place attention wherever we like.

As we leave the chaos of 2020, it may be a good time to gather our community and have a conversation about what happened and how we have been affected individually and as a whole. After a year of upheaval, many are searching for healing and a deeper sense of meaning. It reminds me of Mother Teresa’s words, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

The thing many people love the most about the Graduate Institute, besides the cutting-edge areas of study is the sense of belonging. We don’t view each other exclusively as students, administrators, or faculty as much as instruments in a piece of music that expands far beyond the sum of our parts. It feels like those who touch the school in any capacity never really leave, their hearts linger and they manifest differently in the world, resonating with a broader range of notes and new clarity about the gift of being alive. They also know how to share that with others.

“In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it.” –Marianne Williamson

We invite you to take a moment to pause and create a mindfulness practice for yourself. We also love seeing your comments as you share your perspectives below.

As we know from the study of integrative health and healing, people begin to heal when they can express themselves honestly and feel deeply heard by a non-judgmental community.

How are you making sense of the new normal?

What inspiring or creative insights have arisen while dealing with the pandemic, as well as the political and social upheavals?

How has your time with TGI affected the way you navigated the past year?

What are some ways we can all serve the greater community?

“As we forgive what happened in the past, we prepare for miracles in the future.” –Marianne Williamson

If you would like to see more tips for a Mindfulness Reset – you may enjoy the next blog as I share tips for a Reset in Part 2:

If you like to read my previous blog on forgiveness and surrender – you may enjoy this blog:

Kim Ruggiero, MA

Blog is written by Kimberly Ruggiero.

Kimberly Ruggiero is a long time meditator. She works as a transformational coach and artist. She has a BS in Chemistry, MA in Consciousness Studies and studied at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Art. Kim has training in MBSR and is certified through the Engaged Mindfulness Institute. She works as a Program Coordinator in Integrative Health and Healing and facilitates a Mindfulness Meditation Group at TGI –  every Tuesday evening online –

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