ALSO Resident Coordinator Linnette Acosta partnered with Reverend Liz Muñoz of Nuestra Señora de las Americas (NSA) to successfully obtain a grant from Chicago Community Trust and Goodcity Chicago to offer guided meditation sessions to the Humboldt Park community and the surrounding Northwest side. Read all about it below and view their award-winning video!
Linnette, we want to congratulate Nuestra Señora on your On the Table grant! Can you tell us more about how you found out about the award contest?
Thank you so much for this opportunity to speak about the wonderful things NSA and ALSO are doing together. Well, Rev. Liz came to me and told me that as a result from the ALSO-NSA On the Table event, the Chicago Community Trust, in partnership with Goodcity Chicago, would like to help fund some of the ideas that came from that particular discussion.
Can you tell us more about your On the Table experience and how it inspired the idea for meditation?
Yes. One of the concerns a community resident brought up at the On the Table event was the lack of safe spaces available for victims of violence. We realized that there was a need for healing as a holistic practice. We then spoke about the healing benefits of guided meditation especially for victims of violence. We then came up with an idea for guided meditation with more of a spiritual approach rather than religious—this will help to create a safe space that can be available to a wider demographic.
NSA Staff and Members at On the Table: from left to right (Linnette Acosta, Yesenia Acosta, Jeannette Acosta)
Why do you think On the Table chose your project? What do you think guided meditation offers people?
I feel that we were chosen because we offered something refreshing. We were able to come together as a local organization and church to provide the masses with a secular service that can appeal to a wider range of people. I honestly believe in the motto “Come as you are!” Guided meditation provides a sanctuary in which ALL people can come together to break free from negativity to experience stillness and peace.
How many organizations submitted videos?
The Chicago Community Trust and Goodcity Chicago received nearly 400 video submissions and 64 of those submissions were chosen.
You've already started offering the meditation sessions. How's it going? Are there any participant reactions you can share?
We have conducted a few meditation sessions--I have to say it’s going great. We have been told by two of our participants that they normally would not have tried this on their own, but having someone with them and sharing that safe space with them has been quite peaceful and beneficial. I have been told that the dialogue we conduct after the session has been quite meaningful for the participants. The dialogue gives participants the opportunity to speak freely without judgment.
This all sounds so great, Linnette. Where do we go if we want to learn more about these sessions? Are there any meditations coming up? Do we have to register?
If you would like more information on upcoming sessions, please check out NSA and ALSO on Facebook. You do not have to register. If you can, just find the event pages Facebook and select that you will be attending the event. The next session will take place on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 6pm at ALSO. ALSO in conjunction with NSA will host guided meditation every 2nd Wednesday of the month through June 2017.
Cool! How did you first get involved with Nuestra Señora?
I actually grew up in the church. My grandparents were one of the founders of the church. I left the church for about 7 years—call it a spiritual journey if you will. Truthfully speaking church has not always been the positive symbol in a LGBTQ person’s life. After years of strife and finding myself spiritually I finally met a Reverend who truly stood behind the idea of equality. Rev. Liz lives, breathes and preaches equality each day. Identifying as a lesbian woman of color, equality is very important to me.
How do you see your work with ALSO intersecting with Nuestra Señora?
I believe together we are a strong force that can help many different people. Together we can feed the mind, body and soul with services and programs that can appeal to many different people.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I’m happy to be able to work with two organizations who strive to provide services to All people. For the first time in my life I feel like I’m where I need to be—and that’s here working closely with the community.