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Building Sustainable Abundance in Life, at Work, and on Retreat: A Q&A with IMS Board Member Gina LaRoche – Insight Meditation Society

Building Sustainable Abundance in Life, at Work, and on Retreat: A Q&A with IMS Board Member Gina LaRoche – Insight Meditation Society


Gina LaRoche, MBA, is an organizational advisor, facilitator, and government coach, and co-founder with Jen Cohen of Seven Stones Leadership. Gina is a former visiting college member at Simmons School of Management, the place she taught and coached within the faculty’s government teaching programs. A 2017 graduate of Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Community Dharma Leaders program, Gina has attended People of Color and different retreats at IMS since 2010. She at the moment serves because the chair of the IMS Board’s Governance Committee.

In this Q&A with John Spalding, IMS Director of Partnerships and Communications, Gina shares what introduced her to meditation, the way it influences her work in management improvement, and what she sees for the way forward for IMS.

When did you first uncover meditation?

The first individual to show me meditation was my Unitarian minister, 20 years in the past. His method was extra within the Zen model, though I didn’t know that on the time. He taught us strolling meditation in a circle. I keep in mind instructing my son to meditate round that point—he was 4, and I might have him sit with a candle and simply watch the candle flame, and he actually loved it.

I realized about perception meditation and IMS after I met Jen Cohen, who grew to become my enterprise companion. She had taken a meditation retreat as a part of her coaching as a somatic coach. I made a decision to strive it, and in 2010, I signed as much as do a Labor Day Weekend sit at IMS. I acquired there on a Friday night time, and by Saturday afternoon, sitting within the corridor, I had this second the place I believed, This is a silent meditation retreat, however it’s so noisy. And that’s after I noticed that the noise was in my thoughts. For the primary time, I heard the voice of my fixed interior critic. And my subsequent thought was, I wouldn’t want this on my worst enemy. That was the gateway into the apply for me. Just the notice of it was so useful, simply noticing it and being with it.

The second retreat I did at IMS was a five-day retreat for folks of colour, and we realized lovingkindness meditation. It occurred to be the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 assaults. My sister had been within the towers that day, and despite the fact that she was okay, we had been nonetheless very traumatized by it 10 years later. I keep in mind, after that retreat, sitting in meditation and providing lovingkindness to the 9/11 attackers. That was one thing that hadn’t even been in my consciousness earlier than. What type of struggling would these people have been experiencing to decide on to sacrifice their lives? All of this grief and hardship I used to be carrying round after 9/11 actually melted inside that apply.

You and Jen based Seven Stones Leadership in 2009, and your guiding philosophy is Sustainable Abundance—Sustabu for brief! How does Sustabu inform what you do at Seven Stones?

Jen and I met in a gaggle that might get collectively as soon as per week to discover the idea of enoughness—the concept that we’re all swimming in a sea of shortage and what it will be wish to stay from a spot of sufficiency. As we acquired to know one another, she and I began questioning if we might create an organization and a livelihood round this idea—what we now name Sustainable Abundance.

We introduced collectively Jen’s abilities in teaching and techniques work and my abilities of consulting and facilitation to supply transformational management improvement, teaching, and coaching, working with people and techniques to construct Sustainable Abundance. Since the racial reckoning of 2020, Equity, Power, and Belonging have been a major focus of our management work. We have centered our power on instructing find out how to heal collective trauma and embody anti-racism.

I’ve additionally been very concerned with how brahma-vihara apply can present liberation and struggling for Black folks, and other people of colour typically. Just after I used to be appointed to the Board, I got here to an IMS retreat with Jen Cohen for her fiftieth birthday. I used to be the one Black individual there, and it was the toughest retreat I ever sat at IMS. When she and I returned dwelling, we had lots of conversations about our particular person and collective expertise and introduced the dialog into our work at Seven Stones. We ultimately determined to prepare a group speak about it. That was the primary time I used to be keen to speak about race and racism publicly—about my very own journey and my very own struggles. Then, when George Floyd was murdered, we had been all feeling a lot upset and grief {that a} group of us at Seven Stones wrote an electronic mail to our group entitled “Let’s Get to Work.” This was addressed to the White group, and for us that was a daring step to talk publicly what we might have traditionally solely mentioned privately.

In what different methods do you combine your meditation apply and Buddhist philosophy into your management improvement work? How have your apply and your occupation overlapped and developed collectively?

Sustainable Abundance is a few private journey and a spotlight by yourself proper relationships, and in addition a dedication to constructing a simply world the place everyone seems to be free. When we first began the corporate, folks would say to me, “This seems like Buddhism.” I didn’t know something about Buddhism, I simply knew about meditation, and I needed to grasp this connection folks had been making. That’s a part of what introduced me to IMS.

Meditation and mindfulness have at all times been a basis for our work, and it very a lot shapes my work and my life. I lead a secular sitting group that meets each week—it’s open to everybody and a few of our staff attend. We are at the moment doing the paramitas—I don’t name them that, I hardly ever use the Pali phrases, however we speak about cultivating qualities, like power or braveness. I don’t consider that meditation and mindfulness are separate from an moral path. For of us who’re Christian, for instance, I encourage and help them to attach their meditation apply to the moral path of their Christianity.

We had been additionally impressed by IMS by way of how we created our firm’s pricing mannequin. When we began, we requested folks to pay no matter they needed to, just like the IMS idea of dana. But folks had been freaking out—they needed us to inform them what to pay. So we gave them a value vary, and that exists to today and is much like the alternatives now we have when registering for retreats. We even have a generosity market, the place one may give cash for others to take trainings, and in case you want cash, there’s no utility course of or award, you simply take what you want for what you’re signing up for. Conversations about cash are on the root of many conversations round shortage, so to create sufficiency, it is advisable to speak about monetary assets and construct techniques round them.

What impressed you to serve on the IMS Board?

I take into account IMS my religious dwelling. I don’t have sufficient phrases to convey what it means to me by way of my very own development and improvement and private freedom. I’m getting emotional proper now simply fascinated by it. I might do completely something for IMS. I wish to carry my presents and skills to the Board in no matter approach is required to make IMS stronger for the subsequent decade and all of the years after that.

What do you envision for that future?

The pandemic confirmed us what expertise can carry into the apply house. For instance, we might have a year-long on-line retreat the place yogis come to IMS twice through the 12 months and in addition meet on-line. I’m curious how house owners can stroll this path with out having to go away household and work for weeks or months. What does it imply at the moment to carry a silent meditation retreat? I believe experimenting with the retreat kind will probably be actually attention-grabbing for IMS as we transfer into the long run.

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