Workshops

The Healing Circle

A Workshop on Spirituality and Character Development for African-American Men

Facilitator:  Woody Carter, Ph.D.

Email:  woodycarter@gmail.com
          
Number of Participants:  12 to 30 participants

Recognizing, "literature as a path in which consciousness flows,"

Quote from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, introduced transcendental meditation.
Program Description:

The following fee-based program outlines an intensive, preferably, weekend workshop focused on African-American spirituality and character development for young men of African descent.  This presentation, however, can be shortened and adapted for a larger multicultural audience.  

Recognizing “literature as a path in which consciousness flows,” this workshop draws upon a published fictional narrative entitled, “Narada’s Children: A Visionary Tale of Two Cities” as a framework and catalyst for unlocking the self-knowledge of young African-American men and what can be learned from this experience.  Through experiential exercises in “quiet sitting” as a mind tool to strengthen one’s capacity for critical reflection and emotional maturity; by re-visiting W.E.B. DuBois’ insight on the “double consciousness” of Black folk; approaching family narratives as integral to repairing a culturally-rooted character development system and, finally, by introducing an ethics of character and examining its relevance to young men of African descent, the program seeks to strengthen participants’ existing relationships with family and the community that nurtures them; prepare young men for raising spiritually-grounded and healthy families of their own, and strengthening their ability to thrive while living in a white supremacist culture.       

Using audio–visual materials, selected excerpts from Narada’s Children and group discussion, this workshop merges both cognitive behavioral and experiential learning using the framework of a fictional narrative and quiet sitting. Participants who complete the program with not only an intellectual understanding of the spiritual legacy of African-Americans, but also with a set of “mind tools” that if applied, may resolve what W.E.B. DuBois refers to as a double consciousness in black folk that is “irreconcilable.”  

Each of three workshop sessions (three hours each) presents a key focus question to be resolved during the course of the session, including:
  • What do our collective personal histories say to use about who we are as a people?
  • Does W.E.B. DuBois’ critique of the peculiar spirituality of people of African-American descent apply to you, personally, and if so how does it impact you and will you pass it on to the next generation?
  • What inner obstacles inhibit us in our efforts to live wholesome/healthy lives, and how might we become more mindful or intentional in rooting out these internal hindrances?

Projected Outcome

By the end of the workshop, participants will be able to:
  • Articulate some of the dominant forces at work within themselves, their own families, and African-American culture that have shaped the way they be in the world . . . the way they see themselves in the world, and some of the core convictions or beliefs that have shaped them.
  • Describe W.E.B. DuBois’ double consciousness and its impact on African-Americans.
  • Understand the relationship between karma and character development
  • Identify inner obstacles that inhibit strong character development, and how to experientially respond to them.   
  • Recognize the genius of African cultures in establishing systems of ancestor acknowledgement and veneration as a way to nurture an ethics of character in the living.
  • Articulate their personal experience with quiet sitting or meditation, and recognize the role such a sustained practice might serve in the development of critical thinking skills, emotional intelligence, and in reducing chronic stress.

Facilitator’s Brief Bio

Woody Carter is a narrative theologian with a focus on African-American spirituality and culture, and earned his doctorate in Theology, Religion, and the Arts from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.  Dr. Carter is the author of two recent published works - a novel, “Narada’s Children: A Visionary Tale of Two Cities” (2016), and a non-fictional work entitled “Theology for a Violent Age: Religious Beliefs Crippling African-American Youth” (2010).  (More information about these works and the author can be found at www.sleepingmansbooks.com.   He now resides in St. Croix, USVI.