Introduction of the Brahma Kumaris in the USA
BRAHMA KUMARIS WORLD SPIRITUAL ORGANIZATION
On the occasion of completing 20 years of spiritual service from our centers in the Washington DC area, I would like to share my deep sense of appreciation for all of those who have wholeheartedly supported our work. It takes a special person in today's world to withdraw from the urgent chaos of life and actively seek peace and love. Our meditation centers, with the attraction of a spiritual atmosphere and vibrations, have been witness to many such special people who have come, recognizing the real time value of the spiritual treasures available here. In a city that symbolizes the heartbeat of the country, it becomes all the more significant to reach out with the message of Light and to have people who, through their connection with the Light, can lead from the heart. Congratulations to the tireless servers who are doing this and inspiring many to do this. My sincere wish for the city and the country is for everyone to feel their individual dignity and to excel collectively. Sister Mohini Regional Director for the Americas & the Caribbean The Brahma Kumaris
When I first arrived on assignment to Washington, D.C., to open a center for the Brahma Kumaris, I came with faith and innate courage. There was this call, an intrinsic signal that comes to some of us or all of us, and itâ€™s a profound reminder of how deep and powerful love and purity is if emerged and embodied. I was naturally drawn to meet some of the greatest hearts and minds in this area and share what I had experienced in the community of the Brahma Kumaris, which had opened a path to fulfill a deep purpose that had been calling me since I was a child. The pure wishes from Dadi Janki and Dadi Prakashmani, the senior leadership in the Brahma Kumaris, along with the steadfast courage of Sister Gita who is also my mother, deepened my foundation. They were my human, guiding lights in an unknown region, with untapped potential for spirituality. Dadi Janki, who is presently 101 years old, visited to inaugurate the center in 1997, and our story of selflessness, compassion, and faith in others began. Sister Jenna, Director of the Brahma Kumaris, Washington DC
The Washington DC Brahma Kumaris family US Capitol Dadi Prakashmani Om Shanti Peace Tree 2007
20 Years of Service in Washington DC
the early years
The Inspiration for Service
Sometimes one vision can grow into a movement of world change, without the visionary even knowing it. Some are moved just by heart and will to fulfill a part of their story in the world drama. For the late Dadi Prakashmani, Administrative Head of the Brahma Kumaris worldwide from 1969 – 2007, she was moved by love for all. She had a deep love for God, for silence, for humanity and her playful nature inspired many to walk a path of spirituality. She visited Washington, DC in 1999, and following that, the mayor of Washington, D.C. proclaimed June 10th as “Dadi Prakashmani Day,” a day for peace in the nation’s capital, with the dedication of a peace tree on Capitol Hill. Thereafter, annual city, national and global initiatives continued, totaling 17 projects in 20 years.
It has been the blessings of Dadi Prakashmani, and her presence, both physically from the beginning and subtly as we have moved forward, that has been the backbone of success for service in Washington, DC. This has been the greatest testimony of what love and pure wishes can do for a land, and in return humanity. Thank you, Dadi, for your faith, trust, and most of all blessingsâ€Ś You are with us always.
June 10th Dadi Prakasmani Day
ANNUAL SERVICE PROJECTS
The Peace Tree - 2000 In 2000, the Om Shanti Peace Tree was planted on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in honor of Dadi Prakashmani. It is an official â€œU.S. Capitol Grounds Commemorative Tree.â€? In 2001, it was joined by another Peace Tree at the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense
Envision a City of Values - 2004 In 2004, the international community in Washington DC was invited to share the values held highest in their nation of origin. Banners featuring artwork from the International Child Art Foundation that illustrated these values were displayed around Sheridan Circle and Judiciary Square in Washington DC.
Remember Me - 2005 In 2005, specially created â€œRemember Meâ€? banners, featuring an image of connection to Light, raised awareness of a higher level of consciousness, encouraging hope during challenging times in our nationâ€™s capitol. In 2006, this initiative evolved into The Science of Silence which invited everyone to share their experience using the Remember Me image during a moment of anger or rage. Its aim was to see if violence can be reduced by focusing on this image of peace.
The Tree of Blessings - 2007 In 2007, individuals from 6 continents were invited to send in blessings of good wishes to Washington DC. It was a time where war in Iraq and a lack of trust in the American way, called the hearts and minds of people from around the globe to send in good wishes for the nation. The blessings were hung in honor of Dadi Prakashmani on the Om Shanti Peace Tree on the grounds of the US. Capitol
As a continuation of the Tree of Blessings, another event was planned for later that summer on the National Mall, the large park between the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Monument. The public was invited to come down to the Mall and share their pure wish for the world to be part of the Tree of Blessings. A video booth was set up so that visitors could be filmed reading their blessing with the U.S. Capitol in the background. The date for the event, August 25th, 2007 had been given to the organizers when the National Park Service issued the permit at the beginning of the year. At that time, the organizers could not have known the special significance of that date. As the team was setting up that morning they learned that Dadi Prakashmani had passed away earlier that day in India. Visit www.treeofblessings.org.
Kites for Peace - 2008 Kites for Peace invited children and adults from around the country including Hawaii, Florida, California, and Washington DC to design kites with positive slogans and well wishes that were flown on June 10th, 2008 on the Washington Mall, near the Washington Monument. Thousands of these kites were sent as gifts to children in places of conflict and strife including Iraq, Niger, and Russian occupied Georgia. Kites for Peace continues to fly around the world at events organized by schools and other groups. A simple kite can make a world of difference in the life a child who is in darkness. Visit www.kitesforpeace.org
Congratulations on your 20 years of service! The Abigail Francisco School of Classical Ballet acknowledges and appreciates our friends at the Brahma Kumaris for their many accomplishments. We send good wishes and success for many more years to come.
Dancing for Peace - 2009 Dancing for Peace was launched in 2009 as a celebration of peace through dance. â€œWhere there is Truth, the Soul Dances.â€? Hundreds including, children, parents, students, and professionals participated in a dance showcase in from of the U.S. Capitol Building. Dancing for Peace allows us to realize the true quality our soul and recognize peace as the original experience of every human being on earth. When we feel good we can feel God and claim the power to create a better world for ourselves.
Good Vibes Peace Festival - 2010 For the 10th year anniversary of Dadi Prakashmani Day, renowned artist, Klara Sever, was commissioned to create a sculpture of Dadi Prakashmani which was unveiled at the Meditation Museum in suburban Washington D.C. by Sr. Mohini, president of Brahma Kumaris in USA. The Good Vibes Peace Festival continued the 10th year celebration with an outdoor festival next to the Brahma Kumaris Meditation Museum which had opened its doors the year before. The program featured musicians, dancers, poets, in a celebratory “Peace Fair”. Visitors to the festival participated in periodic “minutes of silence” during the event to spread positive thoughts towards those affected by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico at the time. A story about this activity was featured in USA Today.
Experiments in Silence, Just a Minute - 2011 For 2011, the Meditation Museum celebrated the 11th anniversary of Dadi Prakashmani Day as a day for “Experiments in Silence” which included the local launch of just-a-minute – a minute of silence can transform your world. The program which featured Sr. Jenna, director of Brahma Kumaris in Washington DC and Annette Lantos, holocaust survivor and co-founder of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, explored the transformational power of silence and included a special experiment conducted by research scientist, Bob Dratch, that used advanced holoform technology to monitor the change in the atmosphere during silent meditation practices at the Meditation Museum.
America Meditating - Pause for Peace - 2012 The Meditation Museum honored the 12th anniversary of Dadi Prakashmani Day with the launch of “America Meditating – Pause for Peace.” This nationwide initiative encouraged people to calm their mind, empower their thoughts and enter into a space of inner peace at 7 am and 7 pm, or throughout the day. The launch on June 9th was followed by a gala program, “America Meditating – Make a Shift” on August 24th featuring singers, ballet dancers, comedy, a panel of experienced meditators who shared their personal practices about how our country can benefit from meditation, and why inner peace is so vital for our lives at this time. America Meditating continues as a nationwide initiative. You can learn more at www.americameditating.org. Follow America Meditating at www.facebook.com/AmericaMeditating.
Since the debut of America Meditating: Pause for Peace initiative, there have been several outgrowths of Pause for Peace. The concept holds a concise, powerful message to which many can relate. In addition to our individual routine pauses, which reconnect us to our inner beauty and truth, we have initiated Pause for Peace spaces in the community, as well as Pause for Peace in Classrooms. The image has reached restaurants, offices, rooms on Capitol Hill and classrooms.
Meditation Marathon- 2013 Meditation Marathon 13. This is the 13th citywide initiative because of the Boston Marathon, the Meditation Marathon called upon people, either at home, work, places of faith, parks, and even while traveling to capture as many moments, minutes, hours and days of Goodness for the Meditation Marathon 13
Karma Kafé Conversations - 2014 The concept of meeting in cafes and coffee shops across the country is to gather as community members, neighbors, and friends in casual atmospheres, where everyone's voice matters. Through facilitated dialogues, Karma Kafe Conversations, participants had an opportunity to share what matters most by a collection of deep rooted questions such as, "What is at the root of your power?”
Meditation On Wheels - 2015 We received a 36’ Recreational Vehicle as a gift for service, and this allowed us to take meditation on the road! Visiting the National Mall, farmers’ markets, health fairs and county parks, the mobile meditation unit provides onsite meditation and a unique Pause for Peace. Visitors to the RV are invited to step inside, feel the peace, and return to their day’s activities with a renewed sense of purpose and hope.
Meditate The Vote - 2016 In partnership with the America Meditating Radio, Meditate the Vote engaged the nation in thought-provoking conversations about what their own hearts and minds were signaling to them about the current times. Because of the polarizing environment in the political arena, it invited people from both sides of the political debate, and all walks of life to come together and consider, “What leads your vision for our future?” We wondered, ‘Is there a way for each of us to play a part in shifting this paradigm from politics of anger and blame to politics of hope and solutions?’ Meditate the Vote offered citizens the chance to pause and think deeply about their choices, for themselves and their nation.
THE MEDITATION MUSEUMS The first Meditation Museum opened on June 24, 2009 in Downtown, Silver Spring, Maryland. Although it was a risk in many ways, within the first year we had already organized 50 events and it became the talk of the town. It offered an experience through unique exhibits that percolate the thoughts of visitors to dig deep and raise their awareness of their own story. It quickly grew into a local icon, earning the award of â€˜Best Nonprofit Organizationâ€™ two years in a row.
We later relocated to a larger space, though stayed in the vibrant Silver Spring area where last year alone we organized 200 events serving over 30,000 visitors. It is a welcoming space for all, from our peaceful volunteers, to our multi-faith exhibit, entitled One Light, and visitors testify that they feel at home from the moment they enter. Visitors can sit in our Quiet Room, explore exhibits or relax in our Meditation Café, where we offer a variety of books, CD’s and DVD’s and homemade baked treats for sweetening their experience.
Meditation Museum II On October 14, 2015, the Meditation Museum II opened in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, claimed as “America’s Next Great City,” home to 100,000 professionals, and 20,000 residents. From the moment visitors enter the space of the Meditation Museum II, there is a beauty and peace that captures their hearts and makes everyone feel safe. In addition to being a safe space, we offer ongoing classes and workshops, and have welcomed the Tyson’s Regional Chamber of Commerce, and special guests, such as Panache Desai and filmmaker Nic Askew.
Meditation Museum II, Tysons Virginia
Tysons Chamber of Commerce at the Meditation Museum II
The events at the Meditation Museums serve a wide range of guests, including doctors, scientists, teachers, artists, young women, government, business and interfaith leaders, authors, celebrities, and fellow seekers. The Museums are meeting places for people from all genres and stages on their journeys. It naturally invites an atmosphere of diversity and inclusivity whereby anyone who cares about their well-being feels at home and leaves feeling refreshed and enlightened.
OUTREACH OF SERVICE As the service in the Brahma Kumarisâ€™ centers grew in recognition and appreciation, the intentions of love and compassion from our beginning years continued as our base of service for the community at large. It became increasingly clear by the leadership and the service team through engagement with the community that their true purpose was aligned to the One Supreme Being. This outreach of service has continuously created long-lasting and meaningful friendships with a variety of organizations and sectors of society.
The extent of diversity and inclusivity that service has supported has been incredible. We have no boundaries when it comes to meeting our fellow brothers and sisters on the journey and offering them spiritual wisdom that has an immediate impact on their lives. What could inspire such broad-based service to all but the One?
Outreach Over the Years • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Trust in a Changing World with Dadi Janki, Dr. Roger Cole, Maureen Bunyan -1997 Abused Women - 1998, 2002 Metropolitan Dialogue - 1999 - 2009 Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington - 2000 International Peace Summits - 1999 Washington Ethical Society Washington National Cathedral 9/11 Unity Walk United Religions Initiative of DC - 1998 - 2005 Board Emeritus Power of One - 2010 The Shift Network 2010 - Present (various projects) Veg Fest – 2012 - Present Agape Keynote address and Meditations - 2013 Yogaville Keynote address and workshop - 2013 Innocence at Risk – 2013 - present School for Girls - 2010 Gandhi Brigade, Youth Project with Media - 2014 One Million Bones Installation and Address - 2014 Empowering a Billion Women 2020 (EBW2020) International Yoga Day, produced ‘Om Challenge’ Short Film and spoke on the Mall for events with Indian Embassy - 2015 Soul Talks with Congressmen and women on Capitol Hill - 2015 (TV Production) Self Esteem for Youth Armistice Day Commemoration, honoring Korean War veterans – 2014, 2016 BELIEF at the UN, Galvanized leaders for OWN TV Show Belief - 2015 Compassion over Killing Unity of Washington, DC – 2015 – present Annual Thanksgiving Day parades, Silver Spring – 2015, 2016 Values Partnerships, Belief, Concussions (Two Films) - 2015 - present BE Magazine, articles - 2015 Unify, Online Platform Downtown Silver Spring/ Silver Spring Inc. Mary’s Center, Meditate the Vote event - 2016 Busboy and Poets, Meditation, Meditate the Vote events, Pause for Peace space and more – 2013 present Saint Albans School for Girls Collaboration with area Universities (George Washington University, American University, Howard University, Catholic University, Georgetown University and University of the District of Columbia)
Spiritual Ambassadors Spiritual Ambassadors Dinner and Conversations convened thought leaders from varied cultures, countries, language and perspectives to foster understanding among people and countries. Individuals were invited to share the roots of their culture, people, food, language, religion and their spiritual journey
Types of Service
National Initiatives, 17
Meditation Museums, 2
Media Reports, 32
Demographics of Groups Served
Yogaville, Buckingham County, Virginia
Belief at the United Nations
Day of Healing and Reconciliation, Unity of Washington
Self Esteem for Youth
Veg Fest DC
Women in Healthcare, DC
Women in the Military
PROGRAMS FOR YOUTH
Youth and the Arts (from 14 countries)
Programs for Youth 2
At risk youth from Columbia
Youth from Columbia find peace
Empowering young women at risk
Asian youth leadership program
With Oprah Winfrey and friends at the UN for BELIEF
RELATIONSHIPS The expansion of service in the Washington, DC area has created countless friendships. These friendships have further inspired our work, showing that it is truly through honest, well-intended relationships does our world improve for the better. We have learned from, shared, and created with so many wonderful individuals. Here are just a fewâ€Ś
Marcia Dyson, Sister Jenna, Shahin Mafi
Harriet Fulbright, Ingrid Vanderveldt, Sister Jenna
Michael Beckwith, Clark Peters and Rickie Beckwith, Sister Jenna
Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation fundraiser at Whoopi Goldbergâ€™s
India Arie and Sister Jenna
Stephen Dinan, Shift Network; songstress, Kristin Hoffmann; Sister Jenna; Reverend Sylvia Sumter, Unity of Washington; Reverend Rich Tafel, Log Cabin Republicans
Sister Jenna, Marcia Dyson, HRH Princess Basmah bint Saud bin Abdulaziz al Saud
Reverend Ivy Hylton
Sister Jenna, Meryl Streep, Harriet Fulbright
with Sharon Stone â€“ Anti Bullying Campaign
Friends at the 1st Anniversary of the Meditation Museum II
Happy Yogis at Peace Village Learning and Retreat Center
with H.E. Reverend Doctor Princess Asie Ocansey of Ghana
with Panache Desai
End of the Line, Women at Standing Rock
Friends from the America Meditating Radio come out to support FGM
Launch of book, Mr. President at the National Press Club
In challenging times, what people need most are safe havens to breathe, connect, reflect and refuel. The Meditation Museums have been a haven for many, especially as stories of tragedy plague our world and media. For those feeling anxious, scared, or confused about the events in our world today, they have found a place to rest and reconnect with their own inner journey.
HRH Princess Basmah bint Saud bin Abdulaziz al Saud of Saudi Arabia came to America to participate in diplomatic meetings and to share her new book, The Fourth Way Law. The students were from the poorest public schools in the crime-ridden city of Cali, Columbia, one of the most violent cities in the world, and were visiting America after winning a singing contest. Some played instruments, many sang from their hearts. Together, they are Voices of La Paz (Voices of Peace). From entirely different paths of life, they met at the Meditation Museum outside of Washington, DC for an afternoon of music, inspiration, encouragement and meditation.
During the BELIEF series by Oprah Winfrey’s Network (OWN), where Sister Jenna served as a spiritual resource to a nationwide committee of organizers and supporters, she had the opportunity to ask Oprah a question during her visit to the UN. Sister Jenna asked Oprah, “What does God feel like?”
As part of the collaboration with Values Partnership and OWN, 11 Days of Healing and Compassion honored the anniversary of 9/11 with a collection of questions and interactive platform for people from all paths and beliefs to reflect and share on what true healing and compassion for others means to them
The United Religions Initiative (URI) is the worldâ€™s largest grassroots interfaith peacebuilding network with over 800 member organizations in more than 90 countries worldwide. URI held an international campaign, Tangible Hope, to gather and share stories of hope and encouragement. Sister Jenna offered her wisdom.
The movie, Concussion, brought to light some of the dangers of playing one of Americaâ€™s favorite pastimes, football. Sister Jenna attended the screening in Washington, DC and offered her perspective on the sport and the movie.
Healing Pain into Power brought the America Meditating: Pause for Peace initiative to the island of Kauaâ€™I though the organization of a variety of public talks and meditation sessions for residents and tourists alike to feel the peace that comes from pausing and deeply reflecting on our values and lives.
As with many traditions today, the application of Raja Yoga Meditation varies, and one’s choice about how to practice is largely determined by what one wishes to achieve from it. In this article, Sister Jenna shares, “The reason for open eye meditation is important because a majority of our lives are spent with our eyes open. Open eye meditation trains you to be more connected with internal awareness and the world. In your daily life, if someone comes to you in an angry mood – you can’t just close your eyes and chant until they disappear. Rather, you have to be in internal awareness and realize that they (the angry people) are not in a good state.”
Sister Jenna and radio host, Sunny Chayes
MEDIA In a world where media tends to focus on the negative struggles of humanity, we have been humbled by the support media has offered to the positive efforts of the Brahma Kumaris in Washington, DC. The following is a brief summary of how the good work has spread:
Documentaries • •
Power of One – Produced by Brahma Kumaris, Washington, DC - Interviewed pioneers who have paved the way for new ideas. FACE2FACE - "Creating Diplomacy through the Voices of Women" featured Sister Jenna, Madame Harriet Fullbright, Zianab Al-Suwaij, and Rev. Marcia Dyson in a dynamic format which opened doors of conversation and insight with its launch at the Kingdom of Bahrain Embassy. Awakening with Brahma Kumaris – Sister Jenna appeared as a guest on the popular television show. Huffington Post Meditation Tips – Sister Jenna offered a series of video lessons to the widely popular news outlet.
Articles of service and inspiration have appeared in USA Today, Washington Post, Washington Examiner, Day Spa, Informer, Roll Call: Heard on the Hill, The Gazette, WTOP Radio, The Denver Post, Values.com, Best Self Magazine, Positively Positive, Inside Nova and World Religion News and more. News coverage has included Channel 7, Arlington News, NPR Voices of America, Channel 8, Univision and moreâ€Ś Sister Jenna is an author for Positively Positive and Thrive Global, and a blogger for the Huffington Post .
Books Book endorsements and contributions by Sister Jenna have included:
• • • • • •
Mr. President: Interfaith Perspectives on the Historic Presidency of Barack H. Obama Sacred America, Sacred World, by Stephen Dinan Original Light: The Morning Practice of Kundalini Yoga, by Snatum Kaur Soul Awakening Practice, by James O’Dea Spirituality 101: For the Dropouts of the School of Life, by Ivan Figueroa, MD Transform Agents: Electric Authors Collection
Our 12th annual peace project in 2012 was titled, ‘America Meditating: Pause for Peace.’ Like much of our work, it began as a simple invitation for people to pause at 7 am and 7 pm. The pause could have reflected a pure wish for themselves, their immediate surroundings, or for the world. The invitation spread around the world, with lights on an electronic heat map of the globe reflecting, “I paused for peace,” in Iran, France, India, Greece, South Korea, Australia and more.
The impact of America Meditating continued with the globally syndicated radio show, America Meditating Radio which was birthed in March 2014. It humbly boasts one million archived listeners in 90 countries, with over 1000 episodes! America Meditating Radio is broadcast on Blog Talk Radio, iTunes, Stitcher, Aha Radio, Spreaker, Overcast FM, the Pause for Peace App, the Player.FM App, and on the Worldâ€™s Largest Audio Network, TuneIn, to name a few.
For three consecutive years, The America Meditating Radio has organized annual retreats for its guests at the Brahma Kumaris retreat center, Peace Village, in New York state.
Other America Meditating projects include • • •
Toured spiritual organizations around the country to find out what are people searching for.
Soul Talk with Congressman Charles Rangel
Sister Jenna interviewed members of Congress on the Hill about what matters most to them, and how does that influence their leadership of this nation.
Sister Jenna has produced two CDâ€™s, with a third, Inclusivity, in production.
Citation from Senator Van Hollenâ€™s office
Honorary member of the United States Coast Guard
AWARDS Both the Brahma Kumaris Meditation Museums and Sister Jenna have earned various awards and recognition for the service they offer the communities, both locally and globally.
DC Proclamation of Dadi Prakashmani Day
Maryland Proclamation of America Meditating Day
Congressional Record, Meditation Museum II
Governorâ€™s Citation, Meditation Museum
COMMUNITY The Brahma Kumaris is held by a group of dedicated individuals, who have committed their lives to the purpose of sharing spiritual knowledge and Godâ€™s energy with the world. It is this pure leadership, 100% volunteer, which have continued the legacy which was created over 80 years ago. Thanks to the many wonderful leaders in the Brahma Kumaris today.
VOLUNTEERS BEHIND THE SCENES One of the most remarkable aspects of the Brahma Kumaris worldwide is that it is 100% volunteer led. All of the service offered inside and outside of centers is made possible by a small group of dedicated volunteers, who have been personally touched by the message and intention of the Brahma Kumaris. On our 20th anniversary in Washington, DC, we wish to extend a special thanks to all our volunteers throughout the years.
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Published on Jul 21, 2017
The Brahma Kumaris Service Report for 20 Years in Washington D.C. Truly a tireless, committed group of volunteers who have been changing liv...