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Daily Practices an Emotional Lifeline for Social-Justice Leaders Tested by Current Political Climate

Louise Green

By Jon Sievert

Leaders engaged in the ongoing work of serving social justice over the long term are particularly challenged by current times. Burnout is a real issue.

At this week’s Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Service, the Rev Louise Green counsels us with daily physical and spiritual practices to help create calm, resilience, and emotional well-being.

Those seeking long-term social justice transformation are challenged by the current divisive and often toxic political climate in the US, which is impacting a wide range of nations. Numerous urgent global issues must be addressed amidst an atmosphere of chaos and rapid change internationally. New movements are emerging, representing either intensifying tribal loyalties or an enhanced sense of global citizenship and an interconnected future.

Leaders who face these immediate challenges without adequate tools for resilience have difficulty maintaining momentum and emotional health, experiencing anxiety, depression, and trauma. African-American Zen Buddhist teacher Rev angel Kyodo williams names the need for ongoing inner grounding as “Embodied Leadership.”

“Today’s progressive leaders must systematically and lovingly prepare us to tolerate the inherent discomfort of change now,” she says, “in order to wedge open the way to transformation in the future. To do that, they must be the leading point of that wedge, willing to meet resistance where it is and still hold space for us to come along. They must do this under pressure. They must do this while in motion. They must do this by winning hearts and minds—from within their bodies.”

Amidst great collective transition, those seeking justice will be most effective when at home in their bodies and well-grounded in mental clarity and emotional health. Current research on brain structure and activity is useful in learning how to thrive using steady spiritual practices. Cultivating mindfulness and body awareness changes human behavior and creates new neural pathways for well-being. By developing tools for inner awareness as individuals, leaders build movements that stay strong, focused, and able to navigate the considerable challenges ahead.

Green is from El Paso, Texas, and has worked in the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, Boston, and New York City.  She now lives in Washington, DC.  She is a Unitarian Universalist minister, yoga practitioner, and full-time community organizer with the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation in Maryland (

Metro IAF organizations build broad-based power for change in communities. Organizational members are Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, and Jewish congregations—labor unions, tenant organizations, and schools. Current Maryland issues include greater racial equity in public education, inclusive immigration policies, affordable housing, and a successful jobs movement.

For more information about the UUFSMA, including our social action outreach, weekly discussion groups, social activities, and Care Team, join us any Sunday at 10:30am at the Hotel La Aldea or visit our website at Our Sunday morning children’s religious education program is on summer break until September.


UU Service

“Spiritual Ground for Doing Justice”

Rev Louise Green

Sun, Aug 18, 10:30am

Hotel La Aldea


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