Episode 35 :: Chris McKenna :: The Mind Body Awareness Project

| October 22, 2010 | 0 Comments

Chris McKenna

Today we’re joined by Chris McKenna, Executive Director of The Mind Body Awareness Project.

Many of us started our Buddhist practice out of an interest in Asian culture, through martial arts, or we heard meditation was a good way to relax. Some of us have started the practice of the eightfold path because our standard coping mechanisms are not able to address some deep suffering in our lives, and we’re looking for more practical alternatives than simply having faith in an unseen force. We go to our local center, hear a calming dhamma talk, and meditate in that optimal setting of peace and tranquility.

As we’ve heard here on this podcast many times, and as we keep saying, Buddhist practice is more than your time on the cushion. It’s integrating that practice into our moment by moment existence. And, for those of us with a less religious approach, the pragmatic aspects are of particular interest. We want to see how the eightfold path can transform and help, in this very lifetime, at this very moment, under all circumstances, not just when we’re on retreat in an idyllic setting.

The Mind Body Awareness Project takes this practice and applies it to the challenges faced by incarcerated youth, helping them to take control of their lives and make better decisions. We’re joined today by Chris McKenna, Executive Director of the MBA. Chris has spent over a decade working with diverse communities suffering from high incidents of trauma and violence. He has a fifteen-year history with mindfulness meditation and has taught mindfulness practices to refugees with post-traumatic stress disorder and other severe mental health conditions. He is on the Advisory Council of “Honoring the Path of the Warrior” – a project of the San Francisco Zen Center which teaches mindfulness and somatic awareness techniques to U.S. soldiers returning home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Chris also serves on the Executive Committee of the Tibetan Association of Northern California, focusing on the effort to acquire a community center for Tibetan refugees living in the Bay Area. He received his B.A. in Religion and Asian Studies from Columbia University. He’s had the good fortune to study with several excellent teachers in the Zen, Daoist and Vajrayana Buddhist traditions.

So, sit back, relax, and have water from an ice cold mountain stream. Before the Hamms bear take it and makes beer out of it.

:: Discuss this episode ::



“Let’s really grow a group of people around the country who are working regularly with youth, and really are practicing, and really are transmitting that sense of practice to the people we’re working with. I think that’s the goal.” — Chris McKenna




Web Links


Music for This Episode


Chikuzen Shakuhachi Series

The music heard in the middle of the podcast is from the Chikuzen Shakuhachi Series, Volume 1, courtesy of Tai Hei Shakuhachi. The tracks used in this episode are:

  • Track 6 :: Esashi Oiwake

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Category: The Secular Buddhist Podcast

Ted Meissner

About the Author ()

Ted Meissner is the host of the podcast Present Moment: Mindfulness Practice and Science. He has been a meditator since the early 90’s, has been interviewed for Books and Ideas, Mindful Lives, and The Whole Leader podcasts, spoken about mindfulness with various groups including Harvard Humanist Hub, and has written for Elephant Journal and The International Journal of Whole Person Care. He is the Executive Director of the Secular Buddhist Association, host of the SBA’s official podcast The Secular Buddhist, and is on the Advisory Board for the Spiritual Naturalist Society. Ted’s background is in the Zen and Theravada traditions, he is a regular speaker on interfaith panel discussions, and is interested in examining the evolution of contemplative practice in contemporary culture. Ted teaches Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care & Society, where he is the Manager of Online Programming and Community Development.

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