In celebration of World Mental Health Day, we hosted “Awakening,” in partnership with UNICEF Next Generation at Humming Puppy, a yoga studio in Chelsea. In order to raise awareness for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma, we explored how embracing empathy can inspire compassion for ourselves and others during this extraordinary time on Earth.
“When I was 10, war broke out in my home country Bosnia. My parents, sister and I had to flee our home and spend the next four years in refuge under siege in Sarajevo without water, food, and under constant bombings. That’s when UNICEF opened its office in Sarajevo and began to work to meet the desperate needs of women and children caught in the middle of the bloody conflict,” shares Azra Red, co-founder of Terra & Co.
UNICEF Next Generation is a group of young leaders and innovators who commit their resources and time to address issues facing the world’s most vulnerable children. Through UNICEF’s lifesaving work, displaced children worldwide have a chance to return to a sense of normalcy.
“Across the globe, there are over 50 million children uprooted from their homes, the majority of whom are forced to flee due to brutal conflict or extreme poverty. UNICEF works across four continents to provide lifesaving essentials, support, and education to children and families who have been displaced,” says Natasha Berg of the NextGen Steering Committee. “We work to ensure that migrant children are not treated like migrants, or refugees, but are treated like children, and that every child has the fair chance at life that they deserve.”
Sah D’Simone, a meditation leader and bestselling author, guided guests into the practice with comforting words of encouragement while discussing the importance of mental health and the innate power and strength that comes from having empathy for ourselves and others. Paul Kuhn, a musician trained in sound meditation as well as Director of Experience at The Assemblage in New York City, then took over, playing healing sounds of chimes and gongs and beautiful instrumental guitar music.
“Self-compassion is powerful because it teaches you to be gentle with yourself, kind with yourself, and to forgive yourself,” says D’Simone. “Simultaneously, having compassion for all beings can also help heal your personal trauma. When you have compassion for others, you’re then helping to heal their trauma, and you’re taking action to relieve their suffering. And when you help somebody, you’re actually helping yourself.”