Finding Refuge: Heart Work for Healing Collective Grief (Paperback)
Learn how to process your own grief--as well as family, community, and global grief--with this fierce and openhearted guide to healing in an unjust world.
In unsettling and uncertain times, the individual and collective heartbreak that lives in our bodies and communities can feel insurmountable. Many of us have been conditioned by the dominant culture to not name, focus on, or wade through the difficulties of our lives. But in order to heal, we must make space for grief and prioritize our wholeness, our humanity, and our inherent divinity.
In Finding Refuge, social justice activist, social worker, and yoga teacher Michelle Cassandra Johnson offers those who feel brokenhearted, helpless, confused, powerless, and desperate the tools they need to be present with their grief while also remaining openhearted. Through powerful personal narrative and meditation and journaling practices at the end of each chapter that explore being present with your heart, Michelle empowers us to see that each of us has a role to play in building enough momentum to take intentional action and shift what is unsettled and unjust in the world. Finding Refuge is an invitation to pick up the shattered parts of yourself and remember your strength, wholeness, and sacredness through this practice of presence and attending to your grief.
About the Author
MICHELLE CASSANDRA JOHNSON is a social justice warrior, author, dismantling racism trainer, empath, yoga teacher and practitioner, and an intuitive healer. With over 20 years of experience leading dismantling racism work and working with clients as a licensed clinical social worker, Johnson has a deep understanding of how trauma impacts the mind, body, spirit, and heart. She has led Dismantling Racism Trainings with large corporations, small nonprofits, and community groups, including the ACLU-WA, Duke University, Google, This American Life, The Center for Equity and Inclusion, Eno River Unitarian Universalist Church, Lululemon, and many others. She published Skill in Action in 2017 and teaches workshops nationwide.
“Finally, a skillful, actionable resource that addresses healing beyond merely the individual and recognizes the necessity of addressing the grief that results from impact of social and collective trauma. People both marginalized and privileged will find tangible practices to reclaim the heart and humanity that oppressive systems have sought to rob every single one of us of. Finding Refuge is an essential offering for these times.”—Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Sensei
“Too many of us try to use spiritual practices to lower the charge and weight of our grief. Michelle Cassandra Johnson wisely encourages us to do the opposite—to accept, embrace, and metabolize grief's full charge and full weight. Instead of shying away from our breaking hearts, we need to lean in and experience the breaking. Thus, we find refuge not from our grief, but in it. As Johnson wisely reminds us, 'Spiritual practice is about awakening and becoming aware—it is not about bypassing our collective trauma.'”—Resmaa Menakem, bestselling author of My Grandmother's Hands
“Perhaps the greatest task for us in this new era is the work of allowing our hearts to break. In Finding Refuge, Michelle Johnson weaves together a path of practice that becomes a balm tending to our unexpressed grief. She helps us to understand that when we allow our broken hearts to be tended to through practice, care, and attention, we are doing the liberatory work of grieving. Finding Refuge is a gift to anyone lost in sorrow.”—Lama Rod Owens, author of Love and Rage and Radical Dharma
“What Michelle Cassandra Johnson offers is essential--both a sacred space and pathway for our grief to move, change, and transform ourselves and one another. Here, grief is not erased or avoided, rather it is embraced as a throughway to our collective liberation. In Finding Refuge, Michelle reminds us that we have the capacity to hold both the heartbreak and the hope, and guides us back to the refuge of the heart where all healing and possibility emerge. She is both teacher and healer, as she calls us to pick up the pieces of our shattered past so that we can weave a new future in the present. It is the essential book for these times.”—Kerri Kelly, founder of CTZNWELL and co-founder of Race and Resilience
“This book is spirit embodied. It is a prayer and a hymn. Michelle Cassandra Johnson channels a deep invitation to turn towards, rather than away. Towards our brokenheartedness. Towards our pain. Towards our grief. She reminds us of the ever-present space that has infinite room for the wholeness of our experience. She illuminates the path of healing and models resting in the heart for refuge. For this, Michelle Cassandra Johnson deserves more than the title of author and teacher. Johnson is a healer in the most profound sense of the word. Finding Refuge is her medicine for us now. It’s for you. It’s for us. It’s for collective liberation. It’s born of love. It’s wake is love.”—Caverly Morgan, founder of Presence Collective and Peace in Schools, author of A Kids Book About Mindfulness
“[Johnson] empowers us to see that each of us has a role to play in building enough momentum to take intentional action and shift what is unsettled and unjust in the world.”—Shelf Awareness
“Yogi, Dismantling Racism trainer, and therapist Johnson's cathartic second book is a guide to healing collective grief written largely amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the concurrent social unrest of 2020. Drawing from her life experiences, Johnson creates userfriendly, meditative spiritual practices to assist readers in confronting grief head-on to bring healing and learning from it.”—Booklist
“Social worker and yoga teacher Johnson suggests uplifting methods for processing grief resulting from cultural trauma and systemic oppression. Spiritualists interested in social justice will get much out of Johnson’s engaging stories, practical advice, and contemplative practices.”—Publishers Weekly