Some keywords that I can use to describe my one month experience in San Francisco so far would have to be: Grounded, Energy, Soul, Healing, Creative, Thriving. It has been a soul-nourishing experience to meet so many sensory creatives along my journey. From writers, musicians, artists, healers, body workers, I've been awe-inspired at the collective power of social responsibility and the value of nurturing both body, mind, and soul here at the Bay.
Last night, I attended an open mic night in the Mission hosted biweekly by Holistic Underground. It was a special event dedicated to sharing our reactions, feelings, and voice in solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement. After listening to truth from the soul in the form of song, poetry, comedy, freestyle rap, the whole space made way for a live open jam-drum circle-cypher.
Instruments for grabs. Dancing wild and free. Singing. OOH and AAH. This is where I found home.
The following day, after a shared meditation practice, I sat with Mazin Mahgoub, Director of Holistic Underground to pick his brain and understand the theory to the practice of holistic health + arts + social justice. The grounded energy was palpable. For the following Q&A, Mazin explains the importance and vision of creating a more creative, sustainable and holistic (r)evolution in the world we live in today.
July 13, 2016 @Maxfield's House of Caffeine 4 PM
T: Maz! What is the mission of Holistic Underground (HU)?
M: The mission of Holistic Underground is to create an integrated model for community development by uniting the arts, social justice, and holistic health. This takes the form of our 7 monthly community events, our HEARTSPACE platform for personal and professional development for our members or our Holistic Community Development Program (HCD) for non profits, activist groups, and organizations.
No matter how we organize ourselves, all humans have the same universal needs and increasing empathy, assertiveness, embodiment, mindfulness, communication, and viewing the world as an ecosystem of living beings versus a mechanism of transactions will inevitably move us towards the just and peaceful world we want to see. These tools prepare us for this already unfolding great turning of our species and planet.
T: Can you speak more about the intersection of arts, social justice, and holistic health?
M: Holistic health means wellness and balance in the mind, body, spirit in community, society and nature
Anyone who thinks that they are healthy but isn’t well connected to community, connected to earth, or connected to what’s happening in society right now is fooling themselves. Sometimes we are aware of how much it hurts to be disconnected in these ways, but a lot of us aren’t.
So for us, no one can exist without the other.
And the ultimate goal of evolution or revolution is to heal our relationships to ourselves, each other, and the earth.
But when we have activism without the arts, we find ourselves repeating the same methods. Which may have worked wonders in the 60’s and 70’s, but now clearly are insufficient.
We lose our advantage against an inflexible system of oppression that only knows one way. When the art is without activism, we find it being used as a tool to perpetuate the same ideologies, systems and behaviors that are making us ill in the first place.
Holistic health includes everything from conventional medicine, nutrition, sleeping reasonable hours to alternative medicine and ancient systems of healing like yoga and traditional Chinese medicine. It also includes all of us embracing the artist inside and expressing our soul. Humans are social creatures who need connection.
But this stuff isn’t just going to proliferate itself through a disconnected society by any conventional means. We need to be active in subverting these failing human systems replacing them with these sustainable and just solutions; and all the while being creative to meet the ever changing challenges along the way.
Essentially, without the arts, social justice can become repetitive and ineffective. Without a holistic understanding of health, we miss the connection between the individual, their community, society, and the planet. Only when the 3 are together, can we have a creative sustainable and holistic (r)evolution.
T: Beautiful! So, What does HU actually do?
M: Currently, we host 6-8 monthly community events which range from 3 open mics where people can share and create art and join in an epic dance jam drum circle, to a synthesized workshop called HEARTSPACE for healing the body, the mind, and our relationship with difficult topics such as identity, privilege, and power.
Some of these events are part of our HEARTSPACE platform: personal and professional development for artists, activists, and healers (which to us means everyone). This includes job readiness, affordable holistic health, volunteer opportunities, internships, and more.
The burgeoning cornerstone of our work is the Holistic Community Development Program trainings, workshops and development for non profits, companies, activist groups and students, introducing mindfulness, assertiveness, empathy, non violent communication and other skills into work spaces to make this (r)evolution a more intentional, mindful and effective one!
T: Where do you see HU going in the future?
M: In the future, we plan to produce more media and open our first HEARTSPACE (Healing and Art) center to run our operations and create a replicable model for other communities.
For HCD which is currently focused on local nonprofits, we want to bring this holistic perspective on healing communities and changing the world to the political system, the legal system, the healthcare system, and international relations.
T: Taking over the world, one heart at a time! I love it! Can you think of 5 Core Values behind HU?
M: (closing eyes, breathing, takes some time)
Intention – Giving purpose to what you do
Embody - Grounded in the body, in the present moment
Empathy – If telepathy is mind reading, empathy is heart reading
Assertive – Passive hurts you. Aggressive hurts them. Assertive is being strong without being mean
Holistic – Everything is interconnected
Set your intention. Connect to the present and embody empathy and assertiveness, sensitivity and strength. Live as a holistic part of the ecosystem of life.
Show your support for HOLISTIC UNDERGROUND and check their website for future open mics, gathering, workshops, and other monthly events.
Like them on Facebook. Follow them on IG.
Aside from leading, drumming and singing away at HU gatherings, Mazin can be found as a walking tour guide in the Mission District, educating tourists about past political activism, giving voice to marginalized communities, and painting the rich history of SF in a storytelling fashion (ukulele in hand).
Show Off Your Organization’s Values
I regularly conduct Q&A sessions with organizations that are committed to mindful values. You can be a brand, a company, a non profit, or even an individual doing cool things. The most important thing is that you’re committed to your values. If you’d like to be featured on the blog, please get in touch! email@example.com
The mission is to inspire and help individuals come up with their own Core 5 Values. If an organization that is fueled by their value system can easily align with their mission, what is to stop an individual from not doing the same and being the change they want to see in the world?