Green Zone Institute: Spreading Peace in a Challenging World

Published by Greg Heffron on

In 2017, Green Zone Institute’s leaders taught Susan Gillis Chapman’s Mindful Communication (Mindful Heart) approach around the world. From the Ukraine to Japan, from Holland to Colorado, from Poland to Austria — and soon to the US capital of Washington D.C. — wherever it goes, this simple-yet-strong, practical-yet-deep method uncovers peace, connection, curiosity and intelligence as the natural human state.

Susan, Elesa and Greg at Shambhala Mountain Center

In a five day retreat last Spring, Heffron and Chapman went deep with a group at Colorado’s Shambhala Mountain Center, set high in the pines and peaks outside Fort Collins. This program included the sheer delight of meeting Elesa Commerse, a Buddhist teacher and social activist from Chicago. While she came as a participant, Greg and Susan both were stunned by her clarity, sensitivity and the artfulness of her expression (a trained poet, Commerse often uses poetry when teaching). She is now training to teach Mindful Communication and will teach her first program with Susan in Washington D.C. in February 2018 (exact dates TBA).

In September, Chapman made a presentation of her work at the “Peace NOW!” symposium, organized by Green Zone resident scholar, Martin Ramstadt, a social anthropologist from Germany’s Max Planck Institute. Along with the many Buddhist retreats she led this year, Susan also followed up with Mindful Communication programs in Amsterdam, Hamburg and Edmonton, Alberta. She and Greg Heffron also presented a day-long program at Amsterdam’s Center for Mindfulness.

Greg Heffron teaching The Five Keys in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine

Greg Heffron took this message of peace to the Ukraine this Fall. “I was particularly interested in seeing how the people would view this approach.” Heffron taught in both the ancient city of Lviv and in the smaller community of Ivano-Frankivsk. “Ukrainians have faced a level of difficulty that would challenge any culture. Would Mindful Communication seem frivolous or idealistic?” Heffron taught a full weekend in Ivano-Frankivsk on The Five Keys to Mindful Communication, where feedback was enthusiastic and clear. The participants expressed that Chapman’s “Green Zone” approach felt like a crucial tool in creating peace in everyday life, and offered to help find a publisher to translate The Five Keys into Ukrainian.

Susan and Elesa discussing curriculum in Denekamp, Holland

Susan Chapman and Heffron also taught another of their popular five day retreats in Denekamp, Holland, hosted by the marvelous Buddhist teacher Frits Koster and his wife Jetty. Twenty three participants spent their days exercising with the material, including several who’d done the retreat before. While many were professional participants were mindfulness trainers, there was also a board member on a Hospital, a member of the Dutch army, and other professionals not only hoping for an approach to help in their personal lives, but to find direct skills to apply to their careers. Enthusiasm was strong, with one participant saying at the end, “I truly feel like a curse has been lifted from my life.”

Green Zone teacher Sabine Rolf taught a successful weekend in Cologne, Germany last Spring. She also taught a powerful weekend in Szczecin, Poland in 2016, which inspired the most successful “Green Zone” — a formal, recurring ‘talking circle’ which allows for more vulnerable conversations. This Fall, while teaching in Poland, Heffron followed up with a three hour evening seminar in Szezecin, finding a solid Green Zone group of ten still meeting and enthusiastic nearly a year later.

Heffron also taught in Poland in the Fall, with weekend programs in both Krakow and Warsaw. He was very interested to teach the new “Relational Meditation” approach, and received much positive feedback, including invites to return.

Heffron is engaging in exploring working with businesses in Tokyo for next Spring, and had a request to return to Ukraine in 2018, along with programs planned for Davis, CA, an invitation to Ireland, and potentially Costa Rica (we’ll keep you informed via our email newsletter — sign up at the bottom of the page if you haven’t already). Other goals for the coming year are an advanced online training for those from our many programs who want to go deeper, and quarterly live online broadcasts with our excellent teachers. Stay tuned.

Heffron teaching in Warsaw, Poland, with program host and translator Gzregorz Poplanski

If you have an interest in a program in your area, contact us at [email protected] or call Greg Heffron at 360-255-1123.

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