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JULY 1: ABOLISHMENT OF SLAVERY

July 1 is also known as ketikoti (“the chain is cut” or “the chain is broken”). On 1 July 1863, slavery was abolished in Suriname and the Dutch Antilles. However, enslaved people were required to work on the plantations for their former owners for another 10 years.

A HIDDEN HISTORY

The fact that slavery is part of Dutch history is a sensitive subject. People don’t talk about it much, it happened a long time ago and not on Dutch soil. For most Dutch people it does not take a place in their direct family history. In the collective memory it is as if it did not happen.

Since the 1970s, groups of residents came to the Netherlands for whom this history did profoundly affect their family, and every time the subject comes up. There is a call for attention, for apologies. When those apologies come, they take nothing away from the pain in the family history.

The conversation remains difficult and painful. Maybe we can also handle it differently. Perhaps it is good that our attention at first is a little more quiet. That we increase our capacity and ability to deal with difficult and painful issues, use our compassion and make it more comprehensive.

BUILDING A FOUNDATION

What else can we do? July 1, the day a law came into effect that started the abolishment of slavery, is a day that does not receive much attention. But perhaps it is a good date for a day of mindfulness and heartfulness or compassion. Instead of being dragged into discussions and points of view, we cab have moments of silence, attention and compassion.

MINDFULNESS AND HEARTFULNESS

Anyone who has practiced mindfulness knows the practice of paying attention. Feeling the breathing, feeling your body while you sit. That gives you a stable foundation to come back to again and again. From there you can focus your attention on the thoughts and emotions that come. Just like your breath comes and goes, and physical sensations come and go again, so do thoughts. They come and go. What thoughts and emotions does this topic bring up in you? Breathing quietly, can you let every thought and every feeling come into your consciousness, and not let yourself get caught up in them?

In addition to mindfulness, there is also heartfulness, or compassionate exchange. In this meditation you make contact with the most tender part of your heart. Breathe in and out quietly. Are there important thoughts and emotions that hurt? Breathe in the pain, let them come into this tender part of your heart, exhale love. Focus your attention on others who know this same emotion, also breathe their pain and exhale love to them. Breathe in all the pain of the world around this theme and exhale love. Do this quietly and at your own pace. The themes that ask for compassion vary widely. Obviously for all people who have suffered exploitation.

JULY 1: DAY OF MINDFULNESS AND HEARTFULNESS

This is our challenge:

Mindfulness asks us to silently focus our attention on pain and suffering. To use our physical presence both in sitting and in our breathing to face, feel and experience everything that presents itself as thoughts and emotions around the theme of slavery. The invitation is to use this day to pay attention to this theme. Although debate and conversation also have their value and their place in this theme, here we ask for quiet attention. Together or alone.

Feel free to fill in this day in the way that suits you, maybe you want to do it together with others, maybe you do it alone.

A program could look like this:

Join in, or choose times that suit you:

6.00 – 8.00. Free up time before you start your day. 20 minutes is usually suggested when you are not used to meditating. 40 minutes seems to be a good time to calm down thoughts, get used to them and challenge them a bit more. For some it works well to sit, walk for a moment and sit down again. It provides a good basis for practicing going in and out of concentration.

11.30 – 13.30

16.00 – 18.00

19.30 – 21.30