Wellness, Rhythm & Balance: A Retreat for Peer Groups

The NBA resumed travel and hosting in-person events in March, beginning with a combined group retreat for three of our Peer Learning & Wellness Group cohorts. The gathering took place in Scottsdale, AZ, offering respite, encouragement of wellbeing, and a deepening of connections between group members.

The theme of the event was “Rhythms of Grace” based on Matthew 11:28-30, The Message Translation: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” 

Three NBA cohorts were invited to the retreat: Executive Leaders of nonprofit organizations & ministries; La Lucha (The Struggle), people of color active in justice work; the Young Adult Leadership Experience (YALE), Hispanic pastors and ministry leaders. Each cohort had time to meet and enjoy activities together such as horseback riding or visiting a botanical garden. Breakout sessions included options such as healing drum circles and yoga classes, so attendees could explore the different meanings of rhythm and grace. 

The groups received interactive justice training from Rev. Dr. Dietra Wise Baker, a certified anti-racism trainer, community organizer, and teacher. The class began with the Melian Dialogue, a role-playing activity that highlights power dynamics between disparate groups and brings to the surface innate beliefs participants have about power, equity, and justice.  

“That was my favorite part, actually!” said YALE member, Yoli Barragan Garcia of Peniel Ministries in Portland, Oregon. “It was definitely easy to see how we’re so programmed to behave in certain ways that remove power from ourselves for being a certain race. I didn’t notice how little actions here and there play such a big part. My peer group pointed out to me: ‘notice that when you do these little things, it’s taking power away from you,’ or, ‘you’re not doing yourself any favors, you’re not doing your culture any favors.’” 

NBA’s Director of Mental Health & Wellness, Joselyn Spence, provided a seminar on mental health, coping skills, and managing burnout. All attendees were invited to participate in an art therapy project designed to enable the ‘inner child’ to help create an artist’s statement on the presence of balance, rhythm, emphasis, and harmony in their lives.  

“Spiritual health and mental health are interconnected. We want to provide education to our communities, and with our churches. For us to educate people, we must first experience it ourselves. This is the power this cohort brings,” said Chaplain Jose Martinez, member of the Executive Leaders cohort and Executive Director of NBA Incubate Partner, StoryWagen 

To learn more about NBA’s Peer Learning & Wellness Groups, visit NBAcares.org.