Greetings, Namaste, As-Salaam-Alaikum, Tashi Delek
I am Vaishali Mamgain, daughter of Shaily and Bhagwati Mamgain, granddaughter of Lakshmi and Siddhanand Dabral. I request the help of my spiritual teachers and my lineage to serve the world with integrity and joy! My ancestors spent their lives walking mountains and forests, healing through medicine and food and the telling of stories. I learned early that a good story allowed all kinds of magic – the stretching of truths, the finding of cries, the popping up of joy, the magic of creation – listener and story teller, joined in attention, tending to each other- leaning in… From grandfather, I learned how to graft apricot trees, with grandmother I learned the merits of “cilantro, cumin, chili salt” as a digestive. From Ma singing classical Indian thumris, I learned that music can flow in your blood and bones; through Indian dances I learned to invite gods, goddesses and other beings to this realm; on travels I saw orchids growing on trees and bright blue Morpho butterflies swoon; on days I didn’t want to go to school I was allowed to do what I wanted- read and romp in the fields; these are my earliest memories of being a contemplative!
As a child, I was curious about why there was so much suffering – I thought a PhD in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill would answer some questions. It didn’t! I was troubled at what was left out – a discussion of the nexus of capitalism, colonialism and racism – what Andre Gunder Frank said led to “The Development of Underdevelopment.” As an Economics Professor (for 19 years) I’ve included an analysis of Power, Privilege and Race in my classes. My initial research interests focused on the contributions of refugees and (im)migrants to the Maine economy and as I engaged in ethnographic research I found I relied heavily on my meditation practice to “be present.” I wondered why we didn’t use “presence” as a research method in academia. This led to my interest and subsequent expertise in contemplative education – modalities that can transform our ways of knowing and being. I have been a strong advocate of the Center for Contemplative Mind for whom I have led several faculty retreats and I have been a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies.
Since 2017, as the Director for the Bertha Crosley Ball Center for Compassion at the University of Southern Maine, I a woman of color, lead weekly practice sessions and weekend workshops for mostly European descent faculty, staff and community. I believe that when done with integrity, our practices can unseat oppression within us and by extension in the world. Based on years of contemplative teaching, I invite participants to engage with self-compassion and joy and to experience the liberatory nature of contemplative practice. I have been a student of Tibetan Buddhism for 20 years and have done many solo and group retreats. I accomplished a three year retreat at Samten Ling Retreat Center in Colorado from 2014-2017.
I am delighted to be co-creating Joyfully Just with Dr. Kamilah Majied. Kamilah and I have been sisters from the moment we met – we embody vastly different life experiences and we share mind: we feel elevated, inspired and energized by each other! Our joint passion is to create brave, joyful spaces for our communities so that we can all go beyond what confines us. We invite you to join us!