Thoughts from Annie

   We Make the Path By Walking

Traveler, there is no way, the way is made by going.
By walking you make the path, and when you look back,
You see the track where you should never walk again.
-Antonio Machado

Dear Friends,

In September 2001, after seeing the devastation brought on by war and conflict, I decided to take a small compassionate step toward healing. I started a class teaching mediation and mindfulness to the 3rd graders in my kids’ elementary school. Later I added kids yoga classes, and within a year, I found a room to rent at the corner of 39th and Northampton Streets in NW DC. Nearly 20 years on, three important communities have formed from these small seeds: the nationally recognized Peace of Mind school program, Circle Yoga Cooperative, and Opening Heart Mindfulness Community.

Tens of thousands of people of all ages have found health and ease through these communities which are also the spiritual home for many people. And, several dozen people make their living from this plant that grew from a single seed. Of course, planting the seed isn’t everything, and I take very little credit for the magnificent trees that have sprouted from this seed. So many other people and conditions are what made this particular reality happen. And at the same time, it would not have begun had I been either afraid to take a step or been overly concerned with what the final plant would look like.

If you’re like me, you are upset about the ongoing police murders of Black people and the racist norms our country has come to accept. You may wonder what you can do to help end racism, stop police violence, and heal our country. Or, maybe you wish to help end the deep political and social divisions we see being magnified. I hold some of those same hopes and dreams.

But instead of focusing on the end goal or the possibility that you will make a mistake, consider taking just one small compassionate step right now. Take all your reactive feelings and put that energy into a single compassionate step toward healing and freedom. The poet David Whyte writes in What to Remember When Waking:

what urgency

calls you to your

one love? What shape

waits in the seed

of you to grow

and spread

its branches

against a future sky?

When I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer in May, I felt scared and concerned, but I knew that I only needed to take the next step, which was to call the oncologist for an appointment. Taking just that one step was do-able. Soon it was time for the next step, which I could easily take. My fear was so much less because I was able to take the treatment one step at a time, without worrying about the end game.


Focusing on the outcome gets us stuck because none of us has the answer to the racial problems facing us now. But every one of us can do something. By taking the first step, we will see the next step and the next. So, my suggestion is to take one compassionate step and let go of the outcome. If it doesn’t take you where you want to go, you can always try a different route. Just keep taking the next step.

Thich Nhat Hanh tells a story of having to rebuild the same refugee city five times because it kept getting bombed during the Vietnam war. His practice was to stay focused on the work that had to be done in the present moment. He and his community rebuilt this city over and over again, one step at a time.



There are many small steps you can take right now or in the next few days. This article in Harper’s Bazaar offers some specific ideas, but use your imagination and combine that with listening to people who are directly affected. Follow Catrice Jackson, your local Black Lives Matter activists (BLM-DMV), or other Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in your community. If you have money to give, The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) is an organization supplying resources to many grassroots organizations working for racial equity.

Share your small steps with others to spark inspiration and action. Post in the comments here, and/or talk to your family and friends about the small compassionate steps you are making toward healing your own racial biases. You will become part of the transformation of the world one step at a time.

Thich Nhat Hanh says, “There is no way to peace, peace is the way.” We could also say, “There is no way to racial justice, racial justice is the way.” Take your next small step toward racial justice with unconditional compassion, love and trust and don’t worry about what the next step will be. And by going, you will make the way for yourself and probably many others.

with love,


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  1. Liz Thompson on June 17, 2020 at 7:09 am

    Annie – Thank you for this. Indeed, the next right step seems so much more doable than trying to imagine how to solve a gigantic tangled problem!
    And—-I am sorry to hear about your illness. I had not known. Sending light. Namaste!

    • Annie Mahon on June 17, 2020 at 8:47 am

      Thanks, Liz. Glad this landed with you… yes, one step is always do-able, which is a helpful thing to remember. And thanks for the good wishes. xo annie.

  2. Beth Mullin on June 18, 2020 at 5:03 am

    Annies- Thank you for these touching words. Sending you love and hope for your healing as you take each step.

    • Annie Mahon on June 18, 2020 at 8:29 am

      Thanks, Beth. Appreciate you reading it and glad it resonated. And thanks for the healing wishes, too. xo annie.

  3. Elizabeth Tsehai on June 18, 2020 at 1:51 pm

    Annie, I’ve been protesting near the White House several times, the day after police with no insignia forcibly cleared Lafayette Square, I was dragged from my car, pinned to the ground by 2 white, male Secret Service agents (I’m a black woman, 5’4, mother of school age boys and I put up no physical resistance at all, so…) handcuffed, taken behind the hastily erected fencing (since taken down) and, as the crowd of mostly young protesters stirred up an almighty fuss, released moments later bcs “there is no reason to arrest you.” !?! ProPublica did a story, and when asked to comment, the Secret Service as always, had no comment. My take, these particular Secret Service agents were itching to join the fun, since it isn’t every day they get to yank middle-aged moms out of their SUVs and toss them to the ground for no reason. The violence of the various police forces – Bureau of Prisons and ICE sent some of their people to help out – in clearing the Square had the opposite of the intended effect, more of us came out instead of fewer. It has been heartening to see how many people have continued to come out to peacefully protest. I have been on several marches and am looking forward to joining one this Friday, Juneteenth at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture at 2pm.

    We are big fans of Circle Yoga, where our young son has happily been taking special needs yoga classes for years. I march for him, 1/3 of the black and brown people killed by police have been disabled. People with autism like him fare badly: they seem odd so people call the cops, who then manhandle them not knowing -or caring – about their sensitivities to loud voices or unexpectedly being touched. And it goes downhill from there.

    We love the trees you’ve nurtured from that one seed Annie. I hope to join the donation-based sessions for activists and protesters that you are offering on Wednesday evenings one of these days.

    • Annie Mahon on June 18, 2020 at 6:31 pm

      Dear Elizabeth. Thank you for sharing your heart-wrenching story of being abused by the police. I am so sorry to hear that you had to go through this! Thank you for being out there protesting, but I hope you take good care of yourself and stay safe. I’ve been out there a few times, and hoping to be back out tomorrow or over the weekend. We have to show the government that we will no longer accept their treatment of Black and Brown people. As you reminded me, so many of those most harmed by police are disabled. What kind of world do we live in that this is acceptable? I hope we get to see you on a Making-Visible call soon, and feel free to reach out to me anytime. Please be well. with love, annie.

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