Open Way Sanghas

Our sanghas are rooted in the mindfulness tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh and consist of Open Way & Be Here Now in Missoula, Flowing Mountains in Helena, Open Sky in Kalispell, and the TNH Group in Bozeman.


Mindfulness Center

The Open Way Mindfulness Center in Missoula, MT is home to Open Way & Be Here Now Sanghas and also hosts many other community classes and events, see our calendar for more info.

               Open Way Mindfulness Center - 702 Brooks Missoula, Montana - 406-549-9005 


                         Interested in renting the Open Way Mindfulness Center? Please email us!

White Awareness Study Group


White Awareness Study Group and Listening Circle Fall 2018 (Missoula)


In a 9-week workshop looking at what it means to be white, AJ, as facilitator, brought a light but steady touch -- an open heart, a deep commitment to healing racial wounds, and a willingness to be vulnerable herself.  Meditation and mindfulness were key tools and practices; our sessions also involved well-chosen readings, videos, activities and time for sharing. It’s been an honor to be part of the workshop as well as follow-up meetings, study and action that it’s inspired.

 —Cathy Cockrell, 2016 participant


I (AJ) am offering a nine-week, White Awareness Study Group and Listening Circle starting Sunday October 7, 2018.  The intention of the group is to deepen self-identified white, mindfulness practitioners’ understanding of how the concept of race shapes the lives of people in the USA.  While I have facilitated similar groups in Virginia, California and online, I see myself as a co-learner with you on a journey to heal racism in our society.  I offer this opportunity with the vision that it can help move us closer to beloved community. 


Why This Group?

For most of US history, the concept of race has worked to separate us.  This separation runs counter to what we know to be true, that as human beings we are all deeply connected to one another.  Even though we may recognize our common humanity, there are strong societal forces linked to race, power, and privilege that continue to leave deep and destructive divides in our society.  Through looking together at the human tragedy of racism, we can better understand how to heal racism in our selves and our society.


As mindfulness practitioners we want to think, say and do things that come from a place of accepting all people as equally of value.  But too often, despite good intentions, we unconsciously collude with a system of injustice.  Insight and understanding can arise from looking deeply as a group.  We will explore how to liberate ourselves from the superiority complex of whiteness that continues to harm all of us.  The way out starts with awareness, so we will shine light on the ways in which racism functions in our society and ourselves.  Sometimes we may find the subject matter challenging.  Difficult emotions such as guilt, shame, and confusion may arise.  Defensiveness is not uncommon.   


“As a species, we should never underestimate our low tolerance for discomfort.  To be encouraged to stay with our vulnerability is news we can use.  Sitting meditation is our support for learning how to do this.” –Pema Chodron



·      Normalize the conversation about racism

·      Cultivate awareness of our thinking and biases related to race

·      Explore ways in which mindfulness practices can support us in engaging the topic

·      Have a community that can support us

·      Learn more about US history related to race

·      Connect what is happening now in our country to our history

·      Connect more authentically to people of color

·      Consider ways of being in solidarity with people of color


A Program of Mindful Peacebuilding

This study group and listening circle is offered as a program of Mindful Peacebuilding.  In our 2.5-hour time together each week, we will come home to ourselves with meditation followed by check-ins, discussions, films, and writing exercises.  The group is participatory and you will be asked to share your life experiences related to race.   We will use the organization's mindfulness and peacebuilding practices to support us.  These practices help us listen with respect and compassion as we share our personal stories and reflections.  


Meeting Dates and Times and Location

We will meet the following Sundays from 3:30-6:00pm.  Oct, 7, 14, 21, and 28 and November 4, 11, 18, and December 2 and 9.  (No meeting on November 25th (Thanksgiving weekend)).  We will meet at the Open Way Mindfulness Center at 702 Brooks in Missoula.



Please consider a weekly contribution to Mindful Peacebuilding according to your ability.  


Registration and Group Size

This group is open to people whose primary identity is white.  It is helpful to have a mindfulness practice.  Registration is limited to 14 people so it is important to register early.  The group is small in order to build trust and give enough time for each person to share.  Registration closes September 30th.   Preference is given to those individuals who can commit to 7 or more classes.  I will confirm your registration in an email.  If you have questions, call me at 757-331-0052.  If you know someone who might be interested, please have them contact me. 



To register, email me (AJ Johnston) at Please send me your name and phone number and short responses (3-5 sentences each) to the following: 


1.  Describe your mindfulness practice, including how long have you practiced and what tradition or traditions you practice in?  Are you connected with a sangha?  If yes, which one? 


2. Why does the possibility of participating in this study group / listening circle attract you?  


3. In addition to identifying as white, what other identifiers, such as gender, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, ethnic/cultural roots, etc. have shaped you?  


4. Describe an experience you had with strong emotions arising when you or others have given attention to racism?  What was “triggering” for you and how did you respond to your own feelings/emotions?  


5. How many sessions do you anticipate being able to attend?  Which dates do you know you’ll be absent? 



To launch the conversation, we will read together Robin DiAngelo's book, What Does It Mean to Be White? Developing White Racial Literacy.   Please be sure to get the most recent edition published in 2016.  We will read about 40 pages per week.  The cost of the book is $40.   To learn more about Robin DiAngelo, please click here:

More about AJ

AJ has offered this class 5 times, twice in rural Virginia, twice in Berkeley, CA and once online.  She has practiced in the Plum Village tradition since 1996 and received the 14 Mindfulness Trainings in 2002.  She founded the Salt Marsh Sangha on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and now currently practices with Open Way Sangha and Be Here Now in Missoula.  She served as the Executive Director for Mindful Peacebuilding (2011-2014) and continues to volunteer there.  She has a Masters of Divinity from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA (2006) and an undergraduate degree in Latin American Studies. 


18 Nov 2018 - 3:30pm - 6:00pm
2 Dec 2018 - 3:30pm - 6:00pm
9 Dec 2018 - 3:30pm - 6:00pm