This story of three men's work helping traumatized kids in one of America’s most underserved cities reveals how mindfulness tools can help children and communities not only survive but thrive

 In this inspiring book, founders of The Holistic Life Foundation Ali Smith, Atman Smith, and Andres Gonzalez describe how they have spent the past twenty years teaching yoga, meditation, and breathwork to thousands of at-risk kids in Baltimore schools helping them to develop deep reserves of patience, empathy, resolve, and—when needed—the righteous anger that fuels deep structural change. Their work has received wide national attention due to their remarkable results: The schools that have participated in their programs have seen suspension rates plummet and graduation rates go through the roof.
 
Ali and Atman discovered as young children the power of mindfulness practices to sustain them through the challenges of growing up in a neighborhood in Baltimore that was struggling with poverty and violence—a community they now serve. The Holistic Life Foundation’s mission is to empower kids to find this same stillness and light within themselves and to let it shine out to help change the world. In this book, Ali, Atman and Andres share hands-on mindfulness and meditation tools readers can teach kids that will empower them to do this same work in their own communities. Let Your Light Shine is essential reading for parents, educators, activists, and anyone looking to make a difference in the lives of young people.
 
“[Let Your Light Shine] shares the strategies that have given thousands of kids that edge that allows them to survive and succeed: be it love, support, self-confidence, or simply a friendly ear at a moment when no one else is listening.”
from the foreword by Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD, New York Times bestselling author of The Body Keeps the Score

Let Your Light Shine captures the originality, insight and most importantly, the brother-love that make Ali, Andy, and Atman’s work so vital and effective. Blending wisdom from their own Baltimore-based Black community and family with 2,500-year-old teachings originally offered in India, this trauma-sensitive, engaging book is just the contribution to the mindfulness movement that we need right now.”
—Rhonda V. Magee, MA, JD, author of The Inner Work of Racial Justice

"These guys are my heroes. For years, they have brought meditation and yoga to the children of struggling communities in Baltimore — work that repeated rounds of scientific research have shown to be immensely beneficial. Now, in this book, they show you how to work with your own mind, with the minds of the kids in your life, and with a world that can be both beautiful and cruel. Check it out." 
—Dan Harris, #1 New York Times bestselling author of 10% Happier

"How to change a world so challenged by mistrust, trauma and systematic racism? Let your Light Shine is a primer written with heart, honesty and truth. It is written for all who take the time to really care. It reveals how a difference can be made if we look within and change ourselves first. Then we can help the next generation with love, listening and learned skills.  Ali, Altman and Andres speak with profound experience and give us the very tools we need."
—Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Change

“Honesty, raw and inspiring wisdom, a powerful blend of deep insights into the real world we live in and the practical tools to build individuals and communities—these are brilliantly woven into the  narrative tapestry that fills Let Your Light Shine with a compelling invitation to dig deep and love broadly. Written by three co-authors and illuminated throughout by Uncle Will as mentor and spiritual guide, this book is not organized with the typical topic, discussion, and application structure. Instead, it is, like life itself, an open conversation between these gifted mindfulness teachers, with their long history creating and running the Holistic Life Foundation, and us, the readers who will so powerfully benefit from these visionaries’ courage, tenacity, and wisdom that shines through every one of these real pages of a story that we are so fortunate they took the time to create—in this book and in our world. We will all be better for the brilliance of Ali, Andres, and Atman that shines through in this wonderful contribution to our collective lives.”
—Daniel J. Siegel, MD, executive director, Mindsight Institute; founding co-director, UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center; and New York Times bestselling author of IntraConnected: MWe (Me + We) as the Integration of Self, Identity, and Belonging

“When we think about the most oppressed and marginalized group in the world, most of us would never guess that this could be young people 18 and under. Young people struggle with a range of obstacles, from the stress of a fast-moving technology age to the trauma of surviving various forms of violence in schools, in their communities, and at home. It is no easy feat making it out of early adolescence into adulthood. The Holistic Life Foundation, with its founders Ali Smith, Atman Smith, and Andres Gonzalez, have offered young people a path of healing and resilience founded in deep care, love, and a commitment to understanding that young people are not the violence they survive. Let Your Light Shine is an important contribution toward building a society that centers the healing of young people so that they are able to enter into their adulthood offering the same healing back to others around them.”
—Lama Rod Owens, teacher and author of Love and Rage: The Path of Liberation Through Anger

“Ali, Atman, and Andres, with so much heart and in the true spirit of collective care, have written a book that teaches us the important practice of healing and loving our whole self, and that in doing so, we cannot help but extend that healing and love to ALL. This, they express, is how we mend collectively, and move toward a more connected, self-realized, and compassionate society that benefits and supports everyone equally and with grace. Through personal narratives, social insights, and mindfulness practices, they explore how the deep complexities of trauma—developmental, generational, ancestral, cultural, and systemic—impact our body and consciousness, inform our reality, and perpetuate the belief systems that keep us feeling separate, rather than interdependent. This separation is the fractured foundation that births racism, injustice, and all forms of oppression; the true sickness in our society. Let Your Light Shine is the medicine we can all use right now as it not only shares the essential insights and practices necessary to aid in individual healing but also invites us to pass on all that we learn to others, especially children. As a student and teacher of yoga, I found this book an excellent, informative, and inspirational resource that I know I will turn to again and again.”
—Seane Corn, author of Revolution of the Soul and co-founder of Off the Mat, Into the World

“Simply put, this is one of the most important books on yoga that has been written in many years. It captures the absolute, true spirit of yoga, which is the removal of suffering and the experience of knowledge within. There are not too many places in America with greater levels of suffering than the streets of Baltimore, the home of Atman, Ali, and Andres. They have taken their spiritual practices, taken their learnings, and put them to the test on those very streets. To combat intergenerational trauma, systemic racism, and lack of opportunity and resources, they bring a message of hope and practical tools to awaken the sense of sovereignty in the hearts and minds of young people. Yoga in America has all too often been overtaken by consumerism. These brothers, though, without a doubt are restoring the essence of equitable power of yoga through their brilliant work, and this book will take you on a journey through a side of America that much of the yoga world rarely talks about or experiences. It will inspire you, sadden you, turn your head upside down, encourage and empower you. It puts the spiritual burden of racism front and center and shows how we can use ancient tools to transform and remake ourselves and society. Please read this book. It’s the future of yoga in America.”
—Eddie Stern, ashtanga yoga teacher and author of One Simple Thing