By | RASHID HUGHES | www.mindful.org
Is mindfulness really for everyone? It depends on whose voices are allowed to respond to this question. Western mindfulness often presents practices as universally beneficial, making the obvious answer seem to be yes. But does mindfulness mean the same thing to everyone? Do all practices fit all people? Have we fully considered ancestral grief, transgenerational trauma, nervous systems, and brain science when we define mindfulness practice? Although we frequently use words like diversity and inclusion in mindfulness communities, are we truly mindful of how complex and neurodiverse we are as human beings?
Often, in my personal practice, I contemplate the fact that many people experience a great deal of stress while trying to focus on the breath and control their attention for long periods of time. In fact, mindfulness practices that instruct people to confront their inner world directly, and to quiet the mind, can feel very disorienting for BIPOC, trauma survivors, people from marginalized communities, and even those of us who are simply exhausted due to hardships and life. Not to mention, many of us who find ourselves living in the abovementioned identity locations and communities are survivors of a racist, capitalist, and patriarchal society that devalues our bodies, rest, relaxation, and our very existence.
It’s unrealistic to assume that our psyches are somehow magically separate from the ever-present social and political chaos that we are forced to exist in. The impact of systemic injustice lives in the tissues of our bodies and within the corners of our psyches. And these are the realities we should consider when discussing mindfulness and meditation.