Mindfulness techniques & practices are historically rooted in meditative traditions that are intended to reveal, through direct investigation, the truth of how things really are, with the ultimate purpose of liberation, not just for oneself, but for all beings. They are based within an understanding of our deep interconnectedness and the idea that our liberation is bound up with that of others.
Despite the many benefits of secular mindfulness, which include increased accessibility to those from a variety of religious and spiritual backgrounds, or lack thereof, and the amenability to scientific inquiry & research within a Western psychological framework, there are also some dangers. These include separation from the ethical framework within which these practices were originally intended and appropriating these practices solely for the purpose of individual gain.
The increasing popularity and commodification of mindfulness has also allowed it to be subject to the large blind spots of our capitalist culture, that is often invested in maintaining the status quo, rather than helping us clearly see suffering, especially that of those most marginalized with regard to race and inequity. One damaging manifestation of this is viewing mindfulness as an approach that places the burden of wellbeing and change on the individual, while concealing the role of institutionalized systems of oppression. The other is universalism, or the idea that everyone is the same and equally subject to the challenges of the human condition, thus centering the experience of those who are privileged enough to assume this, and excluding the suffering and marginalization of others.
Given these trends in the mindfulness movement and our current cultural and political climate, several providers at the Seattle Mindfulness Center have been engaged with looking more closely at our own privilege and conditioning with regard to social, political and economic structures such as Whiteness & Patriarchy, and how these show up in our communities & work. We are committed to ongoing conversations and continued exploration of these topics, along with taking active steps to counter their impact.
Here are some of the steps that practitioners in our community are taking:
Social Justice Book Group
This monthly book club is open to all and provides a space to deeply explore issues of race, gender, poverty and criminal justice, via conversation and self-reflection. We will meet on the third Sunday of every month from 6:30-8:30pm. Please read the book prior to attending.
Oct 21st, 2018: So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo. Please RSVP by sending an email to Mary Roy firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nov 18th, 2018: Continuing with So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo.
Please email Anna-Brown Griswold at email@example.com to RSVP.
Dec 16th: Racing to Justice, by John Powell. Please email Teresa Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP.
Unpacking Whiteness, Facilitated by Anna-Brown Griswold, MA, LHMC
What is whiteness? What is white privilege? How can folks who identify as white become more aware of internalized racism and white supremacy in ourselves and the world? And how can our spiritual practice support white folks to courageously follow this inquiry without collapsing in shame and guilt? Racism is not only racial hatred and bigotry, it includes the vast array of visible and invisible systems that give advantages to people who are considered white while disadvantaging people of color. For white identified folks, looking at it can be painful, provocative, and ultimately liberating.
Come and unpack these questions with the guidance of an experienced, knowledgeable, and compassionate facilitator. The series format will allow time to digest and inquire in a supportive environment. Each session will involve portions of lecture, discussion, and awareness/mindfulness practice.
#WeToo People of Color Healing the Gender Wound, Facilitated by John Tsungme Guy, MA, LMHC, lead facilitator and training apprentice for Gender Reconciliation International
Gender Equity and Reconciliation International is a unique program to forge new pathways of mutual healing, respect, and creative collaboration and partnership across the gender divisions in society. Founded on principles of truth and reconciliation, the program has been developed over 26 years and implemented widely in South Africa, the United States, and other countries.
This inaugural workshop for People of Color (POC) allows participants to share the deep truths of our lives and communities. The #MeToo movement, which recently made huge waves in mainstream society was started in 2006 by Black activist Tarana Burke, who identified the need for an intersectional approach to transforming patriarchy
Sliding Scales Services offered by Taurmini Fentress, MSW
Taurmini is dedicated to helping people access their own insights, self-exploration, healing, and personal growth. A mindfulness focus helps to engage “in-the-moment” experience and wisdom, supporting individuals in deepening their own self-awareness, as they move towards self-determined goals. In addition, Taurmini believes that mindfulness-based therapy can be a tool for supporting those who are working for social change and justice. She is deeply dedicated to social justice and is honored to offer a sliding scale of $40-$80 per 50 minute session in order to help those who so often help others access mental healthcare and a space to develop their own wellness. Acknowledging that many individuals working in activism, helping professions, and in areas of unpaid labor, such as parenting and care taking, often do so without a great deal of financial gain, Taurmini hopes that these lower fees will enable her to assist those who do so much to assist others. As a doctoral student, Taurmini’s research area is in how to best support individuals who have experienced historical trauma, current trauma, and/or compassion fatigue in finding their own resilience while working for systemic change.
Pilgrimage to Montgomery - Mary Roy, LICSW
Article by Mary Roy, LICSW about attending the opening of the National Memorial For Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum: From Slavery to Mass Incarceration