Anti-racism and mindfulness

The last few weeks have been A LOT.
.
If you are feeling confused, overwhelmed, overjoyed, angry, urgent, afraid, hopeful, hopeless, or a combination of all of the above, you are not alone.
.
What we have seen in terms of anti-black racism, policy brutality, white supremacy, and the concentric circles of white anger, defensiveness, polarity, and barriers to true understanding are by no means new. But it seems that we have heard and seen them differently somehow.
.
As FitGurl Studio founder, instructor, and meditation teacher Ms. Kimberly Campbell said recently, “the beauty of isolation is amplification.”
.
Read it again: “The beauty of isolation is amplification.”
.
The stillness and concentrated attention brought on by a global pandemic (that is disproportionately affecting BIPOC) has amplified what has been happening for centuries in a way that allowed us to finally see and finally hear and finally feel: Black lives are in danger and we as white people live in and participate in and benefit from a society that has allowed this to persist.
.
The isolation has also amplified our internal responses to this awareness – our own relationship with racism, white supremacy, awareness of our privilege, and actions toward a more just society. I know this can be difficult to navigate.
.
For many years – since college more generally and much more deeply during the last decade or so – I have been on my own path of understanding my implicit biases, my privilege, my role in upholding injustice. And of learning about the lived experiences of people who do not share those biases, privileges, and roles.
.
By no means have I done this perfectly or even skillfully at times, but I have continued on this path and have come to view it as inextricable from the mindfulness path and the path of body liberation through Intuitive Eating and Health At Every Size.
.
One thing I wish to offer — amidst the countless other offerings right now about what we can do collectively and how we as individuals commit to change — is the thought that the path of mindfulness provides everything we need to do this work: not the knowledge per se but the skills and the frameworks to introspect, communicate, and take skillful action.
.
1. Mindfulness helps us sit with discomfort – I know how supremely uncomfortable it is to feel called out for supporting and benefiting from systems that are inequitable at best. This is an important reckoning we must go through and truly allow ourselves to feel. At the same time, there is no end to what we will do to discharge and relieve that discomfort – from feeding our addictions, to breaking down into tears, to becoming defensive, to seeking reassurance from the black people in our lives, to spreading shame toward others we think are even less aware than we are. Mindfulness and meditation train us to sit with the full range our our emotional experience, to face our pain and discomfort directly and become intimately familiar with them.
.
2. Mindfulness helps us develop fierce honesty with ourselves – this is not the same thing as brutal honesty that uses shame and guilt to motivate us to take superficial actions. Fierce honesty is clear seeing and also compassionate. It allows us to see the parts of ourselves we might rather not and to expand to accommodate them. To acknowledge where they come from, take responsibility for them, and do better.
.
3. Mindfulness helps us to not expect applause – some of what we do will be external or public – like marching or posting on social media. But much of it will be quiet and invisible. Whether your personal work and actions are visible to others or not, mindfulness teaches us to do what we know to be right and not expect a pat on the back from the very people whose suffering we are working to alleviate.
.
4. Mindfulness helps us to discern when and how to take action – some of us may donate, some of us may march, some of us may have difficult discussions with family members, or talk about race to our young (or old) children. Mindfulness allows us to discern for ourselves when and how to take action that we know is right for us. To understand our true intentions and to do so in a way that takes impact into account. Mindfulness also provides us with the quiet confidence to hold our seat when not everyone agrees with us. The capacity to discern what response is right for you (as opposed to a reaction to guilt, shame, or even peer pressure) comes from seeing where you are in space and time.
.
There was an incredible swell of activity, organization, and expression during the last two weeks in particular. That’s amazing and important, but like a lot of movements that swell, the intensity can die out when what is truly needed is ongoing learning, sustained action, and deep compassion. The path of meditation and mindfulness embodies these qualities and can support us to do what we need to do.
.
With love and great respect,
Jenna

Contact Kimberly Campbell at FitGurl Studio here: