Is mindfulness for everyone? I think about that question a lot. The way I’d answer it, as a woman of color who practices mindfulness, is that it should be for those who are interested in pursuing it.
Mindfulness has changed my life in so many ways over the years. I feel incredibly lucky to work for Inner Strength, too. It is a place where I truly feel welcomed – embraced – and where I’ve been able to thrive, to grow, to fail and grow from those failures, to make new discoveries about myself, and to be myself. To be mindful. I have the space to have a voice and to use it. But, it took almost 40 years for me to find that. It would have been wonderful if I could have found these tools a lot earlier – like in school, or in the books I read, or on tv or...maybe even on a blog.
Mindfulness wasn’t readily accessible to me when I grew up. And I still find that the world where mindfulness is often taught can be a place where not everyone is made to feel welcome.
When I walk into a room to participate in a meditation retreat, or an activity, a classroom, or a conference, I always wonder – how many other people will be there who look like me? If I share my experiences, will anyone else understand and be able to relate? When- if– I tell my truth, will it matter? But as I ask myself these questions, I know that I also want to be a part of the answer.
I’m committed to helping create mindful spaces where people like me — and people not like me too — can find connection, community, and empowerment. Where we can have space to figure out what our authentic contributions are, and spaces where we don’t have to wonder if we belong. And sure, we want to ask questions too, but the kind that have more to do with our mindfulness practice — like what real belonging means and what being awake and aware and alive in our own lives means.
Sometimes we may feel like we are on the fringes looking into our own lives — I know I do — and that can feel really uncomfortable and confusing. So I want to create mindfulness spaces where that aspect of the human experience can be changed and where we can learn to fully embody our spaces and our lives. I want to create mindfulness spaces that are welcoming and inclusive – where we don’t have to wage an uphill battle to be let in just to get to the startling line of exploration.
Being present and being in the moment takes on a slightly different meaning when you have had to operate on multiple levels of awareness for most of your life. Self-regulation, self-awareness, rumination, perspective changes – all of those concepts, for us, cannot truly be understood, learned, lived, unless the cultural, historical, and environmental contexts that surround us are included in the conversations. How do we bring those contexts into our shared discussions so we are all talking about the same thing and seeing the multiple levels influencing our experience?
This is my contribution to finding out how. In some upcoming blog posts, I’m going to explore people of color in mindfulness: our voices, our contributions, resources, experiences, connections, empowerment, and community.
If you would like to be a guest blogger for this endeavor, or just want to share topics and ideas, feel free to leave a comment or fill out the contact form on our website. Let’s explore together.
Alyson Showell LaPorta