“I have to say to you… I have decided to stick to love. I know that love is ultimately the ONLY answer to the problems of humanity. I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love. If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love.”
– Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dear friends, colleagues, and members of the Mindfulness Center Community,
With the recent killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd, and the resulting protests, it calls for a time to reflect on what this brings forth inside us. What is here in our thoughts and emotions, and can we harness that energy to take skillful next steps? There may be grief, anger, judgment, and feelings of helplessness. Is it possible to pause and be present with what arises? There is a need to bear witness to suffering that is experienced personally, socially and emerges from deep roots of inequity and injustice. What are ways we can act to bring healing to our communities?
With trauma-informed mindfulness training, part of what we respect in bringing awareness to our thoughts and emotions is respecting our personal limits, as David Treleavan writes in his book Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness. A first step is to connect with our own experience, and if we are feeling overwhelmed, we can know that we have choices for how best to care for ourselves. We have choice to move toward the discomfort, even for a moment, feeling the body, aware of emotions and thoughts. We also can, with awareness choose to move away, open to the sky, make a cup of tea, or go for a walk. And then after we have settled, when and if we feel ready, can we tap back into how we feel using lots of gentleness and curiosity, and then see if there are insights that arise for us as we move towards our current experience.
The pain that is experienced points to systemic racism and inequity. At the Mindfulness Center, we are approaching the personal struggle and the collective issue in these ways:
- Offering free online daily mindfulness programs (in Spanish on Thursdays and Saturdays).
- Increasing our commitment to mindfulness research on underrepresented minorities such as the work by Jeff Proulx in Native American tribal nations and African Americans.
- Training the next generation of researchers and teachers with sensitivities to the backgrounds each trainee comes from.
- We recently received an NIH grant designed to foster research to reverse/remediate the effects of early life adversity (e.g. abuse, neglect, poverty, racial discrimination, etc.) in mid- and later-life, and welcome scientists to apply for pilot funding through the Reversibility Network program. Applications are due on Aug. 14.
These are some of our small steps. What arises in you as a skillful next step?
Wishing you well during this time of change and opportunity,
Eric Loucks, PhD
Director, Mindfulness Center