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Spears: Uneven access to Mindfulness

Sydney Spears discusses the uneven access to Mindfulness,
That’s a really good question about accessibility and it is so embedded in diversity equity and inclusion as well as anti oppressive lenses and practices anti racist lenses and practices. It’s all embedded in that accessibility because that’s been one of the big structural, systemic institutional problems and inequities. So when it comes to mindfulness and meditation, I would say in terms of the playing field being level, it definitely to me is not level. It’s really a big change. Its for those people who have been culturally socially underserved overall there are exceptions within those groups. But overall, especially when we consider how we have taken those buddhist practices and westernize them and made them secular into mindfulness. There’s lots of disparities.
I will just say that number one, in terms of accessibility, there needs to be some sensitivity to those people who may be excluded. When there are certain opportunities like a mindfulness class or mindfulness training or meditation classes or retreats. There needs to be that lens from the people who are constructing these programs to notice and to be able to read their own procedures and policies and marketing and all those kinds of things. And ask the question, who might we be excluding because if we’re excluding certain people, then they’re not going to have access to it.
So there needs to be that cultural sensitivity and that lens, that’s that an anti oppressive, anti racist lens that I just mentioned and that’s part of developing an anti oppressive lens in the 1st place. And then when it comes to funds being able to pay for these practices that we offer trainings to be a teacher trainer and mindfulness. I mean traditionally in most cases they have been just astronomical that most people can’t afford that. And in particular many communities that are underserved many communities of color, many communities of other intersections of identity. Many communities with gender fluid identities. I mean, it is just too much. I mean, just looking at how much it costs to go through that process.
Or let’s say some of these programs that have certification and it’s a long drawn out process. We have a lot of like MBS are mindful self compassion programs, eight weeks, 8, 10 weeks. Well if you are a single parent and your income is limited and you may not have the time either, not just the funds, but you may not have the time to be online for eight weeks in a row. And then to go through this whole process. Even if you thought about being a teacher to go through all these different layers of what you have to do for supervision for more training, which is understandable.
But the structure of the programming bringing in that anti oppressive anti racist lens, that lens would say, hey, this is not accessible, this is not acceptable. And you are excluding some people because they would not be able to take this just because of the money, the structure, the exclusion, not thinking about who might be excluded. So those are just some examples of what I would say. There’s many others that I could talk about actually, but those are some examples that systems need to understand and to truly develop that anti oppressive anti racist lens. In terms of who we’re excluding and who are we opening to.
And therefore that translates back to who is really welcome in these opportunities to learn mindfulness, to practice mindfulness, to become a meditator in your own way. I mean who is really at the end of the day, who is this really for? So therefore the welcoming and that sense of belonging starts to dissipate, or it’s just not fair for those people. So yeah, the to answer your question overarching though, my view is that the playing field is extremely asymmetrical. We’re under so many underserved people are down here, which is not unusual because that’s what we’re dealing with now and they’re not included. They don’t have the accessibility for all the reasons I just mentioned and many more.
And then those people who do are able to access mindfulness practices, being a student, learning about mindfulness meditation. And maybe even considering being a teacher so they could bring these practices to other people who might have interests and it might benefit. And so if we’re excluding those people who are underserved and those people in that box of underserved, maybe people who would be interested in bringing these practices to other underserved communities. So we’re cutting off that accessibility to, it’s not even just with those people, it’s also with communities. So if you look at it from not just a micro lens but a macro lens, it gets a lot, a lot broader in terms of cutting off that accessibility.
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Demystifying Mindfulness

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