Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off your first 2 months of Unlimited Monthly. Start your subscription for just £29.99 £19.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

Mindfulness, Society and Diversity, part 1

Susan Woods and Patricia Rockman discuss mindfulness, society an diversity in this first part of the interview.
Yeah, I wouldn’t mind starting with the political issues because at the center, this has been coming up actually quite a lot lately. And also and it’s been quite distressing and difficult to navigate as it is for everyone. And also Susan and I in the book that we are just finishing, we did a chapter on diversity and so had to do affirmative research into that. And as to white women in a field that is mostly dominated mostly by whites. And actually was purveyed in terms of MBSR and NBCT into the culture really by white men. It’s really interesting to start to try to contemplate that and to work with that as the issues of structural racism are overt.
And while they have been obviously in need of attention for a long time within the work of mindfulness. At least the way I think that this work has found its way into health care, education, business is through the lens of Western culture. Individualism, capitalism, and to some degree it’s been commodified and then entering into all of these different areas. And sometimes I think you see it, it can be seen most obviously, so in the area of business. Where the work of corporation can be downloaded onto the individual through the lens of mindfulness, right? So you don’t have to change the system, just change the people, so stress is not a systemic issue, it’s an individual issue.
And then of course I’m sure you are aware there are a number of wonderful writers in the field addressing this work. In terms of how it might move from being dominated by white privilege to by pot communities. And how to navigate that, people like Brandon Magee obviously and others. And I think that it raises many complex issues, it’s difficult because I think while we need to wake up to being white. And we need to ask the question is this work in its present form, culturally relevant to these other communities? If so how, who makes the decision, how do we investigate that? How do we open up move beyond this sort of white domain and what is needed really?
And what do these different groups need and then how do you expand, who is actually teaching then, who is attending? Because of course there are one of the issues is that comes up this capacity, but there are a lot of barriers to that. And we have not necessarily made this work easily available to these other groups because of cost and because of the various criteria that we’ve set in place. So those are some issues and then how do we in our groups and this is what’s been really coming up. For us is how do we in our groups meet the needs of diverse populations around the centrality of anti racism, anti oppression.
And of course, what’s happening with COVID-19 and I think that the teachers. We need a lot of support in terms of being able to meet the reactions of our participants. And this is where I think our practice can come to bear knowing we’re going to make mistakes, we make a lot of blunders, I myself for sure have made many. And can we use the practice to stay open and have a dialogue and drop our defensiveness and be able to hear what is being said. Without reverting into like Robin D’Angelo’s phrase of white fragility, where we just retreat into a place of shame and or defensiveness.
Or all of these things that happen when particularly those of us, we wouldn’t identify ourselves as white Professors but that’s what we would be. Where we are, all of a sudden confronted with the ways in which we are embedded and perpetuate racism. And so I think it’s critical for the feel that it yeah moves and we have to move quickly and this is difficult on top of everything else that’s going on. And we had a meeting recently, something came up in a group that was being run at the center in our community program that works with diverse communities. And I’m working with people with affordability and access issues, training these frontline workers.
And a big thing erupted around actually what we would think of probably as a small event. But it became, it was really hot for both some of the participants and then for the teachers and is only this meeting. And it’s funny on Zoom because on Zoom where we’re all, like you can see everyone looking at you. It’s not the same as when you’re sitting in a circle where you have this, it’s a very different perspective. And we were checking it in with the group about that, this is a group of teachers. And during this check in, everyone started to cry because they’re dealing with their sense of self and issues of causing harm unintentionally.
These issues related to racism, issues related to COVID, then all these personal issues of death and loss and illness. And I mean, so many things and the level of distress it was profound, it was really moving and worrisome. So I mean for me, the question becomes how do we navigate all of this and support each other. And maintain some kind of equilibrium or quick recovery where possible? So I don’t know if that really answered your question, but that’s kind of what came to mind.

Susan Woods and Patricia Rockman discuss mindfulness, society an diversity in this first part of the interview.

Leiden University

This article is from the free online

Demystifying Mindfulness

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now