Who is Mindfulness for?
The media may have you thinking that Mindfulness is primarily a tool for the uber elite and attractive. Nearly all the coverage in the mainstream press of the emerging popularity of Mindfulness is accompanied by pictures of beautiful, young, white, affluent, healthy people sitting blissfully in a serene and contorted posture.
While I am sure actresses, models, and start-up heros are people, too, who like the rest of us have stresses and can benefit from stillness, I am concerned a message is being sent about what type of person Mindfulness is for and who is welcomed.
The beautiful thing about meditation and mindfulness is that it is free to do. No special props, places, or extensive training needed. Daily new studies are coming out demonstrating the positive health impacts of meditation, including increased immune function, decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, improved cognitive function, and decreases in depression and anxiety. If meditation was a pharmaceutical it would be touted as the wonder drug. And likely very expensive and not accessible to all. But meditation CAN be accessible to all and could have the most significant impact on disadvantaged communities who lack access to health care and money for things like organic foods and gym memberships.
There are some awesome initiatives bringing meditation into schools for kids of all backgrounds. The Mindfulness community is also very much aware of the lack of diversity in its students and teachers and working to balance that. I'd like to work from the other direction though as well, the direction of the consumer. In raising the expectations of people of all kinds that meditation is FOR THEM. That taking care of your mind takes care of your body, too.
In my last 6-week SIT class there were many fantastic students of differing backgrounds and ages. From new moms, to retirees, to construction workers. No one was more or less 'right' to be there. I'd like to share a picture of two of the students, Dale and John. These 'manly men' drive trucks, fire guns, and have some stories that could shock you. But they are just as open to meditating on loving kindness as they are to watching the game.
It can be really scary to start new things sometimes, especially if you feel out of place or like you dont belong. Please hear me when I say, you do belong. No matter who you are, Mindfulness is for you.
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