Mindfulness meditation makes the practitioner aware of the feelings, thoughts and emotions that try to interrupt the meditation. The individual while meditating begins to acknowledge the thoughts and how those thoughts impact their feelings, and emotions. Through the consistent practice of Mindfulness our level of awareness increases and we are more in tune to detect a bias thought running through our mind.
There are two recent researches that validate how effective is Mindfulness to rely less on previously established mental preconceptions. In the first study at Central Michigan University, the results showed that the individuals who participate and responded faster to the binary associations of good/bad, young/good, old/bad, positive words/white faces, negative words/black faces have already strong “biased” mental associations. Same individuals after practicing Mindfulness showed a decline of these strong mental associations. The experts of the research believe Mindfulness reduced the brain’s auto-pilot mode when creating and showing associations.
Another research from NYU studied the brain activity in individuals while they were looking at representations of faces. The activity of the brain was stronger when the individual was looking at a face they perceived different from them. These results indicate that racial biases are predictable by looking at the brain activity of an individual.
My story into this topic is related to my personal and collective experience in society. As an educator myself, we have a responsibility to help new and “old” generations develop empathy, compassion and kindness from a space of authenticity. We are all one is a premise in all religious and spiritual doctrines. We are all one in different body shapes, skin colors, hair textures, ethnicities, ages, and gender. We are all one, and our diversity as a whole is what enriches our experiences in life. However, what is happening that we see the other as a threat, with contempt, and hate? The answer to that question is that we are not relating in our hearts to the experiences of the victims who are suffering from racial injustice. We are ignoring their experience, and in my case my own experience as I am a woman of color. The experience of communities of color is not a fabrication, it is an unfortunate reality; however, the mental representations associated with racism have been consistently fabricated, and enforced by law for centuries. Since Ancient times communities/cultures that display a different value system and/ or body image from the Eurocentric world view have been undermined, undervalued, abused, and subjected because of the mental representations created many centuries ago. Written records show that those representations began during the Romans and Greeks times and those icons are part of our contemporary/ modern political and social institutions. Our communities in the United States are being impacted by the legacy of the Eurocentric world view with social inequities, unfair laws, sentences, and etc. Mindfulness Meditation is one approach that will assist us in finding what mental associations and representations are blocking us from expressing love. Racism is LACK OF LOVE, simply that my friends. Once we uncover our demons, and unlearn racism, our souls will begin appreciating the other with genuine love. Then and only then, we will be ready to look at the other in the eye and call him and her, my brother, and sister in the most sacred, authentic form. ©Maria Santiago-Valentín