Supporting Black Lives: Why Mindfulness Matters Too Right Now

Corporations have logos. People and products create brands. With protests, the entry point is often a slogan. Something as pithy as “save the whales” has become engrained within our pop-culture vocabulary. More recently, three simple and powerful words have captured the attention of a nation from social distancing to social media:

Black lives matter.

As essential and overdue as this message is, supporting black lives is not as easy as repeating the slogan. A meaningful tool in this effort to be a helpful ally is mindfulness.

What the Slogan Means

Supporting the Black Lives Matter movement will inevitably lead you into a discussion of “all lives matter.” For some, this knee-jerk response is simply a willful resistance to ideas like diversity and racial justice. For most, it is a misunderstanding of the slogan. Many people reflexively fill in one extra word to help flesh out the concept. It requires mindfulness to discern that the message is NOT “only black lives matter.” The slogan is a reminder that “black lives matter, too.”

Step #1: Politely but relentlessly point out what the “Black Lives Matter” slogan means.

Why Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness grounds us in the moment. In the present, we are more aware of our thoughts and actions. We are also more in tune with the needs of others. When it comes to supporting those facing oppression, we must delve much deeper than memes and color-coded profile pictures. Such solidarity involves a willingness to question — society and ourselves. To perform such introspection, we must:

  • Improve our listening skills
  • Re-examine the forces that have shaped us
  • Embrace the grey area

All of that — and more — is possible with a healthy dose of mindfulness.

Step #2: Develop fresh, open perspectives to see the world with new eyes.

How to Offer Mindful Support For Black Lives

The two steps above are a powerful beginning. To continue building your support, it helps to expand your awareness and challenge your own assumptions. As you watch the protests continue, here are a few related and everyday realities to mindfully ponder:

  • That when you get pulled over by a cop while driving, you never have to wonder if it’s based on skin color.
  • From TV to movies to history books and beyond, you see people of your ethnicity represented widely and positively.
  • It’s perfectly normal and easy for you, if you wish, to spend the bulk of your time with people of your own race.
  • When you walk down the street with others who look like you, people don’t cross the street to avoid you.
  • People don’t call the police on you when you walk around an unfamiliar location or neighborhood.
  • The color of your skin won’t prevent you from taking out a loan.
  • Your children will have the existence of their race confirmed and praised in their school curriculum.
  • You haven’t had to sit your kids down and drill them on how to act when in the presence of law enforcement agents.
  • The toys and books you purchase for your children reflect their experiences and appearance.
  • You have the luxury of deciding whether or not racism is an issue you want to learn about.

People of color live with these realities all of the time. Conscious awareness by those who don’t live these truths is both validating and a show of support.

Developing Your Mindfulness Skills Requires Work & Support

Two facts to accept:

  • Centuries of systemic racism will not be not easily uprooted.
  • Your patterns of focusing on everything but the present require work to be changed.

Both efforts require help. Collective action is optimal. Such teamwork can begin with you and your therapist. Willingly dig into the habits that impede your mindfulness. Committing to this important work — in-person or via video chat —is vital. Please read more about anxiety counseling and contact me to find out more about how effective therapy sessions can be a foundation from which you build a deeper perspective and more compassionate support of black lives.