Dr. Shacunda Rodgers explains why mindfulness is a revolutionary form of healing for Black women.
Mindfulness is a practice not widely discussed in the Black community but should be. Why? Well, because it is a tool that can genuinely be useful to heal trauma and live peacefully.
I met with Dr. Shacunda Rodgers, licensed clinical psychologist and founder of Melanin Meets Mindfulness, a wellness-based program centered on mindfulness and the Black woman experience. We discussed the act of mindfulness and its effects.
What is mindfulness?
Dr. Rodgers explained, “There’s an author, researcher, and clinician his name is Jon Kabat-Zinn. People say that he brought the practice of mindfulness to the west. He talks about mindfulness in this way; he says, ‘mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way, in the present moment, on purpose, without judgment, and with compassion.'”
How often do you get to be in the moment and sit in stillness for yourself by yourself? If your answer is not often, then this discussion is for you.
Dr. Rodgers further explains mindfulness as, “living your life with your eyes open because you are aware of what is happening in this present moment, you’re aware of what is happening around you, you’re also aware of what’s happening internally for you. When you’re aware and your eyes are open you can make more informed decisions about your life.”
During the pandemic when government officials across the globe urged citizens to slow down and be still, was one of the most frustrating and anxiety-ridden times for a large portion of the population—signifying how accustomed we are to be on the move constantly. Yet some indulged and expressed moments when they could see the world in a different light.
Unfortunately, for Black women, that stillness and time for us are few and far between no matter the circumstances. Often the bearers of others’ burdens, daily microaggressions, discrimination, and “the strong Black woman” trope, creating challenges that don’t afford us the opportunities to heal and thrive.
How does mindfulness benefit Black women?
Black women are constantly praised for their resilience and durability. These are the most highlighted and sought-after attributes of a Black woman, but we are more than what we endure.
To be strong all the time is truly exhausting, and because of this, many Black women suffer in silence out of wanting to live up to that standard but taking care of your mind and heart is equally important as caring for your body.
To carry the world on your shoulders is not to know true peace. Not experiencing peace eventually affects you emotionally, physically, and spiritually, which affects how you navigate the world.
“If that’s the only thing we can default to it really closes us off to a whole range of other ways of being with ourselves, being with our family, being in community, and at work,” says Dr. Rodgers.
How do you practice mindfulness?
Mindfulness is not something that requires a schedule or physical tools. Therefore, it is sustainable because you can practice at your own pace.
It is what Dr. Rodgers refers to as an embodied practice. “Mindfulness is not just about being aware of our thoughts and our emotions, but it’s also about being aware of what our bodies are telling us.”
When you feel certain emotions, i.e., anxiousness, stress, anger, where can you feel that in your body? To understand where that is taking place is to be mindful. Once you become aware of the sensation, you take steps to remove those feelings by “dropping out of the narrative and into the body, the felt sense,” Dr. Rodgers explains.
This is where healing takes place. You can do the dishes, go for a walk, meditate, and practice mindfulness. It’s also not limited by a specific time. You have control.
Dr. Rodgers suggests practicing mindfulness by starting with seconds or 2-5 minutes at a time and as you grasp the practice, increase how long you practice or whatever suits where you are at the moment.
This is a tool that you can take with you whenever and wherever, which is powerful.
Rest and centering yourself is radical self-love necessary to show up as your best self. Mindfulness is life-changing and can help you do just that.
Take this as your sign to step further into healing and living the life you deserve. Best of luck to you!