Mindful of Race
Transforming Racism from the Inside Out
Ruth King • Sounds True
Long-overdue discussions around race in America are finally having a moment—one that needs to last a very long time. The Netflix series Dear White People recently released its second season, as did Donald Glover’s Atlanta on FX. Both were created by young African-Americans who have a lot to say, and unique and hard-hitting ways of putting problems of whiteness front and center.
The “post-racial America” illusionary bubble has been burst. Put simply, to imagine we are (or even aspire to be) color-blind is just to be blind to reality. So, where is mindfulness in all this? Is the spread of this practice, touted as something truly transformational, making a dent anywhere in our understanding and our race relations? If Ruth King has her way, it will. With Mindful of Race, King joins other voices demanding contemporary mindfulness practice go beyond being another luxury of the privileged to become something that enables us to explore deep habits together in ways that effect real change.
King calls racism a “heart disease” that can go unnoticed and untreated for a long time. In response, she developed a three-and-a-half-day program with the same name as the book that “brings mindful inquiry to an examination of racial conditioning and social distress.” She unfolds her training on the page in three phases: In Diagnosis, we uncover “the narrative we hold along racial lines”; in Mindfulness—Heart Surgery, meditation practice helps us investigate deeply while “softening the grip of the tension” from emotions triggered by going to rarely explored places; and Recovery is about how we can spread understanding, caring, and equanimity about race from our inner circle to the bigger circles in the world.
The Mindful Day
Practical Ways to Find Focus, Calm, and Joy from Morning to Evening
Laurie J. Cameron • National Geographic
This book is chockablock with advice and instruction: Its five chapters contain 50 sections in all. The book starts your day with what you do at home in the morning, then it takes you to work and play and love, and then back home again. So, you start with showering and breakfasting mindfully; continue with leading mindful meetings, starting tough conversations, and banishing multitasking; go on to engaging your life and love with curiosity; and land back at home to savor your day and ease into sleep. Hard to imagine anyone being quite this mindful, but for those of us who aspire, this is an easy-to-follow handy guidebook.
Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude
Stephanie Rosenbloom • Viking Books
New York Times travel writer Stephanie Rosenbloom makes the (convincing) case in Alone Time for setting out on your own and experiencing the sights and sounds of everyday life from the vantage of a silent, solo observer. Structured as a travelogue of Rosenbloom’s solitary wandering in foreign cities, her musings are supported by insights from psychology and social science about the importance of nurturing our inner lives. It’s no coincidence that the cities she visits are pedestrian-friendly, lending themselves well to slow, schedule-free savoring. This book celebrates the unique pleasures of spending time alone, guided by nothing but your own whims and curiosity.
The Art of Breathing
The Secret to Living Mindfully
Danny Penman • Conari Press
Danny Penman is a journalist who appears on the BBC and in prominent UK newspapers. He’s also a bona fide mindfulness expert who has collaborated with Mark Williams, a cofounder of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. The Art of Breathing is a little book with a lot of depth. It charts a course from paying attention to the rising and falling of our breath to discerning what’s happening with our emotions to understanding our place in the world. It’s also non-linear and diagrammatic, which makes it a refreshing and breezy read.
CBC’s The Current
How Empathy Can Transform Healthcare
For Dr. Brian Goldman, being told by the family of his elderly patient that his bedside manner was unfeeling kicked off a personal quest to be kinder, in his medical practice and his life. Along the way he met Erica, an empathic android, and learned about more compassionate treatments for dementia patients. He finds that while some people seem to be innately empathic, going through painful experiences can cause others to develop their empathy muscle: “If you have pain, use it, because it will make you stronger—and you’ll find your community.”