Mindful Live Q&A with Powerful Women of the Mindfulness Movement

Answers to your questions, bonus content, and more from our rountable on racial justice—to continue the conversation.

Questions About Mindful Live

Will this Mindful Live session be available to watch again? 

Yes, you can watch the Mindful Live session with Leslie Booker, Jenée Johnson, Tita Angangco, Jessica Morey, Ghylian Bell, and managing editor Stephanie Domet here.

How can I stay up-to-date on upcoming Mindful Live events? 

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More About the Roundtable Panelists

Leslie Booker

Leslie Booker is a cofounder of the Yoga Service Council at Omega Institute and the Meditation Working Group of Occupy Wall Street. Booker is a coauthor of Best Practices for Yoga in a Criminal Justice Setting, a contributor to Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality’s report: Gender & Trauma—Somatic Interventions for Girls in Juvenile Justice, YOGA: The Secret of Life, and contributed to Sharon Salzberg’s book Happiness at Work.

Jenée Johnson

Jenée Johnson is the Program Innovation Leader: Mindfulness, Trauma, and Racial Equity at the San Francisco Department of Public Health and the founder of The Right Within Experience, a mindfulness program that reclaims humanity, joy, and well-being for Black people.

Tita Angangco

Tita Angangco cofounded, along with Patricia Rockman, the Centre for Mindfulness Studies. Angangco knew mindfulness meditation could help those who practice be gentler, more open, less reactive, and more resilient—and that could be a boon for people who are involved with government systems like corrections, health, housing, and more.

Jessica Morey

Jessica is the cofounder and former executive director of Inward Bound Mindfulness Education (iBme), a nonprofit that offers mindfulness training for teenagers, parents, and educators. Jessica began practicing meditation at age 14 at the Insight Meditation Society teen retreats, where she has continued to practice mindfulness and compassion meditation for a quarter century.

Ghylian Bell

Ghylian Bell is the founder of The Urban Yoga Foundation—a national organization that creates outreach programs available for schools, organizations, studios, and corporations.

Further Reading from the Roundtable on Racial Justice

Here is a list of works discussed during the roundtable.

Questions from the Audience

Listen to the full conversation:

Follow-Up Questions from the Roundtable on Racial Justice

  • 28:52

Q: Thank you so much for this panel. I am new to mindfulness work and taking a course here in California. How do I help my (white woman) instructor credit and incorporate POC voices and experiences into our practices and discussions?

Jessica Morey: First, I just really want to celebrate the intention and motivation to do that. It feels hugely important. I guess there are two steps that I would propose. The first is to bring this to your teacher.  

And so I talked a lot about some of the work that I’ve done with Miki Kashtan and nonviolent communications and bringing that way of communicating, which is really getting in touch with your feelings and what you want. Your why. Why does it matter to you to have diverse voices and people of color as part of what you’re learning and in the voices that are being quoted? So bring that to your teacher, highlight the why, make the ask that you have, and then do a little bit of research on your own. Find the voices that you think are inspiring and need to be part of the conversation.

Find the voices that you think are inspiring and need to be part of the conversation.

The amazing thing that’s happening right now is there are so many teachers of color writing books right now: Rhonda Magee, Sebene Selassie, and many more coming out. You can also look to the people that we quoted in the last session: Audre Lorde and bell hooks. So do a little of your own research and you might even just bring in your favorite people, your favorite books, and invite your teacher to take a look. 

Q: The idea that Black and other marginalized folks are not preparing the body to “return to safety,” but to continually survive an ongoing, chronic trauma resonates for me with Frantz Fanon’s “combat breathing.” This concept was also expanded by Ntozake Shange. Have any of you all encountered/used the concept of “combat breathing” in your mindful communities?

Ghylian Bell: I’m not familiar with combat breathing. Just to be completely transparent. But what I will say is in Kemetic yoga there’s a pose called peaceful warrior. And I resonate with peaceful warrior because it brings you to a place of understanding that fight or flight is necessary. It’s a necessary action. It’s just been overused especially for Black lives and Indigenous lives, people of color. Preparation and awareness and knowing self, knowing trauma, looking at trauma and grief head on is so underrated. 

You use the the energy from trauma for a reason. But you can’t sit with it and live with it. I think we’ve been in the practice of normalizing trauma. We’ve normalized it in such a way that it’s just a part of the practice.  

And this is where combat breathing can connect to the peaceful warrior pose: understanding your trauma, facing your trauma, bringing awareness and space for that to happen, moving through it with peace. You use the breath in combat for a reason. You use the the energy from trauma for a reason. But you can’t sit with it and live with it. I think we’ve been in the practice of normalizing trauma. That’s the word I want to use. We’ve normalized it in such a way that it’s just a part of the practice.  

I don’t even know if I’m answering the question. I just think that there’s this space we need to give so that combat breathing and this whole thing because we’re so into it doesn’t become normal.  

Tita Angangco: I’ve never encountered combat breathing. That’s very kind of new for us. And I think one of the issues that we’re actually grappling with in The Centre for Mindfulness Studies as we work with marginalized individuals is really how to incorporate a full understanding of trauma in our work. And so this is really helpful for me to be hearing about these approaches. Because we really do have to do more and more of that. Now, we do deal with trauma, but I haven’t heard about combat breathing within the context of our trauma work.  

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About the author

Mindful Staff

Mindful Staff editors work on behalf of Mindful magazine, Mindful.org, and the Foundation for a Mindful Society to write, edit and curate the best insights, information, and inspiration to help us all live more mindfully.

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