The real title should have been when Mindfulness and Implicit Bias Intersect, but I needed to really get your attention. This is transformative stuff that so many of you have been grappling with over this emotionally charged and traumatic summer.
Amber Warner and I are in the process of collaborating on our second book. This one will be about fostering educator resilience. Researching strategies and activities that could easily be incorporated into a teacher’s daily routines, I met Rhonda McGee ESQ, a professor at the University of San Francisco. Attorney McGee is a teacher of mindfulness-based stress reduction interventions for lawyers, law students, and for minimizing social-identity-based bias.
I know of the growing medical evidence documenting how mindfulness improves memory, concentration, and cognitive ability. How practicing mindfulness dramatically reduces distress, anxiety and improves the ability to get a good night’s sleep, but mindfulness minimizing social-identity-based bias, what did the heck did that mean?
Professor McGee chairs the Board of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society and is a member of the Project for the Integration of Spirituality, Law and Politics. Based on her knowledge and understanding in all of these areas, Professor McGee believes mindfulness can help cultivate moment-to-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, and surroundings.
Using research about how mindfulness helps to give us control over our emotions while increasing our capacity to think clearly and act intentionally, Professor McGee believes this leads a way to help us minimize mistaken judgements or the assumptions we might have about others. AND the research is proving her correct, mindfulness does minimize implicit biases (Burgess et al 2017, Lueke et al 2014).
The more I sought additional research findings, the more it baffled me that these particular studies are not recent. I know of many educators who practice mindfulness with their students, read lots of articles about mindfulness and the focus is always about how to help them develop better cognition. Imagine, if we also used mindfulness to develop positive cognitive behaviors.
Professor McGee says that when we combine mindfulness with teaching about contemporary forms of racism, we’re helping students develop mindfulness-based color-insight practices.
Summer 2020 will be known as the year stuff got real for all of us. One of the constructive consequences of sheltering-in-place was the gift of time. COVID-19 slowed down time long enough for the world to react to the 8 minutes and 46 seconds it took to end George Floyd’s life. A social injustice movement sparked another global pandemic.
Social media platforms catering to educators lit up with how teachers were preparing themselves to facilitate discussions about RACE with their students.
We are happy to add to the mix. We will continue to keep informed so we can inform you.
In her article, “How Mindfulness Can Defeat Racial Bias”, Professor McGee shares examples of mindfulness color-insight practices.
“I See You” “Just Like Me” “ Insight Dialogue” and “ MLK’s Equanimity
Check out the activities in Professor McGee’s article and practice with a critical friend. Learn from the process before you attempt to work with your students. Work on becoming more aware of your implicit biases. We know that you are aiming to bring your best selves to work each day. You are ESSENTIAL WORKERS!!!!!
Follow us on Facebook. We update our FB page multiple times each week. Search by title of our book, Building Resilience in Students Impacted by Adverse Childhood Experiences…should get you there.
Are you ready to have authentic discussions about race with these children?
Links to research papers
Burgess et al https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0738399116304153#:~:text=Emerging%20evidence%20suggests%20that%20mindfulness%20practice%20can%20reduce,cognitive%20load%20%28e.g.%2C%20stress%2C%20burnout%2C%20and%20compassion%20fatigue%29.
Lueke et al