Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out. (Buddhism BY & FOR POC)
It used to be that pretty much the only Buddhist books in English were written by Asian teachers or white Buddhists. Fortunately, Buddhism is changing and diversifying, and many of today’s most interesting and insightful Buddhist writers are people of color.
Today I’d like to suggest a great book written by Ruth King, an international teacher in the Insight Meditation tradition, and an emotional wisdom author and life coach. It’s Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out, a book that provides information on how to use mindfulness as a coping tool to successfully bridge the gap of the head and the heart.
Buddhism teaches that there are two realities: ultimate and relative. Ultimately, there’s no race, no racism, but relatively, people are suffering because of racism. Both of these realities are true. For those of us willing to do the hard work, Mindful of Race will be an invaluable map. Exploring a crucial topic seldom addressed in meditation instruction, this insightful and revered teacher takes to her pen to shine a compassionate, provocative, and practical light into a deeply neglected and world-changing domain profoundly relevant to all of us.
Ruth King, identifies the prevalence of racism in both society and the individual, and explains how mindfulness can facilitate the understanding both social justice and personal awareness of bias.
How to grow our inner capacity to face racial ignorance and suffering with a wise and caring heart? Tend first to our suffering, listen to what it is trying to teach us, and direct its energies most effectively for change.
“Racism is a heart disease,” writes Ruth King, “and it’s curable.” Exploring a crucial topic seldom addressed in meditation instruction, this revered teacher takes to her pen to shine a compassionate, provocative, and practical light into a deeply neglected and world-changing domain profoundly relevant to all of us. With Mindful of Race, Ruth King invites us to explore:
Ourselves as racial beings, the dynamics of oppression, and our role in racism
The power of paying homage to our most turbulent emotions, and perceiving the wisdom they hold
Key mindfulness tools to understand and engage with racial tension
Identifying our “soft spots” of fear and vulnerability—how we defend them and how to heal them
Embracing discomfort, which is a core competency for transformation
How our thoughts and emotions “rigidify” our sense of self—and how to return to the natural flow of who we are
Body, breath, and relaxation practices to befriend and direct our inner resources
Identifying our most sensitive “activation points” and tending to them with caring awareness
“It’s not just your pain”—the generational constellations of racial rage and ignorance and how to work with them
And many other compelling topics
Drawing on her expertise as a meditation teacher and diversity consultant, King helps readers of all backgrounds examine with fresh eyes the complexity of racial identity and the dynamics of oppression. She offers guided instructions on how to work with our own role in the story of race and shows us how to cultivate a culture of care to come to a place of greater clarity and compassion.
Reading Mindful of Race is a life-changing experience leading to positive transformation.
Ruth King’s Mindful of Race will take you to a deeper level of understanding racism and oppression. It does not stop there, however; if you are open she leads you to a new place and a new mindful life. Yet, it is absolutely not easy to read her book, because you have to be prepared for a deep and critical self-awareness journey. Sometimes it is not pleasant to critically look at your own prejudices and taught assumptions that need re-considering for a new way of thinking, feeling and behaving.
I believe there is a way to read Mindful of Race. Reading time with this book must be planned because it needs to be read in a meditative and open frame of mind. It is a book that you cannot just pick up where you left off the last time.
I suggest reading the book once slowly and then go back to it with the purpose of using the tools and guidelines she provides as a means of transformation. Ruth knows her tools and guidelines are not always easy to work through and implement so she gently provides solutions. To quote Ruth King: “Over time, this practice becomes a habit of healing replacing habits of harm.” She gets us to “check our inner experience.” She understands the difficult conversations we will have when we enter into a life which is “Mindful of Race.”