Yogactivism comes in waves. When there’s a cause, there’s sure to be a swell of yogis there to fight for it. But when it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement, the majority of the yoga community for whatever reason has gone from om to mum. Perhaps it’s too political? Too controversial? While inclusivity and welcoming diversity have been growing and rightly important topics in yoga, the intersection of what happens on the mat and real life events is barely addressed. And maybe it’s better that way. Or maybe it’s convenient to ignore what’s happening beyond our mats. Namasdrake is much more interesting?
Which is to say we were surprised and encouraged to hear about the Meditation for Black Lives Matter happening now at the New Museum in NYC. As part of Simone Leigh’s “The Waiting Room” exhibit examining social injustices through the lens of bodily and spiritual health, “care sessions” have been set up to include the special BLM meditation, as well as other offerings like acupuncture, massage and afrocentering open to the public.
Why a meditation for Black Lives Matter?
“In this climate, it can be so easy to polarize, then to further polarize, and to feel like it’s always ‘us versus them,’” says Mona Chopra who is leading the weekly BLM meditation sessions. “When we do that, we are hardening our hearts. We are furthering closed-mindedness. In that way, metta can really be a powerful tool to keep us connected where we usually shut down.”
Chopra, an acupuncturist who incorporates yoga and Buddhist meditation into her practice, describes the session: “In these sessions, participants will be led through meditation practices rooted in the Buddhist tradition to help in settling, soothing, and healing our stressed hearts, minds, and bodies. By cultivating patience, calmness, and clarity of thinking, we can, as Pema Chödrön notes, ‘soften what is rigid in our hearts.’ By helping to bring us closer in touch with our own humanity and the humanity of others, meditation enables us to be sources of increasing peace in the world.”
Things start to palpably intensify through the session as Chopra invites everyone to offer their loving kindness to Black Lives Matter activists, people who have been killed by police, and also the police officers who may have been involved.
“There’s been a gravity to this,” Chopra told Tricycle. “I could feel the resistance, but that is why we do the practice. If we only do it toward people in our hearts, we won’t move forward.”
The Meditation for Black Lives Matter sessions have been held every Saturday since July 23. The next session is September 10, followed by the final session September 17 (this be will be led by Aimee Meredith Cox). To RSVP, email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Meditation” and the requested session date in the subject line.
Simone Leigh’s “The Waiting Room” will be on display at the New Museum through September 18. For more information click here.
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