How Mindfulness Can Help With Racial Trauma

The coronavirus pandemic was devastating for the black community Data Disproportionate disease and death rates due to socio-economic factors such as inadequate access to health care, overcrowded and cross-generational life situations and pre-existing diseases that increase susceptibility to infections. In addition, the ongoing police violence Targeting black and brown people – and the nationwide protests that have followed since then – didn'ttriggered a wave of racial trauma that is difficult to process.

"It creates that perfect storm that will leave you using as much as possible in your toolkit." AZA AllsopHuffPost, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at Yale University, told HuffPost.

Allsop said that more than ever, members of the black community need accessible coping tools. Allsop has developed a meditation and mindfulness practice to deal with stress during graduate school and is now working on bringing this toolkit online to the black community for free guided meditation sessions.

Allsop quickly realized that his fears arose from “a combination of a very stressful environment, but also the need to deal with racial trauma”. After finding that a steady month of daily meditation erased his panic attacks, he became an advocate of sharing his knowledge so that others could benefit from it.

Candice Nicole Hargons, Professor of Psychology at the University of Kentucky and Director of the Center for the Healing of Racial Traumas, said that practicing meditation and mindfulness is critical to processing and recovery from racial trauma that can lead to it. "Muscle tension, racing heart, shallow breathing, and fatigue. "

"Meditation practices take care of the mind and body," Hargons explained. “It helps us firstly to recognize what our body and mind are experiencing without judgment, and secondly, to release tension through breathing work and meditative practices. It regulates the autonomic system and other stress responses. These stress responses can be either over or under active when experiencing racial trauma. "

"It is particularly important for black people in this country to think about it, as many of the other diseases we suffer from, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and hyperlipidemia, have been shown to have occurred." vary with stress and to reduce with meditation, "added Allsop. "Participating in these interventions can, for example, lower blood pressure and lead to better control of many physical conditions and contribute to our general well-being."

A 2019 study The journal Behavioral Brain Research found that just 13 minutes of meditation per day for eight weeks improved the alertness and mood of people new to the practice. The study also showed decreased anxiety in subjects aged 18 to 45 years.

However, integrating mindfulness into daily life is not easy. Allsop said there could be a barrier to entry into the black community for cultural, religious and socio-economic reasons. For one thing, if one is not properly informed about what the practices really are, many "could identify as Christians and sometimes meditation practices could be viewed as a violation of a Christian form of spirituality," he said.

In addition: “Depending on the type of community you live in, the environment and the mechanisms with which you are available, even if you want to support yourself, how can you do this if your environment is unsafe or you have no money and you can't go anywhere or hire a teacher? "

Below, the experts share some accessible resources for mindfulness and meditation and how to begin a regular practice:

Start a daily practice by meditating first thing in the morning.

According to Kresence Campbell, Psychotherapist and owner of Holly Street Consulting Wellness ServicesStarting the day with meditation can "help you start calmly and it can help you manage your mood," and give you an emotional head start to face the challenges of the day ahead.

Meditation can help you focus on the here and now and slow down many of the buzzing thoughts that are in your head. Deep breathing helps increase the flow of oxygen to the brain, releasing endorphins and calming your body . " Said Campbell.

In 2016, shortly after the police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, Hargons created a 17-minute run Black Lives Matter Meditation for Healing Racial Traumathat anyone can access online from her website.

Hargons recommends daily use in the morning as a "prevention practice" that serves as a "hedge against the wear and tear of daily racism". She also recommends using it as "a post-racial stressor intervention when we need something to help us recover from a racial stress response or more chronic racial trauma."

Campbell also offers inexpensive virtual ones guided meditation at Holly Street Counseling and recommends the book "True refuge by Tara Brach for those who are just starting to practice. Allsop recommends free daily guided meditations through New Haven A village healing or download the Free the meditation app use on your own. Starting with just three to five minutes of meditation after you wake up is a great foundation to build on, with the goal of going up to 10-15 minutes (or more) in one session.

Use a quick grounding exercise in moments of acute stress.

Not only do mindfulness tools devote a little time each day to meditation, but they can also be very informed during moments of high anxiety.

"The stress hormone cortisol can manifest itself in your body, causing pain and discomfort and affecting your immune system," said Campbell. "During this pandemic, we want to make sure that your immune system is as strong as possible so that in addition to all this racial tension, we don't become more vulnerable to something that is going on in the world."

When a moment is particularly stressful, Campbell recommends the DBT 5-4-3-2-1 method to help reduce panic. List five things that you can see, four things that you can touch, three things that you can hear, two things that you can smell, and one thing that you can taste.

"It helps ground you and put you in the present, rather than focusing on the past or the future," she explained.

Deep abdominal breathing, where you put one hand under your diaphragm and one on your chest, and focus on body sensations, also has a calming effect on the brain and body.

Practice mindfulness in the form of creative or other activities.

Research shows that crafts (think knitting or dyeing) turn the brain into one meditative state. Exercise too Publications Endorphins and reduces stress and ensures a healthy break, which in and of itself is a coping mechanism.

Allsop suggested taking time for creative outlets – such as journaling, playing games or listening to music or a spiritual practice like prayer. All of these activities can provide time for reflection and emotional catharsis.

"Taking the time to sit with the negative emotions can be a process that is beginning to heal," he said.

Regular mindfulness will help limit some future stressors.

Part of mindfulness is building more confidence in responding to physical and emotional stress triggers. Campbell gives the example of seeing something uncomfortable on your social media feed and then realizing that your chest is tightening or that you have difficulty concentrating.

"These are the times when you want to take a deep breath and do some counts, in addition to turning it off and limiting exposure," Campbell said. "Stopping and realizing those feelings that are going on in your body, self-awareness, that is another thing that mindfulness and meditation will help you achieve."

Campbell reminds clients that meditation and mindfulness will not be the quick fix, but rather a coping mechanism for negative experiences. Improving mental health, especially when dealing with a diagnosis, may also include going to therapy, entering into positive lifestyle habits, and sometimes taking medication.

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