written by Elise Williams
As Black women, we deal with racial and gender related stressors such as racism and sexual discrimination. These stressors can affect our overall health and can increase our risk of chronic diseases. Chronic stress can affect the body’s ability to maintain homeostasis. Constant stress over time can lead to chronic health issues such as hypertension, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes. According to various research studies, Black American women are ranked high for these chronic health issues. In addition to chronic health issues. As a result from systemic oppression, Black Americans are affected by anxiety and depression. Medical researchers are finding that the use of meditation practices can reduce stress, depression and, anxiety amongst Black American women.
Meditation can help black women cope with their anxiety, as it encourages practitioners to focus on the present and let go of past and/or future events. This type of meditation enhances self-compassion and decreases absentmindedness and worry. This form of meditation can help black women cope with their anxiety. In a public health study, researchers interviewed fifteen Black American adults that experienced meditation. What the researchers found was that meditation was a great strategy for coping with stress and improving the onset of depression. Several participants stated that meditation benefited their overall health. For example, breathing exercises helped participants increase their endurance and improve posture. One participant mentioned that meditation allowed them to understand their purpose, which helped them find a sense of peacefulness and improved their quality of life. Participants also mentioned that engaging in meditation classes enhanced their social connectedness. Another study that focused on Black American women suggested that Black American women who were provided health education classes, stress education and prevention courses that incorporated meditation techniques had higher quality of life scores amongst others within their age group. In an eight-week study, 31 Black American women enrolled in meditation training to help alleviate depressive symptoms and reduce stress. After eight weeks of meditation training, researchers noticed a decrease in depressive symptoms and stress with an increase in meditation practices, such as self-acceptance and growth.
I got into meditation when I first began going to therapy. My therapist recommended that I should try guided meditations to help me cope with my anxiety. I would use guided meditation apps when I could feel the onset of a really bad panic attack, but I wasn’t consistent. I started to incorporate meditation consistently into my self-care practice while I was in my 200-hour yoga teacher training. During teacher training our instructor had us participate in a few meditation workshops and practice a few guided meditation exercises on one another. After I became comfortable teaching consistent yoga classes, I began to add a small mindfulness meditation into the beginning of my yoga sequence. I like adding it to the beginning of my yoga classes because I want to give my students an opportunity to let go of their past or future stressors and become present in their yoga practice. I originally got the idea from a Black yoga teacher’s Facebook group. I wrote a post about yoga teacher burnout; I needed some advice on how to teach when I wasn’t feeling mentally present. A lot of people in the group had some really great input. One woman mentioned that she provided a Tibetan sound bowl session at the end of her class, because it was something that she actually needed. Another yoga teacher mentioned that her yoga teaching style is similar to her home practice. Based off of those women and their advice I began to provide mindfulness meditation at the beginning of class because I need a moment to become present teaching. I do this because it helps me calm my mind if I feel my anxiety begin to rise.
Meditation can be a great tool for coping with stressors, depression, and anxiety. Black women should try to incorporate meditation in their self-care practice. Most yoga studios will incorporate a meditation session in their yoga class or a separate meditation class. For personal practice, there is an app called Liberate, which was created by a person of color, for people of color. Jhenè Aiko has a song called “Trigger Protection Mantra.” It’s a great track to listen to if you feel triggered by something that could cause your anxiety or depression to commence. In summary, meditation is an accessible form of relaxation for women of color because we can practice it anywhere. It is a great item to keep in our self-care tool kit. With meditation we are able to calm the mind, body, and breath, so that we can remain in the present and not worry about factors that are out of our control.