As you all know, last year I began setting up InsightMind which went live in March, the same month as the country went into lockdown. I was lucky enough to write an article for London Vision about this experience. This article shows I am passionate about using mindfulness to combat life’s stresses!
Taking action to look after ourselves.
This summer many black and ethnic minority people shared their experiences of racism, and acted against it, through demonstrations and public debate. Some of the experiences were similar to my own. I have been teaching, writing, and working to readdress inequalities for many years. My first article was published for Spare Rib in 1986. Yes, I was an activist back then … and now! I faced discrimination even whilst teaching in higher education. A white female lecturer once asked me if I was the cleaner and if I had come to lock up her room! Disturbing occurrences like these can lead to disillusion and anger – even tiredness! I had a feeling of tiredness after the killing of George Floyd – my first thought was: ‘not again’, then a wave of lethargy gripped me. Yes, black men and boys are still murdered in the US by police and racism exists in Britain in 2020! It was sadly not a surprise to me that not much has changed since my encounter with the female lecturer in the late 1990s. My response to racism is as it always has been, that we must act against it in whatever way we can! Not everyone wants to attend rallies in the middle of a pandemic, however. But to me the personal has always been political which means challenging inequality is a way of life for me, like it is for a lot of BAME people. So why am I writing about racism instead of mindfulness? There is a link, because now more than ever there must be a place for self-care to combat the crippling effects of racism by taking action to look after ourselves.
The results of trauma
So, my reaction to the news got me thinking about our ‘bodily’ responses to racism/trauma. It has been documented that trauma can lead to chronic illnesses, anxiety, and poor mental health. Trauma is lodged in the body and can remain for some time. The news that BAME may suffer adversely with the symptoms of COVID-19 is no surprise. Take people who have been globally disadvantaged for years, often live in poor areas and have reduced health outcomes and what results? Chronic illness. We also disproportionately suffer with glaucoma and diabetes. If you did not know, diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness in the UK.
As a result of the pandemic, blind and partially sighted people face challenging times. I took action by using this platform to discuss the issues which affect those with sight loss like social distancing and the lack of online shopping slots. These experiences and my own spurred me on to develop InsightMind further so that we can overcome fear and anxiety and ultimately the effects of trauma. I am pleased to announce that we have a new logo which will be followed by a new website later this year.
I cannot stress enough how much a mindful way of thinking helped me to cope with the stress, anxiety and uncertainty COVID-19 and other distressing news bought to us this year. Staying present and not judging my thoughts got me through many difficult days. My continued practice kept me on track, and this is why I am now able to take time in August to work on my book about my experiences of sight loss which will be published early next year with Balboa Press! This book contains many of the topics I discussed in newsletters and blog posts, like combating fear and cultivating compassion. I am very grateful you have joined me on this journey. More updates to follow in the Autumn!
Community Leadership Programme
I was very excited to learn that InsighMind was to be highlighted by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea for taking part in the above programme. Read all about how InsightMind was set up in the newsletter My borough (PDF,page 5) and the article itself here in Word.
New free weekly mindfulness group for blind and partially sighted people
A new free weekly online talking/mindfulness group run jointly with Dr Lisa Greenspan of LAPIS will start in September. If you have a visual impairment and are interested in practicing mindfulness weekly please email here.
Enjoy your summer and keep in touch via InsightMind facebook group Mindful Visual Awareness or via Twitter .