Recently I was directed to an article that details the introduction of mindfulness training into the Flint Community School system. A few foundations (including one associated with legendary actress Goldie Hawn) have started the initiative as a way to foster critical thinking and awareness in the children of the city.
Growing up in Flint myself, there weren’t too many viable options for anything of the sort. Coming from a largely Christian community, predominantly Eastern concepts like meditation were shunned or outright demonized. The semi-conscious citizens promoting this narrative had no idea that the stillness accompanying meditation, is a wholly secular by-product of mindfulness training. If one chooses to align their yogic or meditative practices with a particular doctrine of Eastern thought, then that is their prerogative. The act itself however is not inherently evil, demonic, or degenerate as evidenced by the strict meditative regiment implemented by the Trappist monks of Roman Catholicism who are almost totally silent.
Does mindfulness training have to be in the form of Yoga or traditional meditation? Absolutely not. Activities like gardening, fishing, hiking, and a plethora of artistic endeavors work just as well. Anything to get the individual accustomed to thinking and examining their own sensibilities or processes is a boon for developmental growth. The traditional format of sitting with your legs crossed and controlling your breath is undoubtedly beneficial to the practitioner, but is it not the only way to achieve a degree of self-awareness.
A number of black children (particular adolescent boys) are prematurely diagnosed with attention disorders when in actuality, they are perfectly healthy, capable, and cognizant young men who simply lack the necessary awareness to redirect their energy. Being funneled into the Big Pharma pipeline is stigmatizing and potentially damaging to the frail ego of a developing child. Factor in the litany of potential side effects associated with the long term use of behavior modifying drugs, and you have a disaster waiting to happen. This is why any practices that champion a lifestyle prioritizing the examination and redirecting of powerful thought energies, is a step in the right direction for downtrodden communities. Baltimore has taken a similar approach and was met with overwhelming success when they opted to issue mediation time instead of detention to the children of Robert W. Coleman Elementary School.
With the lead crisis overshadowing the majority of positive press coming out of the city, it is heartwarming to see practical steps being made to initiate and produce positive behavioral changes for the children of Flint.
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