June 7, 2022

Mindfulness Can Help Us Uproot Implicit Biases

Through our DEI journey, mindfulness is an incredibly helpful competency to cultivate intentionally. Mindfulness helps us to develop self-awareness, which is crucial in cultivating a holistic DEI practice. Mindfulness is defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn as paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, in a nonjudgmental way. For example, there are times when someone from a different background than us says something and we may have an automatic biased reaction. As we cultivate mindfulness, we’re able to direct our attention inward to notice our biases without either holding onto it as true or refusing to acknowledge its presence in our minds. While some may argue we must resist our biases, when speaking about mindfulness, we do not want to actively push away from anything internally, because “what we resist persists.” Only once we accept our biases can we work to uproot them. We can work to stay present with biases as they arise. From there, we can let go of any judgments we aim towards ourselves, and let go of judgment we direct towards the person we feel biases towards or against. Instead of repressing or judging ourselves, we can come back to the breath and come back to an intentional space of loving-kindness. We can see the common humanity and interconnectedness that we share with that person. We can respond to the person we initially had a biased thought against from a place of kindness, love, and compassion.

This whole process may seem like a lot, and it certainly takes time to work on. However, we have a responsibility to our fellow humans to treat each other with respect and compassion. The more that we cultivate our personal mindfulness practice, the more we watch our breath, the more we notice what is occurring within, the more we will be able to notice and uproot our biases as they arise in a healthy, productive way.