Contemplating the Effects of Oppression: Integrating Mindfulness into Diversity Classrooms

Authors

  • Beth Berila St. Cloud State University

Keywords:

feminist pedagogy, mindful education, diversity, self-reflection, yoga, diversity education, embodied learning, oppression, anti-oppression education, oppression-based trauma, mindfulness practices

Abstract

This article argues that contemplative practices are particularly important additions to university courses that deal with issues of oppression and diversity. Mindfulness can help students learn how their identity locations shape their reactions to course content; as such, they help participants do the work of unlearning the effects of systems of oppression. Students can then learn to recognize, understand, and be accountable for their responses. The article also argues that faculty who integrate contemplative practices in the classroom (in any discipline) need to be prepared for a myriad of responses from students, including reactions that result from being a member of marginalized groups in society. Contemplative practices can unintentionally trigger disturbing responses for students, so the article concludes with useful principles rooted in feminist pedagogy to help faculty address those unexpected reactions.

Author Biography

Beth Berila, St. Cloud State University

BETH BERILA is the Director of the Women’s Studies Program and a Professor in the Ethnic and Women’s Studies Department at St. Cloud State University. She earned her 200-hour yoga certification with Senior Anusara instructors and is completing her 340-hour yoga teacher certification with Devanadi School of Yoga and Wellness in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her work addresses intersections of embodiment, feminism, yoga, and mindful education. She is particularly interested in in how contemplative practices such as yoga and meditation offer students an embodied empowerment that deeply compliments other kinds of empowerment found in Women’s Studies disciplines. Her current writings focus on how college students can learn to use contemplative practices to live healthier, more balanced lives, and how teachers can effectively integrate contemplative practices to help students unlearn the effects of systems of oppression. More information can be found at http://www.bethberila.com.

References

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