Mindfulness Challenge: Roots

The more I research mindfulness, in preparation for building each week’s challenge opportunities, the more I feel like it’s equally important to talk about where the study of mindfulness comes from.

I’m just a white guy with a blog. Mindfulness meditation, most often represented by “meditation on a candle,” has its roots in Buddhist thought. Like a lot of pan-Asian religious tradition, it has been co-opted and used in multiple different ways by a colonial West. (See: yoga). I am not a Buddhist, and I want to make sure during this process that I am paying attention and not appropriating from a religion and culture:

  • To which I don’t belong
  • Which has historically been colonized
  • Which has vibrant, active followers
  • Which is traditionally viewed as “exotic,” or “transcendental” by white people


I would like to still move forward with practicing mindfulness, because I think the benefits it promises are strong enough to do so. However, I want to make very sure that I am doing so in a way that is not appropriative. Part of that is by ensuring that I’m open about the fact that this practice has its roots in Buddhism, which is not a religion I follow or wish to follow. Part of that is by ensuring that each week will include readings from and recommendations of authors who do practice Buddhism, or who are ethnically East Asian, because it turns out white people don’t have a monopoly on peace (if you’re not giggling, you’re not hearing the sarcasm).

I am also open to more discussion, because again I don’t get to choose what is appropriative and what is not.


comment and tell me: how do we move forward together in a way that honors traditions that aren’t our own? if you are East Asian, or a practicing Buddhist, and you have the time and emotional energy, are there things you’d like to share? i am open to being called out (or called in) and i want to be sure i’m respectful. do you see ways i could do better at that? 


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