Why meditation is crucial to my joy and resilience as an Asian American
How do I deal with my bulky volcanic anger as I am swept away by the rising tides of grief?
How can I be heard without harming my well-being?
How can I fight against the depressed and all-inclusive feeling that racism is so pervasive and enduring in our culture when my life seems so limited?
How can I create a sense of security as I literally protect my face and body from potential violence while walking on the street?
If I’m trapped in my fears, will I ever be free? Can I really live my life if all the oppressive and violent forces of racism want me to suffer and die?
Not knowing what else to do, I turned to my mindfulness practice as a refuge as I did before in times of crisis. Needing this refuge is the very reason I founded GaneshSpace, a community organization dedicated to unlearning internalized biases and limiting beliefs through the practice of mindfulness for those who have previously felt thirsty. This time my limiting belief was that I was stuck, as an Asian woman, between my real safety in my surroundings and my sense of perceived danger. Even though I had suffered from racism before, it was different. I no longer had the clarity to know when a loud sound or a prolonged gaze was actually as dangerous as I perceived it to be. I was drowning in fear and paranoia, waiting for someone to attack me. My normal daily life suddenly became a minefield for my raging anxiety.
In the days, weeks, and months after the shootings, I sat with this complex discomfort in my meditation practice, exhaling and letting go of fear with each breath. Through my breathing cycles, I remembered my resilience – the one that was built after years of already persistent racism, the one inherited from the courage of my parents as refugees and all of my Asian ancestors who came before them.
It is this resilience that has allowed me to sit down with the most uncomfortable feeling I have ever felt in my life: that maybe I will never be safe.
I still had the question: Now what?
I finally realized that despite all the oppressive forces working against me, I still had a choice: I could either continue to suffer and let them exercise this power over me and my psyche, or take that power back by living a life that prioritize my joy, my love. It was the biggest act of resistance I could take for myself and my API community.
I sincerely hope you can do the same. Hold on to your power. Love deeply. Live happily. In my opinion, these are the greatest deeds we can do for ourselves and for each other.
And if you are feeling trapped and scared, know that you are not alone. I invite you to sit down – with yourself, with me, with all your siblings and Asian ancestors – and know that resilience lives deep within you. While it’s unfair that we need to be so resilient in the first place – that we, as a marginalized community, have had to continue to endure systemic oppression and discriminatory violence – we still persevered.
If you want to build more on that resilience but don’t know where to start, as we often say in our community at GaneshSpace: Start with your breath. While sitting still with your breath during mindfulness meditation can be overwhelming, it can help calm your nervous system in times of anxiety. And over time, it can help you build resilience and better understand yourself and your surroundings amid the discomfort.