Mindfulness For All

It is part of mindfulness practice to realize that suffering comes from believing that things should be other than they are in the given moment. If you are suffering in the present moment—oppression, discrimination, hunger, joblessness, etc— this may seem like a cruel statement, but it's actually not. It's solid advice, allowing you to take action and stay safe.

 Bias and violence toward LGBQIA and transgender people are very real, and if that's the moment you're living in, then you're probably thinking, "Are you serious, Lynn!? Am I just supposed to accept people treating me this way??" No. Not even a little.

 The key to the teaching is "thinking that things should be other than they are." That means that you jump to the past or the future, or resist what is happening in the moment by getting caught up in thinking, "this shouldn't be." But it IS, and you've just wasted precious seconds and energy fighting an impossible argument. It IS happening. Say you are being shouted at in in a store when you're out shopping. Some idiot has taken it upon him or herself to judge you loudly in public. Do you wish that it wasn't happening? Well, yes! But to be caught in the "this shouldn't happen" mindset in that moment is useless and a waste of energy. It can make you freeze. It can lock you in shame and embarrassment, caught there under the glaring florescent lights.

So what is the answer? Acknowlege what is happening, and decide what to DO in that moment. Can you safely walk away? Walk away. Do you need help? Look around for a friendly face and ask for help. Are you in danger? Scream for help, run, get to a cashier or security guard. In short, don't get trapped in resisting reality; deal with it in the best possible way at the given moment. We Buddhists tend to avoid terms like good or bad, preferring skillful and unskillful as more accurate and non-judgmental. When you are safe and quiet, practice in your mind what skillful means you can use when such intimidating situations arise. It's the same sort of preparation thinking athletes use before an event.


**If you are a cis (non transgender) person reading this and you see this kind of situation happening to anyone—trans or LGBQIA person, child, woman, or anyone else in need— BE AN ALLY! Don't let yourself be just another statistic in the "bystander effect". Yes, that's a thing; when capable people just stand there or look away when they should be helping someone. If it's not safe to step in, call 911. NOW! Then turn on your camera and let the aggressor know they're being caught in the act. Or do so secretly and share it with the police. **


I just gave an extreme example of suffering in the moment. But the same wisdom applies to negative emotions, like loneliness. Thinking "I shouldn't be lonely" doesn't help. Acknowledging the emotion of loneliness is skillful means. You are accepting reality: I am lonely. The next question is "What can I do to alleviate this suffering?" Perhaps call a friend and share the feeling with them? Talk to an ally? Find a support group? Get out into nature? Find what works for you.


If you are a trans person looking for a support group, we have two Monday night therapy/support groups from 6:30-8:00 pm. The first and third Monday of each month is "Ladies/girls only" for trans women and girls. The second and fourth Monday is for everyone on the spectrum. For more information, comment here and/or call Central Counseling Services at 951-778-0230.