As kids in Southern California, Iman Gibson and Tori Lund bonded over a mutual love of the meditation and yoga practices that they learned at their wellness-oriented school. Twenty years have since passed, and even though they’re now bicoastal, their bond—which is still strong and still rooted in a shared love of mindfulness practices—is characterized by Zoom meditations and long phone calls. But following the murder of George Floyd and resulting cultural revolution, Lund and Gibson turned their shared interests into a form of wellness activism. Today, the meditation teachers and activists launch three anti-racist meditations available for free on Spotify, iTunes, and SoundCloud that non-Black people can tune into to work toward allyship and identify their biases.
Gibson and Lund believe that, in practice, meditation can inspire transformation that’s not necessarily cozy or snug, despite those being common words that the practice tends to conjure. “Meditation is a way that we can apply our skills to try to help people to try to offer some healing,” says Lund. Each of the three anti-racist meditations recorded by the duo is about 13 minutes long, covering topics like privilege, allyship, and lovingkindness for all, and include journal questions for deeper reflection.
Throughout each session, Gibson and Lund co-teach and ask listeners to feel how racism manifests in their body so they can combat it upon opening their eyes. The relaxing-yet-activating environment, Gibson hopes, will help quell the feeling of exhaustion and social-justice burnout some have started to feel. “Meditations are a really great way to [alleviate] compassion fatigue, too,” she says.
“We really designed this to be emotionally supportive for people. They will feel different emotions that arise as they think about being actively anti-racist.” —Iman Gibson, meditation teacher and activist
Lund and Gibson’s desire to strike a balance between galvanizing and calming comes through in their playlist, which I learned firsthand from doing the privilege meditation. When I plugged in my headphones, I was met with a series of statements like, “I can dine out, shop, and travel without fear of being followed, harassed, or killed” and “People who look like me are overrepresented in workplaces, positions of power, politics, media, toys, and more.” These thoughts point out to me certain privileges that non-Black people often take for granted, and they teach me something important in the process: While sitting with my privilege isn’t as comfortable as traditional mindfulness meditation often is, doing so does offer me a calming resolve to change, to commit to allyship, and to carry my practice with me off the cushion.
“We really designed this to be emotionally supportive for people,” says Gibson. “They will feel different emotions that arise as they think about being actively anti-racist. They may realize, ‘Oh no, I’ve said this thing to someone that made them feel awful’ or ‘I commit microaggressions all the time.’ You may go through these periods of time when you realize ways that you may have been a bit racist that, in your heart, it’s really hard to come to terms with because you may feel like you have every intention of being this kind and loving person.” The meditations teach you how to make good on your good intentions, because—like the lifelong pursuit of being a good person—your real-life actions decide what and who you’ll face next time you sit on the cushion.