Going Back to Get It The Art Of Mindfulness By Stephanie Barbee, MSW, LCSW

By | Jan 18, 2024

When I think about my Grandmother, I think about the small town she lived in. I think about how much of my family still lives in this town of fewer than 200 people. I think about how limiting that must have been for her and how my mother’s low chance of survival at birth resulted in me having the opportunity to be where I am. Over the years, I’ve felt lots of emotions that weren’t positive about where I came from, but I had to understand where I was from to see where I needed to go.

 

In our fast-paced capitalistic society, slowing down is a privilege. One that my Grandmother

may have desperately desired, but while parenting 13 children, that would be hard to do. I find it hard to do with the four I am primarily responsible for. So, when I was provided the opportunity to learn about and lean into mindfulness practices, I did! When I was growing up, the only people who meditated looked like the same people on the workout commercials and magazine covers…those with the time, money, and support system to do it. But I was wrong!

 

As I’ve grown as a professional, I’ve learned the personal benefits of mindfulness. These benefits include stress reduction. When we are in ‘go’ mode all the time, hustling to make

money or fulfill social obligations, our nervous system gets out of balance. When this happens, we get stressed more easily. Mindfulness practices help us to be more aware of when we are ‘off’ so we can take steps to get us back on track.

 

For most people, the main concern is TIME! However, meditation doesn’t have to be sitting with your legs crossed on the floor for an hour. Meditation can be while you’re walking, eating, or standing. Here’s a quick practice you can try right now: Pause. Notice the sounds around you without trying to identify what they are. Notice the tones, pitches, and different sounds of your environment. Do this for 60 seconds. See! It can be easy. We make it hard because we set these unrealistic expectations on ourselves. When I made space to slow down, I saw where I was ‘doing too much.’ I also saw where I was ‘not doing enough.’ I was able to have more acceptance of myself and those around me, including my family. So, while I was so focused on the future, slowing down helped me focus on what was important in the present so I could stop living in the past.

 

Although my Grandmother is no longer with us in the flesh, my practices have also brought me closer to her and other blood relatives who have transitioned. It helped me to know that I ] don’t have to try to reinvent the wheel. I don’t have to DO anything. I have to BE. I have to BE still so that I can focus. I didn’t have to keep moving toward something new; I had to return and learn to appreciate something old. I had to go back and get it!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Stephanie Barbee is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Missouri. She serves primarily people of the global majority raised in the United States who seek to understand their identities, overcome traumatic experiences, or explore how to move through a world that sees them as invisible. Stephanie also provides workshop facilitation, training, and workshops. Link:  https://www.cliniciansofcolor.org/clinicians/spectrum-of-healing-llc/

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