Workshop aims to create unity through mindfulness

Program teaches awareness to minimize injustice

JOEL KEMEGUE, Evergreen mint editor

Students and faculty gathered in the Elmina White Honors Hall lounge to talk about mindfulness and racial injustice, early on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The Mindfulness Retreat was the first event of the MLK program, aside from the two films shown last week. It was a three-hour event dedicated to promoting mindfulness and being open to other experiences.

“I do not expect we will solve all of the world’s problems,” Lydia Gerber, clinical associate professor and one of the facilitators of the retreat, said. “But it is a start.”

Attendees spent the three hours listening to each other’s experiences, learning and developing ways to change WSU’s culture to reflect MLK’s values.

“I think mindfulness is really important for understanding who we are and understanding other people and how to support them,” department of psychology undergraduate adviser Chioma Heim said.

Trymaine Gaither, recruitment coordinator for the Honors College and one of the facilitators of the retreat, said the idea for the retreat came after becoming the adviser for Black Men Making A Difference and hearing concerns brought up by the group. Gaither said he wanted to teach the tools he learned in the Honors College to students of different groups.

“I was hoping that if we brought individuals from different identity groups together, whether it be the LGBTQ, African-American or Latinx communities, we could start incorporating or using some of these mindfulness tools to support each other,” Gaither said.

Cecilia Richards, professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering and third facilitator of the retreat, said she hoped the event allowed people to practice mindfulness and learn from each other’s experiences.

“For me, Dr. King’s nonviolent theology … tied in perfectly with the idea of mindfulness,” Gaither said. “How to show compassion, learn to see our shared humanity, knowing that we’re all imperfect and that we all suffer.”

Gerber said she thought the event went well and hoped it would be a yearly proceeding.

“Something that I always want to be different is the reality of this world that we live in … where we have so much hate and hostility simply based on ‘you’re this group, you’re that group, you’re that skin, that language, that religion,’” Gerber said. “But rather than feeling depressed and hopeless … having one small thing where we’re together is, to me, just a small bit of hope.”