Bringing diversity and inclusion to mindfulness communities

Recognizing creative leaders Booker, Brach and Magee

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.
Summer Joy Beaufort photographed by Mark David

Many perceive mindfulness, yoga, and meditation as elite practices for the top 1 percent or millennials who can afford $10 lattes with avocado toast.

Mindfulness communities, which are microcosm of our larger society, are not immune to the socio-political environment in which we live. Parallel homogenous mindfulness communities may be a choice for some. I understand the need to create safe spaces.

Nevertheless, mindfulness – particularly in this time when our nation is so divided – holds the potential to enable us to connect with compassion and find humanity in faces that don’t resemble our own.

The Wisdom 2.0 Mindfulness in America summit earlier this month reflects some of the challenges to making mindfulness available to all. Several speakers commented on the lack of diversity in the room. One speaker reminded us that to build a community, people need to be invited to the table.  Newcomers also need to feel that they can bring their authentic selves and participate equally without judgement.

So how do we take the practices now enjoyed by corporate leaders, the Hollywood elite, and star athletes to underserved populations?

While much work needs to be done, some true believers are working across socio-economic and cultural lines to take mindfulness to some of the communities that need it the most.

Leaders in the field – John Kabat-Zinn, Sharon Salzberg, Dan Goleman, and Soren Gordhamer among others – are making opportunities available through scholarships and sliding fee scales.

Perhaps at a later date I’ll address some of the opportunities to improve inclusiveness in mindfulness communities that address factors other than financial constraints.

Today, I’d like to affirm a few in the field making mindfulness accessible. These three women – along with many of their male counterparts –hail from diverse backgrounds and serve underrepresented communities in different but equally valued ways.

Leslie Booker has shared her passion for social justice, yoga, and mindfulness with vulnerable populations in New York City since 2006, working in juvenile detention centers, residential treatment centers, and on Riker’s Island.

Tara Brach, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who founded the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC, has taken mindfulness practices to prisons and schools.

Professor Rhonda V. Magee teaches mindfulness-based stress reduction interventions to lawyers, law students, and for minimizing social-identity-based bias. Her work is improving equitable treatment by making those in the justice system more compassionate.

I look forward to reading about the people making mindfulness accessible in your communities and in other spaces where mindfulness is needed the most.

Follow me on Twitter: @DonnaOti or

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Getty Images
Thought Leaders//

How Leading with Compassion Will Change Your Business

by Lindsey Benoit O'Connell
Mental Health at Work//

How LinkedIn is Fostering a Mentally Healthy Workplace Culture

by Michael Susi

A Congressman Shares Why Mindfulness Matters…

by Patricia Karpas

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.