Every individual must define masculinity, femininity, and mindfulness from the rhythm discovered through living internally. We are forced to craft an individual identity without knowing a historical identity, and a historical identity provides the faith to believe in the potential of life. While we are not purely defined by our survival when a people seem to have more suffering than beauty we cling to an image of a mythic utopian ancient world. We have given the ancient world the qualities of heaven, and in order to counteract the deadly images and myths a people will produce their own. Olusola Adebiyi On Mindfulness aims at correcting our delusional traditions.
A people that have been stripped of an identity, and painstakingly search for a new, or old, one must create a space that instructs, offers wisdom, and allows the vulnerability that will lead to transformation. Afrikan Wisdom intends on waking us from our collective slumber and making the walk to recognizing the ears of our brothers as our ears, and the mouths of our brothers as our mouths. A suppressed truth doesn’t die, but goes underground; Afrikan Wisdom aims to resurrect an ancient truth to develop modern wisdom and heal contemporary problems through searching for a new definition of mindfulness saying:
A google search using specific words “African” “mindfulness” generates online hits about twenty-first-century mindfulness programs and their impact on modern day Africa. I personally found nothing online on ancient and traditional African continental “mindfulness”: no histories, anecdotes, or any substantial information. In fact, trying to locate anything at all in the mindfulness field arising out of Africa returns us to the aforementioned results.
With so much history neglected, suppressed, and disregarded our children suffer from believing their people are produced purely from pain. Mindfulness becomes extraordinarily important for a people searching for a sense of self; while we search we require beauty. Beauty of the subtle gentle blowing of the wind, a beauty of communion, a beauty of feeling purposefully guided to something larger than ourselves. Our author searches for a ancestral history of mindfulness to use as a foundation for the development of his sense of self, and as the elders would say in long conversation about the dirt going on in the church, “Everything in the dark shall come to the light.”
He found that the Indus Kush, who were Afrikan people, contributed to the Upanishads–a book that represents the final stage in the tradition of the Vedas, and the teaching based on them is called Vedanta. Generally the Upanishads are concerned with the nature of reality, the individual soul (atman), and the universal soul (Brahman) and with the theory of the transmigration of souls and the nature of morality. Our author documents the journey of looking for a system of mindfulness in Africa’s ancestry saying:
Writers such as Runoko Rashidi have compiled compelling and plentiful evidence of an African anteriority in the development of ancient “Eastern” practices, showing that the people of Afrikan Kush, Nubian Kush, and neighbors and contemporaries of African civilization of Kemet, are the same Kushite people as those of Indus Kush. This is important since the Upanishads contain scriptures about meditation, philosophy, and spiritual knowledge, while the later “Vedas deal with mantras, benedictions, rituals, ceremonies, and sacrifices”. Therefore, it follows that the who created these Upanishads are the ancient people of Indus Kush, who were the same people as the Nubian Kush. I mentioned evidence; one would expect to find knowledge of similar complexity, complete with practices that resemble Tantra, Yoga, meditation, and of course “mindfulness,” in both the ancient African world and contemporary iterations.
Our spiritual journeyman, through his search for a new definition of mindfulness, found Ifa. Ifá is a Yoruba religion and system of divination. Its literary corpus is the Odu Ifá. Orunmila, the Grand Priest, revealed divinity and prophecy to the world. Babalawos or Iyanifas use either the divining chain known as Opele, or the sacred palm or kola nuts called Ikin, on the wooden divination tray called Opon Ifá. Our author finds the meaning of becoming a shaman:
Gentle peace and devotion to serve humanity is essential to the heart of a shaman; that a calm presence is a quiet force for healing and, in consoling others, the shaman is also consoled.
He discovers a way of approaching the world separate from our hyper-independent philosophy:
The Bantu system of philosophy of Ubuntu, for example, can be summed up in a statement “I am because we are; we are because I am.
The culture has divided our personalities into several boxes. The work self. The home self. The public self. The private self. The lover. The loner. Our cultural systems attempt to prevent a recognition that we forever walk with our brothers. When our author found Ifa he found a system that teaches the unification of mankind.
The culture attempting to create hyper-productive workers that eventually grow indifferent to the job and the world at large. However, Ifa teaches us to come home, for we may never be able to walk onto Afrika. We can enter ourselves and recognize that we have survived an experience. A system whose survival is dependent on our spiritual alienation. Our author discovers the Ifa belief on the practice of concentration saying:
Effective concentration means focusing without forcing it. In a strange way, trying to concentrate is a form of inadequate concentration. When your concentration just flows, it results in automatic, instinctive, and ingrained action.
Ifa, and other African spiritual systems are meant to connect us to the present moment. To embody spirit in order to live fulfilling wonder-smitten lives. The aim of this system is to heal. We must create a space of healing that balances the spirit and physical realm. While most mindfulness techniques aim at merely surviving this practice is revolution through evolution.
A wonderful book that covers a list of topics:
• African and Afro-Diasporan cultures, histories, spiritualities, art, music, and literature
• Black radical traditions of liberation and consciousness
• Anticolonialism and antislavery
• Buddhist philosophy
• Social and environmental justice
• The prison industrial complex and mass incarceration
• (Kemetic) yoga, healing, and mindfulness
• Intersections with Indigenous cultures
• Addiction and recovery
• Transgenerational trauma
Continue reading with James Baldwin on the necessity of creating a new world.
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