UC Davis LGBTQIA Resource Center Holds Event, ‘Mindfully Queer’

By Nora Lelivelt

UC Davis’ LGBTQIA Resource Center celebrates Pride Month with the theme of Queers in Bloom. To bring visibility, empowerment and knowledge to the community, the LGBTQIA Resource Center focused this month on the ability to grow personally, allow community healing and provide safe spaces to share experiences.

Pride Month takes place during June, but UC Davis’ LGBTQIA Resource Center celebrates it during the month of May because only two weeks of the quarter take place during June, one of which is finals week.

The second Pride Month event this month was called “Mindfully Queer,” where participants could not only practice mindfulness but also learn about connections between queer/trans identities and mindfulness, therefore helping students acknowledge and accept their bodies.

Mindfully Queer was led by the center’s director, Monae Roberts, and student Raine Olsen. Together they were able to lead participants through various mindfulness practices and facilitate meaningful discussions about how to cultivate mindfulness into daily life.

“It is learning to look at yourself exactly as you are to see what is there and accept it fully,” Roberts said.

The event began with a guided body scan centered around being mindful of identity, specifically noting signals within the body that provide a sense of self-knowing or a true self. Olsen created a calming period to notice breathing, tension and one’s self.

Following was a short lesson and discussion on the origin and misconceptions of mindfulness where Roberts acknowledged the association between the roots that mindfulness has in Buddhist and Hindu practices, and the painful experiences queer students may have had regarding religion.

Roberts made the distinction that mindfulness is not meditation nor a religious practice. Mindfulness is bringing awareness to the senses and feelings one’s body is experiencing in the moment.

There are many types of mindfulness including breath and guided mindful meditation, as well as mindful activities like reflection writing or conversation.

To practice, Olsen led the group through three activities to practice mindfulness. The goal was to determine which felt the most natural and likely to incorporate into a daily routine.

First, participants were asked to spend time writing whatever comes to mind. The next activity was to label a thought to each inhale and to remind themselves of it consistently. Last was a mindful conversation, in which participants were encouraged to fully listen before responding.

Between each mindfulness activity, Roberts read a quote from the book “Transcending” by Scott Kaufman to bring the group together and to remind them how life-changing mindfulness can be.

For example, Roberts said, “Learning the body scan from [S. N.] Goenka was an important step in acknowledging and accepting my body dysphoria… Eventually, as I relax, the body scans become full of gentleness and love.”

The session ended with a full group discussion on how each participant felt and the challenges they may have experienced.

Robert and Olsen also elaborated on their personal experiences with a mindfulness routine and how it has so positively impacted their lives.

To view upcoming UC Davis LGBTQIA Pride Month events, visit lgbtqia.ucdavis.edu/calendar/pride.

To practice mindfulness, begin at self-compassion.org.

Nora Lelivelt is a fourth-year Cell Biology major at UC Davis, also minoring in Professional Writing and Biodiversity.

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