AN INTERVIEW WITH a Koru student
When I feel depressed, I am better able to cope instead of being paralyzed by doubt and fear.
Kenneth Strickland, took Koru while studying Psychology and Education at Duke University.
What attracted you to Koru?
I was attracted to the Koru class because it offered me techniques to increase my inner awareness and find a peaceful stillness in Duke’s stressful academic-oriented environment. I had a tumultuous time learning how to cope with the pressures of Duke and I had been searching for something to give me insight into my circumstances. The techniques offered by Koru offered me a new perspective that allowed me to see my circumstances from an observer’s perspective by allowing me to more objectively observe myself and my habitual patterns. As a result, I was drawn to Koru because I knew this shift in perspective would change my maladaptive habits into more adaptive behaviors.
What does mindfulness mean to you?
Mindfulness means opening one’s awareness to see the subtleness of life and living a heart-centered life instead of a mind-lead life. I would define mindfulness as the ability to liberate the mind from the fetters of the past and future while being still, silent, and satisfied in the present moment. In my present, the perfection of the infinite self can be experienced. By enabling individuals to experience the infinite, mindfulness embodies the true essence of spirituality—an intimate relationship and knowledge of the divine.
How do you find yourself using mindfulness in your daily life?
I use mindfulness practices every day. When I feel anxious I take seven deep belly breaths. When I feel afraid I hold the fear close in open awareness. When I feel happy I quickly scan my body to understand how I embody joy. For me mindfulness is more than a concept or practice, it is a way of life. Living mindfully has allowed me to go beyond the contradictions and paradoxes into a permanent infinite peaceful love. Love envelops me as I become more mindful; however, when I do feel depressed I am better able to cope and continue living instead of being paralyzed by doubt and fear. Escaping the cycle and paralysis of doubt and fear is predicated on my daily mindfulness practice. So with that being said, I would like to thank Duke for offering the Koru Mindfulness class.
How has the practice of mindfulness influenced your life?
Mindfulness sharpens my intuition and allows me to speak lovingly and act compassionately while experiencing the ebbs and flows of life. Mindfulness unites me with the spirit of all things that are beyond definition and dualities such as love and hate. Consequently, from this place of non-duality, I am able to think critically about the state of the world and the black community. Mindfulness practices have taught me to see issues such as police brutality as the simple unawareness of American society and of our true loving nature, instead of Black America against the police state. This position of mindfulness has allowed me to approach my social activism and life in a way that helps me to be healthy, happy, and holy.