Trymaine Gaither considers the Mindfulness and Anti-Racism Training he leads to be less of a corrective exercise and much more of a practice in appreciating the collage of individuals that make up our community.
“It’s really love work,” said Gaither, who joined the Office of the Provost on a part-time basis earlier this year. “Everyone belongs, and how do we approach people in love and compassion and explore implicit biases that I believe we all want to get right?”
The training sessions are an outgrowth of work started in the Honors College, where Gaither is the recruitment and career coordinator, as well as coordinator for the Mindfulness-based Emotional and Social Intelligence (MESI) certificate program.
The training uses a research-based, secular approach to mindfulness, guiding participants through contemplative practices and exploring microaggressions and capacity for valuing difference. Honors College faculty Lydia Gerber and Robin Bond helped shape the curriculum.
“The research shows a strong relationship between mindfulness and engaging in dialogue, looking at positionality,” Gaither said. “We take an in-depth look at beliefs and attitudes and what makes people feel like they belong. It’s not just about race, but how can we push the needle in the right direction and create a cultural transformation.”
Gaither’s been involved in community organizing and activism for many years, and joined the Martin Luther King Jr. Program organizing committee shortly after starting at WSU in 2019. He helped organize a Mindfulness Day, which served as another template and inspiration for the latest training sessions, and he’s grateful to the academic leaders investing in the work.
“I’m grateful to be a part of the provost’s office,” said Gaither, who was awarded the 2020 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award. “They’re committed to inclusive excellence and they’re using evidence-based methods that have been proven to cultivate belonging and foster student success.”
Gaither asks those who are interested in the Mindfulness and Anti-Racism Training to consider why it’s important to their unit, and why it’s important right now. For more information, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.