Abstract

A growing body of literature supports the use of mindfulness-based practices to increase resilience and reduce emotional and behavioral problems of low-income youth of color who are exposed to chronic trauma. The current study, the first of its kind, addresses existing gaps in the literature by examining the social and emotional effects of mindfulness on instructors of color, a largely understudied population. All trainees (n = 25) in a year-long, mindfulness-based workforce development program in Baltimore were invited to participate in this qualitative descriptive study that involved semistructured interviews regarding the personal emotional impact of participating in the program, as well as possible changes in the subjects’ perceptions of yoga and the potential role of yoga in their communities. We applied a transcript-based analysis approach to the data from the individual interviews and derived themes using the constant comparative method. Twenty-one trainees (84%) participated in semistructured interviews. Participants were between the ages of 18 and 29 and were predominantly male (71.4%) and African-American (85.7%). We identified four key themes related to participating in the program: (1) changes in emotional functioning and self-perception, (2) changes in interactions with others, (3) changes in perception of yoga and mindfulness, and (4) perceived real-world application of yoga and mindfulness. The current study adds to the literature by exploring the public health implications of mindfulness, particularly in addressing effects of chronic trauma in low-income communities of color. The workforce development program also merits further evaluation as a potential model for enabling local and national nonprofit organizations to offer low-income youth and youth of color employment options that enhance resources in trauma-affected communities.

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