Decolonizing Mindfulness, Mindful Decolonization, and Social Work Futurities

April 1, 2022
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

This presentation will draw from Dr. Yellow Bird’s most recent article, “Decolonizing Mindfulness, Mindful Decolonization, and Social Work Futurities.”

Dr. Michael Yellow Bird will discuss the positive effects of mindfulness interventions and how they can support social work values, healing practices, and improve well-being. He will also discuss how mindfulness is being co-opted, privatized, and colonized by the forces of neoliberal capitalism (Purser, 2019) and is being used to “pacify feelings of anxiety and disquiet at the individual level rather than seeking to challenge the social, political, and economic inequalities that cause such distress” (Carrette & Kind, 2004, p. 22] ). The presentation will conclude by sharing how mindfulness can be decolonized and moved towards adds practices designed to engage practitioners in systems change.

Michael Yellow Bird, MSW, PhD, is Dean and Professor of the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Manitoba. He is an enrolled member of the MHA Nation (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara) in North Dakota, USA. He has held faculty and administrative appointments at the University of British Columbia, University of Kansas, Arizona State University, Humboldt State University, and North Dakota State University. His research focuses on the effects of colonization and methods of decolonization, ancestral health, intermittent fasting, Indigenous mindfulness, neurodecolonization, mindful decolonization, and the cultural significance of Rez dogs. He is the founder, director, and principal investigator of The Centre for Mindful Decolonization and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba. He serves as a consultant, trainer, and senior advisor to several BIPOC mindfulness groups and organizations who are seeking to incorporate mindfulness practices, philosophies, and activities to Indigenize and decolonize western mindfulness approaches in order to address systemic racism and engage in structural change. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles, book chapters, research reports, and the co-editor of four books: For Indigenous Eyes Only: The Decolonization Handbook, 2005; For Indigenous Minds Only: A Decolonization Handbook, 2012; Indigenous Social Work around the World: towards Culturally Relevant Education and Practice, 2008; and Decolonizing Social Work, 2013. Choice Magazine, selected Decolonizing Social Work as a 2014 Choice Outstanding Academic Title. Choice Outstanding Titles are given extraordinary recognition by the academic community and are designated to be “the best of the best.” He is the co-author of two recent books,: A Sahnish (Arikara) Ethnobotany (2020), and Decolonizing Holistic Pathways Towards Integrative Healing in Social Work (2021). His most recent co-authored mindfulness article, Defunding Mindfulness: While We Sit on Our Cushions, Systemic Racism Runs Rampant (October, 2020), can be found here.