Mindful

10 Women in Mindfulness on Finding their Power

There’s a balancing of gender power happening across the professional world, and the field of mindfulness is no exception. Research suggests most meditators in the US are women, yet, as mindfulness has mainstreamed, the female perspective has often taken a back seat and in some cases been ignored or overwritten. We need to hear from the female pioneers, researchers, teachers, lawyers, and activists who are shifting our understanding of what it means to be mindful. We spoke to 10 pioneering mindful women about how they bring the diversity of their experiences to bear in their work. These women were chosen based on recommendations from their peers. Many echoed similar themes: Kindness is necessary, trust yourself, find your community, meet yourself with warmth.

This is the first of a series of pieces you will see in the pages of Mindful highlighting women doing important work with mindfulness. For more in this issue, see our profile of neuroscientist Amishi Jha, on page 54.

“Women are not really allowed to be fierce, we’re not allowed to be so active, and men are not allowed to be tender and warm with themselves.”
KRISTIN NEFF

KRISTIN NEFF

Love Your Imperfect Self

Kristin Neff has been thinking a lot about traditional gender roles, and how they can block self-compassion. Neff is a professor of human development and culture at the University of Texas at Austin, and the world’s foremost research expert on self-compassion.

Men think self-compassion is about being soft and nurturing, and that it’s something that will “undermine your strength,” says Neff. “For women, we have a little less self-compassion than men do.” Women think that self-compassion is about being selfish. “Women are always supposed to focus on others, be kind to others, take care of others, and it just feels selfish to do it for ourselves.”

So these days, Neff is thinking more in terms

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