This App Has Developed a Special ‘Pride Month Meditation’ for LGBTQ People
Achieving the sense of “inner peace” that is commonly associated with meditation is harder than ever today. For starters, the world is slowly inching back to normality after a global pandemic has ravaged the world; but also, many people consider meditation to be a skill they lack. Moreover, several studies have indicated the LGBTQ community has been hit particularly hard over the last year, making queer people even more in need of some “inner peace.” One company aims to make meditation feasible and functional for all of us, and has even released a new LGBTQ meditation in honor of Pride Month.
Healthy Minds Program is a free app dedicated to making meditation accessible to all people, including the LGBTQ community. Its programming is focused on training the mind to be more focused, calm and resilient, and it gives users a choice between traditional sitting meditations and active, on-the-go meditations. (You can also choose the length of your session, which is a must for those of us with busy schedules.)
The app’s special LGBTQ meditation for Pride Month is specifically an exercise in seeing our differences as a source of strength, growth and connection — a perfect message for the month of June as we collectively consider our ever-growing community.
To discuss this special LGBTQ meditation along with tips for first-time meditators, Hornet sat down with Stephanie Wagner, Trainer & Program Specialist at Healthy Minds Innovations. She’s a board-certified health and wellness coach with a passion for mindfulness and meditation, and she helps people cultivate habits to achieve greater well-being — something each of us can use all year round.
HORNET: Why is this specific LGBTQ meditation so important?
STEPHANIE: This meditation is important because many of us have parts of our identity that feel unaccepted — by society or even members of our own family. This can leave us feeling unloved and ashamed.
Rather than taking pride in our uniqueness, we see our identity as a weakness. This can have an impact on our mental health, the quality of our relationships, and more. Healthy Minds Innovations created this special meditation practice to help us to see things differently — helping us to transform the way we experience our identity. We can begin to see it as a source of strength, growth and connection. Seeing ourselves in this way helps us experience a greater sense of confidence and compassion, leading to greater resilience and well-being.
What sparked the idea to create a special LGBTQ meditation for Pride Month, and how is it different than other meditations available on the app?
Our app, Healthy Minds Program, is a guided path to well-being that offers a step-by-step approach to learning and practicing. Beginners and folks who never would have thought they could meditate gravitate towards this approach. But, we know there is also a need for mediations that address current events, so we offer a monthly “Meditations for this Moment” section. Over the past year we’ve addressed such topics as “Healing Intergenerational Trauma,” “Dealing with Election Anxiety” and “Working with Difficult Emotions During the Holidays.”
As we approached Pride Month, it felt like a great time to offer a meditation on identity since so many of our practices delve into self-perception. This particular mediation supports growth, connection and strength from our identities. What could be more appropriate for a month that celebrates pride?
Have you noticed any commonalities among LGBTQ people pertaining to mental health and a need for meditation?
Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual adults are more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a mental health condition and Transgender individuals are nearly four times as likely as cisgender individuals to experience a mental health condition. There are especially troubling statistics about LGBTQ youth, with one recent survey reporting that 48% of LGBTQ youth reported engaging in self-harm in the past twelve months, including over 60% of transgender and nonbinary youth.
LGBTQ individuals are of course a broad group of people and there is not a one-size fits all approach for individual well-being. But, if you have experienced feelings of rejection over who you are, trauma from identity-based shame, and found unhealthy coping mechanisms for these feelings (over-indulging in drugs and alcohol for example) – meditation can be an enormous mental health support.
By building key skills in the mind, like increasing awareness and practicing self-inquiry, meditation can be an effective means of self-care.
Do you have any broad, big-picture tips for first-time meditators?
First, I recommend that people start meditating with an attitude of curiosity and try to let go of expectations. The expectations of achieving instant calm and freedom from thoughts that people sometimes bring to meditation are often misguided and unrealistic. Getting curious about what it might be like to meditate opens us up to experience the benefits for ourselves firsthand and from there we can decide if this is something we actually want to do.
I also recommend trying a variety of different meditation techniques. There are many types out there and not every method is going to resonate with you. Our free Healthy Minds Program app introduces you to a lot of different types of meditation practice and from there you can decide which ones resonate the most with you.
Seek out something that feels safe for you — and give it a few weeks. It takes time to find a rhythm.