‘Everyone is welcome,’ is the heartening philosophy behind a new drop-in meditation and mindfulness space, The Meditation Collective.

WORDS BY MADELEINE DORE | First published in Spotlight: The Arts Wellbeing Collective Magazine, Edition 1

‘Everyone is welcome,’ is the heartening philosophy behind a new drop-in meditation and mindfulness space, The Meditation Collective.

Facilitated by Coco Nkrumah and Akimera in collaboration with the Arts Wellbeing Collective, the initiative aims to create a safer space for people of colour to explore wellbeing practices, led by people of colour.

“Being people of colour ourselves, we were both really passionate about having a space where people could feel comfortable to try various techniques and practices and explore their experiences,” says Coco.

This is particularly pertinent in a wellbeing industry that can at times overlook the challenges and barriers that ethnically diverse people face in mainstream wellbeing spaces.

“Wellbeing marketing is often white-centric and predominantly female, and such imagery can at times be perceived as excluding to those who don’t fit that demographic,” says Akimera.

With over a decade of experience as a mediation and mindfulness educator, Coco brings many insights into how to rethink moods and emotions, as well as digest and unpack experiences specific to those from culturally diverse backgrounds.

As a musician, arts facilitator, community cultural development worker, and Kemetic yoga instructor, Akimera brings a wealth of experience in creating safer community spaces and events where people can feel supported, particularly when sharing personal vulnerabilities.

Combining their skills enables the pair to offer a multi-disciplinary approach and co-facilitate, support and welcome an intersectionality of experiences.

“Our backgrounds really complement the space. Some of the issues and the conversations that arise may vary depending on an individual’s gender, identity, community or experiences and that interplay needs to be respected and supported,” explains Coco.

The first event held in November was a great success, he adds. “People felt comfortable to open up and unpack their experiences, and across the board everyone felt it was something that was very much needed.”

With a plan to invite other facilitators and introduce new wellbeing practices and modalities, the pair hope to broaden the number of attendees and ensure an intersectionality of spirituality, identity, gender, culture, wisdom, and tradition is represented.

This also extends to being conscious and respectful of the traditional custodians of the lands during the sessions.

With Akimera’s experience in the arts sector, The Meditation Collective also has a strong emphasis on supporting artists and creating a space to explore the emotional impact of creative pursuits.

“This type of space is so important for artists and arts workers because we are often at the forefront of confronting content and high emotion environments. This makes wellbeing and self-care practises paramount,” says Akimera.

Encouraging artists to attend the events comes back to making the space as inclusive as possible, adds Coco.

“There is a lot of vulnerability in the sector. People who are holding spaces for arts and wellbeing projects often have to have a strong ability to regulate their own emotions.”

With more free events to take place in 2019, The Meditation Collective will continue to make an inclusive and safe space accessible to all abilities and skill levels.

“It is really an explorative space where people can gain insight into the different practices from various wisdom traditions and hopefully pursue something further,” concludes Coco.

The Meditation Collective meets monthly at Arts Centre Melbourne’s The Channel (near Hamer Hall).

Attendance is completely free of charge. View a list of upcoming sessions at artswellbeingcollective.com.au or contact Coco at realitybasedmindfulness.com.au