Rainey’s debut seeks to introduce meditation to African-American audiences by integrating the historic figures of the Underground Railroad into its teachings.
With meditation increasing in popularity as a method to conquer stress, anger, and discontentment, the author seems surprised that it hasn’t been more enthusiastically adopted by African-Americans, who continue to face the frustrations of racial prejudice each day. Rainey writes that he hopes to use meditation as a tool to battle these social inequities by focusing on the hardships, triumphs, and travels of Harriet Tubman, along with many other former slaves and abolitionists. Each chapter features an Underground Railroad station on the road to freedom in Canada, accompanied by a history lesson about the stop and guides for techniques for breathing and introspection that reflect these lessons. Rainey describes the techniques in meticulous detail, including black-and-white photographs to aid readers in posture and positioning; he even supplies more than 20 pages on basic yoga poses. The book helpfully bolsters the exercises by drawing parallels to the struggles of African-Americans in the antebellum period and by describing how they overcame discomfort, fear, and negative thinking to ease their minds, embrace charity, and promote community. This latter element is particularly important, as it encourages meditation practitioners to include their families, friends, and neighbors. The book’s remarkably expansive notes section and thorough index and bibliography provide a wealth of further reading about the Underground Railroad, Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and their compatriots. Though aimed principally at African-Americans, the text is highly approachable, and its combination of history and self-help is likely to attract readers of many races and backgrounds. Even experienced meditators will find new contexts and methods to diminish stress and pursue enlightenment.
A highly accessible, comprehensive resource for all meditative skill levels that may also attract a few history buffs.