« Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris

#252: You Can't Meditate This Away (Race, Rage, and the Responsibilities of Meditators)

There is fury in America's streets - and we, as meditators, have the opportunity to use our practice to do the hard work of seeing things clearly (including the ugliness in our own minds), and responding wisely. I'm incredibly grateful to my guest, meditation teacher Sebene Selassie, for agreeing to come on this show on short notice (like, two hours beforehand) to discuss such a painful subject. This episode is in response to the protests that have broken out nationwide in the wake of the case of George Floyd, a black man who died after nearly nine minutes with his neck under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis. Our conversation is personal and raw. Most of all, we hope it is useful. Where to find Sebene online: Website: https://www.sebeneselassie.com/ Instagram @sebeneselassie // https://www.instagram.com/sebeneselassie/ Other Resources Mentioned: W. E. B. Du Bois // https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._E._B._Du_Bois KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR L,A Times Op-ED // https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-05-30/dont-understand-the-protests-what-youre-seeing-is-people-pushed-to-the-edge The 1619 Project by New York Times // https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/1619-america-slavery.html Seeing White - Scene on Radio // https://www.sceneonradio.org/seeing-white/ Well Read Black Girl // https://www.wellreadblackgirl.com/ Additional Resources: Ten Percent Happier Challenge: https://www.tenpercent.com/challenge Ten Percent Happier Live: https://tenpercent.com/live Coronavirus Sanity Guide: https://www.tenpercent.com/coronavirussanityguide Free App access for Health Care Workers: https://tenpercent.com/care Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/sebene-selassie-252
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
For maybe see the ten percent happier vodka in her hey guys, we're doing. I guess you could call it an emergency, podcast, our according this on Sunday afternoon, we had a whole different episode, prepped to go for you, but to be scrapped it, given the fact that There is a lot of anger and fear and sadness course, through America and regime. Demonstrations and violence in our streets all across the country, and we need to talk about this and I think we need to talk about it as meditated is in turn
you know, how can we serve these waves and our own mind, and then how can we once we taken care of ourselves and be and be helpful. Because this is going to require everybody, leaning in so I called up my friend, seven eight Selassie, who, by way of background as meditation teacher, a writer of sheep, as I am right here, New York City, she was born in Ethiopia, but raised in Washington, D C She done nonprofit work with children and families around the world for decades, all the while becoming leader in the American Dharuma, seen also by the way one of the most popular teachers on the ten percent happier app. I called her up a few hours ago just a few hours ago and asked her if she be willing to come on and have this conversation and she thought about it for a little bit and agreed, even though things are.
Pretty raw right now and so we're gonna structure. This says it's more of a conversation than in an interview. We're just gonna cut a muddle our way through this, given that everybody's emotions are running pretty hot right now, but it it doesn't. Does it feel like the right thing to do, to ignore? What's happening right now, so when I try to lean into it and if it sir little messy, I hope you will. I hope, your role with that. I also want to point out before I bring instead that- and I know from some of our survey data which isn't it. I obviously some second tell the whole story, but he definitely tells a story that this audience is primarily white. And where are we talking about this from the perspective of people of color out we talk about it from the perspective of Samuel me whose white and you know some of our guests of color proof,
play on the show. When we talk about issues pertaining to race, the Coordination has been made in a white. People really need to talk to other white people, about whiteness and most white people, Mr White people, I know don't really think about, but wiping Well, as a race, everybody else has a race. Even the raised by the way is a completely constructed socially constructed concept. But so that that I take it very seriously that white people should be talking to other white people about whiteness and we're going to do that on. This show we're working on that so very soon, you're going to you're going to be getting caught, Along those lines, but today it's it's me and said so seven, I thank you in advance. Four phenomenon on. I really really really appreciate it. You're welcome, Dan and thank you, fur leaning in.
When I was some thinking about this this afternoon, you know I was thinking about something I say a lot. Witches were not practising to become the mediterranean- is often get caught up in the practice itself, like feeling a certain way, you're doing thing for us, but we're practicing to wake up ultimately and waking up me and leaning in an really facing real. Which is sometimes not comfortable and right now, particularly painful so waking up is waking up to the pain the anger and the frustration and that's the kind of freedom because when you don't see any of that stuff, it's in there owning you and when you do see it, you have more agency
You have more agency, you have more wisdom, because you have more perspective, more understanding. And I think, there's a lot of confusion, right now, especial amongst people who were surprised by the response or surprise the protests in the uprisings. And the anger and and the violence both systemic state violence, as well as on the Iraq options of anger that are being displayed in the protests and a fierce cries than did need more perspective, and to pay more attention, but we just it back for one second, because I want to pick up on what you just said, but before I do that it is really just check in with you on how you're feeling, as we dive into this conversation, is I'll just say that I'm a little nervous more than a little
Airbus Adena. How you're feeling that I'll just put that out there. Yeah, you know I'm a little nervous to and justice I'm in Brooklyn see might hear subcommittee Becker horns or things in the background yeah. I know I'm a little nervous too, and I might a little less nervous than you, because I've been having these conversations for a long time for most life in some way or another definitely as a teacher trying to address some of these issues with practitioners. Yeah, I'm lucky to be more nervous in some ways. I'm lucky to have not have to have had the amount of experience with these subjects to have had the opportunity to not be so immersed in them. Because of my pigmentation. I'm not required to have them as much as you
had to have them yeah and that's that's a really interesting thing to look out, because in some ways it sucks filtering and protection right, but in other ways. It creates delusion and fragility, because when One way you don't have to face pain and can have protect ourselves from the pain of others than when were faced with it. It can feel overwhelming and we can feel really flooded and unable to cope and- and that is partly Summit happening in our own systems. You know- and I practice can be really helpful for that- for opening up to what's happening, Craigs more space, but it's also partly because we don't have perspective
or an understanding of how we got here. We ought to think of it dynamically. It's like. We would understand that karma this. You don't understand that their causes and conditions that got us to this point as a country and really as a world and there's nothing. Any of us can do to change that trajectory. We can change, it did trajectory, but we do have some power over how we show up in the current circumstances, right now right and that's why the practice of really tending to the present moment is so important. You know when we were talking about having this Invitation- I was just talking about how it's kind of hard to have this conversation with meditated, because we're so often ten into our inner world, and that's really important and weak see how we can
our own freedom and osity for wisdom or compassion, some are tight places. But when we start. Talking about this stuff. The outer world We really need to also include history contacts understanding how we got here, and you know sometimes meditated and all who are in the dark world so mean more towards the individual and the personal and sometimes bypass spiritual bypass can include this cultural, spiritual bypass bypass, the bigger picture and that's that's not important- that's not necessary for our waking up or of freedom, but actually there intertwine yeah, there's been. If I understand it in communities and editors there's been some
back when people try to introduce these discussions into into the community- and I even know just look at our podcast numbers- the pie get we ve done Blot on the show around race and unconscious bias, and often those episodes don't do as well, because I think I'm just guessing its people to want, their purer beautiful Calgon. Take me away meditation, be no dragged into the sort of messy these, this messy aspect of our life, he, I think people uncomfortable But with the conversation there's also, just a level of arrogance that is a big part of this dynamic that we have. So what were witnesses As a response to systemic anti blackness and the whole,
constructive race has black people at the bottom, and To understand the whole history of that and some people get tired of this history because you know they think they understand. I've seen a couple of movies and read a couple of books and took a class but it is so complex- and we talked a little bit before about the unbearable complexity of all that's involved in this. But, as retainers. We can also look inside to see how that works in US so we can see that Anti blacknesses, so a part of our culture and our society that we all inter, allies it to some extent is, were taught it from from a young age like the decade old study of little, children who are playing with dolls and even black children prefer the white dolls and all of the studies of unconscious bias, and it's not a condemnation,
to name Mercer to recognize. It is just a clear seeing no one wants to have most of US of conscious good values, but all of us are conditioned by society. We all learn the thing language ways of being ways of understanding from the culture around us, and so we inevitably absorb these biases so some of that bias shows up. As rejecting certain teachings or teachers or, conversely, seconds so there's gonna, be just like there's: a preference for the white dolls. There's gonna be a preference for white teachers and often white male teachers. And I M having runner a darn organization for a number of years. We used to track income and we could see exactly how income there was the diner, the the
patients that were given to teachers just totally pad in society with white male accurate max getting the most and often black female none academics getting the least you I think for you, do you talk to me, but the word fragility there is. There is a term white fragility in. I won't pretend to understand all of it, but I just from my own parents, I think part of it, is. If I look inside and see the bias, then I feel like a bad person. As I understand your argument or the argument is often made by people I've done a lot of work in this area. Is that that law into shame around I'm a bad person is actually just self centered news that takes you away from from just look
it's not your fault? You didn't invite the bias it's just bits year, as you like to say, you're, not thinking your thoughts, your thinking, the cultures, thoughts as if you take shame out of it and see it, clearly will then you can navigate and deal with it. But if you if the movies to go into guilt or shame, will that that's just making it about you write so bias. Doesn't you're a bad person. It just makes you a human person and we all have various biases across many. Print differences and realities, and this anti black by it is so ingrained in our society such a shameful part of our culture and our history, that a lot of us turn away from really looking at it, and I can speak for me on experience that, even as a black person, I grew up in white neighbour. Heads, and I was really absorbing the call are around me and so for a long time I really
could see and myself and this great african Americans. W B the boys calls it double cards. Says when you're in a black body, you can have this double she says of seeing the messages from society and having them discordant with you reality and desire fur. Like all of us, too, to feel good about ourselves, So for me my my auntie blackness is overdue, a black culture, preferring of white culture. I really had come to contend with that as I came in to my young adulthood and could start to move consciously understand how this was happening and I had to consciously asleep. Unlearn meant that I read a lot I studied a lot, I took classes I really want it to see and myself how this help
and by understanding the history of how this happens too, to all of us to some extent, and particularly for those for Non black, which includes non black people of color, who often are put in the position of the model minority. In a sort of game who favour to not be at the bottom of the heap. Where are you now with the internalized anti blackness, I'm ill? It's it's a price Says definitely and very a much bigger and where I was a teenager and as a young person and really have worked on accepting all the parts myself
so accepting also via the white culture. That's within me, as part of me, so in a grub listening to rock music and different kinds of white music and not to have to reject That bad recognising that's also a part of me. Another thing that I think Harry. I struggled with his my my partners why my husband is: why- and you know, looking at. Is there a part of me that that sought out a white partner in a rejection myself, but. In a full love of myself, as who I today is loving all the parts of me and everything that got me here to this moment. So you know loving, Frederick as part of my love, allows me
to get beyond this idea of not black enough fur. Now that I have to be a certain way, perform. A certain way to be black has been part of maybe colonizing my own mind de column as in your own minds, pre powerful expression, I think we were all again that quote from Krishna Marty, we're thinking the culture thoughts. You know we we can take our thoughts so personally, and I think we owe them- we invented them, really there's so much that we just absorbed like oxygen from the air so parsing out. What's true, What's not what's
You know internalize oppression or internalized ideas about dominance. It takes it takes time and that's where the practice really helps but now. This wasn't supposed to be an interview, and I really would love to hear about your process because I know you ve done so much work around this in the past few years, son. Now. How are you crave approaching happening now, and how to meet it Well, I don't want to overstate how much work I've done. I took a class with you that you ran through the very centre for Buddhist studies. We do work internally at ten percent, happier around diversity issues quite a bit of work, but and also have Ladakh guests on the show who then become friends who I talk you on the show and off the show. So it's not nothing, but it's not. You know. I don't want to protect present myself as some
it was done all the work as a lot lot lot left to do tat. There was a moment I was really humbling. With you. I was mentioning this to you on the phone earlier today. I saw you on Friday, Would you live the daily life meditations? We do on Youtube in fifteen minutes before we go live on on Youtube. We connect on Skype chitchat before we actually do the thing and I'm in the middle of whatever all the normal bs that I do work to take they're, my family were about to move ahead. Bomb barreling for with my day, thinking about my own stuff, as I normally do and I look at you and the video screen and I say how are you and you look pretty glum uncharacteristically glum, and he said, oh, you know with you know it everything that's gone on in the world, I M of fun, I'm ok,
and then I realized- oh yeah. Of course I know what's going on in the world, but its naughty as salient for me and I was reading a column today actually buy cream Abdul Jabbar wrote, I think, in the early times the Washington Post, he wrote a column and tucked away if your white person look at what happened to Mr Floyd. You say that that vat is awful. I am you know your horrified, but if your black person, he said you get up and throw something it made me want to kick that something, it's just a whole, it's an order of magnitude. And I just realized that yeah the luxury of viewing there's a horrible thing that happened in the world, but I didn't take it that personally and that's yeah. I can't-
I can feel the move internally to go to shame with that. But then I remember what a conversation we weeks ago, with the reverend enjoy Kyoto Williams and we're talking about shame in guilt and she was pointing out. Well, that's just sell, think that's his dear making about you and so then I try to go to well. That's interesting! That's where my works yet their shame. That comes in, and I try to see the shame and then go back to the curiosity and interest in and then hopefully, once you see that you can make different decisions, you can, as you said, used the phrase at the top of the show lean in, and so I think that's that's how it works. In my mind, does that all sound right to you? I think it's really so crucial to see that guilt. Shame as centering, Andrea entering whiteness when actually challenge is continuing to pay attention to what's happening to black
people on a daily basis. So George fled staff, Brianna tailors were flashpoints, but their revealing something that's been hearer throughout this country's history in different forms and the horror of that continued oppression of people based on the color of their skin is white. Cause that sense of outrage and upset in black people because there is a perspective of understanding the the depth of this horror when you're. Only paying attention to these incidents that sort of arise from time to time, I'm in the dark. Consciousness there isn't that prospect, of understanding the depth of the systemic brutality and oppression,
A recently there's been some studies coming out about black mortality rates because of covert kind of revealing this pattern, So it's not because of covert, but it's because their these huge differences in health caused by inequities and injustice and us reflect On something that came out recently about mortality life expectancies and just by The span of a few miles, a black baby and a white baby can have up, most thirty years difference in mortality rate, so just because they are born in different parts of the city and thinking forty years for me, that's zero. Thirty or ten two hundred and forty or I'm going to be fifty year this year, two thousand two hundred and fifty a huge expanse in my life that is gone just because The hospital in Berlin
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I just find it so useful to try to lean and remind myself jar myself out of the self centered ten Sees that we all have so that I can you be in touch with it, and you know I just got me thinking when you were talking about em. How for why? People or not black people, it's easier chemist, just see these incidents like George Floyd as a blip and then then other blip happens later and you see them sequentially, but not looking at what's beneath the iceberg. One thing that's helpful for me as a practices to volunteer in a way that you are encountering people from different Lots of life is, has been useful for me, but another thing is compassion practice. You know not just talk, a lot on the show but loving kindness practice where your generating a sense of friendly, miss for other people, may you be happy, may be safe, but instead, especially during covert times, I've been real train revision. People were so
doctors and nurses in hard hit hospitals, patients in hard hit. Neighborhoods people were on food lines, etc, etc. Consciously bringing that image to mind and saying maybe free from suffering may be free from fear may be free from physical distress Et Cetera, Et Cetera. That I find I find this really useful for me, because I'd rather lean into the pain then have it in the back of my consciousness and haunting me from their unseen or two be just so stuck in my own self centered nests in ways that that don't feel good either. It's really important, because no, we don't find freedom and joy, despite or to spite pain and suffering. We find freedom in joy because we open to all of life, and that includes the pain and suffering.
And sometimes I think that, besides the condition sort of anti black, es or condition I ask that we absorbed from society. Some of us who are separated, whether by race or class, from the deep suffering- of particular communities. We don't want to pay attention to it because its painful it's actually painful to absorb and, in others, been a critique of the consumption of black culture, but the lack of attention to black people actually an ounce, much it's much easier to absorb jazz or rap music or whatever movie star.
Beyond say than it is to actually pay attention to where all of that culture is coming from, and but when we do, there is actually a deeper appreciate Shan Fur all of the beauty and joy comes along side of the pain and suffering, and that's just called being human guess at our just just to just a reemphasize. I find that being in touch justice has just made, and of ones of biogas can just totally ignore me, but I find that I feel better to be in touch with the pain of the world than it does to be stuck in thinking about myself all the time, and I think from me what that points to is. It feels better because it's actually.
More liberated. I had him when you save liberated what we mean by that you can have always an image I have of suffering is this image of clinging and tightness, I think, of a tight fist. So whether were pushed- something away with our fists or punching something away or like trying to hold onto something there's a construction and when I'm Oh on just myself. There is a construction, but when I open up to actually able to see. Clearly there is a sense of freedom, Sharon Saltzburg. Has that phrase a hard as why does the world when we're able to open up, not fearing you know: our fragility and incapacity to look at something clearly, but really conniving are
are inherent power and resilience and capacity to to be with things which we all have. That's that's human. I really witness that working in refugee camps in my early thirties and the resilience of people who have gone through really unspeakable horror is one of the most inspiring things. I think one of the things that help me get through three cancer diagnoses busy. I got diagnose about it error after the camp. I workers working in the camps, and you know really the the generosity, the love, the compassion, the clear seeing of people who lost everything they had no family members tortured and killed him let them and not to romanticized, sir Fetish eyes their pain, but the really the human all of our human capacity for resilience
when were able to draw on something that's deeper, whatever, spiritual tradition or meditation practice or in our work that you are called to, but that face that we have. That capacity is what he's going to get us through. You know all of it So what is your capacity now them to open up to and really take in? All of the pain were seeing you now in that unbelievable video of George Floyd, with what playing out in the streets across Amerika how? How is all of this sitting with You know when we spoke on Friday. I had spent Wednesday pretty much in tears the whole day. I was a training programme on lines was gonna going in and out of, zoom calls, but they allowing myself to feel about not thinking the though
feelings are that experience was a mistake that, early with the practice There are many many ways to practice in the talks about many and you have many episodes targets. We don't need to go into what the practices are exactly, but having that copper The to allow your feelings was premature, dressed, says: failure, feelings and dropped the story, so rather than continuing to circle in the images that I saw the stories, I heard like really allowing myself to feel what is happening is important and I would say, a balance that with making sure that the news and social media are not dictating my feelings to me. It's important for me to stay informed, and understand what's happening. I think that's my name. Possibility as citizens and as a human being, but- it. It's also my responsibility to understand. Ok, what's my particular calling and I'm not hard core activists
I have immune issues. I'm not gonna, go out in the streets right now. I need to take care of myself, but I do teach and I do hold space where people and in order to do that, I actually need to take care of myself and that means staying eating while exercising meditating reading things that are inspiring and help me with perspective and how I want articulate things journaling, you know all the thing that allow me too go up in the ways that I need to show up to be of service in this time and for each of us that will be different. I saw you put something on twitter about ethical is directed at black people about how to take care of yourself right now to love yourself right now as a way to survive what's happening. Maybe it's worth the expanding on it. Yeah. You know, I think that story, a mention of cream Abdul Jabbar. There is a certain impact of what
happening right now on black and brown bodies in terms of the feeling of it, because it is a slight receiving impact after him packed and- and that includes what we see around us so you're, just a couple of Mexico, I was walking with Frederick in our neighbourhood issues of a primarily the historically black neighbourhood, and we went to the park and there were a lot of people in the park. White people, black people, brown people, and there were a lot. People, not social distancing, but they are some Pops went running after one black team in the Van once that ensued from mad, like how many cops came, threw him to the ground and violently handcuffed him None of them wearing masks
Then another team was upset about this and yelling at the cops, and then they arrested him as well in the most just Upsetting way, just stir the force that was used are necessarily so. You know when you're witnessing that's not the first time of seeing or middle of in a heavily police neighbourhood saw the first time of seeing a police we using that way. So when you're witnessing these types of things, not to mention the poverty in the trauma. This self care has to be apt to really important And high levels, in my experience, and that's where I'll ally ship is really important. So it's been really wonderful to see other white people who are showing up for protests And not instigating violence
actually being there in support of black bodies, so creating barriers between black people and the police and the self care that's needed is gonna deep soul work. Two to recognise that sort of always being the front lines and putting that energy out there is, is really exhausting and there is activists burn out. There is a teacher out, there's leader burn out and it's it's real encouraging actually to see how much more emphasis there is on self care in a lot of marginalized communities. That's gonna, look like different things to different people in terms of the amount of time and energy and resources you need to put into that dragged about our. It seems to me that there are ways to do ally, ship wrong, or foe ally ship one other thing
I've. Seen, there's been dismaying to me in some of the group work. I've done around diversity. Issues is a kind of. And probably I do this too, has been broadly reason why it is. I have a negative reaction to a cause, I'm seeing something it myself that at all like, so to say that just get that out front here, but there's a kind of performative gale, then grief that I see acted out by white people and I've been. I saw some interesting tweets today from black people about like D. Feel the need to act at all out with me right now, and I think the quote was Don't make me fight for labour. Creation, while swimming in your tears at that was both sharp and funny.
Any any thoughts on any of that. Yeah. You know this is a little bit to what you were speaking tipper, the beginning of the show that there is a need for white people to do their work together. That really protects people of color from having to always be educating consoling comforting taken care of, and at the same time, people of color and for fur. What were speaking about today, black people have usually deeper understanding, more knowledge, more context, and that can be uncomfortable because as we were pointing to before why people don't let really want to listen to black people as experts? That's kind of an internal lives.
Superiority or arrogance that is again conditioned. You know it's just part of the culture of antipater blackness had absorbed, so it's both its really important fur white people to listen to people of color and red book. And articles follow people of color on social media and support people of color, who are academic, Eriksson teachers and that they learned from and in processing the stuff. It's important to do that with white people. Ah exactly for those reasons, so that people color not necessarily having to tend to or Mammy white discomfort to what it was that look like just means that, for me, will be
make instigating conversations. I dont mean instigation instigating the pejorative, bootless starting conversations with my wife, whose white or in my friends and making it a consistent habit to assess these issues. With my where the people I know or white and you know, beginning to notice that around you were in our conversation before we were talking about. How starts to reveal so much that you don't normally see that some there's so many great resources now me we're all really living in a time of a lot of research and under standing and the sixteen nineteen project by the New York Times which came out last year. Just so much there that reveals how our whole country and Society is structured around racial inequality
Once you see it, you can't unseen it. It's like the matrix, yes, yes, so the I want to mention another thing you turn me onto, which was the podcast seeing white it's. Actually, a series called seeing White produced by a podcast called seen on radio out up tread, remember to put a link in the show not, but if you search re, Podcast God S C, and e on radio seen on radio its excellence. They ve done a number of serious, The season two was called seeing. Whiteness all about the house, is a white guy and talk about whiteness which was just a huge revelation to me, because you know he points out what I talk. I basically stole from him what I said at the top of the show about how the white people dont think of themselves as racial eyes. But of course, yes forcing understands that raises a social contract, but what you understand
at that everybody's, a part of a race and Whitenesses race, and we have our own things that were worth looking at, and so I found that Pike has to be incredibly interesting, highly recommended to everybody, and the two things to say about it. One is, I sent it out to the entire staff at night line. All the white people were like. Oh my god. This is an incredible and all the black we were like. There is nothing new here which struck me: spree diverse death knell, The second thing to say, as you said, you cannot see it and I just noticed how easy it is for, We just a slide right back into the loose denial. I see it, I get right, you know I, I consume something like the one thousand six hundred and nineteen podcast, which I know it's much more than a podcast. I thought the podcast was a network of brilliance, I could soon something like seeing wide and I'm on fire, but then
back in my own like that around just back in my own junk. So I don't know. I guess I slightly question the you can't unseen part, because we're just show programme for denial that's a really good point- and you know maybe I'm overestimating you damn easy to do, You know it's true. Our conditioning runs deep and we see that in just are our practice right that our habits of Mind and our pattern just doesn't disappear because we- wanted to, or we decided at shed, and that brings back to the start, that these are condition thing, that we absorb that, we ve learned that we can also perpetuate by not continually investigating and interrogating them and to me you know it really points to those deeper dharuma truths that our freedom is right.
Here if we allow it, but we kind of have to unshackled ourselves or unburden ourselves from all of this conditioning, and often we only look at that condition, very personal habitual, almost personality level, but that conditioning- is social and cultural. Its re shawl, it's based on gender based on class. There are so many layers, char conditioning and often if we are sort of in the center, rather than the margins. We have less perspective its only by starting to absorb perspectives, the margins going out of the centre of the circle that we start to see how much more There is that's going on an numb. You know, that's that's been studied to that our perspectives can be really limited by our position.
Society, so maybe take a look at your social media feeds and if it's all white people whom I wanna you might wanna examined- that take a look at the meteor consuming generally and of its all white. He might want consider that I met my friend a lane, his alarm teacher she's in her Sixtyth a white was banned, jewish and a one point we were meeting pretty regularly where teaching together a lot and every time- after which he was reading. She would mention a black novel and the first couple times suggests was like ok, how's, that book boa and then a slick lean. What are you doing or what why every can I talk to you. Do you mention a black novelist so interesting and said? Oh, I just went to well red black girl and I just can't the reading lest and I'm going through it in, I have sixty years of conditioning to undo
and I was so moved by that that there is this really conscious decision to change her consumptive habits of information said she could start to widen her perspective and understanding like that. I got him up. I know you said before that you know we ve gone through the meditative techniques fer. You know what the practices and how we can bring to bear on on race in, and we ve done that. Another pike ass. We done it on the app, etc, etc, but actually If you don't mind it might be worth given everything I've said about the power we all have to slide back into denial. To dwell a little bit on the nuts and bolts tat. Would that be cool with you sure you know, I think, for me, practice begins in the body,
and we hear meditations teachers- say this over and over again, it took me years to really hear it under understand how the body is a place that does not exist in the past or the future can't take us into store, praise, but it's where we can actually experienced the present moment and that's not because as we want a fetish eyes, the I sent moment as some special magical place, that her release us for everything, but it helps to stabilize us and to grow so we're not flooded by our usual pattering of fire Saint emotions and stories and habitual dead ways of thinking and we start to pay attention to body and be able to notice Sperience without being drawn away, then were more, got to see the patterns of thought without believing them so far.
That's where it always starts, because then we can start to slow down and notice are habituated conditioning, so one of the the meditations and teaching they explore is starting to know it is our unconscious Pisces and that for me is really powerful to do in the world, which is a little harder to do now. Many of us not going outside, but we can notice, set with how we look out I shall media how we look at the news and notice who were paying attention to. What we agreeing with, even where our attend it has drawn up. Outside it can look like noticing what the first thought is about someone interest looking at them, you know they're there
can be sort of stereotype replacement to start to question why we might happen something about someone now, there's so many stories of people going to buildings and people. Learn and doorman, assuming that there there to deliver package's, sir in I have plant- of stories of of biased that I've encountered when been a leadership role, and so starting how does one we do that ourselves away? one for me recently in the past few years, been learning a lot from from teachers, but also from students have opened me up to this is my fat phobia suggesting noticing The assumptions I make about bigger bodies and bigger people, and though, the the turning away that happens from the rain come drawn.
Two people who look a certain way and whose bodies like a certain way and what? What is that about? And that's also been a process of learning history for me, because I had to really start to read and learn about of these assumptions we make about fat bodies and their health that are actually not true, can parallel other histories like the assumptions we make about black communities or by people that are based on historical inequalities and not the truth of their there be so we start to be able to use the practice when we have settled the mind beyond its habituated tendencies, start be able to use the practice to see How the mind tells these stories that are actually the culture.
Stories out in the world, and we can make different choices and that's the freedom that the freedom you ve reference deliberation is seeing clearly what's happening right now, without being owned by it and then having the freedom to make a different choice. Yeah, you might notice, I see a black person. Whole story comes up, but I see it. Like I was a burger in the park, and I am tempted to call the cops item, but I dont acted out. That's the freedom! Yes, yes, yes, and that freedom is really imbued with compassion and love, because, ultimately, on the deepest level, this practice,
Teach us that there is no separation, that everything not just humans, but all beings on this planet is connected, and this ancient wisdom says that an modern science as it there's no operation were all connected, and that's why our labour mission is dependent on other people's liberation. So we can gain some measure of maybe stress in tension in our lives. But we won't be truly free until everyone is free, you used the phrase we're talking earlier on the phone before this before this pot guest. So you just finish talking about how meditation could be so helpful when it comes to these issues. But you used the phrase earlier. You can't meditate this away here
Anne, and you know we can't meditate away the injustice, the oppression we can't. They take away the pain and suffering with US and outside of us, but we can, have some measure of perspective, an grounding and balance so that we can respond from clarity really and kindness. The leaning in that you describe right at the top of the show knight, Sir meditation practice, is really important. But again, in order to see clearly we can only look inside. We have to be willing to really see what's in front of us.
When you look around and I'm sorry. I know that I'm interviewing you more than you wanted it see you can you can you could butchery bag and, as we would have But I cannot but a moment been doing this for thirty years, interviewing people, and you really interesting, and I remain questions for itself with those apologies I'll ask another question which is when you look out round at the world. Are you? I know you felt the lot of sadness you ve described and other difficult emotions do feel Any hope I do feel hope, because things are being revealed. So right now it doesn't feel like progress, because it's like a wound being cleaned out. It's kind of policy and messy, and maybe it stinks, but to clean the inf infection out. We ve got to get it out
So all these patterns that are being revealed all these things. We're seeing that cannot be argued away, cannot be denied, cannot be rationalized, allow more of us to see clearly and its fat. Seen clearly that liberates. We get George Floyd, we get the coup person in the park. We get Ahmad arbitrary. We get all that on top of, a pandemic. That is completely exposing the in our society and and revealing the despair for you know through its disproportionate impact and then on top. That. Maybe we get to see all of that, throwing in stark relief the foreign aid years that preceded it in so. Yes, we see all that and then I do feel its desire to agree with you in your hope that I also see We ve had these.
National reckonings before then and here we are again and we had riots. We ve had assassinations. We ve had major legislation with had a black president for two terms and I don't know, maybe just progress is slow and and that's the source of hope or I don't know. Sometimes I fall back into a little bit more Sunday closer to despair. And you know we don't push away the despair either. We don't want whenever we allow it to motivate us, because I have also I am also seeing it from the meditation dark side of it and, as you well know, it's really well before we went into quarantine, It was really hard to get into retreats like every retreat had, awaiting lesson. Are there so many more people training to teach meditation, there's so much conscious
as growing I mean this is an ABC news. Podcast you get pretty whew on here times are there's a lot of of person. All social, cultural growth and that's disconnected from what's it's happening in society, so the hope I see is not only in terms of the political speck or you know, what's happening. Socially or in Washington, and things are extremely polarized and there's a lot of attention, but there is also a lot of change happening. And ass we were talking about a little bare before we started me home Erika is an incredible place. It's them, multicultural. Society. I know of. I dont think that there is a city, that's more diverse than New York City and that's a huge
I shall experiment. This never happened throughout human history. And there are some harsh concept since from that? And then there's amazing possibilities, but there's no going back we're not going to undo the fact that the world is becoming more complex and more connected and were reckon with that well said, other areas that I should have steered this conversation but fail to things he would that are worth exploring before. I let you go on with your day, hum inner, really encouraging people who don't have maybe Understanding of some of these issues to real they allow yourself the times. Learn more you're, not going to figure it out by having listened this far into a conversation, if you made it this far, you're, not figured out by reading one book. It's really apply. Fasten too
Allow yourself to be a beginner in something if you are and to continue to deepen our understanding all of us in the various ways that are needed in our and outer. Would you say to people casino? I mentioned at the beginning that I had a lot of fear going into this conversation know that there are few things that are worse, few worse epithets than racist. You know it and I am all the more I do- find that I worry- it might gonna- say something stupid and then be built up luckily humiliated, and what. You said a white people were or even non black people who are worried about having these conversations because their day, you know their wording and say something stupid and be punished in again you're, not thinking.
Thoughts and that racism that we all internalize because with the culture is swimmin, that's that's not it because you're a bad person it's because your human person, whose learned from the culture I hope no one is that's listening to this is actively racist or consciously racist, but to deny that we all have absorbed unconsciously or power The way that racism is to really be in contention with reality and again, you can see this warm open way through meditation practice and then and back to their freedom, which is to make different choices and as Ruth King previous guest on the show likes to say, the process is gonna, be messy
at best and I'll. Just save my own experience better to engage in their messing up than to try to push it all away of time. Yet we have no choice, ice, because otherwise you know we were not cleaning out the infection or just allowing to fester and continue to do harm us all. We then we see what we're seeing right now in our tvs, I really appreciate doing this- I know, for it was a big ask on extremely short noticed ass you to come on to talk about some ass really raw on a Sunday afternoon, but I'm very grateful to that. You did Thank you Dan. I hope its useful for folks and he now just really Encourage all of us to keep keep doing our work as well as thanking said, while I'm here. I also want to thank all the people who worked really hard on the show Samuel Johns Sir Leon Brittan
sure are sound. Designers are met, pointing an Anya Sheikh organ worked really hard all Sunday night to clean up this audio imposed. So you have you your Monday morning there from ultra violet audio boreal, were tell us our production coordinator, wig. An enormous amount of really helpful input from Tpa. Colleagues, like Jen, point nature but we ve been Reuben was Levin and then, of course, my guys at ABC rang Kessler, Josh Co. We're to be on this subject, fur a little while here, because a lot more to say in particular, as I mentioned,
beginning we want a model having conversations among white people about these issues, so here in here that in this feed soon and yours, I hear people of color come on we're at a moment of history in Amerika, and I do think people with meditation practice. While everybody can play a positive role, but I think people the meditation practice can play a really positive role. So, let's do it together said. Thank you again, you're welcome, then the sea Wednesday. I guess
Transcript generated on 2020-06-29.