From the beginning, the trainings in mindfulness include attention to both the inner and outer worlds. As we mature in our practice, our courage and awareness grow. Mindfulness becomes flexible and strong enough to face the ocean of suffering within and around us. With loving awareness, we can walk a path of freedom across the world.
I just returned from three days of a special mindfulness training at Spirit Rock Meditation Center offered to staff and teachers by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. Called “Undoing Racism,” the trainers showed us how to look deeply at our organizations and begin to see how our institutions inevitably participate in the racism we deplore. We were taught how to expand the skills we’ve cultivated to alleviate personal suffering to understand more systemically our history and our culture.
We opened our collective eyes to see the many hidden yet widely sanctioned institutional arrangements that perpetuate poverty and divide people through fear and resentment. Looking deeply, we saw how being afraid of each other precludes finding common ground and taking a united stand against widespread social injustice. We were encouraged to be “critical lovers,” to widen our personal lens and analyze our organizations, to love our communities enough to listen and learn what’s needed to dismantle a system of race prejudice and thrive together.
I was deeply moved by their inclusive and compassionate approach. We listened carefully to stories of the relentless daily assaults of microaggressions and other consequences of racism. How unspeakably exhausting and discouraging that is, for every aspect of living! How amazing human resilience and kindness can be, in the face of it all.
I’m inspired by the determination and stamina of people doing this antiracism work – they find the spirit to keep going, to teach and organize and speak to our longing for a viable vision of a different world.
And I’m always inspired by our mindfulness and compassion practices which give us a way to see clearly how things are, and to find a path to well being and freedom, for all.