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Buddhadharma : Summer 2016
summer 2 0 1 6 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 43 practicing mindfulness together and listening to each other instead of engaging in dialogue. Here are a few questions to get started: When did you first realize you were of the _______ race(s)? What impact did that have on you? What is your racial history, lineage, and inheritance? How does it impact your life, beliefs, behavior, and consciousness? How does it feel to be invited to consider these questions? A racial affinity group can be a safe place to cultivate racial curiosity, awareness, literacy, and healing, and to learn about one’s own racial history, biases, diversity, and impact. They help expand racial perspectives beyond conditioning and culti- vate an open and forgiving heart. Buddhist commu- nities committed to liberation must encourage safe structures that educate its members on racial aware- ness and reconciliation. 3. Practice Compassionate Self-Reflection Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with oth- ers without using them as a means of escape. —bell hooks Maintaining our mindfulness practice is key to racial inquiry and healing. A racial affinity group will stimulate the habitual heart-mind and it will be helpful to turn inward, pause, and notice how we are meeting the rough edges of racial injury and bringing heart to it. In practice, we want to stay close to body and breath and our fleeting feeling tones, and recognize when our stories take us some- where other than the present moment. The dharma offers many tools that can support us in facing and understanding our experiences of racial suffering, all of which should be held in an atmosphere of kindness and self-compassion. In our practice, we can notice how beliefs live, what thoughts we are giving birth to, and how we feel when thinking about them. We can acknowledge where we get stuck and what supports letting go. In this light, I have found a practice called RAIN to be helpful. Beginning in stillness, connect with body and breath. Invite a kind and compassionate moment, memory, or entity to fill your heart and mind. Rest a moment in this recollection. Next, bring to mind your racial healing intention and allow this intention to be held in this recollection of kindness and self-compassion. When you feel you have established a baseline of inner stillness, begin the RAIN inquiry: r – recognize what’s happening and name it. Is there a bodily sensation of heat, tightness, pulsing? An emotion or thought of revenge, envy, fear, anger, helplessness, shame? A thought of an old story, hurt, or belief? a – allow the experience to be what it is without preferences, likes or dislikes. Pause here and allow a minute or so to welcome and surrender to the fullness of this experience without a story about it. Know the freshness of each moment without resistance. i – intimately investigate. From inside your experi- ence, notice the perceptions, thoughts, emotions, stories, and beliefs that are being revealed. Name the fleeting feeling tones you are experiencing: pleasant, unpleasant, neutral. All experiences are to be intimately known but not clung to. Notice when the intensity of what arises ceases. Open your awareness to include the spaces in between what arises. You can pause or even rest here. n – nurture. Suspend identification—I, me, mine— with the experience you are having. Explore what’s needed. What can you offer that would be nurtur- ing and reduce suffering? Do you need to forgive? Learn something new? Let go? Recommit? Practice self-compassion? In your heart-mind, see yourself making this offer and notice how your experience changes. People of color carry the burden and chronic disappointment of educating whites about their resistance and denied history and its collective impact. ➤ continued page 81