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Buddhadharma : Spring 2018
52 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER'S QUARTERLY and embodied from our families of origins, how we grew up, and our cultural traditions, social identities, life circumstances, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Cultural humility means uncovering the ways in which that cultural inheritance impacts how we see our selves and relate to others. Consider the messages and mixed mes sages you received while growing up, and still receive, about gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, or other distinguishing characteristics of identity. Where did those messages come from? Books, movies, media, family, friends, institutions—school, church, work—the totality of our personal experiences and stories heard and unheard. What was the feeling tone of the messages and mixed messages? What are the physical, mental, or emotional reactions stored in the body now? How might these messages and mixed messages affect the relationships we have or have had with people? And with ourself? One way we can develop our cultural humility is by extending our formal Buddhist practices of compassion, contemplation, mind fulness, and awareness meditation into our everyday lives. Using contemplative practice, we can explore our social conditioning, how we have been taught to operate in the world as social beings. Social conditioning is how culture is transmitted, how social systems are held in place. Social conditioning is not all bad. It’s how we learn to live and work well with others, but it’s also how we have uncon sciously learned to see groups of people in specific and limited ways. It started the day we were born, when people learned our biological sex, as evidenced by numerous studies showing the effect gender bias has on infant development. It’s the basis for how we fundamentally feel about humanity.