Oneness, Diversity and Inclusion: Decentering Whiteness in the Yoga World and Embracing all Social Identities
This series will explore what does it mean to embrace Oneness in the face of Diversity and Inclusion. While we thrive to understand our common humanity in any given spiritual path, and develop the virtues of awareness, unconditional love, and self-mastery, in our group practice we come across languages, cultural, ethnic and racial “differences” as well as entitlement, privilege and some groups having more racial comfort than others.
Do these differences and realities divide us in our hearts, in our yoga studios and other places of spiritual practice? What if instead, we acknowledge them, learn from them and build a solid basis for all of us to feel we belong in our spiritual path? This module will explore how to heal racism and advocate for racial belonging for all, not just those who have the resources and accessibility to practice yoga and meditation. We’ll look at how diversities enrich our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual experience by understanding the complexity and convergence of our diversities, and learn how to bear the social burden of race so that no single group has to do it alone. Wouldn’t this bring us closer to liberation and psychic freedom for all?
The more we open the yoga and meditation world towards this goal, the better equip we’ll be to face our own shadows, blindspots and triggers and let go of what brings us apart. It will bring us closer to expressing our true selves and sharing authentically with others. The more skills we can learn that reflect our effort to understand inclusivity in language and behavior, the better equip we’ll be to be a true “ally” for anyone person and group that’s at a disadvantage because of their color skin, language, culture, immigration status, country of origin and ethnicity. Let’s unite and practice together towards this goal because it is our human birthright, to live in peace and harmony with one another, in health and happiness.
Week 1: How do we put an end to “spiritual bypassing”?
As we feel the longing to find our way home and become aware of one’s union with God and Infinity, are we suddenly ignoring the needs of others who may also be in that same path–wherever they find themselves? Do we put ourselves “above” others, blinding ourselves from truly getting to know the needs of others, in their own diversity and individual expressions of Self? Wouldn’t we benefit more from the diversity of all members? Why then obsess, believing there’s one way of “being pious” forgetting that we may be excluding others? This course will explore diversity in spirituality. What does it mean to thrive towards the idea of Oneness, without bypassing the many collective groups that make our spiritual communities? It will take a deep dive in exploring the ways in which ignorance, denial and disassociation may bring more suffering and perpetuate the same structures that feed racism and oppression, unless we take a “conscious” look at our spiritual practices. It will also take a look at the debate between individual agency and identity versus structural conditioning and internalized systemic racism.
Week 2: Tools to create a safe, accessible and welcoming yoga and meditation environment
This module will begin to unpack “white privilege” in all its forms. How educated am I about racism in my cultural region, local community, family ancestry and the world? Developing an inclusive language around race, ethnicity, gender identity and language is an important skill to have when showing up in the spiritual world. We’ll take a closer look at micro-aggressions, that is, hurtful words and offensive behaviors that may push people out of our community because of ignorance, denial or disassociation. We’ll look at “white fragility,” the impact that racism has on white or light-skin folks, when their actions may hurt others whether it’s their intention or not. There’s a sense of guilt, shame and blame that comes up with “whiteness” in such circumstances that needs to be addressed and brought to the light for acknowledgement and healing. Because it’s the impact of “action” that hurts, we’ll work together through these uncomfortable or messy moments and discuss tools to overcome them. It’s a learning curve for everyone, no matter the color of your skin, ethnicity or cultural origin. Learn to act in solidarity when any of these moments come up in dialogue, and educate yourself to avoid them. Become an “ally” of diversity and inclusion and help us heal racism and oppression.
Week 3: Exploring the relationship between our inner world (self-awareness) with our outer world (social awareness).
The goal of this module is that as we explore the relationship between self and social awareness, we grow the need to acknowledge and respect all groups who make up our spiritual communities for everyone to feel seen, welcomed and accepted. Becoming witnesses to a wider range of human experiences and by learning the dance that flows between our inner and outer world, we’ll discover that all members of a community benefit from diversity, as it broadens and enriches the understanding of all, and each one of us in the larger play of things. While it acknowledges the vulnerability of some groups over others, and provides solutions to overcome inequality and oppression, it also explores the necessity and the importance to share the responsibility to heal realism and have an impact on social change. A second goal is to achieve equity and liberation, so that we could all be at the same starting point when it comes to resources in our spiritual practice, self-care, time in nature and access to yogic technology, by improving and creative inclusive marketing strategies, promotions and scholarships that include everyone.
Week 4: What does it mean to become an “ally” and take a “conscious” step to heal racism?
Once we’ve explored the collective shadow around “whiteness” that comes out individually through our archetypes and sub-personalities (i.e. in our triggers and blindspots), we are now ready to take on the role of an “ally.” By virtue of how we’re seen and treated in society, based on our skin color, education and class privileges, each moment we have the opportunity to be an accomplice of the structures that perpetuate racism or not. The same way that we master our self-awareness by witnessing our Ego mind (over desire, self-conceit, anger, grief, shame, blame, etc.), we’ll learn tools to deconstruct “whiteness” or “internalized whiteness” and discuss what it does to people around us that are not included in that “dominant” identity. By de-centering whiteness, “white supremacy” and the status quo that come with it, we’ll learn to treat everyone equally, and identify situations when people are not treated this way. For example, what does it mean to “consciously” bring awareness to a situation when someone is asked for an ID at a grocery store because they use a credit card and they are perceived as “different”? Or when they’re not granted a loan at the bank for their start-up business and we think it’s pure coincidence, or when their application for buying or renting a house in an expensive neighborhood gets denied? How could we show up differently and have conversations around “white privilege” that would put an end to these discriminatory practices? That’s what it involves to become an “ally” in the world. How do these uncomfortable situations show up in yoga and meditation trainings, workshops and classes? What does it mean to act and be an “ally” in those moments? How do we step outside of our comfort zone, learn racial resilience to heal racism and use our privileges (education, skin color and class) to have an impact in the change we want to see in the world?