For episode 129 of the Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon speaks with friend and colleague, Sebene Selassie for the Real Change Series.
Sebene Selassie has been teaching meditation workshops, courses and retreats for over a decade and her first book, “You Belong” was released in August of 2020 by HarperOne. She has studied Buddhism for over 30 years and received a BA from McGill University in Religious and Women’s Studies and an MA from the New School where she focused on cultural studies and race. Her work has taken her everywhere from the Tenderloin in San Francisco to refugee camps in Guinea, West Africa. Sebene is proud to have served on the boards of New York Insight Meditation Center, the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, and Sacred Mountain Sangha.
This is the second episode of the Real Change Podcast series. In this conversation, Sebene and Sharon discuss some of the overlapping themes from their new books, Real Change and You Belong, exploring the ways meditation practice can inform social action such as agency, cultural conditioning, inherent bias, self-love and balance. Sebene closes the conversation with a 10 -minute meditation practice on grounding and belonging.
Learn more about Sebene’s offerings at sebeneselassie.com.
A Sense of Belonging
Prompted by Sharon, Sebene explains the intention behind her timely new book, You Belong: A Call for Connection. This book is a calling for us all to tune into the fundamental nature of reality right here and now, which is truth, which is belonging. Sharing insight into her personal spiritual journey while tying these lessons into the current state of the world, Sebene offers a call for connection.
“I used this quote by Desmond Tutu, and he says, ‘We are because we belong.’ It is the fact, fundamental nature of reality that we are interconnected. We are not separate. We belong to all of nature. But again, our families, our culture, history, society, inequities, divisions; they all threaten that sense of belonging.” – Sebene Selassie
For further wisdom from Sabene surrounding belonging and engaging with injustice in a Dharmic way open yourself to Ep. 22 of the The Road Home
Patterns of Culture (13:23)
Within today’s cultural climate we are indoctrinated with patterns of comparison and competition, of hierarchy and oppression, of separation and domination. It is up to each of us to decondition ourselves from this cultural operating system and recognize these biases are not ours, they are unconscious imprints of the culture.
“You think you’re thinking your thoughts? You’re not. You’re thinking the culture’s thoughts. One of the things of looking at these patterns of hierarchy, oppression, and delusion of separation that can lead us into dominating tendencies, is that we think that it is us, but really we are just playing out the patterns of culture.” – Sebene Selassie
Learn how to unburden yourself from a legacy of cultural imprints and unconscious bias on Ep. 29 of ReRooted
Mindfulness and Unconscious Bias (18:33)
The majority of us have egalitarian goals and values, but unconsciously we’ve absorbed messages or imprints from the culture, which we then project out onto what we see. We may think we see people as equal, but we may actually be projecting all of these unconscious biases onto them. Sebene and Sharon discuss how we can use mindfulness as a tool for uncovering our implicit biases in order to heal them.
“I don’t understand how people can talk about inherent bias, and unconscious bias, and not talk about mindfulness at the same time. Because how else will you uncover what is unconscious, what is inherent, what is implicit? Sometimes in psychology it’s talked about as shadow material. You can’t see that unless you really pay really close attention to your mind, and to your thoughts, and to all the patterns that are happening.” – Sebene Selassie
Where Belonging Begins (34:35)
Sebene closes with a guided meditation that brings us to a place of groundedness – the place where our interconnection to all things begins.