Sharon Salzberg – Metta Hour – Ep. 192 – Cecilia B. Loving

For episode 192, Sharon welcomes Cecilia Loving to the Metta Hour to speak about Diversity, Inclusion, and embodied Lovingkindness.

Cecilia is an award-winning speaker, diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion thought leader, consultant, and author. Her work focuses on restorative justice, storytelling, inclusive leadership, racial inclusion, mindfulness, and well-being. She is the Senior Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at PBS, with over 25 years of experience in DEI. Cecilia has practiced meditation since she was a teen in Detroit, and is the author of several books, including “The Power of Inclusion” and Unbroken Circles: Holding Space, Finding Forgiveness, and Transcending Edges.

wide-betterhelp sharon

In this conversation, Cecilia and Sharon share about:

• Growing up in the Civil rights movement in Detroit • Embodying vs. intellectualizing teachings • The impetus for Cecilia’s book “The Power of Inclusion” • The necessity of a diverse community for resilience • Surviving compared to flourishing • The ancient tradition of Circles • Being heard by others as a path of healing • Restorative Justice circles • The effect George Floyd’s death has had on DEI work • Teaching emotional intelligence to the FDNY • Learning to wear the world as a loose garment • The challenges caregivers face • Lovingkindness as a restorative presence for others • DEI as a “Ministry of Love” • How shame impacts healing and learning • Guided lovingkindness meditation

To learn more about Cecilia’s work, you can visit mindfulnessgroup.blog or check out her many book offerings.
Circles and DEAI

Cecilia describes how she found meditation and a connection to God. Her story of growing up in the inner city and eventually becoming a trailblazer for diversity is inspirational. Cecilia describes mindfulness within discussion circles. In a circle, each person is allotted time to speak. Others must mindfully listen and remain silent. Circles help establish a common ground that we all can relate to. This is important when considering DEAI because circles give inclusive, uninterrupted time to people who may not otherwise have a voice. Cecilia implores this in her work at PBS.

“It is that ancient tradition that comes from elders sitting around the fire or just community connecting.” – Cecilia B. Loving

Healing in Circles (22:50)

Beyond creating a space of inclusion, circles can also provide emotional healing. Cecilia describes bearing witness to people who have experienced intense healing within a circle after grief or trauma. Circles have the power to heal because we are more likely to open up when someone else has a similar story. We feel less alone in our pain when others have endured a similar problem and offer us the space to let out our feelings. Sometimes, when we discuss our pain with family or friends we are met with a lack of understanding, judgment, or even punishment. In a group of relative strangers who are there for a common reason, we are not punished. We are welcomed, held, and heard.

“There is something about the process and its accountability and the oneness I believe that we all share in just being able to hold space.” – Cecilia B. Loving

George Floyd and DEAI (30:04)

Sharon asks Cecilia how her work in DEAI has changed since Covid or other recent historical events. Cecilia believes the most palpable change came after the murder of George Floyd. For those listeners who do not know, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was murdered in Minneapolis by Derek Chauvin, a 44-year-old white police officer in 2020. Floyd had been arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill. Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and lying face-down in the street. This event brought awareness to a long-standing problem of racism within law enforcement. Cecilia says that people in the police, fire department, etc. were more willing to learn and listen to policies related to DEAI after George Floyd was killed. He changed the world.

Check out Ep. 16 of Brown Rice Hour to learn more about navigating the hard times we live in: We Were Made for These Times w/ Kaira Jewel Lingo
Radical Self-Care (45:53)

Cecilia and Sharon discuss having a loving-kindness practice. Loving Kindness (metta) helps us individually and communally. When we create an essence of love, kindness, and acceptance for ourselves, we then are capable of being that for others. Now more than ever, we need to practice radical self-care. As a whole, we have recently endured an isolating pandemic, mass shootings, and more. Light has been shed on horrible societal issues like racism and sexism, and we all have individual struggles. We have to put in the work and learn the practices that center us. Self-care looks different for us all but loving kindness is always a good place to start. Stay tuned for a guided meditation at the end of this podcast.

Work on your practice with Gil Fronsdal in this episode of The BHNN Guest Podcast: Loving-Kindness For All