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Scott: Is Mindfulness equal for everybody?

Dawn Scott discusses whether Mindfulness is equal for everybody.
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I think there are so many assumptions that we have around mindfulness. Well, not even we. Just let me define that. In the community that I practice in the therapod and convert inside community, I feel like we operate on some assumptions and one of them is that mindfulness is appropriate for everybody. No, it’s just not. That there are some hearts and minds that I’ll find another gateway to freedom, another gateway to learning to navigate life’s challenges, and that we’re not proselytizers so that’s good.
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But there is this assumption that because our direct experience, that our being practitioners, teachers that our direct experience has been one of the Dharma is good in the beginning, it’s going in the middle, it’s good in the end. It’s been good for me, it’ll be good for other people.
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There is the subtle, especially when you’re first falling in love with the Dharma, you’re like I want to share this with everybody, want to share this with everyone of my family. There’s this subtle proselytizing that comes in and like if the whole world would just be mindful like all of our problems would be resolved. That’s not true.
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I think there’s some assumptions and one of the assumptions is that I found mindfulness so other people will be able to find mindfulness as easily.
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It’s mostly in the convert community. It’s mostly been middle-class to upper-class white people who’ve had access to these teachings. They tend to share those teachings in neighborhoods and locations that are not easy to access. Spirit Rock is in a beautiful place, but it’s hard for someone who lives in downtown Oakland or in the East Bay or in San Francisco, who doesn’t have access to a car to get across sometimes two bridges to head out to Spirit Rock. There’s access in terms of just location that makes it really difficult for people to get to, and that’s been one of the blessings of COVID.
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I mean, COVID’s, horrible, and there has been these gems, these little bright spots and one of them is we’re offering the Dharma online so people who normally could not access them are accessing them and feeling the richness of these teachings in their home. I hope we’ll continue that even when retreat centers open up again, when we’re able to start offering in-person retreats, my hope is that we’ll continue to offer these teachings online, so there’s access in terms of location.
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I feel like their assumptions that white practitioners are practitioners who are middle-class, BIPOC, privileged practitioners who forget not everyone has access to the same resources that I have, that have made it possible for me to coming out to Spirit Rock or fly across the country to go sit at IMS or tri-state driver.
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Then even now, the teachings are offered online, but do you have Internet access? Do you have a computer? Do you have a stable Internet connection? Had a woman recently who attended a retreat through IMS and she was in Guatemala and the connection was really tenuous so she was able to access some of the teachings, but not all of them. Then there’s the ways in which we talk about dharma, especially in middle-class settings where the majority of people are middle-class or upper-class and we use metaphors and make references that don’t necessarily touch people who weren’t raised in that midlayer.
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That can feel like a barrier at times, and then just the subtle micro-aggressions that you face when you come to a place that’s predominantly white like Spirit Rock and Spirit Rock and IMS are both. Right now, a lot of centers that are really wanting to work with whiteness and understand how it can alienate and be blind to other people’s experiences. The habits are so deeply entrenched that it’s just inevitable.
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Then there’s someone like me who has been embraced and loved and well-supported by the teaching body and community. Both are true.
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Demystifying Mindfulness

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