About discrimination and liberation
Enquiry is a fundamental part of our mindfulness and insight practice at Gaia House. We need to make enquiry at many levels – within our individual minds, within interpersonal relationships with others, and at wider institutional and societal levels. Enquiry is indispensable in living an awakened, compassionate life, since realising the end of discrimination and suffering necessitates fully recognising their causes and conditions. In learning about ourselves, our own personal lack of perception, habits and historically-derived misunderstandings, we may come to see how we are unconsciously upholding a society that privileges certain groups and individuals. Enquiry may also reveal how this unconscious bias actually drags us all down, as we lose connection to our fellow beings on this planet.
Dharma practice takes place in real-world action, as much as through a meditation on loving-kindness while seated on a cushion. We practice the Dharma when we appreciate the history of different peoples and how this has led to the racist society we live in today, just as much as when we contemplate co-dependent origination. We practice the Dharma when we understand what micro-aggression looks like and how subtle behaviours can reinforce structures that undermine unity in our society. Being mindful of our speech and action with others is as vital as mindfulness of our breathing.
Many of us at Gaia House have been deepening the journey of what it means to be white or a person of colour, able or disabled or any of the qualities we identify with or give us either privilege or hindrance in the society in which we live. We see no separation between engaging in a training course unpacking whiteness for example, and our everyday practice of meditation.
With the support of diverse teachers, trustees, staff, yogis and specialist consultants, we are committed to honouring both diversity and equality in developing an inclusive environment at Gaia House. To take this work forward, our Diversity Working Group has an active programme of learning and reflection on our existing practices and a practical commitment to implementing further changes.
Our strongly held intention is that all Gaia House activity will actively promote and support a diverse and inclusive sangha, but this is a journey of learning for us and so we welcome feedback at any time about how our intention to be more inclusive manifests. To offer feedback or discuss any aspect of this work, please email our director Devin: email@example.com
‘Unpacking the Whiteness of Leadership’ course
During 2020 members of our staff, teaching and trustee body took part in this course in order to acquire more knowledge and skills around anti-racism.
Below are some reflections by those who took part. We hope this is helpful in sign-posting new resources and encouraging reflection, so that we may all contribute to the collective sangha journey of becoming anti-racist.
I’ve loved Gaia House since my first retreat here in 2011. I value highly the literal and metaphorical ‘slowing down’ journey from London to rural Devon; the serene, beautiful buildings; the simplified routines of being on retreat and the positive experience of...
Catherine McGee (Teacher) – The Dharma of De-centring: Reflections on Diversity and Inclusion for Gaia House and for our World
If you are reading this, I imagine you probably love or care about Gaia House in some way. I know that for many people Gaia House feels like home, a place of welcome and of being able to let down their defences to be able to deepen. However, I am also aware that the...
River Wolton (Community Dharma Leader) – Moving Against the Stream of Racial Injustice, with Clarity and Compassion
Does your dharma practice call you to compassionate awakening for the benefit of all beings? If so, how do you see the place of racial justice and healing in that path? The ‘Unpacking Whiteness’ course opened my eyes and heart further to the ways in which I and other...
"Waking up White" (by Debby Irving) is the title of a book I read a few years ago that traces an American white woman's journey in discovering that being "white" is a thing, and not just a default against which everything else is different and other. I've been walking...
Access for people with disabilities
We welcome people with disabilities.
We have a rambling old house, however, the ground floor is mostly accessible for people in wheelchairs and those with restricted mobility. We have an adapted bathroom and ground floor bedroom available. The main meditation hall is accessed via a gentle ramp.
We have a hearing loop facility in the meditation hall which is compatible with hearing aids and we are very happy to provide written information in large print.
While we have made adjustments to try to accommodate everyone, if you have additional needs, please let us know if there is anything more we can do to support you.
In some cases, a carer may stay free of charge to support a retreatant who needs personal care/support. Please contact us if you would like to discuss this.
If you have specific needs relating to a disability, long-term illness or health condition, please phone or email our Reception team who will be happy to provide you with more detailed information about the house and discuss your needs whilst on retreat: 01626 333 613 / firstname.lastname@example.org
We are conscious of our choice of language around ‘disability’, acknowledging that there are differing views on the appropriateness of this term and that language usage is constantly evolving. We are in a continual process of trying to improve our understanding in the area of equality, and make Gaia House more accessible and inclusive. Part of this is ensuring that the language we use across our communications reflects our genuine efforts to do all we can to support everyone to participate in our offerings. If you would like to offer any feedback around this, please feel welcome to email our Director, Devin on email@example.com