Even though we must keep ourselves physically separate for the moment, it’s never been more obvious how interconnected we all are.

In this episode, I talk with Sebene Selassie, a meditation teacher, a writer, and a friend, who has studied Buddhism for over 30 years. Her new book, You Belong, explores spirituality and humanity through the lens of belonging, making the case that accepting our own inter-connectedness is the surest route to accepting ourselves.

In this wide-ranging conversation, we discuss the delusion of separation, which lies at the core of all feelings of not belonging; the Pali concept of papanca, or the mental chatter that keeps us from connecting to ourselves; how the thoughts of the dominant culture seep into our brains and dominate our thoughts; and how embodied awareness can help us manage physical and social pain better.

Key takeaways from this conversation:

  • Why our culture pulls us into patterns of domination and separation
  • How the biases we carry are not our fault, but are our responsibility to mend
  • Why resistance perpetuates our emotional and physical pain
  • How to break out of the pathology of productivity
  • Why we don’t have to make ourselves a “problem” to aspire to transformation

Favorite Quotes

“There’s this way when we actually spend time with, speak to, visit with friends from other communities, actually live in community with people that are different from us that we start to be able to see things from their perspective. I see people now trying to take in different media, trying to pay attention to different voices, and that’s helpful, but it’s actually those intimate relationships… You start to hear the experiences and witness how we’re treated differently, how it might feel to be different.”

“Inherently if we feel separate, we’re going to go into domination patterns. That is the culture we’re steeped in — we’re steeped in a culture of comparison, of competition, of hierarchy.”

“Meditation and contemplative practices have a bit of a paradoxical quality about them. There’s this almost magic transformation that happens when we allow something to have some attention and space. It can resolve itself. It’s actually our denial of things — ‘what you resist, persists’ —  or the mindfulness saying that ‘pain x resistance = suffering.’”


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The references and ideas that we mention in this epi:

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