I have some good news to share with you: you are not your fault.
The Insight Meditation teacher and author Wes Nisker is fond of saying this.
And the even better news is that it is true. You are not your fault, you didn’t pick out your DNA. Your eye color, height, smile, the way you laugh, how your body carries weight, the flavors you gravitate towards or quite possibly even your favorite color. We all embody countless traits in our individual mind body heart packages that are inherited traits and genetic characteristics.
One of the creative and dynamic ways we can heal, repair and deepen our connection to our lineage of people, is through our practice of meditation.
This is important and vital work for everyone and especially for white people, myself included. One of the multitude of ways whiteness becomes codified in America is through a process of assimilation. As waves of different European immigrants resettled in America over the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, they often set aside their ethnic practices and rituals, their foods, music and languages, in the hope of becoming more American.
Personally, I find this work of reconnecting to my ancestors deeply meaningful. The more connection and belonging I can feel to my kin, the more embodied and resilient I feel, and the more in alignment I feel with my intention to live in a society where all beings have the potential to feel a sense of true belonging.
There is a tough history to reckon with for most white Americans. We are not indigenous to Turtle Island; many of us are the descendants of the early immigrants who were colonizers and/or slave holders. There is much to heal and repair and that too can be as beautiful as it is heartbreaking. As James Baldwin says: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
We can use our meditation practice as a vehicle for facing our ancestors, for healing and moving forward. With our ancestors at our backs we can develop the felt sense of belonging that is inherently ours, and align our actions more clearly towards interconnectedness, which is the same direction the path of Insight meditation is leading us. In this way, you and I can become the wise ancestors of the future.