Session 5: Using Buddhist Practice to Decolonize our Minds

In this session, we reflect on the phenomenon of colonization and how it operates internally and externally. In particular, we consider how our response to being confronted with our own racism can itself reflect habits born of our privilege status. It is here that our practice can be a powerful tool. With willingness to see conditioning as simply conditioning, we can loosen our identification with being right and begin to inhabit a wider, less certain, but more connected world.

“Colonization, at its core, is about creating separation—separation among people and separation from spirit and our connection to the Earth. Humans have been taking more than we need, and we haven’t been giving enough back.

Decolonization starts inside of you. It is a lot about finding compassion and kindness, and less about anger and fear. We should remember that it begins with an internal process of healing and reconciliation. Once we find that peace, then we will be able to move forward and unify as peoples. We must remember that we are all related.”

From: Decolonization Starts Inside of You by Josue Rivas

Before Your Meeting

Please read or watch these before your meeting:.

Also please review the discussion questions in the agenda below.


At your last meeting a facilitator was chosen. Here is a link to the facilitator's role .


  • Sit (5 minutes)
  • Review  Communication Guidelines   (5 minutes)
    • Read aloud your group’s guidelines developed in the first session
    • Discuss any revisions to the guidelines 
    • Confirm that all members can abide by the group’s guidelines, or at least open to practicing with them
  • Mindful Sharing (80 minutes)
    • Instruction: Mindful Sharing  involves each participant sharing from personal experience. There is no discussion or cross-talk during this time period, only personal sharing.
    • Each person in the group may share 3-5 minutes on each question (gauge the time depending on the number of people in your group). Speak to whatever questions are most salient.

Discussion Questions 

      • Contemplate White Fragility — the limited ability to tolerate racial stress — both internally and externally. How do you see White Fragility operating in yourself and others?
      • The practices of metta (loving kindness) and karuna (compassion) can reduce our sense of fragility in the face of difficulty. How might you employ metta and karuna to not turn away from the suffering of people of color caused by white dominance? How can they be used to be present with the suffering of white people caused by white dominance?
      • Describe some of the ways colonization shows up in your mind (such as unconscious clinging, aversion, or delusion).
      • Some of us may have had the experience of breaking through unskillful habits with our insight practice: seeing a behavioral pattern, finding associated patterns of craving or aversion, bringing continuous awareness to these patterns until the cycle of behavior or thinking changes or ceases and finally watching out for whether the pattern returns.  What parallels do you find between this process of self-transforming in our personal insight practice and the process of decolonizing the mind described by Dr. Michael Yellow-Bird? Are there other ways decolonization might also occur in our personal practice, in our sangha?
  • Sit (5 minutes)
  • Group Reflection (15 minutes)
    • Instruction: Group Reflection is like Mindful Sharing in that there is no discussion or cross-talk, however the focus is on what kind of experience the participants had during the meeting rather than on the content covered.
    • Each person in the group can share 3-4 minutes about what it was like to participate in the group (gauge time based on number of people in the group)
    • PROMPT: What was it like to engage in Mindful Sharing today? How has this been for you so far?
  • Next Meeting (5 minutes)
    • How did your technology or meeting logistics work? Any changes you would like to try for the next meeting?
    • When will you meet?
    • Who will facilitate?
    • If you are meeting online, who will set up the next meeting?
  • If there’s time left, finish with a closing sit (5 minutes)

Additional Readings, Videos and Podcasts