A Radical Metanoia

Entering the Fire with Heart

A nondual embodiment wisdom teacher, I share these heartfelt thoughts in response to current societal and global challenges, including systemic racial injustice, economic inequities, climate change, and our global pandemic:

  • We who grieve the great injustices on Earth are called not to just to change our views – but to transform at the deepest levels of our being.
  • We are challenged to awake to the plurality of reality.
  • Only a metanoia – a radical change of heart, mind, and spirit – will enable us to live on an Earth where all human beings flourish.

Stage One: Preparing your heart, body, and mind for radical self-transformation

  • Find allies and wise, compassionate guides to support you in cultivating the capacity to be personally “touched” by the impact of our current societal and global challenges on others and on this Earth – e.g., systemic racial injustice, economic inequities, climate change, and our global pandemic.
  • Cultivate “sacred heart space”  – an internal attitude of spacious tenderness so that you can actually experience whatever you’re experiencing – including challenging sensations, difficult emotions, forbidden thoughts..
  • Practice effective breathing and skillful self-soothing strategies to relax your belly, reassure your heart, calm your nervous system, and quiet your mind. 
  • Learn subtle, nondual body-centered meditations to support your heart, body, and mind in growing toward wholeness – and in “seeing through” distorted perceptions and unconscious beliefs, disentangling from habituated thoughts, emotional reactivity, and painful sensations, and releasing limiting somatic and energetic patterns..
  • Recognize that what’s going on is larger than you. It’s as if the schisms in our psyches that separate us from ourselves reflect schisms that divide us from others and from this Earth..

One Breath

My tender heart trembles, Reacting, the mind spins this way and that… Looking for escape. I cannot accept this. Feeling powerless Separate Broken

I can’t breathe….

This is the legacy of suffering

The wisdom, as always, is about turning towards this pain. A deep, deep wound. Admit it’s there Feel the feelings in this heart Listen Open Don’t look away Heal

Breathe…

This is compassion for oneself.

And then, with the steadiness that comes from unflinching, Loving awareness, Speak and act from the heart. Let it be known Protect and Serve Don’t look away Ever

Live…

This is compassion for the world.

True solidarity. A radical acceptance. That sacred space between the out breath and the in breath… Death and Rebirth No separation Them Us One.

Love…

This is a prayer for all beings

~ Mark Arthur, Black buddhist author and meditator from the UK

Years ago, my dear friend Cleo, a young dark-skinned man of African descent, leaned towards me, a middle-aged White woman. Near tears, Cleo talked of the emotional and psychic stress he felt, as a Black man in this society. Quietly, he asked: “What does the term White supremacy mean to you? What is your relationship to it?” My heart leapt into my throat. I gasped for air. In that moment of reckoning, my Whiteness became visible to me. My body tensed. My thoughts fragmented. I took a deep breath, seeking courage. His questions challenged the world as I then knew it. My self-identity, moral character, and personal capacity for engaging in dialogue felt called into question.

We who grieve the great injustices on Earth are called not only to change our views – but to transform at the deepest levels of our being. We are challenged to awake to the plurality of Reality. Only a metanoia – a radical change of heart, mind, and spirit – will enable us to co-create a world where all human beings flourish.

Sitting in the Fire

Reality challenges us to make a strong commitment to support diversity. To co-create a more just, more sustainable world, let us form alliances with people from diverse races, cultures, and religions. Let us engage in dialogues that catalyze mutual understanding, shared meaning, and the discovery of new ways to live and work together.

Based on my own experience, however, I offer a cautionary note. Entering into dialogue with those whose belief systems and values clash with our own can be akin to sitting in a fire. Even when we listen with the ears of the heart, fear arises. When we encounter conflicting perspectives and grievous suffering, discomforting thoughts and chaotic emotions abound. Our perceptions of the world no longer make sense.

What if everything you were taught was false?

When our unconscious beliefs about diverse races, cultures, and religions become visible, our psyches become disoriented. We resist. We equivocate. We deny, bargain, and despair. Core issues, our deepest stuck places, are activated. Unknown forces erupt from the depths of our unconscious. Our sense of self is at risk.

Only later do we realize that the dimensions through which we apprehend Reality are being transformed. With humility and gratitude, we appreciate the other as a source of self-understanding that dis-entangles us from our own distorted and limited perspectives.

Awakening Our Whole Being

Great courage, clarity, and compassion are needed on this path. Faced with my own lack of capacity, I deepened my commitment to Qigong and Realization Process, both subtle, non-dual body-centered meditation practices. Our body is our instrument of experience, perception, thought, emotion, and physical sensation. As we make deep contact with the internal space of our body, the body’s subtle energy channels open. The body, mind, breath, and energy systems integrate. The senses become refined –  and we see, hear, and touch on a more subtle level.

When belief systems collapse, gentle, precise practices such as these awaken our whole being, heal us psychologically, and help us relate authentically to others – without losing attunement to ourselves. As we disentangle from habituated thoughts, reactive feelings, and overwhelming sensations, we open to a deeper reality – differentiation is not separation.

Being flourishes in this sacred space. Liberating our self from distorted perceptions and unconscious beliefs becomes a perceptual, cognitive, and embodied act of self-transfiguration.

Dissolving Barriers

Warm tender vibrations resonated between Cleo’s and my pulsing hearts – compelling me to become a social activist, organizing inter-racial/cultural/religious dialogues in diverse communities. Dissolving barriers to living in harmony with people from different races, cultures, and religions is a radical spiritual journey – we willingly commit to unveiling our core issues and our personal habits of twisting away from Reality. Chronic fragmentations in our psyche can be healed. Bound emotional pain from the body, energy system, and the causal level of consciousness can be released. We realize the essence of our Being is luminous – and has never been injured.

This journey is a path to self-re-creation. As we open to the body’s tremendous healing and nurturing wisdom, our experience of Reality changes. We experience wholeness rather than fragmentation, unity rather than separateness, and inner peace rather than discontent. We realize: Love is who we are. Love at this depth is the vast, unchanging, radiant consciousness to which we attune at the innermost core of our being.

Participating Whole-Heartedly

Committed to realizing the true nature of Reality, let us share stories, rituals, food, music, and art with people from different races, cultures, and religion. Alive to the movement of feelings, sensations, thoughts, and emotions, let our hearts dissolve barriers and shift perspectives. In the end, the call to action is not only to co-create a more just and sustainable world. The call to action is to enter into a direct experience of Reality—unmediated by thought.

When we experience Reality directly,
our life unfolds
as our greatest offering. 

Roma Hammel, PhD

Published in Kosmos Journal, August 13, 2014

Explore implicit bias for yourself: Implicit Bias Test

Explore white privilege and power for yourself: Peggy Macintosh’s Invisible Knapsack

Explore for yourself: Stirfrys Seminars & Consulting

Explore for yourself: The Untraining

Read for yourself: How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Read for yourself; White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo

Read for yourself: So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Olu

Twenty Quotes on Race and Whiteness

  1. As races are invented categories—designations coined for the sake of grouping and separating peoples along lines of presumed difference—Caucasians are made and not born. – Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race, 1998, p. 4
  2. There is no defensible biological definition of race. – Crispin Sartwell, Act Like You Know: African-American Autobiography and White Identity, 1998, p. 16
  3. The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line. – W.E.B. Du Bois, as cited in Color Conscious: The Political Morality of Race, by K. Anthony Appiah & Amy Gutmann, 1996, p. 3
  4. Very frequently race privilege is a lived but not seen aspect of white experience. – Ruth Frankenberg, The Social Construction of Whiteness: White Women, Race Matters, 1993, p. 135
  5. When liberal whites fail to understand how the