I was washing up last night’s dishes this morning and appreciating the roughness and therefore, proper cleaning power of my sponge and as I washed mindfully and meditatively, my consciousness made some associations about this sponge and its relationship, direct and metaphorical, to mindfulness, gratitude, unconscious/conscious, and equity/inclusion. Yes, all of that bubbled up (no pun intended!) from time spent with the sponge. I’ll break it down.
As I appreciated the sponge I recognized that it is my yoga practice (of which meditation is a part) that graced me with the mindful state to appreciate this small moment. My mind then went to how we as human beings are like sponges, soaking up ideas, societal norms, patterns of conditioning, from the time we are born - we are taught to see in a specific way - and we continue to unconsciously see in this way unless we re-educate ourselves to expand our field of vision. It is out of this original education from our environment (family, schools, friends, media, etc.) that our unconscious biases, our blind spots, are borne.
When we talk about blind spots in relation to diversity, equity, and inclusion, we have likely developed a position towards these “big ideas” that is informed by our own experience and that causes our reaction, along the continuum from passionate advocacy to destructiveness toward these ideals. When we talk about blind spots in relation to people - individuals and groups - we have developed positions that reflect the beliefs (including stereotypes) about others and about ourselves that we unconsciously imbibed.
As individuals and in organizations, we can begin to shine a light on our blind spots by observing our knee-jerk reactions, how our bodies feel in certain situations, and what words and ideas we lend to the situations at hand. Do our words and ideas-turned-to-action have the intention to include or to draw exclusive boundaries? We may not yet have collected these observations or responses in our consciousness...or we may ask the questions and have an immediate answer to which I say, what happens if you begin asking questions of yourself continuously? This is part of the practice of uncovering our blind spots. We have to be willing to look at ourselves freshly, as if for the first time again and again, in order to see others.