MIT CoLab: You describe your work as “mindfulness to awaken self-compassion.” Can you explain how your meditation practice does this?
Tara Scott: My practice has evolved from something more physical into this more internal cultivation of intimate self-understanding where I’ve learned to become more gentle with myself. I’ve learned to value and seek rest so that I can reclaim what has heart and meaning for me, where I have the chance to listen deeply and see clearly, and can boost my resilience and my capacity to hold space for others.
This work [social justice, healing justice, community-building] is heavy heart wrenching work and having a practice that we can come back to where we are nourished and sustained is important. We don’t know how to rest. It is hard. We don’t feel like we have permission to rest.
When I opened the practice today it was all about arriving. How do we show up? How do we acknowledge how we are arriving especially in times of trauma? And how do we sit in that?
Are we giving ourselves the space to say, when we enter a room, “I’m carrying stuff?” Especially if you are an organizer and you have to lead and you have to wear this mask that isn’t a reflection of your authentic feeling in the moment. That is why in the practice I went through the exercise of letting that mask go.
Too often we are opening up veins for other people. But, how do we restore ourselves? Working for the well-being of others, we sometimes forget ourselves in the process.
So after we arrive, we give ourselves permission to be in the present moment. Then for me, it’s like now that I’m here, now I can fully awaken. Often we are asked to be “woke” before we get there. That’s hard. We can think about that on a bodily level, like how many times do we have to be somewhere before we are fully awakened. So how do we create a space where we have permission to arrive, to honor what we are walking into a room with and then to slowly and gradually awaken?
MIT CoLab: What follows the process of arriving and awakening and how is that connected to self-compassion?
Tara Scott: We have so many commitments that we don’t have time to transition properly from one place, or emotion, or thought, to the next. Once we arrive we then align in our compassion, in our breath, in whatever intention we want to call up in that moment. It is a slow gradual process. Once we get to that, then there is an abiding in the compassion or insight we’ve awakened.
Here the focus is on a few questions: How do we carry what we have opened up to into the rest of our day? How do we abide in the alignment of awakening? How do we abide in the alignment of arriving?
Cultivating and integrating this embodied self-compassion has taken me 13 years, a lot of tears, and a lot of fussing and cussing, but it has been a joy. I feel so good sharing this with others.
CoLab Radio is profiling the many ways in which a selection of workshop facilitators from the 2016 Allied Media Conference use collaborative processes grounded in media, art and technology to address the roots of problems and advance holistic solutions towards a more just and creative world.