Truth, Vulnerability, and Bias

Last week Rainier Beach Yoga had our second monthly Heart Conversations, where we focused on Satya (truth, honesty or being with what it) and how it relates to racial and social justice.

The idea of truth sounds so concrete, so matter of fact. Yet the more I learn about this idea I realize that truth can be quite slippery, contradictory and sometimes there can be multiple “truths” at the same time.

A couple weeks ago I was listening to a podcast by a yoga teacher about vulnerability. She shared a story about feeling a “gut reaction” to a person in an elevator and told the hotel front desk. The front desk shared they were looking for a person who was breaking into rooms. 

What about when our “gut reactions” are wrong though? How often do we question our gut reactions?

I know that I have been socialized to have different gut reactions depending on whether I am coming in contact with a white woman, a Black man, an Asian couple, an older man or a child. I know that some of the gut reactions I have are not accurate but are based in socialized and unconscious biases. If you are curious about learning more about unconscious biases I would highly recommend taking an Implicit Bias Test

Part of my yoga practice is about becoming aware of my gut reactions and also peeling back the layers of those reactions. As a woman I have been socialized to question whether I am right or not, but as a white person I am socialized that I know the “truth.” Multiple truths are usually happening all the time, and part of my practice is to be able to hold them all.

I believe that part of discerning the “truth” is to hold as many truths as possible. This makes life more complex, but it also makes it more rich. I recently re-watched this Ted talk by Verna Myers about walking boldly towards our biases in order to overcome them. Can we use our gut reactions to learn about ourselves more deeply rather than thinking we know the truth about something or someone outside of ourselves? I would love to hear your thoughts.

While we are on the topic of truth I also wrote an article for the Globalist sharing my experience in the last few months. You can read it here.