Welcoming the Newly Formed Sangha for People with Dis/Abilities and Deaf People

by Tara Beech

During a focus group session in August, participants overwhelmingly expressed a desire to form a virtual affinity group for individuals who require alternative methods of practice due to dis/ability, deafness, illness, or injury. IMCW leadership responded with resounding support. The Sangha for People with Dis/Abilities and Deaf People had its first virtual meeting in September and has committed to meet regularly on the second Monday of each month. Using conferencing software, members can connect with video on an electronic device or call in from their phone. American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting is provided.

Since its inception, members of the sangha have held space for rich discussion over the group’s purpose and vision. We have concluded that our individual experiences are quite diverse. Yet, we are united by our need to access dominant culture in unique ways. Our differences do not define us, but they do call us into deeper awareness and offer a unique entry point into the meditation practice.

Like the larger community, we experience the full spectrum of human pain and suffering, of human triumph and joy. In sangha, we can hold our hearts open and affirm the fundamental wholeness of each of us. Our intention is to create a safe and accessible environment to enrich our practice.    

A disability lessens or ceases to exist entirely when an environment becomes adequately accessible. Some among us simply require a space that is architecturally and communicably accessible. Others among us have impairments that require us to constantly redirect and conserve our energies. Engaging in simple activities can involve much extra effort and we often have to set aside additional time for travel, therapies, or treatment. Our sangha is designed to honor these realities. We aim to remove environmental barriers that interfere with our coming together to practice and allow room for individuals to arrive as they are able.  

Thus, we recognize the need for a separate, virtual practice space. As our group grows, we hope to learn from each other about the unique ways in which we experience life and how practice holds and shapes that experience. We are grateful for the opportunity to create this Affinity Group. 

To join this sangha, please contact our facilitator, Alison Shapiro.  Additional details about the sangha are available on the IMCW website here.

It is the mission of IMCW/The Insight Meditation Community of Washington is to support the awakening of hearts and minds through the direct experience of the Buddhist path, and the integration and manifestation of wisdom and compassion in all aspects of life, for the benefit of all beings.

P.O. Box 3
Cabin John, MD 20818

Phone: 202.986.2922

Email: meditate@imcw.org