All over the world there have been protests for the past 10 years, indicating a need for change in the systems built to maintain society. Individuals that have their lives on the line and risk not only death, but also housing, food and meeting their family’s needs are often met with disdain and xenophoby when attempting to reach some sort of solution for themselves. The immigration crisis from Africa to Europe or South America to the United States and Canada is one blatant example, how these receiving societies respond to it plays a crutial role on the general feeling of mistrust for politics that we see today.
At the same time, there has been a boom in techniques such as Mindfulness, that cultivate compassion and othering, a deeper connection to the natural world. An increase in retreats, in yoga studios, in what was once ancient enlightment knowledge and know viewed as something to “feel good”.
There is a genuine misconception about what Mindfulness and Yoga truly represent in their origin, but nevertheless, the new forms of it spread throught the west like an uncontrollable wildfire and most people from all walks of life seem to adhere to it. It’s branded as a “calm your nerves” solution to medication and therapy, and often prescribed in therapy as an adjunction to the inner work for a sense of relaxation.
Mindfulness does bring relaxation and inner peace, but it also brings about the calm necessary to face ourselves and our role in the world. This often leads to a widening of the understanding of what’s happening to our world, how we got here and what’s needed for change into a more environmentally friendly society. Mindfulness does play a part in a future where the relationship between the self and nature intertwine, there is no doubt about it, but maybe not the mindfulness we see today in most places.
What is Mindfulness anyway?
Mindfulness is one of the branches necessary for Enlightenment, according to Buddhist teachings. It’s one of the practices that we need to understand ourselves and the world, universe we live in and end suffering once and for all - there are 6 more branches, don’t worry, you won’t become an enlightened being just for practicing Mindfulness, but it does certainly help. Mindfulness is a series of techniques designed to make you more aware of yourself and your surroundings, it’s a type of meditation and also a way of being.
When we truly immerse ourselves in the studying of mindfulness, there is a new way of understanding our reality, a new and improved way of being in the world. When we meet the world with a mindful look and attitude, new possibilities open up. And here is where Mindfulness can meet Social Change.
A mindful person won’t waste time entering negative and disruptive discussions about what’s wrong, but looks for the possible solutions on what’s already right. They will start living accordingly to their values and integrity because no other way will suffice to live in inner peace. They will try to share with others what they’ve learned, they will be more in tune with the realitites of others in a more compassion and understanding way, regardless of who is the other. There’s a level of equality and compassion that does not simply occur out of nowhere, it does take practice and reaching an inner understanding.
This does not mean, by any chance, that mindful people will not become angered by others, will not be callous, will not be cold, will not turn their backs. In each of us there is a myriad of conflicts and it does not take some months of mindful breathing to understand these nuances and be in control of them - but we do know that sometimes the most compassionate reaction is no reaction.
So, when Mindfulness meets Social Change, a lot of good can happen. A lot more connection to the earth, a lot more kindness between ourselves and others, a lot more friendliness between animal species where we are included, a lot more connection to nature, trees, gardening, other outside activities. The being becomes more connected to their natural self by leading example. And it’s such a wonderful thing.
It does take work and discipline, it takes courage to look inside and turn inward instead of blaming outward. But it’s so, but so rewarding. It’s when we are the change we wish to see in the world, and the rest all makes sense.