Mindfulness and Social Justice

November 2, 2009 Leave a comment

Mirabai Bush founded the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society in 1997. While no longer the Executive Director, Mirabai is steeped in the work. I had an opportunity to both see her in action and to have lunch with her and talk about bringing contemplative/transformative practice into our organizations and the work of social justice. The title of her talk was Bringing Mindfulness into Public Life where she looked back to the seventies as the moment of the great divide between spirituality and politics; the inner and the outer, the personal and the professional. Ironically it was the same decade when many great teachers from the east came to the United States to introduce the west to the power of meditation. The tool of meditation and mindfulness was quickly adopted by leaders in the alternative medicine field like John Kabat Zinn and Dr. Herb Benso and then taken out to the world.

Decades later Mirabai notes in her talk the reasons why bringing mindfulness and contemplative practice to the work of justice is now even more important: we are all looking for help in a time of extreme crisis; a new vision of a just and sustainable world is so desperately needed; a version of leadership is required that is based in service and non-judgement; and organizations must learn to collaborate across difference. And, we all know that this work demands of us something radical and deep which is to completely change the paradigm of our believing, thinking and acting….to change lifetimes of conditioning.

As so beautifully stated by our colleague Robert Gass, co-founder of the Rockwood Leadership Program “Contemplative practice can assist people in creating together a living experience of a new paradigm of social justice rather than striving to create social justice while leaving a trail of social debris”

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