How can mindfulness support people working to promote sustainability, social justice and wellbeing in society? How can mindfulness training and practice in mainstream settings help or hinder efforts to address the systemic causes of social, economic and environmental problems? And what is the relationship between individual and social change?
These are some of the questions being explored by the Mindfulness and Social Change Network, a group of people working on issues such as equality, international development and climate change, whose mindfulness practice is at the core of their personal and professional lives. The Network now has over 70 members, and has run a workshop and a retreat, and is planning further events next year.
There are serious debates to be had in this area. Given the size and scale of many of the social, environmental and economic problems that we face, collaborating with others, through networking or forming coalitions, is a crucial strategy for making significant systemic change. People working for NGOs, charities and community organisations face significant pressure over funding, demonstrating impact and responding to complex, interwoven challenges. Many risk burn out, which affects the quality and longevity of their engagement in social change. Mindfulness training, particularly focusing on stress reduction, can promote resilience and mobilise people’s inner resources to support them through challenging situations. However, can mindfulness training be tailored to address deeper structural and systemic social and environmental issues?
The Mindfulness and Social Change Network aims to work together to explore these and other related questions. Members of the network include mindfulness practitioners from various European countries who have/are working for Oxfam GB, WWF, Amnesty International, UN bodies and a range of universities including Aberystwyth, Cardiff and the Open University. Please get in touch with Paula Haddock and Luke Wreford for further information about the network.