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Mindful : February 2014
Mindful Schools—one of a growing number of programs presenting mindfulness for students and teachers—has presented its in-school program to more than 18,000 students in 53 schools since 2007. Source: Mindful Schools 18,000 More than 80 corporations, small businesses, and institutions worldwide have made mindfulness-based training available within their organizations. Source: Mindful staff 80+ INC businesses schoolchildren February 2014 mindful 41 health When I was in England recently, I spent a whole day in Parliament and visited with Prime Minister Cameron’s advisors at 10 Downing Street. Chris Ruane, a Member of Parliament from a very poor district in North Wales, has been instrumental in bringing mindfulness into public schools there, and he’s encouraging his colleagues to consider other ways to bring mindfulness into public policy. I also gave the keynote at a daylong conference in London called Mindfulness in Schools. What I saw there brought me to tea rs. Here were seven-yea r- olds addressing 900 people, and they were com- pletely self-possessed talking about their mindful- ness practice a nd what it was doing for them. You could tell it was unrehearsed. They just sponta- neously said what mindfulness meant to them. With all of this interest from so many different quar- ters, are there enough qualified people to serve the growing need for mindfulness teachers? The price of success is that more and more people want something. But of course, mindfulness is not a something. As I said in the beginning, it’s a way of being, and you usually discover it through someone who embodies it to some degree. Interest in mindfulness generally, and in MBSR and other mindfulness-based programs, is spread- ing around the world at a lightning pace. So in addition to sowing seeds we need orchards, where we are growing things in a more structured and planned way. That has not been my emphasis, but fortunately there are people paying a lot of atten- tion to that. At the Center for Mindfulness and in professional training progra ms all over the world, under Saki Santorelli’s excellent direction, people are lea rning how to teach mindfulness in a way that allows open discovery. The program certifies that they have been well trained, but of course we can’t certify that anyone is a good teacher. Each student will always have to judge that for him- or herself. In the future, there will need to be many different kinds of mindfulness teachers a nd guides for many different contexts. What ’s needed for educators will differ f rom what ’s needed for health professiona ls and inner city youth. Let many flowers bloom. The spread of mindfulness into more areas of our life is a multigenerational undertaking. One of the greatest challenges is how we will work with the digital revolution and the alternate reality it has created. Many of us are spending more time online than offline. We need to navigate this mindfully or it will eat us up. The technology itself is a source of endless possibilities but also endless distraction. We’re now very good at writing code—but how good a re we at knowing ourselves, loving ourselves, and making a good world together with our fellow human beings? ● leadership, and I’ve had the opportunity to meet ma ny of them, including at the Wisdom 2.0 confer- ence every yea r. Some politicia ns, economists, a nd policyma kers have star ted practicing mindfulness and bringing it into their work. It’s not many now, but the ones who are doing it are very passionate about it. Cong ressma n Tim Ryan, whom I met five years ago when he did a mindfulness retreat with me, has become a strong advocate for mindfulness in health care, schools, the military, and particularly for vetera ns. He believes that progra ms that develop our innate human capacity to be mindful can make a pro- found difference for a relatively modest investment. ILLUSTRATIONSBYALBERTROJO(TOP)ANDSAMANBEMEL-BENRUD(BOTTOM),FROMTHENOUNPROJECT