Mindfulness is at the forefront of the ‘science of the human mind and heart’: it has helped people deal with chronic pain; it has eased the anxiety of veterans dealing with post traumatic stress.
Mindful stress reduction programs are mushrooming in our classrooms and across our companies, but Jon Kabat-Zinn’s message is that it urgently needs to be harnessed in the most ambitious way yet: it needs to challenge the way the world is run and he wants to inject mindfulness into global politics.
Called the godfather of modern mindfulness in a recent piece in The Guardian, he says that: “People are losing their minds. That is what we need to wake up to.”
His current message is that mindfulness could change the world. He “vibrates with an urgent belief that meditation is the ‘radical act of love and sanity’ we need in the age of” [pick your modern woe – political, environmental, health or disaster-related].
Mindfulness is not some wishy washy fad. It works. It is powerful. As the Guardian article points out, if you need proof just ask NBA basketball champions, the Golden State Warriors. Mindfulness is now one of the team’s core values.
Jon’s concerns today echo his words from 1969, “We are approaching a critical unique point in history. We are approaching an ego disaster of major proportions – overpopulation, pollution of every conceivable kind including mental.”
His aim is to help political leaders “maintain a degree of sanity and recognition of the fears and concerns of those who do not see the world the way we do. The temptation is to fall into camps where you dehumanise the other, and no matter what they do, they are wrong, and no matter what we do, we are right.”
“The human mind, when it doesn’t do the work of mindfulness, winds up becoming a prisoner of its myopic perspectives that puts ‘me’ above everything else,” he says. “We are so caught up in the dualistic perspectives of ‘us’ and ‘them’. But ultimately there is no ‘them’. That’s what we need to wake up to.”
We are at a “pivotal moment for our species to come to our senses … mobilising in the mainstream world … the power of mindfulness”.
This is a powerful message and one all leaders and aspiring leaders should take heed of. As I point out in my book, Fierce Reinvention:
The only way we can make a difference and start healing ourselves and our world is to take personal responsibility for our actions, and to live in the now by mindfully and purposefully focusing on the present moment as it unfolds, without dwelling on what we have done or dream of doing. It is up to each and every one of us to step up, take more responsibility and assume a higher level of leadership.