How We Engage
The Context for Mindfulness
There is a global proliferation of non-profits, NGO’s and grassroots organizations that work tirelessly for sustainable change. People all over the world are waking up to the need for innovative ways to live, work, and play that are more cooperative, inclusive and life-affirming.
The Mindfulness Movement is one element of this global action. In the past 20 years the interest in and applications of “mindfulness” have grown exponentially. There are now mindfulness programs in schools, hospitals, corporations, prisons and government. Articles and books abound and research into effects of mindfulness is now a rapidly growing field.
The mindfulness movement represents a growing desire to re-examine the dominant values and priorities that inform the way we organize and relate to each other, at all levels. It is clear that there are reoccurring challenges in the world that will require new ways of thinking and behaving. While mindfulness itself is not a new thing, its broad application into all aspects of day to day living is.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
What Are We Talking About?
Wrapping Our Minds Around Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the technology of artful relationship. It is an innate capacity of all human beings but to be truly skillful at it requires commitment and effort. It is a practice, an experience and a strategy. As a basic definition, we can describe it has having three characteristic traits:
- Present moment awareness
- Non-reactive and unbiased
- Clearly discerning
Present moment awareness means holding one’s attention, for some period of time, on something that is happening here and now. That something will invariably be an external form, a feeling, a thought or a perception.
To be unbiased and non-reactive means to be present to things without judging, analyzing or categorizing them. Experiencing the world with an open mind frees us from being triggered into habitual reactions. It is the position of optimal learning.
Clear discernment is an essential of part of being mindful. You could even say that it is the main point. Ironically, it is often overlooked or minimized by some of today’s teachers and mindfulness leaders. The advantage of being present in a non-reactive way is that we are better able to discern if our present circumstances are trending toward a more connected, compassionate and sustainable future or not. The true benefit of mindfulness is in gaining insight about contentment and suffering so that might orient ourselves in the direction of producing more of the former and less of the latter, for ourselves and everyone else.
The 3 Dimensions
Full spectrum of human activity and experience
Mindfulness is like an operating system for artful living. It applies in various ways across all spectrums of human experience and interactions. All activity occurs within one or more of these three dimensions:
Mindfulness appears differently in each but they are interrelated and overlapping domains. Mindfulness is a generative mode of conduct, an evolving standard that guides our interactions in more life-affirming and sustainable directions.
The 6 Spokes
Building blocks for a balanced life
We use a framework called “6 Spokes” as the scaffold for building a life of intentionality. If life is a wheel, each spoke represents an aspect of ourselves that requires attention and care to keep it rolling along smoothly. All are equally important. We can also use this model when thinking about relationships and organizations to evaluate there relative balance and over all health.
Nurturing the six spokes helps us discover our unique path of intentional living. Everyone’s practice in relation to the spokes will look different but all six areas must be considered for optimal effortlessness and joy. In our busy lives tending the six spokes may seem like more tasks and striving; but instead, they could be considered elements of the life that we all could be living now.
- Mind is nourished by contemplative practices such as meditation
- Body benefits from exercise, nutrition and rest
- Ethics requires knowing and adhering to values
- Creativity is strengthened by exploring the arts and intuition
- Intellect grows through responsible study and expanding world-view
- Community expands with empathy, interconnectedness and service