May 15, 2015
Project Feature: Mindfulness Training for Social Change
In January and February 2015 a project of the Center for Community Stewardship held this successful training. It was designed to help staff and leaders of social change organizations be more resilient, effective, insightful, and motivational, and in the process, build powerful organizations.
The training was described as follows: This 6-week course is taught by faculty with extensive experience as meditation and yoga teachers and lifetime social change leaders immersed in the day-to-day challenges of building effective change organizations.
The course teaches basic concepts in mindfulness meditation and hatha yoga body movement practices, with an emphasis on practices and habits which can be incorporated into the work day. Previous experience with yoga and meditation is not necessary, but experienced practitioners will benefit from this new integrated program. People with physical limitations are also encouraged to join the group, as various adaptive practices will be taught to meet the needs of all. Participants will have supportive small group interaction, homework, daily practice tips, and ongoing personal coaching.
Mindfulness means becoming more conscious of feelings and thoughts in the moment, more intentional about behaviors, and more attentive to the impact of our behavior on others. These skills can be cultivated, learned, and taught. Extensive studies have shown that mindfulness has positive impacts on stress responses, memory, concentration, well-being, and happiness. Studies have also shown that it results in more skillful social interaction and compassionate behaviors.
There is a significant convergence of research on the profound impact that mindfulness practices, such as meditation and yoga, bring to leadership development and skill. Early adopters of mindfulness were focused on helping people cope with stress, anxiety, pain and illness. Today, the effectiveness of mindfulness in leadership development has allowed it to spread rapidly within the business world (including Aetna, Google, Promega), the military (The United States Marine Corps and Army), education institutions, and sports teams (Seattle Seahawks). The Huffington Post named “mindfulness” as one of the top ten trends for 2014. “The Mindful Revolution” was the cover article of the Feb. 3, 2014 edition of Time magazine.
Social and environmental justice groups around the country are beginning to achieve significant results by training organizers and leaders in yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness practices.