Mon 3 Apr 2017 5:14AM

Do we invite people who don't have a mindfulness practice?

PJ Peter Jacobson Public Seen by 35

Keen to hear your feels/thoughts about this!
What are the opportunities? The wonderful possibilities?
What are the risks?


Peter Jacobson Mon 3 Apr 2017 5:16AM

Gina from lifehack might like to come, she's a wonderful wonderful person! My friend Abe, who's a heartfelt, whole human with tikanga maori wisdom and wonderful projects might be great too. Neither of them have a 'meditation' practice. Rupert Snook, who facilitated the shared holders retreat was wonderful, and fit really well with our community - he plays music, doesn't meditate or associate with mindfulness...


Nick Laurence Mon 3 Apr 2017 7:24AM

Great context setting-Pete, love the questions. And for me, yes I absolutely think we should invite people who don't have a formal practice. This is one of the reasons I think we need more meditation practice at the hui itself. I'd want to back the environment we create to be one where people at all levels of familiarity with "formal" mindfulness/meditation can come without fear of judgment. And also a place where people can see the value of meditation and might decide that they want to begin a more formal practice after their experience. (Or not if its not for them - there's more ways of being mindful than formal meditation practice, as valuable as the meditation is for many people.)

The main risk I see is that it could dilute the level of formal mindfulness practice in the community - which I think is up as hosts and participants to hold strong on and value by putting into practice. Think we can do better in this area than we have at the first two hui so far.


Lana Bright Mon 3 Apr 2017 7:56AM

Yes yes and yes

Firstly We are planting seeds for change SEcondly someone may not have a formal practice but their life is an inspiration of small and large acts of mindfulness love and connection




Patricia Morgan Mon 3 Apr 2017 7:58AM

I think its great to be inclusive - and I think this questions leads on to the one about - what we understand 'mindfulness' to be - I started a channel about this in Slack if you'd like to take a look?


Patricia Morgan Mon 3 Apr 2017 11:14PM

I've been reflecting on this question - as Pete @petejakey you mentioned 'risks' - and while I think it is great to be inclusive - the question around this (which relates to our understanding of 'mindfulness') is what makes us different than other groups - as there are many that want to make change in the world. I do think we can still be about mindfulness for change and have people who practice and people who don't but - not really sure what the but is but I feel there is one, sorry finding it hard to articulate.


Sam O'Sullivan Mon 3 Apr 2017 11:16PM

I say yes! If they feel called to join this community then they are the right person. This increasingly makes me wonder if "mindfulness" is the right word as a label for this community. It seems to automatically put some people off who would agree with the principles, purpose, and experience of MfC. Even people in the shared holders group weren't attracted to the word mindfulness and had to push through their reservations because they saw so much beyond "mindfulness".


Nick Laurence Tue 4 Apr 2017 1:19AM

It's an interesting one eh. It has worked as an invitation so far, and the words "Mindfulness for Change" resonated strongly with people at Hui #2 in the discussions around purpose. And there's also some sort of reservation I feel that I find hard to articulate. Will be an interesting one to keep paying attention to as the community evolves.


Patricia Morgan Mon 3 Apr 2017 11:20PM

I've always had reservations about the word 'mindfulness' - because of the issues I just spoke about in the 'what is mindfulness' channel in Slack - in that it is now equated (for some) to the commercialization of mindfulness - the ripping of the practices out of their Buddhist origins, their secularization and medicalization.


Jimmy Tue 4 Apr 2017 12:11AM

If we were to say that having a meditation practice was essential we would need to start defining what a meditation practice is. Sounds like a slippery road to ritualism to me!


Sam O'Sullivan Tue 4 Apr 2017 1:49AM

Sometimes I cringe when saying "Mindfulness", but currently it's a word many people recognise. Let's keep the conversation going and see what emerges.


Patricia Morgan Fri 14 Apr 2017 3:02AM

I think the 'cringe' @sam22os that you mention Sam and the 'reservation' that you mention Nick @nicklaurence are worth shining a light on. For me the most obvious issue is the commercilisation of mindfulness and the way it has been stripped from it's origins - leading to it being termed 'mcmindfulness' - there is some interesting discussion around this in the emerging area of critical mindfulness studies.

The second part for me is around different understandings of mindfulness - you can see in the discussion here that it is being used to cover a whole range of things - as a type of meditation, being compassionate, aware, as a state of consciousness etc. - so if the question is as Pete has stated 'Do we invite people who don't have a mindfulness practice' - but there is no shared agreement on what that is then what are we talking about? Is this: 'do we invite people who don't meditate, or people who don't experience reflective states of consciousness' and so forth.


Geoff Mercer Tue 4 Apr 2017 2:07AM

It would seem odd to me if MfC was limited to those who have a meditation practice or, even more specifically, a Mindfulness meditation practice. MfC has always felt expansive to me rather than restrictive.

Perhaps the minimum criteria for involvement with MfC (if there is to be one) could be along the lines of a genuine interest in Mindfulness for change as an idea to explore. Then, so long as the core and wider group construct the kaupapa and hold the energy by way of their own Mindfulness / meditation practices and by shared practice when the group meets, there is little chance of its essence and purpose being lost or diluted.


Kate MacIntyre Tue 4 Apr 2017 10:18PM

I am totally cool with people interested to explore a connection with the MfC community/group not being required to have a mindfulness/meditation practice. In fact I would be uncomfortable if this was a exclusion mechanism. Do you practice? How often? How would often enough, practice enough be defined? If this was a requirement I might feel unworthy of being in the group if I missed doing practice for... ummm.... how long would disqualify me from the group? I think it would be a can of worms on Jimmy's slippery slope. And for me it would be in conflict with some of the core MfC principles of being open to each person, compassionately, respectfully and also openly and honestly.


Sarrah Jayne Sun 9 Apr 2017 9:04PM

I agree with Kate. I think it would have been a very big block for me if at any point along the way I was being asked those questions.
I consider mindfulness to include mindful action.
I think that if we act out of a place of connectedness and compassion we are acting mindfully and I would consider this a practice.


Peter Jacobson Wed 12 Apr 2017 1:20AM

Why are we called Mindfulness for Change if Mindfulness for Change is just a community that just happens to have some "mindfulness" folk in it? Should we change our name to "Anything for Change"? or "Lovely folk for Change"? or "Show up for Change"? hehe


Sam O'Sullivan Wed 12 Apr 2017 4:24AM

Fair point. I guess it comes down to what mindfulness is. I've noticed that many people have their own practice that doesn't involve sitting and meditating. Maybe it's important that people have their own practice, but we define this broadly?


Patricia Morgan Fri 14 Apr 2017 3:08AM

@sam22os I think a broad definition is good but maybe what people are doing isn't 'mindfulness' - they might be reaching mindful states but not practicing mindful meditation, therefore a different term is required


Patricia Morgan Fri 14 Apr 2017 3:11AM

This is a great point @petejakey - so what is it we are saying people are doing to bring about this change? Practicing mindful meditation, entering reflective states without meditation or some other kind of contemplative practice, being more heartfelt, being 'lovely', 'showing up' - getting clear about the thing bringing about the change would be helpful


Paul McGregor Wed 12 Apr 2017 8:49PM

I wonder if that's the right question to be asking...

What if the entry requirement was whether they believe more mindfulness (however defined) is required to solve the complex social and environmental challenges we face.

Yes, a belief is harder to judge because it's subjective. But it would give us flexibility to bring people into the fold who might want to start practising more mindfulness or start doing more good shit in the world, but who are doing neither at present.

Does it matter what they've done in the past? Or does or it just matter what they would like to do and be in the future?

P.S. Nice provocation Pete.


Patricia Morgan Fri 14 Apr 2017 3:06AM

@paulmcgregor Another question might be - is do you know what mindfulness is - that is if you are speaking about the meditative practice - if you don't do it? There is an ongoing discussion in Contemplative Education about something similar - should people who don't have a contemplative practice be able to teach contemplative practice. Many suggest that because you can't know it until you do it - then only people who have a practice should be contemplative pedagogues.


Caroline Taylor Fri 14 Apr 2017 6:45AM

One of the things I love about the Mindfulness for Change community is that we are open and inclusive and value diversity. This vibe or culture makes it easier for me to show up with my whole self and to experiment with others. I see this culture as one of our strengths in having a role in bringing about the societal change we need. In my experience some contemplative traditions (and many other groups) can be quite rigid - which can exclude people and discourage openness, honesty and new ideas. I suggest we take an open, inclusive and diverse view of how we view mindfulness. While I acknowledge mindfulness as a word has limitations it is a useful term for explaining our kaupapa to other people. For me being mindful is now more about being aware and acting from a place of connectedness and compassion. To grow this capacity I need to meditate - however people grow this capacity in different ways. I suggest we have an open invitation to people along the lines suggested by @paulmcgregor and that how we operate and our principles reflects the MfC culture we want to create. I agree @patriciamorgan that it would be helpful to get clearer on how mindfulness (in the broadest sense) can bring about change - this could be a very useful contribution from MfC - sounds like another slack channel - I'll start one. The videos on the MfC website created by @sam22os start to try to answer this question.


Nick Laurence Thu 20 Apr 2017 1:59AM

@petejakey I think we are about mindfulness, but not in a way that is coercive, so the reason we don't mandate practice is because of the culture of openness we encourage. This is based on the underlying assumption that people naturally want the best for themselves and don't need to be controlled to be good. So we invite, support and encourage people to (learn ways to) practice in ways that feel good and useful to them.

Andrew has previously suggested that there should be a "Mindfulness 101" session at available every hui for people who are new to formal practice - I like this idea, as a session that's suggested (but not mandatory) for newcomers. This will be easier to do once we've progressed a bit further with our "what is mindfulness" discussion.

Another point that I think is relevant comes from Theory U, which asserts that "the success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener(s)". So it's up to us as hosts and participants to practice our version of mindfulness at our gatherings. I think we've seen this happen well so far, especially at Hui #1, where people commented that it was a different way of learning mindfulness - not in a structured one-to-many way, but an informal peer-to-peer way where we learned from each other's example and how each other showed up to the activities of the weekend. I think we've all got a responsibility as participants to show up in a mindful way - but not use coercion to do so.


Patricia Morgan Sat 22 Apr 2017 3:31AM

Hi Nick @nicklaurence I like your comment here though not quite sure how you got 'coercion' from Pete's comment ? I love the way we are an inclusive group and that this is core to what we do - though I think it is relevant to have some kind of container and I think what Geoff @geoffmercer has said near the beginning of this thread is a great start, though again some shared agreement on what we mean by 'mindfulness' is required. I also like the idea of some kind of introductory experiential part of the hui's for newcomers but I think we have to get clear on what we mean by mindfulness, which you have rightly pointed out. Lastly, I really like what you have said about the responsibility of MfC hosts, but there may need to be some more discussion and awareness around this. I think it also comes back to earlier comments, in Slack maybe I can't remember now where it was, around having more contemplative practice at the huis and in all that we do. All the best Patricia


Patricia Morgan Wed 3 May 2017 11:31PM

Hi Everyone, I recently received this information about meditation practice - discussing 'open monitoring' and 'focused attention', with the latter often understood as mindfulness. I thought I'd post it here as it offers a brief glimpse into the massive discussion around meditation including people taking a neuroscientific approach to these two kinds of meditation methods. Also here is a brief overview that you may find interesting: http://davidvago.bwh.harvard.edu/mindfulness-resources/starting-a-meditation-practice-retreat-centers-for-you/