BIG Mindfulness: for Peace, not Profit
By jazc and pn
“Mindfulness” is in. BIG’s Peace Circles reflect not only an ancient practice but a recognition in more recent years of the value of meditation. But for what purpose?
In a Feb 18, 2023 webinar, Oregon State University’s Associate Professor Kathryn McIntosh expressed concern that mindfulness is being manipulated to benefit the establishment. For example, by schools in order to get students to sit and behave, by corporations to increase profits, and by the U.S. military to increase their effectiveness.
McIntosh stressed that the practice of mindfulness needs to return to its original focus, social justice. She explained this involved recognizing societal structures that result in inequality and transforming those structures.
How is this transformation achieved? Critique and then transform by acting in love and compassion to heal and provide hope. Professor McIntosh noted that “mindfulness,” as it originated, should maybe be called “heartfulness,” for it involves more than the mind, and even the body. It is mostly directed by the heart. It is the heart that will make justice possible.
In other words, this transformation involves not just intellectual understanding, for example, learning from a textbook, gaining knowledge and marshalling facts but also emotions. To commit to anti-racism, one must feel, realize, and understand their emotions in response to that issue. Also, one must recognize that others have different experiences and emotions, maybe due to being the target of discrimination. So, to achieve a social justice goal, attention must be paid to these emotions and to building strength of resilience and well-being so we are creating a “…door open, instead of a door closed.”
Tools for well-being and resilience also involve more than intellectual understanding. One tool: discard the emphasis on individualism and address our need for belonging through community. Two: move from the mere seeking of multicultural knowledge to experience multicultural living. McIntosh believes not only will this move us from societal trauma to healing and resilience, but also replace anger, dysfunction, and disintegration of our society with empowerment, activism and social justice work.
BIG’s Peace Circles form a foundation of our work for social justice. They bring together those who aspire to harmony rather than confrontation, i.e., a way to bring individuals into community. Peace Circles include contemplation on the roots of agitation and the roots of peace, the encouragement of open heartedness, hearing each other, and simply being as a way to unite and share in a common vision.
The Peace Circles’ guided meditations help calm our reactivity to the stress of violence, environmental calamity, blatant racism and generalized insanity that appear to be unstoppable. Instead of closing down and feeling alone, we can become friends with our own innate strength, courage and good heart, and also join with others in our community in these explorations.
When people focus collectively on their own and their community’s well-being, it enhances social interactions, promotes public safety, and cultivates respect between neighbors. Communities thrive when these qualities are encouraged, practiced and made real in our everyday life.
BIG’s Peace Circles meet through Zoom every Tuesday at 4:45-5:45 pm.
We are currently also meeting in person at the Bandon Library Logan Room. Their reservation policy only allows us to reserve dates on a week-to-week basis.
We will send out weekly email updates to regular participants. If you wish to be put on this Peace Circle notification e-list, please email info@bandoninclusivitygroup.