As we launch our new website, it feels appropriate to reminisce and reflect on our first workshop back in November 2015. We had been slowly growing since a small group of us started to meet in 2014 so we decided to hold an event to bring people together. At the time we had around 50 members and the number of network members jumped significantly after the event. Meg-John Barker organised a room at the Open University in London and Paula and Luke organised a loose agenda. We had big questions and just one day!
In session one we collected answers to:
‘What big question are you bringing to this gathering?’ We then clustered participants’ ‘big questions’ and came up with the following loose themes:
- Mindfulness and systemic change
- Diversity and inclusivity
- Values and ethics
Many of these questions have ended up in our ‘themes’ section on this website so you can see the detailed questions on there. What was clear was that people had questions that were not being discussed in other settings and were eager to address themon this day. Of course – in just one day – we only had time to touch the surface but it was a validation of the need for a network and for more spaces to be created to bring people together to talk about these difficult but pressing questions.
The second question we explored was: What will make this day worthwhile for you and leave you feeling inspired and energised?
Again we clustered the responses and these very much inform our values today:
- Connect and Network
- Integrate and co-create
- Just Being
For the afternoon – we finally had time to explore some of the questions in more depth and you can read all of the notes of the workshop in the report on the community hub. We talked in more detail about:
- How can mindfulness support individuals who are working to address social, economic and environmental challenges (including ourselves)? Limitations/risks
- How might mindfulness influence the strategies and approaches of organisations and networks working to address social, economic and environmental challenges? Limitations/risks & What kind of courses are suitable for change agents?
- In what ways can mindfulness training in mainstream settings promote or hinder a wider transition to a more sustainable, caring and fairer society? Could it/should it be doing more and if so, how?
- How do inequalities of access and diversity issues in the mindfulness movement affect the dynamics of social change, and how can these be addressed?
In the afternoon, the group selected their own questions for discussion as part of an open space:
- What would a social change / radically egalitarian mindfulness look like in practice?
- What tools or techniques could foster a more anti-oppressive praxis? How could it be re-framed towards collective rather than individualised change?
- How can systemic change be emphasised and cultivated?
- What is mindfulness / how do you teach it ‘context free’?
- Is there a space for a radical, visionary (courageous) mindfulness?
- Does anyone else feel broken-hearted about what’s happening in the world and want to have an intimate conversation about that?
Finally, people were invited to consider what they would like to offer others, and what they felt they lacked or missed which would help them make progress with their work.
We hope the network continues to be a place to explore these questions and to help us to help each other! If you want to read the whole report – there is a copy of the full report of this workshop on our community hub – you can find out more about this on our ‘Join us’ page.