As I try to write this post with the goal of how mindfulness helps us in responding to the turmoil of 2020, I keep getting lost on how to honestly address it. While the COVID-19 pandemic was officially declared in 2020, the other massively critical issues (economic and social impact of the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, climate change, etc.) have foundations that go back for decades and even centuries. In my attempts to grasp this, I’ve defined the challenge as we are being made aware of ideologies, economic, and political constructions of power and the resulting systems built for the self-interests of some people at the expense of others. If you have a better way of framing this, please share your constructive suggestions. Mindfulness shines awareness of what is happening in the present moment but with that awareness, the roots of our issues are often revealed. Accurately naming it will help.
While many of the systems of power have been disappointing in their lack of leadership, there is an enormous, organic swell in the heart-led actions of people and organizations across the country to address the devastation. People are being energized to bring change in a way that implies they will not return to “business as normal” until deep, systemic healing has been realized. The wounds in our nation pre-date our founding, and bringing healing to these wounds will inevitably involve conflict.
One of my favorite books on a mindful approach to conflict is Oren Jay Sofer’s Say What You Mean. In the book, Sofer talks about habitual ways in which we manage conflicts. He states, “Being aware of our habitual conflict styles allows us to transform the underlying beliefs and emotions that hold them in place and to make different choices.” Habits can be healthy as well as unhealthy, but even formerly “healthy” habits need to be scrutinized for whether they continue to serve and align with our enlightened values.
In my upcoming course, Mindfully Creative, we will talk about the need to disrupt habits and will actively identify personalized habit releasers in order to make room for innovative and creative thinking. It is not frivolous to offer a course in creativity during a time of heightened national (and global) disturbance. Rather, creativity is an essential part of rising to the call of our generation, and our modern emphasis on excessive productivity and keeping current on everything (#FOMO) has severely hindered our ability to tap into our inherent resources for wisdom in new, relevant ways to solve systemic problems. If you haven’t signed up yet, there are still openings available.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for a free, online community practice group, you’re welcome to join us at Northland Meditation Friends. We meet every other week on Sundays at 4PM via Zoom. We’re about to begin reading through Mindful of Race by Ruth King, and will discuss a couple of chapters each week. We’d love to have you join us.