The global upheavals of the last few months have swept all of our lives in unexpected directions. With them, deep-rooted issues of injustice, inequality and lack of loving connection between people have become more apparent than ever.
And, along with these, for so many of us, is a profound desire for change. A desire to create a fairer, kinder and more peaceful world.
Yet in the face of such momentous issues, it can feel hard to know where to begin. How can we create meaningful change? And how can we do so in a way that is effective and aligned with our values?
These are not easy questions. And there are no simple answers. But there are many ways in which a meditation practice can help us to address the challenges we collectively face.
When looking to resolve the issues we see all around us, a meditation practice may not seem like the obvious answer. Surely we need to take action in the world, rather than spend time in contemplation?
Constructive action is clearly needed. Yet in order for it to produce lasting change, any action needs to be grounded in clarity and wisdom.
With so many emotions at play, it can be easy for us to react from a place of anger, fear, pain or frustration. Mindfulness meditation offers us a tool to help us pause and calm the overwhelming sensations of these intense feelings. By allowing us to be aware of – but not consumed by – whatever we are experiencing in the present moment, the practice helps us to shift out of primal fight-or-flight reactivity into a calmer, more regulated mode. From this place, we can access our more insightful processing capabilities and attune to our deeper wisdom.
This practice extends far beyond the time spent sitting in meditation. Honing our capacity for insight helps us to bring a greater awareness to every aspect of our lives. As we become more aware in each moment, we are better able to take inspired action from a centred place. In this way, mindfulness becomes a living, breathing practice that is integral to – and can transform – our everyday reality.
Starting from within
In looking to create change, the most important place for us to apply this deeper insight is within ourselves.
By consciously exploring our feelings and behaviours, noticing our patterns and examining our intentions, we can positively shape who we are and how we choose to show up in the world. This in turn creates a powerful ripple effect across our relationships and within our wider society.
As a process, this involves looking at ourselves with real honesty and awareness. Most importantly, it involves acknowledging all of our difficult emotions, flaws and vulnerabilities – our essential human nature – and meeting these aspects with loving kindness and non-judgement. In doing so, we create a platform of strength that enables us to shift whatever is needed. And we learn to internally cultivate the qualities of compassion, peacefulness and respect that we wish to see in the world around us.
Society is made of relationships. We need to change these relationships in order to change our world. By forging a healthy internal connection with ourselves in this way, we are better able to relate to others with the same qualities of kindness and understanding. This allows us to create stronger bonds and actively form the kind of culture that we want to live in. From this place, we can begin to stand in unity and address the wider global challenges that affect us all with greater coherence.
These changes do not happen overnight. But every step we take in this direction, no matter how small, creates an impact that over time can lead us to more love, deeper tolerance and a brighter way forward, full of hope.