Time Magazine’s cover article is called The Mindful Revolution, and it suggests that a mindfulness approach is now being embraced by parts of corporate America, as well as more and more Americans. One U.S. Congressman has even helped increase research funding that goes toward clinically studying the efficacy of mindfulness, which is focused on “bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment to moment basis” (Ruth Baer). Through this practice, one can become aware and honest with oneself about the various thoughts racing through one’s mind. Rather than react to that thought by labeling it as “bad,” “toxic,” “shameful,” etc, one just accepts that is the thought one is having. Eventually–at least in my experience–I’ve realized that the thought is just a thought and not an all-powerful force that needs to bring me down or dictate my reaction to a situation. It is a great practice and one I’d highly recommend.
In our modern age, in order to be mindful, one must take a different approach to tools like email, social media, and smartphones that can pull our mind in many different directions. Focus on one email at a time, don’t constantly check email, etc. It’s not easy.
The Time article makes it seem as if mindfulness is becoming popular in corporate America, in places like Google and General Mills. And I hope it is. But I think to really work for a lot of people, mindfulness can’t only be a matter of individual change–though I think that’s important–but also culture change. Companies need to change their expectations about when employees respond to email, parents and schools need to make rules against their kids texting constantly, culturally we need to value a social life that is rich not because of the number of friends we have but the quality of our friendships. Etc.
Individual change is one thing, and it’s an important thing, but any revolution requires social change as well.