Vision and Values

Mindfulness in a Modern World

Post by
Olivia Jeffers

Mindfulness is not a new concept—it is a practice that tracks back to before 2,500 B.C. and is the root of Buddhist psychology. Mindfulness is the ability to direct awareness across and throughout our selves and surroundings, with varying degrees of skill and technique. Mass importation of this Eastern technique to the United States in the1970s has led to a fascination with the positive effects of mindfulness, while overlooking the painful or destabilizing effects. Institutional pushes towards mindful-based practices have significantly risen in the past decade, with abundant research illustrating the positive personal transformations individuals undergo when practicing mindfulness. Although research has proven that mindful practices provide benefits against an array of physical and mental conditions amongst individuals, new studies show that there may be negative consequences when trauma is mixed with mindfulness. When mindful-based practices are not approached with the appropriate training and caution, mindfulness can have detrimental effects on individuals.

It is interesting to note that the United States is country born of trauma: from the Pilgrims fleeing violent religious persecution, to our first revolutionary wars and our fracture from England, to our conflict with native peoples and subjugation of African slaves, to our response to the threat of drought by dominating our land through mass agriculture and carefully engineering our water ways – to our rise to world economic dominance through a series of global wars. It is reasonable to be concerned, that the implementation of mass mindfulness in a country with such deep history of trauma – may cause painful and violent transformations, enough to be destructive, if they are not handled with skill by our governing and corporate leadership.

Many have proposed that executives and leaders attend mindfulness retreats, such as this program exclusively for executives, developed by Burmese businessman and meditation teacher S.N. Goenka. However, with the great responsibility that leaders bear, it is important that proper support is provided so that they can return to their role without disrupting the lives of those they lead. If you are an executive considering vipassana meditation or any other type of retreat, and have questions or concerns, please directly contact olivia@compassionate-technologies.org.

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