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Shambhala Sun | July 2011

Something's Happening Here

By JAMES GIMIAN, Publisher.

Welcome to our second annual Guide to Mindful Living. If you read the Shambhala Sun regularly, you know we’ve been increasing our coverage of the emerging mindfulness movement. At times we even refer to it as the “mindfulness revolution” (see our recent anthology edited by Barry Boyce with that very name). While that may seem like overreaching, it starts with a simple truth: more and more people are taking what they’ve learned from their longtime commitment to mindfulness, awareness, and compassion practices, and they’re applying it to all aspects of our society, in both profound and ordinary ways. All of this great work is motivated by the aspiration to bring the scientifically proven benefits of these practices to help us with the difficult challenges of our time.

Something’s happening here; something very important is coming to light. We get a hint of it from the stories in this issue: Gina Biegel tells us how mindfulness is making a difference in teenagers’ lives; Sasha Loring offers practices for mindful eating; a host of young, very smart dot-comers are weaving mindfulness into the ethos of their Silicon Valley startups; and Dr. Michael Baime ties it all together with his report on the scientific research that’s validating the benefits practitioners have talked about for years.

But we know that these are only a few of many great stories about what’s happening in the mindfulness world. The Shambhala Sun Foundation’s work to support and build community in the emerging mindfulness movement has put us in touch with hundreds of projects across North America, with more arising nearly every day. It seems that the faster we ramp up to learn about and connect people doing important work in this movement, the faster the mindfulness projects multiply.

Here’s an example of what I mean. Senior writer Barry Boyce and I have been in ten cities since the beginning of the year to catch up with old friends and meet new ones doing this mindfulness-related work. We’ve attended inspiring conferences like Wisdom 2.0 in Silicon Valley and Garrison Institute’s Transformational Ecology.

During this time, we’ve talked to at least fifteen different organizations preparing courses and training teachers to offer mindfulness and compassion classes to a broader audience. Their work is being applied in settings from preschools to our finest universities, from inner-city neighborhoods to the boardrooms of our largest corporations, from political campaigns to the U.S. Marines. (Yes, you heard that right, the U.S. Marines.) The work we’ve learned about is humbling, extraordinary, mainstream, and, given the state of the world, maybe just in the nick of time.

So what is happening here; where is all this leading? From our perspective, what’s coming to light is an emerging national community of people who are joined together in this campaign, even though many don’t yet know it. A larger community on the verge of recognizing itself qualifies as a movement. And when a movement reaches critical mass, the opportunities to make a positive, even revolutionary, impact on our world increases significantly. The future of all this is looking pretty bright.

Just about when we started talking here at the Sun about how to help this emerging national mindfulness movement turn into a community, we got a call from our friend Saki Santorelli, executive director of the Center for Mindfulness. He suggested we partner with them and our friends at the Omega Institute to host a conference—a community meeting and town hall, really—for all those interested in learning more. So, it seems, this emerging movement idea wasn’t just our opinion.

The Shambhala Sun Foundation wants to report on this movement, and we want to support it too. We’re very pleased to announce that the mindfulness conference is now scheduled for Sept. 30–Oct. 1 in New York City. After lots of searching around with our partners about what to call this gathering, we decided on “Creating a Mindful Society.” More dots got connected, and the light bulb went on. So that’s what’s happening here.


From the July 2011 issue of the Shambhala Sun. Click here to browse the entire issue online.

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