[Editor: Engage! is beginning a close collaboration with London Radical Mindfulness which presents a comprehensive and coordinated approach to meditation, social-ecological analysis and social-eco justice practice that is grounded in systems theory, networks, interdependence and critical dharma. Several postings on London Radical Mindfulness will follow, with links to websites, readings and podcasts. Engage! is scheduled to interview Graham Jones, author of The Shock Doctrine of the Left: A Strategy for Building Socialist Counterpower, and facilitator of London Radical Dharma, in the next month. This doesn’t mean that I agree with everything that London Radical Mindfulness puts forth; I have differences and disagreements, but not major issues.]
1. London Radical Mindfulness (LRM) is an organisation for the promotion of meditative techniques as a tool for social change.
2. We organise guided meditation sessions, and plan to create digital resources, conduct theoretical research, and train people to run their own sessions.
3. We begin from the observation that all things are interconnected and subject to constant change. We see this everywhere, from our physical bodies and mental experience, through to the larger systems we are embedded in – our families, organisations, communities, cities and the whole earth.
4. We believe that contemporary society is producing suffering on many different scales – such as poverty, trauma, mental health issues, social marginalisation, and environmental disasters. But we believe that together we can change this.
5. Whether we begin from a desire to end our own suffering, or to change the world that creates suffering for others, the interconnection and change inherent in the world means we must work on both ourselves and the world around us to achieve this. Our focus is therefore individual and collective, stressing both autonomy and solidarity.
6. We believe that popular forms of mindfulness used in workplaces, healthcare and formal education tend to support these systems of suffering. We are ‘de-stressed’ by mindfulness, but only as individuals undertaking ‘self-care’, who then find it easier to return to the same world which continues to produce suffering. We must instead expand this to an ethic of collective care, in which our own suffering and liberation is intrinsically linked to that of those around us.
7. We therefore seek to use meditation to increase our embodied understanding of the systems that produce this suffering, around us and within us. Mindfulness helps us to learn things not only logically, but also to feel them intuitively.
8. The ultimate aim is to redesign those bodies and systems that are causing suffering – whether its our workplaces, our schools, our cities, or ourselves – to build a better world.
9. Radical mindfulness is therefore as much about education for inspiring action as it is about meditation. We bring meditative techniques back into reflecting on questions about reality, power, and the right way to act and live.
10. Although the roots of mindfulness are found in Buddhism, the framework that we utilise is secular: it draws mainly from complex systems science, new materialist philosophy and contemporary Marxism (particularly social reproduction theory and ecological Marxism). It may be of interest to Buddhists but it is not a religious project.