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Sep 16
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Politicians train in Mindfulness

Speaking at Awake in the WorldA Round-up of Events at London’s Awake in the World Festival
article and video by President Richard Reoch

Politicians being trained in mindfulness? It’s not a wild dream. It’s happening in Britain’s House of Commons and House of Lords and may be extended to the country’s parliamentary civil servants.

On the last day of the Awake in the World Festival in London, Member of Parliament Chris Ruane told the gathering that two groups of parliamentarians have already taken part in a specially-designed seven-week mindfulness training program. He said another two rounds of training were in the works, and that plans were underway to offer the training to the 2,000 staff who work for the two houses of parliament.

Here is a film round-up of the weekend with highlights including the “flash mob” meditation in central London.

Member of Parliament Chris Ruane, himself a meditator, made news recently when he initiated a House of Commons debate on the value of mindfulness. He called attention to a disturbing portrait of mental health in Britain: in the past ten years, the number of prescriptions for antidepressants has risen five-fold, from nine million to 46 million.

He pointed out that there are multiple social and economic causes for the epidemic of depression, leading to the rising use of antidepressants. “But,” he stressed, “the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence said that mindfulness was a better way (than medication) to treat repeat-episode depression.”

“Mindfulness is not just for those who suffer with mental health issues, or who work in high stress occupations,” he told MPs. “Its applications go far beyond that. It is being used in education. In primary schools in my constituency, it is used to train five-year olds to be more mindful, to live in the present moment and to concentrate.”

Screen shot 2013-09-16 at 9.18.44 AMThis weekend, Mr. Ruane was joined in a panel discussion at the Awake in the World Festival by two other figures in public life in Britain, Clare Melford and Mac Macartney. They talked about the inner dimension of social transformation.

Claire Melford is the former CEO of the International Business Leaders Forum, a global business membership organization working with leaders across business, government and civil society to deliver smart, inclusive and responsible business growth for a more sustainable world. Among her many achievements, she has also worked with the Nobel Women’s Initiative, formed by the female winners of the Nobel Peace prize, to build relationships with the corporate sector.

Mac is the founder of Embercombe, a charity and social enterprise that champions a way of living that inspires people to contribute energetically towards a socially just, environmentally sustainable and spiritually fulfilling human presence on earth. Mac’s book Finding Earth, Finding Soul – the invisible path to authentic leadership speaks to the necessity for each of us to gather our courage and step out of the shadows and become the leaders, in his words, ‘we have been waiting for’.

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4 responses to “ Politicians train in Mindfulness ”
  1. Hamish Maclaren
    Jan 16, 2014

    The YouTube playlist of all 15 videos from Awake in the World, London 2013 is at http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6NEV4-tTI78Omq6lhSSRSks18HEvbD7w

    These all have closed captions in at least English and Spanish

    This is on the Shambhala London YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8a9xMmpZYmYY8kCIGJnaiw

  2. Sarah Lipton
    Sep 17, 2013

    For more photos of the weekend’s events, visit: http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/awake

  3. Gayle Van Gils
    Sep 17, 2013

    Thank you for posting this wonderful recap of the London Awake in the World festival.. It was inspiring to watch and I am grateful to know and experience how the teachings of Basic Goodness and the human heart are being explored and championed on the other side of the ocean. Thank you to all who obviously made this event a great success!

  4. Judith Gostick
    Sep 16, 2013

    I noticed that the very long Shambhala Sun banner that is outside of the building you are in …. and maybe other banners like this one…. is hanging upside down. These banners were designed by Trungpa Rinpoche and should have the sun at the bottom…. Great Eastern (rising) sun.

    Thank You
    In the brilliance of the Great Eastern Sun

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