Fighting burn-out? Then gaze upon The Tree of Contemplative Practices, and wonder what's "Beyond Activism"

© The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society Concept & design by  Maia Duerr ; illustration by Carrie Bergman.  PDF download here .

© The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society
Concept & design by Maia Duerr; illustration by Carrie Bergman. PDF download here.

We're interested in personal practices that can give people energies for their enterprise and initiative - whether in local action, or for future and global imagining. Paying attention to the "I", in the I-We-World framework, is crucially important. 

So we're happy to reproduce this graphic map of "contemplative practices" - you may recognise some of them above - which has been designed by The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. They are primarily a service for education, as outline below:

We envision an education that promotes the exploration of meaning, purpose and values and seeks to serve our common human future. An education that enables and enhances personal introspection and contemplation leads to the realization of our inextricable connection to each other, opening the heart and mind to true community, deeper insight, sustainable living, and a more just society.

The Centre provides a list of back-up resources for this graphic. 

But there is much to explore in this area. Our friends at Perspectiva have an ongoing research strand called Beyond Activism. The brief is fascinating, exploring the psychological resources for active citizenship:

...The combined effect of a debased political culture, dizzying technological change and relentless news makes it hard to understand what is going on – just generally. Sometimes we push all our awareness aside in order to work on our current project. Or we try to channel this awareness, but remain in a frenetic action-panic mode which results in even less time and ability to think clearly about what we are really doing.

So with this project we would like to create some space. To step off the relentless wheel of activity, fundraising, fighting – just for a while – to ask some questions:

  • What happens to the thing we call activism when we engage with, and from, the real ground of being human? When we do our work not just as ‘activists’, but also as parents, friends, lovers and more.
  • What happens when we look at the underlying psychology and tacit spiritual commitments that motivate our actions and those of our perceived opponents?
  • What happens when we realise that our methods – such as assuming binary oppositions, presenting facts to our targets, and expecting them to rationally adopt the course of action we propose – may be based on the same unexamined assumptions about human nature that helped create the system we’re trying to change?

In short, what haappens to activism when we wake up to the depth of the connection between the personal and the political?

Beyond Activism is therefore an enquiry into three related awakenings:

  • We wake up politically and desire to change the world for the better.
  • We wake up spiritually and grasp the limitations of changing society without also changing ourselves, and begin to sense the depth of that connection.
  • We wake up to the challenge of creating a new world where the development of our inner lives is part of the source code of a new political economy and social imaginary.

More on Beyond Activism here.