What’s the link between practicing mindfulness and ‘doing good’? Let’s look at people who work in the humanitarian sector: aid workers have no time to sit and meditate. Or maybe it is the ‘hyper-active’ culture of their organisations that does not account for reflection. The term ‘reflection’ for active people may sound like ‘death’.
I remember making the time for my mindfulness practice when I was working with MSF, even though it meant getting up half an hour earlier every morning (and I’m not a morning person!). It was my way to keep sane, and cope with all the stressors of a mission. It was a moment when I could ‘pause’ all my running around. I think that through mindfulness I developed the awareness that I better start looking at the conflicts within me before launching into ‘helping others’.
Mindfulness is simply ‘awareness’ of self and others. Mindfulness is no panacea, because there is no quick fix to life’s ups and downs, to feeling lonely, and disillusioned when we see great ideals crumble. Mindfulness is about opening up to the possibility of staying with those ups and downs (knowing that they will pass), and stop striving for control and perfection.
Today I ran into a letter from an aid worker which resonated with me. It made me appreciate how there is a growing number of people in aid who acknowledges that we need to be aware and mindful of the impact that ‘doing good’ has on others. This is mindfulness at its best, it’s mindfulness in action.