Mindfulness is a 2500-year old tradition with a wide array of research-backed benefits. Regular mindfulness practice has been shown to reduce burnout, psychological distress, and is negatively correlated with anxiety and depression. But, as the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Jon Kabat Zinnsays, mindfulness is not "just a little stress reduction for your own betterment": it is "using the opportunity of the human lifetime to contribute to beauty in the world".
Benefits of mindfulness also include increased positive emotions, increased empathy and creativity, reduced prejudice, increased prosocial and proenvironmental attitudes and behaviours. There is evidence for improved performance and engagement in the workplace, and it can help to unlock collaboration and innovation in organisations, and rebuild communities that have been eroded over the last several decades. Mindfulness connects us to a presence, a relationship to each other and the natural world that is embodied by many indigenous cultures, including Māori and Pasifika cultures so well represented in Auckland (Tāmaki Makaurau).
Mindfulness for Change Hui are a space to embody mindful community, to support each other in creating change in the world. Mindfulness represents a set of skills that helps us to connect with ourselves, and sense into the kind of impact we want to have on the people around us and the wider world. It's important to start with ourselves, but we can't stop there. No man (or woman, or person) is an island. We need other people - for support, for connections, for skills and perspectives we don't have, and to share resources with. That's what the hui exist for - to provide a space for us to live in community, connect with and support each other in our lives and in our work in the world, whatever that is.
Auckland Hui #1 Theme: Whakawhanaungatanga / Building Connection
Auckland is a big, diverse metropolis, nestled between two oceans, perched on top of more than 60 volcanoes, and thriving with the life of different cultures and ethnicities. New Zealand's biggest city is our centre of enterprise, our link to global trade. It's the home of one of Aotearoa's biggest iwi, Ngāti Whātua, as well as five other iwi, and has the largest Pacific population of any city in the world. Its pakeha population is the most ethnically diverse in New Zealand, with peoples of European, Chinese, Indian descent significantly represented.
All of these groups, all of us, have a stake in creating a more mindful world, a world where we are making decisions from a mindful, responsive state rather than a state that is reactive or coming from a place of attachment. We believe that embedding mindfulness into decision making, collaboration, and culture will help with addressing issues such as climate change, poverty, inequality, mental health, creating meaningful and engaged workplaces, and ushering in a more regenerative, flourishing society and world. We strive to embody this culture in our hui, and Wellington hui attendees have commented on the unique experience being in a community centred on empathy with people who on the surface may be different from ourselves.
MfC seeks to host spaces that bring these diverse groups together, and ask the question "what can we create together?" This hui, the first of its kind in Auckland, will be about meeting each other, building connections and the sense of trust and shared belonging that comes with authentic community. We believe that people do good things when they're connected in a way that nurtures our wellbeing and trust, and this hui is about building that foundation for creating meaningful change in the world into the future. So the theme for this opening gathering is whakawhanaungatanga: literally translated as the doing ("whaka") of the weaving together of family or relationships ("whanaungatanga").
You - whoever you are. At previous hui, we've had mindfulness and yoga teachers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, psychologists, counsellors, web developers, artists, business people, public servants, community builders, permaculture experts, athletes, shamans, entrepreneurs, students, activists, academics, and a diverse mix of genders and ages. We've had a mixing pot of different ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds.
What will the hui involve? What will we do together?
This first Auckland hui is the chance to create something new, that doesn't exist yet. It's a chance to create our own community, our own culture, that fits the needs of us, the people who show up to create it, and the people we're connected to in our wider circles. We strive to be a microcosm of the world we're trying to create, to embody and interweave mindfulness as we go through the hui processes. Some of the things we'll be doing at the hui:
- tell and hear our stories, getting to know each other;
- hear from you and other hui attendees about what you're sensing or doing in the world
- ask questions to enquire into possibilities for change we can make in the world together
- hear from Kristina Cavitt, founder of the Kindness Institute, who is giving a "Keynote Korero" on Saturday morning;
- practice mindfulness together, personally and interpersonally, formally (through meditation) and informally (through sensing and responding);
- employ 'Open Space' methodology' to collaboratively create the afternoon's agenda together on Saturday
- enjoy time by the beach, the bush, and the waterfall in the natural surrounds of Piha
- have quiet time in nature to reflect on the weekend on Sunday morning and sense into next steps
- enjoy delicious lovingly prepared locally sourced organic food all weekend
We strive to embody the change that we want to see in the world (and recognise that we'll do so only imperfectly). Our processes are human and wellbeing centric and, well, mindful. Expect a different culture, one based on empathy, where we take time to get to know each other - as people, not just as job titles. This comes from the notion that if we are going to create anything meaningful together, it needs to be based on trust. Expect a culture that you will have the chance to shape as we go - what kind of culture would you like to create, what kind of culture would you feel safe to relax and be yourself in, as well as challenge and extend yourself in?
Mindfulness for Change
Mindfulness for Change sprung up in Wellington in 2016 from the question, "what would happen if we put mindfulness and systemic change together in a room?" We saw through research and felt from our experience a connection between mindfulness, empathy, compassion, and functioning well in the world. We've noticed that when we make decisions that are a reflection of a calm, centred state, they tend to work better for ourselves and for the world than when we make it from a place of reactivity or judgment.
We'd like your help to invite diversity into an Auckland communtiy. Who do you know that would be interested in this work? Who do you know that senses that something's not quite right with the way we're doing things at the moment, and wants to explore how to change this with other people who share the sense that we could do things better?
Ticket pricing and koha (or the gift economy):
The organising team are doing our best to keep costs as low as possible. We are all gifting our time and as a result the ticket price covers the cost of the venue, catering, and not much more - we're not here to make a profit. We want this event to be as accessible as possible to those who feel drawn to participate, so if ticket price is a barrier (which we know it is for many wonderful people pouring their love and energy into social good projects) email us, the Kaitiaki at email@example.com telling us a bit about yourself and we'll offer you a koha ticket if we have budget, which we hope to.
As a community we endeavour to grow the gift economy, and so invite participants to make a gift to our shared community - this may be a monetary amount that feels right for you to give on top of the base ticket price, or it may be a non-monetary offering to bring to the hui or share with the community in the wider world. A useful guiding principle here is respect - for us as organisers and the work we put into this event (which we offer as a gift - we pay for tickets as organisers), but equally respect for you and your own financial situation.