When you think of the places where you’re likely to encounter mindfulness meditation—like a yoga studio or a temple or a serene health retreat—British Parliament is probably the last place you would think of. With a highly charged atmosphere that sometimes even erupts in shouting matches on the debate floor, it’s hard to imagine any kind of mindful practice taking place in Westminster.
But last week, the British Parliament launched an all-party group given the task of exploring the uses of mindfulness meditation in healthcare, education, and the criminal justice system. To mark the beginning of the group’s efforts, prominent politicians and public figures like former ministers Lord Haworth and Jim Fitzpatrick came together with advocates of mindfulness meditation, such as comedian Ruby Wax, to experience the benefits of meditation for themselves.
Meditation In Parliament: Not A One-Time Thing
Though this high-profile meditation session seems to be a one-time event, many of the attendees are no stranger to mindfulness. In fact, mindfulness meditation has been a fixture in Parliament for more than a year—so much so that some members joke that it’s becoming a ‘cult’.
More than 95 MPs and parliament staff meet regularly for mindfulness meditation courses taught within parliament, and from the sound of it, the effect these courses have been having are pretty substantial.
At last week’s high profile event, several politicians spoke publicly about how these meditation courses have changed their lives for the better. Lord Andrew Stone, who was assigned to meet with Egypt’s military leadership earlier this year, told the audience that mindfulness meditation helped him be compassionate towards all sides of the country’s deeply troubled political factions. “I didn’t know how to cope,” he explained, “but these practices made a massive difference.”
Tracy Crouch MP also talked about the extraordinary benefits mindfulness meditation has created in her life. In her speech, she spoke openly about her personal struggle with mental illness.
Mindfulness Reduces Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
Those who have experienced it already know that the practice of mindfulness, which essentially hits ‘pause’ on negative thoughts, can be a powerful tool to combat stress and illness.
Crouch has experienced this remarkable benefit for herself. With the help of mindfulness meditation, Crouch was able to stop relying on medication to treat her depression. And since she started meditating, she’s seen benefits in unexpected places, too. “I have given much better speeches in the house since I started mindfulness,” she said.
Mindfulness meditation has caught on all over the UK, not just in Parliament. Average Brits can participate in one of the more than 800 mindfulness meditation courses currently offered around the country. Clearly, mindfulness meditation is more than just a trend—it’s a phenomenon that has the potential to improve the quality of life for just about anyone.
As this group kicks off its efforts to study the potential uses of mindfulness meditation in public services, many are hopeful that this is just the beginning of a ‘mindfulness revolution’ that may one day change society. And this isn’t just a pipe dream.
Tracy Crouch MP, who is also co-chair of the group, has great faith that starting with these studies, “We genuinely can turn the UK into a mindful nation.”Image Credit: TabTimes
Dr. Jeffrey Brantley, Founder of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program at Duke Integrative Medicine Center, offers sage wisdom on the innate ability that all of us have to experience and use mindfulness to focus and calm our minds and bodies. Can children do this? In fact, they can. The Work it! Academy method capitalizes on children’s innate abilities to focus and calm during play, and builds from there.
Dr. Bart Brigidi had the great pleasure of visiting with Dr. Jeffrey Brantley at his home recently to share some ideas about loving kindness meditations. These meditations are an acknowledgement that we all struggle and life is painful. Loving kindness practices start with cultivating a habit of selfless or altruistic love towards ourselves and others to find acceptance in all situations and relationships.