From the Editors / Giveaways

What Is a Mindful Society?

Answer this question in a comment below and you could receive a free ticket to attend the Creating a Mindful Society conference in New York, September 30 and October 1st. I’m going to be there, learning about mindfulness, and I look forward to meeting the winner of this contest there as well. For information about the program, visit here.

Five runners-up will each receive a copy of The Mindfulness Revolution, a new anthology of writings on mindfulness and mindful living, so there’s no need to feel discouraged from entering if you can’t make it to New York.
As part of the program of talks, dialogue, practice, and breakout sessions, participants will:

  • Learn from leading experts in the mindfulness field: keynote presentations will be by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), mindful leadership expert Janice Marturano, U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan, and renowned neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson
  • Discover the benefits of mindfulness for your own life—and learn about the science that proves how it works
  • Go deeper into areas of interest at breakout sessions of your choice
  • Share experience and insight with fellow practitioners across many fields and benefit from theirs
  • Learn about the exciting work now happening to change lives and create a mindful society
  • Explore the future of the emerging mindfulness movement at the Mindfulness Town Hall
  • Connect and network with others in the mindfulness community in a relaxed, contemplative atmosphere

Creating a Mindful Society will be held at the New York Society for Ethical Culture on beautiful Central Park West in New York City. This landmark gathering of the mindfulness community is a partnership of the Center for Mindfulness, Omega Institute, and Mindful: Living with Awareness and Compassion.

If you are new to meditation, this is a great opportunity, and it’s also a wonderful situation for established practitioners to deepen their experience and share with a community of others committed to mindful living.

For your chance at a free ticket, tell us what you think a mindful society is. The winner of the contest will be chosen on September 14th at 5 pm.  Five runners-up will receive copies of The Mindfulness Revolution, a new anthology of writings on mindfulness and mindful living. So this is a contest for all!

Congrats to Sharon H., who is going to the Creating a Mindful Society conference! Also, congrats to Gregg, Simone, Susan, Chet, and Gavin. They each received a copy of The Mindfulness Revolution. Thank you all for your thoughtful comments! It is inspiring to know that mindful society is such a rich topic for contemplation.

148 thoughts on “What Is a Mindful Society?

  1. Everyone gets the memo/email/leaflet/message about being present in the moment. Rather than getting ticked off about it, everyone is okay with it. It seems like a perfectly natural thing to do. They accept who they are and they accept who others are as well. The compassion that they feel as they open up to others inspires them to awaken more fully with each passing day. Life goes on but the awareness of impermanence and the interdependent nature of reality deepens with each passing moment.

  2. A mindful society will be a magnet for peace and prosperity. A mindful society will not only love more, it will laugh more. And it will prioritize justice. What a worthy subject for contemplation! Thank you.

  3. In a mindful society the individual whether a corporation or person is living in an awareness of the wholeness and interaction of all and the impact each has on all of the others and contemplates each act before acting with love and care.

  4. Being a Mindful Society is being here, now with what is. What ever the “is” is! May it be joyful or painful, being awake and aware of it without judgements. In this way, a Mindful Society is one of Compassion.

  5. Mindfullness (to me) is a collection of vibrating souls that from the singleness of conscious thought join the oneness of all conscious thought. I am mindfull of the integration of my journey and the journey of other’s whom at any given moment, reflect a piece of me that I may not have witnessed – yet. Through magnanamous compassion I experience my journey and with the same heart, I respect the journey of others. Mindfull community.
    Thank you.

  6. A mindful society is when all people live every moment in awareness. Accepting all parts of yourself and others. Being open and loving so that you can learn to spread this love and peace to all.

  7. To my mind a mindful society would be a mix of positive mindful characteristics already present in other cultures and communities as well as places in history. The initial characteristics that come to mind are eating meals slowly, less scheduled days, extra care and concern for expressing creativity, homage to all living beings, emphasis on spending time with and relating to others, less and less fear, and a general spaciousness and compassion in individual and collective minds.

  8. A mindful society is an open, curious, learning society that experiences and appreciates each moment, painful through joyful, for the immense amount of wisdom it holds towards achieving the goal of living peaceful, loving, happy lives.

  9. I look around and see beings with love and compassion. Faces are smiling, hands reaching out to help others in need. People living simply yet richly. Less is more. Scowling is no longer.
    More learning,more slowing down,more looking around,more sitting. Love.

  10. A mindful society is one where peace is the focus of all members of the society. It is founded on compassion, ethics, and understanding.

  11. A mindful society would be one in which all citizens of that society would be aware of how every choice they make would impact themselves, their friends and family, society and the environment as a whole and chose only actions that would be beneficial and helpful and to refrain from those choices that would harmful.

  12. I know that I don’t practice Mindfulness nearly enough, so I don’t think I can really imagine clearly what a Mindful Society would be like. I do believe that there would be a lot less need for distractions such as the reporting of news and opinions 24/7. Although I really enjoy reading books (mainly fiction) and watching movies, there would be less of a demand for entertainment. Perhaps most people would have a good understanding of their states of consciousness. Though we all project our own state of consciousness on the World, there would be greater understanding of this and how damaging our projections can be to ourselves and others when we believe they are true.

  13. A mindful society is one in which presence, awareness, & acceptance are fostered by its institutions and inhabitants. Acceptance of self and other, moment by moment, would be its practice and its ideal.

  14. A mindful society promotes the understanding that to be human is to be imperfect and to expect mistakes, so will have systems in place to allow for learning and growth. A mindful society also understands the laws of nature and that some are more predator-like than others and therefore need humane boundaries for protection of the innocent. A mindful society understands that there is no place for judging others based on opinion, however, uses discernment wisely to promote peace and harmony among each other. A mindful society understands that we are all a work in progress, doing our best to practice the art of mindfulness as we understand it, each as creatively different as we all are. A mindful society creates such a culture in symphony with the planet, using it’s resources respectfully and with infinite gratitude.

  15. A mindful society is one where each person experiences peace within; as a result, each member acts out of service and love in all interactions and conflicts are seen as avenues to growth for all.

  16. To me, a mindful society would be what we aspired to — and occasionally achieved, at least momentarily — in the Sixties: A peaceful, creative, communal experience founded on respect for individual expression, generosity and awareness (of ourselves, others, and the earth). Namaste.

  17. It is not enough to define a mindful society. We must also define how to create a mindful society. Our longing for peace and love of family can guide us in creating the future we want to live into, for ourselves, our children and grandchilren, through the chain of generations and throughout the web of life.

    Mindfulness in society brings awareness and compassion to institutions and structures, to organizations and communities. It does not free us from the challneges and pain of life, but enables us to lean into them with awareness and integrity, to embrace interconnectedness as we work together to heal and restore ourselves, our societies, and our planet. Mindfulness opens our minds and enables us to continually move toward greater consciousness and wholeness for the benefit of all life and all beings.

    To move toward collective mindfulness or societal mindfulness, our commitment to practice must deepen, our respect for all life, our compassion, and the understanding of our interconnectedness must penetrate our actions, and our sense of service to the whole must guide our work.

    We need a mindful society here in the mess of the world, where conflicts arise, fear overwhelms, hunger saddens, and all the many difficulties of life occur. Our hearts are full of enormous potential for love and compassion; our beings are full of presence, and our mindfulness can enable us to be at ease as we support the creation of a society where all living beings are in harmony and the web of life glistens with enlightenment.

  18. A mindful society is a society that has replaced knee jerk reactions with an open eye and an open heart and a never tiring willingness to look beyond one’s one boundaries and learn from every one, regardless of ‘who they are’, just like a wise master always remains a humble student. A mindful society reminds itself to be silent and reconsider its needs and actions, and is never too proud to turn half way.

    (PS unfortunately I will not be able to attend the NY even)

  19. A mindful society in one in which balance is acheived between the busyness of daily life, obligations to family and community, and attention to individual spiritual practice. A natural result of this balance will be an infusion of wisdom into our cultural and political institutions. We will take better care of ourselves, and as a result, take better care of each other.

  20. A mindful society would be one where curiousity and questioning are the foundations. Time passing slowly one moment at a time making space for all the love, pain, suffering without judgement, expectations or attachment to things past.

  21. A mindful society is me standing elbow to elbow with my neighbor, having an opened heart and mind, looking honestly upon the universe before me, behind me.

  22. A mindful society is one in which citizens cherish both the present and awareness. One in which peace is encouraged instead of violence, in which forgiveness is treasured above retribution and in which altruism is ingrained instead of selfishness. It is a society reflective of the basic goodness of humanity.

  23. A mindful society is a society where people apply constant and persistent effort into putting their bodies and minds in the same place. This will open space for spiritual growth and from that growth, better decisions can be made on a personal, local, national, international and global scale. This growth will also result in the realization that we are all connected and every thought, word and deed we have is an opportunity to bring us all close together not further apart.

  24. A Mindful Society would encourage every person to find meaning and compassion in each one of the myriad ways in which we engage with ourselves and our world. In a Mindful Society, we would take the time to learn about our mind, our sufferings, joys and projections, and we would respond to life openly and skillfully, for the benefit of others. A Mindful Society would be both ordinary and wonderful.

  25. To my mind a mindful society would be one in which everyone practiced some form of meditation, whether it be sitting, walking, cooking, anything at all done with a mind of meditation, to the best of people’s ability. A mindful society would be one in which people would acknowledge their feelings and thoughts but wouldn’t necessarily act on them, or act out towards others. People would practice living in the `gap’ as much as possible, so as not to create harm with reactive, blaming behavior. It would be a society wherein people were interested in getting to know their own minds so they could better be of service to themselves and others.

  26. In a Mindful Society each one and all together would care for the well-being of all beings and things that appear and so would serve the well-being of Earth Herself.

  27. A mindful society knows how to train the mind for the cultivation of reasoned and non-referential compassion. People will practice and apply contemplative interventions which include focused attention for mental and somatic balance, insight practices to develop the faculty of discernment of values and metacognitive capacities. Empathy, kindness, equanimity, altruism, gratitude and sympathetic joy will be recognized as pro-social qualities universally valued and in need of cultivation.

  28. A mindful society not only knows how to be present and aware of one’s mental state and what is happening around oneself but also has support systems and practices to detect and bring one back to mindfullness when one loses one’s way. A mindful society would incorporate the practice of mindfullness from childhood itself and as a practice curriculum in schools. A mindful society would expand one’s awareness beyond those we are close to, to our community, country and people globally.

  29. A mindful society starts with education. In addition to academic topics, the syllabus would include tuning inwardly, learning to acknowledge our feelings and emotions and understanding what arisings are, and how to work with them. It also includes communicating and listening in a compassionate manner, and understanding the role of ego in all of our day to day encounters.

    A mindful society will have media televising content that promotes non-violence, embracing of self, interdependence, talk shows will play up goodworks, people making a difference, communities helping each other. Prisons and juve halls will include mandatory mindfulness training.

    Training of the mind towards kindness, empathy, joy, gratitude , love will be the norm and these values would be embraced as universal, mainstream values.

  30. A Mindful Society is realized as we See through the eyes of the Heart, Hear with the ears of the Heart, Live within the Sacred Space of the Heart and walk in this Collective Consciousness.

  31. A mindful society is one in which people are able to abide in the present, fully aware in each moment and naturally listen to each other. It is a place where there is respect for oneself and all around one. It is a society that knows that whatever we do affects the well being of all. It is a society that takes care of those in need and is grateful for all there is. It is also a place where joy is shared and life is celebrated for even the simplest gifts such as waking up or sharing a meal together. It is a place where people are free and in their freedom know the responsibility of the gift of life. There is natural reciprocity, giving and receiving. It is one where spiritual foundations such as meditation are honored by all as a cornerstone. Enlightenment is possible as is peace, because it already exists, this society lives to uncover it and help others on the way. Let it be!

  32. A Mindful Society is one in which communities within that society decide to allow the tension and dissent that naturally emerge when value gaps normally end communication. The communities observe that tension and through communication use it to create new policy options. These new options bring divergent communities closer to their shared goals.

  33. Just yesterday my 12 year old daughter came from school and asked me about the Jewish holocaust and slavery. She was very distraught and asked me how can human beings do things like that to one another? I told her that greed was the culprit and all humans can becom greedy if they water the seed of greed inside of them. So a mindful society would be one without greed. We would share resources because no one would claim the right o any given resource.

  34. A mindful society must be one where the monetary system no longer exists. Where we follow the scientific method in order to use technology for the betterment of humankind. Where there are no possessions, no private property. Where we all share the Earth’s abundant resources freely and globally, and, therefore, there’s no scarcity for anyone. A society without politicians, banks, prisons, armies, advertising, accountants. A society where humans are not enslaved by other humans; where we don’t work just to make money, because there’s no money, and we spend our time studying and doing what is best for the great majority of the people. A society ruled by ahimsa, non-violence, non-cruelty towards other human beings, animals and the environment. A world without useless duplication of products, without unnecessary waste and pollution. A society which is tolerant and kind with all and where the needs of many are always more important than the needs of a single individual.

  35. A mindful society would be one in which everyone operated from a position outside our ego.

    We would operate from a position of love with the deep knowing that all experiences are meant to guide us to fulfill our unique purpose in life.

  36. A mindful society will be one where the mindfulness moves beyond the foundation of self-mindedness and enters the endeavor of mindfulness of the interdependence of what we create. When mindfulness enters the ground of inter-relatedness only then can the society and its endeavors become mindful. Without mindfulness that goes beyond the self the blind belief in selfish ends still rules and we are lonely beings stumbling around in our perceptions of ourselves, never actually entering the world.

  37. In a mindful society, we are aware that we create our own realities. Our sense of possibility expands, and we feed less and less into negativity. We are encouraged and supported as we learn to surrender, having learned through years of trial and error that it serves us better to recognize and work through our fears rather than letting them grow into dysfunction. And we, in turn, offer encouragement and support to others. It is understood that our individual destinies are intertwined. We learn from a young age that we are not our egos, and work collectively to ensure that this message is not lost.


    Reading this story on Yale’s Environment 360 aobut how the extinction of top predators “…amounts, they argue, to a ‘global decapitation’ of the systems that support life on Earth,” I am reminded of Sun Tzu’s “Art of War”in which the victor creates a solution that takes to loser’s perspective into account. The result is a balancing act that is only possible because of this deeper understanding. That’s what I imagine a mindful society achieving.

  39. The practice of mindfulness connects us first to ourselves and then to others. We are unaware of the walls that we have built within us for reasons of self-protection. We are unaware of the walls between self and others. It is through mindful meditation we begin to see that our patterns of thought and our responses to our world are coming from within. Our beliefs that someone or some group is doing something to us – that pain is comng from the outside- crumbles, revealing the patterns of thought that keep us trapped in cycles of blame. This process of practicing mindfulness allows insight into the suffering of others, opening the door to compassion toward others and to ourselves. This experience allows a self acceptance that goes beyond judgement toward self and others. When we begin to see these patterns we can start to guide ourselves in right thinking and action. It is through this procss of acceptance that the understanding of there being no inherent difference between us begins to unfold. We see clearly that we are all in the same boat. Compassion for the suffering of others fills us and allows us to think and act with selflessness and loving kindness toward everyone.

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