Can Mindfulness Transform Politics?

More on the new All-Party Parliamentary Group on Mindfulness in the UK.

The Labour MP Chris Ruane described it as a seminal moment, and it was certainly a startling one for many. In a packed Committee Room at the House of Commons last Wednesday, with 28 MPs and Lords in attendance, a UK all-party Parliamentary Group on Mindfulness was launched.

It was an arresting occasion partly due to the setting—we are perhaps getting used to meditation happening in health centres, private businesses, even schools—but here it was being practised and taken seriously in the symbol of the British establishment, by politicians from all three main parties, offered up as a way to approach some of the most pressing social issues of our time. I think it’s fair to say that the days of mindfulness being seen as something new agey or alternative are coming to an end.

The content of the event was also remarkable. Speaker after speaker gave testimony about the benefits of mindfulness practice, covering wide ground—there was a university professor, a psychiatrist, a criminal justice expert, a schoolteacher (and several pupils), a company chief executive, and a comedian. And then of course, there were the politicians themselves, who not only asked searching questions about the evidence for mindfulness and…