Occupy Yourself

As May Day Occupy protesters attempt to breathe fresh life into the movement against economic injustice, here are Mark and Susan Szpakowski's lessons for mindful democracy.

As the global Occupy movement spreads (1,500 cities and counting), what are we witnessing? Are we on the verge of mass awakening, or are we fooled by illusions of grassroots power? Will we return to the status quo in a month or a year?

The experience of mindfulness tells us that a moment of openness can serve as a powerful interruption in stuck patterns, but much depends on what happens next. What follows is a reflection that weaves between the personal practice of mindfulness and the social practice now emerging through the Occupy movement.

1. Take a stand (of non-participation)

When we practice mindfulness, we are taking a stand: we commit to occupying ourselves, to fully inhabiting our body and mind. Thoughts and emotions still come and go, but we commit to not getting hooked by them, to not being controlled by the momentum of our minds.

The Occupy movement is saying that our social body and mind have become hooked and distracted by political ideology and media rhetoric. Some say that what this movement lacks is a focus.

Mindfulness practice teaches us that the impulse to identify with our thoughts is unrelenting. We see how we continually try to…