This week, I was asked to speak on Mindfulness for Millennials at the Forbes Africa ‘Leading Women Summit’ (#LWS2016), to celebrate International Women’s Day. Female millennials are driven, early adopters, co-creators, ambitions individuals, born between the 1980s and 2000s. They are the digitally-savvy generation who want to squeeze the juice out of life by working in fields they are passionate about, moving fast, and engaging with world issues – from the comfort of their sofa! They are innovative and entrepreneurial, particularly in the technology fields, and are likely to change career many times during their lives. I sneaked an extra word into the presentation title – Heart – because many of us have noticed that the faster we move, the less happy we seem to be. There is always a feeling of waiting for that perfect moment to take photos for Facebook, or a sense of striving towards an idealised future, and we lose touch with the authenticity of the present moment. We push away feelings we don’t like and grasp onto experiences that we enjoy, never stopping to notice that we can be content with what is actually here.
Restorative: Many people begin a mindfulness practice after a time of difficulty, when they want to re-establish their status quo. Practices like mindful breathing or moving meditation (yoga, qigong etc) help to soothe the body and mind and provide a wonderful antidote for modern life, which is always demanding our attention – out there – rather than in here.
Dynamic: This is a more challenging aspect of our practice, as we begin to take responsibility for the difficulties in our life, and we notice our unskilful habit patterns, or conditioning, that may be responsible for these situations. We start to get to know, what Jung called, our shadow, the parts of ourselves that we repress or deny. We learn to make friends with ourselves, just as we are, and in that very acceptance, we begin to see change happening.
Transformative: This is the stage that is particularly relevant for us as leaders, especially women leaders, in this complex and divided South African society. We need to move beyond the sense of self, where we see ‘us and them’, ‘black and white’, ‘male and female’ and move to an understanding of the interdependence of us all as human beings, on this planet that has been plundered. As we develop wisdom and compassion, we also become courageous. We can speak truth without fear. We can work on behalf of others, and not just for our own self-interest.