The Long Arc of Mindfulness

by | Jan 7, 2019 | Change, Ideas |

In the recent holiday season, countless conversations included phrases like “I can’t believe its Christmas again already” or “This past year has been a blur”. I found myself nodding along and saying similar things as well.

All of us know individuals, communities, organisations who over 5, 10, 20 years have changed dramatically in their beliefs, values, perspectives regarding issues, people groups, etc. Often with those individuals or groups we are more gracious towards them because we know from where they have come – we know a little of the journey they have been on. If we are self aware enough, we also know if we were to meet them today for the first time, we likely would be less gracious – knowing their story changes how we interact with them. Some of us recognise that we, too, have changed over time.

Most of the articles, workshops, and conversations I’ve engaged with focus on the daily benefits of mindfulness, of being present – mostly regarding stress relief and productivity. The majority of the focus is on the short term, which isn’t surprising as our entire culture is built around the short term.

I can’t help but think practices that help us remain present in the moment and aware of what is happening around us, in our bodies, etc., like mindfulness or the examen or many others, while helpful for the day to day, can and should be helpful to our monthly or seasonal or annual rhythms. If we extend their rhythm to a longer arc can they help us be more present in cycles of our lives? Can they help us ‘slow down’? Can they help us be more patient with ourselves and others?

Can these practices help us recognise the arc of change happening in all of us, all the time, even if it is not happening at the speed we want it to?


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