Inclusive Social Mindfulness -

Beyond the Basics - An introduction to The Urban Mindfulness Foundation’s MBIT and Social Mindfulness Maps

The field of inclusive social mindfulness is still emerging, and we might each have a view about what inclusive social mindfulness is or should be. Consequently, as part of the Mindfulness-Based Inclusion Training (MBIT) programme, we utilise the following inclusive social mindfulness maps that we designed to help communicate and summarise what we mean when we talk about inclusive social mindfulness. We also hope that the maps aid others in the navigation of some important topics and language that delves deep into our interconnected existence.

It is important to say that these models are what we describe as a conglomerate of ideas and insights taken from educators, practitioners and mainstream thinkers both within and external to the field of mindfulness practice and the social sciences. However, we would like to acknowledge specifically David Forbes for introducing us to Integral Theory and the works of Ken Wilber, Graeme Nixon for introducing the foundations of the cornerstone of the social sciences, Annick Navejan, who introduced us to system theory, Meg John-Barker, who coined the phrase social mindfulness and Rob Nairn who introduced us to the hidden wreaths concept.    

Whilst the social mindfulness maps offered are packed with detail and potentially a little complex to look at initially, we have carefully crafted these maps over some time to share the depth and complexity of what may be explored in an inclusive, socially focused mindfulness programme. It is also important to say that the maps were not really designed to be teaching aids or items for self-study rather, they were designed to communicate the complexity of the lived experience visually whilst also implicitly guiding language and mindful dialogue or discourse that allows for the lived experience to be expressed and understood more easily.

As such, the maps are offered to facilitate a constantly moving and ever-deepening mindfulness practice that is true to the nature of our wholeness and interconnected lived experience alongside the need for compassionate actions that address the limitations of hyper-individualism through a process of building human solidarity.  

Social Mindfulness Map 1

Social Mindfulness Map 1 – Aims to introduce awareness of key areas of experience that are generally flexible and ever-changing. By inviting awareness, conversation and exploration of the relationship between these components or domains as they are often called, it is considered easier to offer reflections on these elements of experience. Read more here….

Social Mindfulness Map 2

Social Mindfulness MAP 2 – invites us to explore some of the inner, less flexible and perhaps deeper layers of social interaction that shape who we are. More importantly, the map aims to communicate some key, hidden components or domains of our awareness that inform how we navigate our lives. Read more here….

Social Mindfulness Map 3

Mindfulness Map 3 – Aims to communicate the most common driving forces that create many of our biases and blind spots. These forces that act within us are totally interconnected with the previous maps 1 and 2, above. However, we bring forward some root words to introduce some of the often most strongly held aspects or layers of experience that can not only go unquestioned in our contemplative practice and daily life, but also can become red lines to our existence that mean we get trapped in tight boundaries and an ever smaller sense of self. Unchecked, these elements can lead to isolation, loneliness and also toxic forms of tribalism that leaves little room for others or the nuances covered in maps 1 and 2.Read more here….

How have we wrapped this up into an African-Centred Approach
as depicted in the following?

It is important to recognise that the social mindfulness maps offer a Western philosophical framework for understanding the field of social mindfulness that risks perpetuating the sense of hierarchical knowledge that fails to centre or include important cultural knowledge and wisdom from marginalised, underserved, Black, African, Caribbean, Asian and indigenous People of Colour Communities.

Consequently, we have carefully aligned each of the Western philosophical concepts with some key African philosophical counterparts to make it culturally appropriate and relatable. 

In particular, we have integrated Adinkra symbols and centred key African philosophical concepts that include all the opportunities for transformative dialogue and change as communicated in maps 1 to 3 discussed above. Read more here….

The importance of humility

“Using humility, we invite acceptance of uncertainty that subsequently activates infinite possibility and potential that facilitates access to greater authentic agency grounded in integrity”

An important part of social mindfulness comprises an invitation to cultivate humility through insight into the limitations of our own perspectives. This is an important aspect of the training as it invites us to be more open to learning through difference as we become more comfortable with the realities of uncertainty flow, rhythm, impermanence and multi-perspectivity as we learn from others.Read more here….

Contemplating and discussing the intersecting challenges of MBSR for our modern times in the context of race

In 2023 Aesha and Dean co-authored an important paper, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Our Time: A Curriculum that is up to the Task, alongside its accompanying resource document that highlights the need to explore and centre social and racial injustice and other inequalities in the mindfulness field. The paper was part of a transatlantic collaboration that included Pauline Gibbs, Piers Williams, Michael Waupoose, Zayda Vallejo, Noriko Morita Harth, Robert Callen-Davies, and Rebecca Crane. This passionate interracial group of Mindfulness educators, trainers, teachers and researchers came together through contemplative practice and a deeper wish for prosocial change in mindfulness.Read more here….

Aesha shares some of our collaborative work with the Mindfulness Association?
Dean shares more about the social mindfulness maps we created to untangle from fixed perspectives
What are the basic rules of our engagement with the MBIT programme?

The Urban Mindfulness Foundation are inspired by many organisations including the East Bay Meditation Centre and Vision Inc. As such we have adopted the the multicultural group agreements from these organisations that include:

  1. Be committed to trying it on first before rejecting it.
  2. Its okay to disagree – we are not trying to create consensual truth
  3. No personal blame, shame or attacks
  4. Self-focused by using I statements and taking full responsibility for both intentions and impacts
  5. Be committed to practicing both and thinking and working towards making space
  6. Be committed to confidentiality – what is said in the room stays in the room