How mindfulness might help us meet the existential crises of the 21st Century

It seems that humanity is currently unable to handle the consequences of its own progress. From the transgression of planetary boundaries to the collapse of shared values and public trust, it’s becoming clear even in mainstream discourse that radical change is needed. Greater sophistication and maturity are required in every quadrant of life in order for us to collectively handle the increased complexity of the world we’ve created.

What part does the inner dimension of our lives need to play in this necessary transformation? Certainly, sustainability scholars are beginning to acknowledge that people’s inner world has been ignored for far too long, and that psychological capacities and mindsets must be considered alongside the political, legal and technological aspects of the climate crisis. Some go as far as describing these as ‘deep leverage points’ for change, harder to influence than others but with much more profound implications.

In this context, mindfulness training is emerging as one of the most promising approaches for building important inner capacities and shifting mindsets. In addition to supporting elements associated with climate action, such as increased nature connection and pro-environmental attitudes, mindfulness works more broadly to help us reclaim and reorient attention towards what matters, reflect more wisely, and act from a place of collective purpose.

In this session we will explore a three-fold model for understanding how mindfulness supports human agency, our ability to act intentionally, that was proposed in Jamie’s recent discussion paper Mindfulness: Developing Agency in Urgent Times. We will also unpack the initial findings from a new programme of research and policy development that addresses the potential of mindfulness and compassion training to increase responsiveness and resilience in the face of the climate crisis.



Details to follow

jamie bristow


JAMIE BRISTOW is Director of The Mindfulness Initiative, a policy institute about mindfulness and compassion training that grew out of a programme of mindfulness teaching for politicians in the British Parliament.

The Mindfulness Initiative provides the secretariat to the UK Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group and helped politicians to publish the seminal Mindful Nation UK policy report. Jamie now works with politicians around the world to help them make capacities of mind and heart serious considerations of public policy and has supported the introduction of mindfulness training in over 10 national parliaments.

He was formerly Business Development Director for Headspace and has a background in climate change campaign communications and advertising.

Jamie is also a dharma teacher-in-training in the Insight Meditation tradition that’s associated with Gaia House. His teachers and mentors have included Stephen Batchelor, Rob Burbea, Christina Feldman and John Peacock. In addition to the practice of mindfulness, compassion and insight meditation, Jamie is dedicated to the contemplative approach of ‘emptiness’ (inquiry into the contingent nature of all phenomena) and the cultivation of ‘samadhi’ (collectedness, or unification of mind).


Jamie lives in Sheffield in the north of England, where he enjoys easy access to the Peak District national park for running, swimming, climbing and mountain biking.