MPs and Peers are taking off their shoes, exploring how meditation-style techniques can be used in policy and asking what a more mindful politics might look likeby Josh Lowe / July 29, 2014 / Leave a comment
After about a minute with my eyes closed, I sneak a peek at the rest of the class. Everyone sits in perfect, upright stillness around three sides of a large table. Their backs are straight, their breath even. Their eyes remain steadfastly shut. I shut mine again, too.
“See if you can be interested,” I hear our instructor Chris say in his gentle baritone, “in the complete cycle of sensations involved in breathing.” He is not asking us to clear our heads, nor to run away with any thoughts. We are supposed simply to breathe in and out again, focusing on each breath, and allow whatever else happens to happen. When, ten minutes or so later, we open our eyes again, the atmosphere of silent focus and readiness is palpable. It’s a sensation common after the practise of “mindfulness,” as this discipline is known. It’s something I’ve experienced before, when I took a similar class a few years ago. But it’s not a sensation I ever expected to find here in Portcullis House, the office building for MPs in Westminster.
A group of MPs and peers invited Professor Mark Williams and Chris Cullen from the Oxford Mindfulness Centre (OMC) to teach an initial eight-week mindfulness course for parliamentarians between January and March 2013. Since then, four more courses have…