The meaning of practice needs to be reinterpreted. The focus on cognitive thinking and technical skills underlying this problem-program-implementation-assessment action-framework needs to give space to a skill-set capable of actually building lasting trust and reciprocal altruism between key development actors.
Mindfulness is a way of being and thinking that grows out of paying attention, on purpose and without judgment, to what is happening in the present moment. When we are mindful, we deliberately slow down to notice what is happening inside us (our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations), and what is happening outside us, in our environment. The intention is to see things as they are, rather than as they used to be or as we wish they could be. The good news is that the development of mindfulness helps us notice our emotions without being triggered by them. It moves us from living on automatic pilot to pausing and paying deliberate attention to what is happening in the now.
"Everything but the present moment is a concept." These phrases, spoken by elders and young change agents from around the world, paint a picture of the magic that happened at the 2013 Ethical Leadership Assembly (ELA) that I attended as a newly named Dalai Lama Fellow. The ELA is an annual convening and week-long learning community for the Dalai Lama Fellows, a global network of young social innovators working at the intersections of peace, justice, ecology.
The truth is, what we focus on will expand. If our main focus is on how much more we have yet to achieve, we will come from a place of lack and continue to expand on that mindset. However, if we focus on all that we have accomplished, we will come from a place of abundance, and continue to build on that mindset.
In sum, mindfulness is both process and outcome; it is a skill to practice and apply. Doing so deepens our capacity and broadens our ability. Although each of us trains individually, mindfulness is not about "me." Rather, living mindfully allows us dedicate our own practice to a greater purpose and the greater good.