Candidates standing for election face enormous pressures. Campaigning flat out, always in the public eye, listening to people's problems and - in too many cases - facing abuse; all of this can take a toll on wellbeing, relationships, and the ability to recharge, connect and focus.

Following the announcement of a UK general election, the Mindfulness Initiative produced a Briefing for parliamentary candidates, directing them to free resources for mindfulness practice and outlining the evidence for its effectiveness. 

The Briefing explains that when we feel challenged, we tend to bounce between our drive system and our threat system. We can lose our ability to effectively engage our soothing system, or parasympathetic nervous system, which in turn inhibits our ability to rest, heal, and meaningfully engage with others. Mindfulness can help with learning to recalibrate and find balance. 

In addition to helping to achieve better emotional balance, mindfulness can provide a toolkit that helps politicians further develop their leadership skills. It helps people to develop deeper self-awareness, supporting them to connect better with themselves, others, and their community. It also assists people in skilfully initiating and guiding change, in holding ambiguity, in being responsive, collaborative, respectful and creative. Surely these are qualities we would like to see in all of our leaders, whatever their political standpoint.

The MI works with politicians from all parties, and is keen to see mindfulness supporting those entering the Houses of Parliament for the first time, those who are already familiar with it, and those who are coming to terms with leaving.

In the coming weeks, we look forward to welcoming some of the new MPs to the Mindfulness APPG, and we’re appreciative of the continuing support of members from the House of Lords. We have already said a grateful goodbye to some members who are not standing for re-election, notably our Co-Chair, Tim Loughton. 

We look forward to the opportunities that mindfulness and contemplative practice can bring to the new Parliament as we look to build practices that develop focus, clarity, creativity, and compassion.

To hear UK politicians talking about their experiences with mindfulness, take a look at this short video.


Image credit: Element5 Digital on Unsplash