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Originally published in “Social Justice, Inner Work & Contemplative Practice: Lessons & Directions For Multiple Fields,” Initiative for Contemplation, Equity, and Action Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1, July 2017. Reprinted with permission from the author and the journal. Access the full journal.

This article focuses on three pillars for advancing our individual and collective well-being: inner work (known in some circles as contemplative practice); social justice/equity, focusing on the role of race, ethnicity, socioeconomics, gender identity, LGBTQ status, religion, and other forms of difference and similarity in creating healthy, joyful communities; and systems change, focusing on social sectors such as healthcare, education, workforce, environment, housing, and other macro/ large systems, and how to impact them en masse to create more positive structures for our individual and collective thriving.

Each of these domains and communities of practice has profound tools, gifs, and methodologies to contribute to healthy societies, but in the author’s experience working, practicing, teaching, consulting, and learning in each of these fields for over 20 years, they are rarely brought together in a cohesive whole to advance solutions for our fragmentation as a people and as a planet. Each of these strands can be (and ofen is) pursued to the exclusion of one or both of the others, which can limit our ability to experience the full impact of their combined capacity to nurture our collective well-being. The integration of all three strands—contemplation/inner work, social justice, and systemic, field-wide change—can deepen our collective capacity for joy, healing, and thriving in the world.

Other articles in this volume include:

  • Embracing Contemplative Pedagogy in a Culturally Diverse Classroom by Laura I. Rendón and Vijay Kanagala
  • Becoming a White Foot-Soldier ~ Evolving Into Humanity: The Dangerous Intersections of the Personal, Professional, Political and Spiritual by Gale Young
  • The Practices of Transformative Movements by Movement Strategy Center
  • “Serving the Spirit of Goodness”: Contemplation, Gender and Race by Wendy Farley
  • Nafsi Ya Jamii: An Urban Retreat Center Story by Patricia St. Onge and Wilson Riles
  • Spiritual Bypassing in the Contemporary Mindfulness Movement by Carla Sherrell & Judith Simmer-Brown
  • The Question about the Question: Transforming Educational Policy from the Inside Out by Velma L. Cobb
  • Liberal Education as Vital Interdependence by Stephen Rowe
  • One Field, Different Doors In: Contemplative Higher Education, Transformative Education and Education for Social Justice by Rhonda V. Magee