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Contemplative Empowerment and Social Change

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Editor’s Introduction

We are pleased to share with you our first peer-reviewed collection, embodying The Arrow’s mission to create a space for rigorous, scholarly investigation of the relationship between contemplative practice and teachings on the one hand and issues of politics, economics, ecology, and activism on the other. With this issue, we break new ground in the field of contemplative studies by examining directly the ways in which mindfulness practices and contemplative teachings can be put in service of responsible citizenship, social justice, and social transformation. With the commodification of mindfulness and yoga continuing apace, and with most scholarly research on these practices still focusing on their individual benefits—psychological and physiological—we are thrilled to publish this first peer-reviewed issue, featuring articles that bring the political relevance of such practices and teachings into relief.

In “Good-for-Nothing Practice and the Art of Paradox: The Exemplary Citzenship of Ta-Nehisi Coates,” Dean Mathiowetz explores meditation as one method that may help people to embody qualities essential to democratic citzenship, and he examines Ta-Nehisi Coates as an example of the type of citizenship to which we might aspire. In “Contemplative Pedagogy: Equipping Students for Everyday Social Activism,” Amanda Wray and Ameena Batada look specifically at applying contemplative tools to social justice activism among university students, discussing the ways in which contemplation and dialogue can help students investigate their own participation in harmful systems and opportunities for transformation. In “Georges Bataille, Chögyam Trungpa, and Radical Transformation: Theorizing the Political Value of Mindfulness,” James Rowe investigates parallels between the writings of philosopher Georges Bataille and the teachings of meditation master Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, exploring how these can support radical social transformation. Finally, Becky Thompson’s “Domes of the Body: Yoga, Alignment, and Social Justice” critiques the commodification of contemporary yoga and draws a nuanced and evocative picture of a more fully embodied, holistic practice that respects its historical roots and serves social justice.

We hope you enjoy these essays and find within them ideas for furthering this scholarship, as well as practices of social engagement that are grounded in both contemplative wisdom and theoretical nuance.

Gabriel Dayley
Chief Editor


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