Jamie Bristow: From disconnection to action

At this year’s Sussex Mindfulness Centre conference, we had the privilege of hosting Jamie Bristow as one of our keynote speakers. For those unable to attend, Anna-Maria Frastali summarises his talk.

Disconnection fuels the crisis

Jamie’s speech started by encouraging us to think about our world through a systemic lens, challenging us to consider how we interact with our environment and each other. We are relational and emotional beings but a cultural narrative of disconnection seems to be taking place. This flawed perspective fuels every environmental assault, based on the erroneous belief that we can harm the planet without harming ourselves. Just like we’re disconnected from our environment, Jamie argues, we are also disconnected from ourselves – unconscious of our emotions, bodies and deeper values. This disconnect is not merely a climate crisis, but also a relational crisis. As Margaret Atwood aptly puts it: “It’s not climate change, it’s everything change” that’s needed.

How can mindfulness help?

So, how does mindfulness address this profound disconnect? Mindfulness cultivates the ability to act with intention, respond thoughtfully rather than react impulsively, and foster deeper connections with others and nature. It merges our capacity for agency with our ability to connect, empowering us to act purposefully and relationally. Jamie encapsulated this by saying: “By habitually setting aside space for inner reflection, we can come more closely to know our own minds and hearts, and strengthen our relationship with our own better judgement.” Through mindfulness, we learn to direct our attention rather than letting it be distracted to any stimuli appearing, and so, we increase our connection with the world.

Taking action

Looking ahead, Jamie emphasised the importance of developing specific skills to ensure a sustainable future for both people and the planet. He introduced the Inner Development Goals, a framework co-created with over 1,000 scientists, experts, and practitioners, designed to support the achievement of the 18 Sustainable Development Goals. These skills and qualities are categorised into five areas: being, thinking, relating, collaborating, and acting, with mindfulness interwoven into all of them. They encompass self-awareness, integrity, critical thinking, perspective-taking, humility, compassion, trust, co-creation, and an inclusive mindset, alongside the courage, creativity, optimism, and the perseverance needed to drive change.

Through mindfulness we can hope for a better, more connected future – as we transform our mindset and harness our inner resources we can build supportive communities, fostering a sustainable and interconnected future for all.

You can watch Jamie Bristow’s short summary of his keynote speech here. Check back for the full talk.

Jamie Bristow shares his take home messages from his keynote speech.

You can find out more about the Reconnection: Meeting the Climate Crisis Inside Out report here: