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Leading from Within: Conscious Social Change and Mindfulness for Social Innovation

Leading from Within: Conscious Social Change and Mindfulness for Social Innovation

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Publication Date: September 11th, 2018
The MIT Press
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A roadmap for integrating mindfulness into every aspect of social change: how to lead transformation with compassion for the needs and perspectives of all people.

Gretchen Steidle knows first-hand the personal transformation that mindfulness practice can bring. But she doesn't believe that transformation stops at personal wellbeing. In Leading from Within, Steidle describes the ways that personal investment in self-awareness shapes leaders who are able to inspire change in others, build stronger relationships, and design innovative and more sustainable solutions. Steidle argues that both personal and societal transformation are essential for a just society, and with this book she offers a roadmap for integrating mindfulness into every aspect of social change. Conventional methods attempt to compel people to change through incentives or punitive measures. Conscious social change calls for leading with a deeper human understanding of change and compassion for the needs and perspectives of all stakeholders.

Steidle offers mindfulness practices for individuals and groups, presents the neuroscientific evidence for its benefits, and argues for its relevance to social change. She describes five capacities of conscious social change, devoting a chapter to each. She writes about her own experiences, including her work helping women to found their own grassroots social ventures in post-conflict Africa. She describes the success of a group of rural, uneducated women in Rwanda, for example, who now provide 9,000 villagers with clean water, ending the sexual exploitation of disabled women unable to collect water on their own. Steidle also draws from the work of change agents in the United States to showcase applications of conscious social change to timely issues like immigration, racism, policing, and urban violence. Through personal stories and practical guidance, Steidle delivers both the inspiration and tools of this innovative approach to social transformation.

About Global Grassroots:  In post-conflict Africa, Global Grassroots equips emerging women leaders, including war survivors, subsistence farmers, and the undereducated, with the tools and resources to create conscious social change. Our core program is our Academy for Conscious Change, a social entrepreneurship and mindfulness-based leadership program that helps vulnerable women design their own non-profit solutions to address priority social issues. In our first decade of operations we have trained over 650 change agents who have designed 150 civil society organizations benefiting over 150,000 people.

About the Author

Gretchen Ki Steidle is Founder and President of Global Grassroots (, an international non-profit organization that equips emerging women leaders in Africa with the tools and resources to design their own conscious change solutions to local issues. With fifteen years experience as a mindfulness teacher and certified breathwork practitioner, she lectures and teaches on mindfulness and social change worldwide. She is the coauthor of the memoir The Devil Came on Horseback: Bearing Witness to the Genocide in Darfur and a producer of the documentary film, nominated for three Emmy awards, based on the book. She was named by World Business Magazine and Shell in 2007 as one of the top International 35 Women Under 35, was honored as a CNN Haiti Hero after the 2010 earthquake, and most recently was named one of Inc.'s Top 100 Leadership Speakers for 2018. Learn more at: