People can use mindfulness, like any powerful technique, for whatever purpose they wish to use it for

Some years ago, I set up a page at this website dealing with mindfulness meditation.

Since that time, I’ve added many updates; the most recent one is an update that appears as a comment, at the end of a long list of comments that have accumulated over the years.

A May 22, 2019 update refers to an Open Democracy article

A May 19, 2019 Open Democracy article is entitled: “The faux revolution of mindfulness: McMindfulness is the new capitalist spirituality.”

An excerpt reads:

Against this background, the hubris and political naiveté of the cheerleaders of the mindfulness ‘revolution’ is stunning. They seem so enamored of doing good and saving the world that these true believers, no matter how sincere, suffer from an enormous blindspot. They seem mindless of the fact that all too often, mindfulness has been reduced to a commodified and instrumental self-help technique that unwittingly reinforces neoliberal imperatives.

For Kabat-Zinn and his followers, it is mindless and maladapted individuals who are to blame for the problems of a dysfunctional society, not the political and economic frameworks within which they are forced to act. By shifting the burden of responsibility to individuals for managing their own wellbeing, and by privatizing and pathologizing stress, the neoliberal order has been a boon to the 1.1 billion dollar mindfulness industry.

[End]

Comment

This is an intriguing article. I think a key feature of mindfulness is that how it is defined is up to each person who uses the term. I note that the article argues that mindfulness can be used to advance any particular position – for example, on the left, or on the right.

My own anecdotal experience is that mindfulness is indeed highly valuable in helping a person deal with stress. The fact I have learned to practise mindfulness has come in very useful with regard to how I deal with stress, and with regard to how I address stressful social interactions. I can see tremendous value in mindfulness.

I also note that newsstands across the province of Ontario, where I live, feature magazines extolling the benefits of mindfulness. I’ve spent a lot of time of observing the covers of these magazines. I’ve also at times purchased a copy and read a few articles. From such anecdotal observations I would say for sure: Pitching the concept that mindfulness will cure what ails you is the perfect way to prop up a neoliberal worldview.

However, it also occurs to me that mindfulness has tremendous value, period. Whether or not it end up in the hands of neoliberal ideologues, who use it to push their own view of what reality entails, is neither here nor there; such tactics or strategies are beside the point: People can use mindfulness, like any powerful technique, for whatever purpose they wish to use it for.

Updates

A May 25, 2019 Globe and Mail article is entitled: “Put down the self-help books. Resilience is not a DIY endeavour.”

A June 14, 2019 Guardian article is entitled: “The mindfulness conspiracy: It is sold as a force that can help us cope with the ravages of capitalism, but with its inward focus, mindful meditation may be the enemy of activism.”

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