Mindfulness is not a product or service
But McMindfulness is big business.
- See more at: http://www.mercatornet.com/above/view/mindfulness-is-not-a-product-or-service/17928#sthash.eZ9xwje0.dpuf
Seeing into the heart of things isn’t an instrumental goal like selling cars or winning divorce cases.
So one might be surprised to learn that it is a possibly $4 billion business marketed to entities like New York University’s business school, where “increasing numbers of businesses, Fortune 500 companies, and CEOs consider mindfulness essential to successful management.” Goldman Sachs, Monsanto and General Mills have touted their mindfulness programs. To say nothing of lesser names like Reebok, IBM, and Papa Gino’s pizza.
Yes, it’s everywhere, even at the World Economic Forum.
Google helped mainstream mindfulness but had to rename it “Search Inside Yourself.” We are told, Apple’s Steve Jobs (1955–2011) “trained his own brain” via Zen mindfulness. Cover stories in the New York Times and other mainstream venues puff the practice to smaller firms.
So what does the public hear?: A popular 2015 book centred on an eight-week program, You Are Not Your Pain, reveals a simple eight-week program of mindfulness-based practices that will melt away your suffering. As if. British TV personality Ruby Wax, having gained a masters in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), sees it as a way to self-regulate our brain state, “taking our ‘mental temperature’ to see when we are at our tipping point.” And, of course, there are the gadgets and the apps. Including a headspace app, as meditation turns ultra-trendy.
It all seems a long way from the traditional Eastern sage’s intentionally uncluttered life. Can one really have mindfulness and clutter too?
Mindfulness has also found its way into law (“a happier, saner law practice using meditation and mindfulness”) There is even Happiness 101 for Legal Scholars in which we are urged to see a connection between being happy, being ethical, and being mindful.
Stop, wait. The three qualities listed above are not consistently related. Mindfulness does not always lead to happiness. It is not intended to. It is intended to lead to greater awareness of (possibly unhappy) reality, so as to deal with it with increasing compassion. Just as we suffer, so do all.
Traditional mindfulness proponents struggle to make their voices heard above the hype. British expert on Buddhism Terry Hyland, a critic of McMindfulness as obscene and monstrous mutations” of Buddhist practice, notes that
McMindfulness strategies which are linked to the sale of products in the pursuit of materialist gain are in contradiction of the Buddhist ethical precepts linked to right action, right view, right effort and right livelihood and, as such, constitute an overt misuse of mindfulness.
Author and practitioner Arnie Kozak offers
The Buddha had a more nuanced and expansive view of mindfulness. Mindfulness with a capital “M” is ethically grounded attention. To be mindful is to give something our full attention with the absence of clinging desire or aversion. The attention also includes a sense of what is beneficial for one’s self and the people around them. If you were doing something destructive, you couldn’t be mindful, even if you gave it your full attention.
Meanwhile, mindfulness started playing out as all such fads do, with the familiar media stories. In 2015, we heard about “The 5 Most Important Things We Learned About Mindfulness This Year” (even more benefits!) and the “5 things people get wrong about mindfulness” (including: It’s not Buddhism).
Not to worry. If consumers thought it was a serious religion, they probably wouldn’t be so interested. No surprise, mindfulness-this and mindfulness-that has also been part of the worst terminological abuse in psychology in 2015.
Finally, a Guardian books columnist asked in early 2016, “Do we really need more guides to mindfulness?” No. We need to revisit first principles.
Next: Part 3: Why pioneers are disillusioned with the “mindfulness” scene even as schools embrace it
See also: Part 1: Responding thoughtfully to the mindfulness fad
Denyse O’Leary is a Canadian journalist, author, and blogger, and co-author of The Spiritual Brain.
Only two years after celebrating the 450th birthday of William Shakespeare, the celebration of his death is upon us. The precise date of the Bard's demise, like that of his birth, is unknown, but, just as baptismal records attest to one, so the record of his burial on April 25th, 1616, bears witness to the other. On the 26th he would have turned 53.
It is awesome to think of the tally of plays and poetry he had written (with or without collaborators) by then: around 38 plays, 154 sonnets and two long narrative poems.
Even more remarkable, as Robert White points out in a very interesting article, is his continuing popularity as a literary figure whose works are still regularly performed or made into films - despite efforts at one stage to bury the Bard for good. Says White:
But even if the unthinkable were somehow to happen and all traces of Shakespeare’s names and works were eradicated from the modern world, his influence would remain around us. He has made, and changed, history.
For instance, we would still have the almost 2,000 new words Shakespeare either coined or imported into the English language – words like “bedroom”, “excite”, “blood-stained” and “zany”.
And there's much more. A good read.
|Marx, Freud, Hitler, Mandela, Greer… Shakespeare influenced them all|
Robert White | FEATURES | 19 April 2016
400 years after his death, there seems no sign of Shakespeare going away again any day soon.
|A crisis of humanity, calling for a response of solidarity|
Pope Francis | ABOVE | 19 April 2016
‘We will do our part towards giving migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers a humane reception in Europe’
|‘What we’re talking about is killing people’|
Paul Russell | CAREFUL! | 19 April 2016
Former Prime Minister weighs into euthanasia debate.
|Mindfulness is not a product or service|
Denyse O'Leary | ABOVE | 19 April 2016
But McMindfulness is big business.
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