Mindfulness is loaded with (troubling) metaphysical assumptions - Sahanika Ratnayake | Aeon Essays - Deepstash

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Mindfulness is loaded with (troubling) metaphysical assumptions - Sahanika Ratnayake | Aeon Essays

https://aeon.co/essays/mindfulness-is-loaded-with-troubling-metaphysical-assumptions

aeon.co

Mindfulness is loaded with (troubling) metaphysical assumptions - Sahanika Ratnayake | Aeon Essays
Three years ago, when I was studying for a Masters in Philosophy at the University of Cambridge, mindfulness was very much in the air. The Department of Psychiatry had launched a large-scale study on the effects of mindfulness in collaboration with the university's counselling service.

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Contemporary mindfulness

Research findings conclude that regular mindfulness meditation reduces stress and builds resilience. 

Yet, those who practice contemporary mindfulness find, instead of engaging in careful thought about oneself, that they are encouraged to be nonjudgemental of your thoughts - to disregard the content or your own thoughts. Mindfulness oversimplifies the complexity of understanding oneself.

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Mindfulness critics

  • Mindfulness does not demonstrate the truth of key Buddhist doctrines. The nonjudgmental aspects are at odds with Buddhist meditation, where people are supposed to actively evaluate and engage with their experiences.
  • The goals of mindfulness attempt to reduce suffering, but Buddhism aims to escape the miserable cycle of rebirth altogether.
  • Mindfulness has moved from therapy to commodification, and a corrupted version results from it.

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Mindfulness is unsuited for self-understanding

Mindfulness is grounded in the Buddhist doctrine. It is a metaphysical denial of the self - there is no soul, spirit or any ongoing individual basis for identity. There is no 'self' or 'me', and consequently, no thoughts that are 'mine'.se

Western metaphysics holds that there is some entity to whom all these experiences are happening. We refer to this entity as 'I' or 'me'.

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Mindfulness is not value-neutral

Contemporary mindfulness stresses the qualities of impermanence and impersonality (no real self). Thoughts are encouraged to 'arise and cease', or to 'drift away in the sky'. We are encouraged to detach ourselves from our own experience with mantras like, 'you are not your pain.'

Mindfulness thus disconnects us from our thoughts and feelings and makes it harder to understand why we think and feel the way we do.

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Mindfulness in context

Mindfulness can be useful to gain some distance from your own experiences from time to time. But as a whole, it sets aside personal responsibility and disregards the conditions that gave rise to the distress in the first place.

To find out why you think and feel the way you do, you need to see yourself as a distinct individual. You need to carefully examine your thoughts, feelings and the specific context in which they arose.

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