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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'.

@mrfrost

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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.

  • 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.

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.

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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The rhetoric of “self-mastery”, “resilience” and “happiness” assumes wellbeing is simply a matter of developing a skill - that we can train our brains to be happy by using mindfulness.

Therefore, personal troubles are never attributed to political or socioeconomic conditions, but as phycological. This has become enticing to government policymakers: What better way to reframe societal problems of racism, poverty, addiction and inequality than in terms of individual psychology, where vulnerable subjects can provide therapeutic help to themselves?

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Meditating can provide a healthy escape, as long as it is focussed on enabling your ability to solve problems, not your ability to ignore them.

Mindfulness is good for learning the skill of putting on the brakes for a thought loop and noticing the thought loops you get into a lot - very valuable, but that’s only the first step. The next step is, ‘how do I have a different thought? '

Mindfulness meditation made easy!
Settle in
  • Find a quiet space. Using a cushion or chair, sit up straight but not stiff; allow your head and shoulders to rest comfortably; place your hands on the tops of your legs with upper arms at your side.
Now breathe
  • Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and relax. Feel the fall and rise of your chest and the expansion and contraction of your belly. With each breath notice the coolness as it enters and the warmth as it exits. Don't control the breath but follow its natural flow.
Stay focused
  • Thoughts will try to pull your attention away from the breath. Notice them, but don't pass judgment. Gently return your focus to your breath. Some people count their breaths as a way to stay focused.
Take 10
  • A daily practice will provide the most benefits. It can be 10 minutes per day, however, 20 minutes twice a day is often recommended for maximum benefit.