Mindfulness has been repackaged

Although mindfulness originated from Buddhism, it has been stripped from most of its teachings. 

What remains is nothing more than a self-help tool to help one get used to the very conditions that caused the problems. While is it a noble aim to reduce stress and anxiety, it is more important to acknowledge and address the underlying cause of the suffering.

@danielm33

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Self Improvement

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Mindfulness is not a magic panacea

The inventor of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction proclaims that mindfulness may "be the only promise the species and the planet have for making it through the next couple of hundred years”.

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment without passing judgment. Although it might help people cope by reducing stress and chronic anxiety, it does not offer any solutions to our unjust society.

The message of the mindfulness movement is that the underlying cause is in our mind - a "thinking disease" or a kind of attention deficit disorder. 

Rather than discussing how attention is monetized and manipulated by corporations, mindfulness advocates to view the crisis as an internal battle. The result is that we meekly retreat into the private sphere without critically engaging with the causes of suffering in the structures of power and economic systems of capitalist society.

Kabat-Zim initially adapted the Buddhist teachings and practices to help patients deal with pain and anxiety, but soon saw an opportunity to market mindfulness to the stressed-out masses as secular spirituality.

Market forces are already exploiting the momentum of the mindfulness movement, to reorientate its goals to serve the market’s needs.

Proponents of mindfulness believe that the practice is apolitical. The practitioners of mindfulness are taught to become attentive and resilient, to de-stress while improving productivity. They quietly surrender so they may keep functioning within the system that exploits them.

The branding of mindfulness reinforces the idea that it is an individual's private concern. In turn, mindfulness becomes easy to co-opt for social, economic and political control.

The presentation of mindfulness is packaged in a friendly way that is warmly received in popular culture. It has then also become a useful tool for those who favor neoliberalism.

Neoliberal ideology holds that all decisions about how society is run should be left to the workings of the marketplace. When mindfulness is mastered in a neoliberal society, it helps you to survive in capitalism, by keeping your attention focussed on the present without judging it.

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?

We are repeatedly told that to change the world, we have to work on ourselves - by changing our minds to be more accepting of circumstances. We are told to look inward and to manage ourselves at the expense of critical thinking.

Mindfulness promises a good life, enticing us to accept things as they are. We are perhaps sold a cruel optimism.  

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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.

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IDEA

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'.

  • Understand your pain. Mindfulness can help you reshape your relationship with mental and physical pain.
  • Connect better. Mindfulness helps you give your full attention to people you interact with.
  • Lower stress. 
  • Focus your mind. Meditation hones our innate ability to focus.
  • Reduce brain chatter, that nattering, chattering voice in our head seems never to leave us alone. 

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