Self Help Critiques (Mindfulness)

Mindfulness is a concept I have heard of several times as well as a common theme throughout our study of Self Help Literature. Mindfulness seems like a concept that can be usefully applied and used but also through the readings of self help texts and this weeks article reading, I can tell it can also be a loaded concept with many people goal is to profit off of it. I really like how all three articles addressed all the positive of the mindfulness concept but also addressed all the inflation and corruption within the concept of mindfulness and the self help industry. It is intriguing at first glance how each of the titles of the articles are controversial, “The Mindful Revolution”, “The Mindful Conspiracy”, and “The Problem of Mindfulness”.

“The Mindful Revolution” by Kate Pickert had a more positive learning approach to mindfulness. Kate Pickert takes us through a timeline of progress and realization of the concept of mindfulness. On her journey Pickert mentions how adapting to mindfulness is fully grasping the concept and allowing yourself to almost rewire your brain. This is such a revolution because so many in our day and age are not comfortable with internal change which is ironic because our world is changing with technology and advancements every single day. It seems as the world gets more and more advanced our internal selves retract and we almost have become like robots that aren’t in tune with what is around us.  Through Pickert’s learning of mindfulness she came out with new additions to her daily life. She is now more aware of digital time and has taken approaches to limit her time digitally and embrace what is around her. This article was definitely the least controversial of the three articles.

“The Mindful Conspiracy” by Ronald Purser was definitely my favorite out of the three articles. I likes how Purser addressed the controversy within the Self help community as well as with the mindfulness concept. He addresses that mindfulness within itself isn’t a bad concept it the people who have taken this concept and inflated it to fulfill their pockets. He mentions many famous figures who have partake in the self help industry. Purser gives a more realistic approach to mindfulness and address the concept without all the “fluff” that many self help texts and individuals use. I really liked how he concluded his article he says “Mindfulness isn’t cruel in and of itself. It’s only cruel when fetishised and attached to inflated promises. It is then, as Berlant points out, that “the object that draws your attachment actively impedes the aim that brought you to it initially”. The cruelty lies in supporting the status quo while using the language of transformation. This is how neoliberal mindfulness promotes an individualistic vision of human flourishing, enticing us to accept things as they are, mindfully enduring the ravages of capitalism.”

“The Problem of Mindfulness” by Sahanika Ratnayake gives us and insight from an insider almost. Sahanika Ratnayake was raised as a Buddhist, many self help concepts stem form Buddhism and mindfulness also has roots that come from Buddhism. Ratnayake take us through her studies of Western beliefs compared to Buddhism. Buddhist takes on self care and mindfulness and the western adaptation dont always match up. Ratnayake takes a depper look. into the concept of mindfulness are interrogates its true usefulness. She comes to find that to her mindfulness has limits and can not be used in every single situation. “The contrasting tendency in mindfulness to bracket context not only cramps self-understanding. It also renders our mental challenges dangerously apolitical. In spite of a growing literature probing the root causes of mental-health issues, policymakers tend to rely on low-cost, supposedly all-encompassing solutions for a broad base of clients. The focus tends to be solely on the contents of an individual’s mind and the alleviation of their distress, rather than on interrogating the deeper socioeconomic and political conditions that give rise to the distress in the first place.” I really like this part of the article because she really dives deeps within the flaws of mindfulness and concludes that it isn’t the solution for everything and it puts people within a bracket where as many people come from different backgrounds.

Ratanyake concludes in a gracious way while still being real. She says “I still dabble in mindfulness, but these days I tend to draw on it sparingly. I might do a mindfulness meditation when I’ve had a difficult day at work, or if I’m having trouble sleeping, rather than keeping up a regular practice. With its promises of assisting everyone with anything and everything, the mistake of the mindfulness movement is to present its impersonal mode of awareness as a superior or universally useful one. Its roots in the Buddhist doctrine of anattā mean that it sidelines a certain kind of deep, deliberative reflection that’s required for unpicking which of our thoughts and emotions are reflective of ourselves, which are responses to the environment, and – the most difficult question of all – what we should be doing about it.”

I totally agree with her, mindfulness should be used in situations where it help aid in a solution but it can be prescribed as the only solution. Many people have different backgrounds, health issues, and lives that one concept cant be a solution for the masses.

All in all I enjoyed reading a different side to Self Help texts. When reading different self help texts many thoughts and criticisms so its nice seeing responses to the Self Help Industry.

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