Mindfulness and the critiques

First off, I would like to start by saying that I believe anyone practicing mindfulness should read the critiques of it. I feel like the critiques are a very important component to properly using mindfulness. In the first article “The Mindful Revolution” author Katie Pickert discusses the benefits of Mindfulness from a scientific and evidentiary place. The author discusses her experience of practicing mindfulness in her MSBR class, she explains in the end, after doing the class she did not practice meditation much, but she did learn great lessons out of it that she applied to everyday life. I believe that is an important point of meditation and mindfulness, not to stress yourself out worrying about doing the practice, rather than appreciating the lessons you learn when you do it. She said through her MSBR class she learned to take in the moment more, instead of picking up her phone every time she had the slightest bit of free time. She also spoke about how different mindfulness programs, that show evidence in helping pain patients, Marines, and busy CEOs. Using Steve Jobs as an example the article states “(Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said his meditation practice was directly responsible for his ability to concentrate and ignore distractions.)”. The majority of people know who Steve Jobs was, and using his name I find was somewhat in a name-dropping way.

Honestly, the critique articles were my favorite because they match exactly how I been feeling as I do the class meditation assignment. In the first critique article “The mindfulness conspiracy”, Robert Purser discusses what I believe to be the main critique of new age meditation and mindfulness. Yes, there is evidence that mindfulness can decrease stress levels which leads to a more focused mind. But the problem is not that we are stressed, the problem is why we are stressed. The articles speak on how capitalism creates the problem of stress and answers this issue with the capitalism of mindfulness. There are tons of books, articles, programs, apps, retreats, etc, that focus on mindfulness, most gain a profit from their teaching. Purser states ” Instead of encouraging radical action, mindfulness says the causes of suffering are disproportionately inside us, not in the political and economic frameworks that shape how we live”.  In the article, Purser agrees mindfulness does help, but blaming ourselves as the individual for the reasoning behind high-stress levels, deflects from the truth of the matter. A quote I feel really sums up his point is “However, mindfulness programs do not ask executives to examine how their managerial decisions and corporate policies have institutionalized greed, ill will, and delusion. Instead, the practice is being sold to executives as a way to de-stress, improve productivity and focus, and bounce back from working 80-hour weeks. They may well be “meditating”, but it works like taking an aspirin for a headache. Once the pain goes away, it is business as usual. Even if individuals become nicer people, the corporate agenda of maximizing profits does not change.” Through our meditation assignment for the class I realize yes I feel calmer in the act of deep breathing and soft music, but realities of work and assignments set in as soon as I finish, so is it pointless?

The last article presents a critique that I haven’t really heard of, but am also experiencing with meditating. “The problem of mindfulness” by Sahanika Ratnayake discuss the point of how mindfulness, promotes not thinking at all and learning to just let your thoughts pass by without thinking too deep into them. But the problem with that is you never get to the root of the issue, why are you feeling that way, why is that thought constantly popping up? I would compare it similar to when you have a virus on your laptop and ads keep popping up. Yes, you can continue time and time again to click x so the ads temporarily go away, but your screen will never be fully clear until you get to the root of the issue and rid your computer of the virus. Ratnayake says the reason why new age mindfulness has this issue is due to its lack of morality behind it. Mindfulness and meditation stem from Buddhism practices but removes the religious aspect so the practice can be used by everyone. But the problem is there is no basis for helping you identify the issue. It only creates more questions, which leaves you feeling more lost, which leads to more stress. I definitely agree with this point also because meditating more lately, has me questioning my own emotions, which kind of just makes me feel crazier rather than relaxed.

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