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.


I am really excited for this upcoming meditation assignment! Lately things have been a bit chaotic and stressful and I feel like this assignment will push me to set aside time for myself to reflect and relax. I have chosen the meditation app called Sakeenah it combines meditation with islamic approaches. I think this will suit me best because it will have a double positive, it will help me relax as well as integrate my religion and its unique approaches to meditation. This upcoming month is Ramadan the holy month for muslims in which they reflect and give thanks to all that we are blessed with. In the month of Ramadan muslims are meant to deeply reflect within themselves and try to take the month to better themselves, what a coincidence that this assignment has come about in the same time that Ramadan is approaching. Im excited to integrate this assignment with this upcoming holy month and really reflect and hopefully introduce a new beneficial approach to meditation. The app Sakeenah has many different features and specific meditations for anxiety, sleep, organization, and emotions. It also has religious approaches like moral sleep stories which incorporate historic stories in islam that help you sleep better as well as losses and saber which is meant to help you learn to deal with whatever befalls you through the teachings of islam. All in all I am very excited for this assignment and the timing of it. I hope to benefit a lot and improve on organization and de-stressing.

This is the link to the Sakeenah App

I looked at many different apps including

Calm (,



They all are very popular and from what I read very useful to their users. I chose Sakeenah because it had aspects of these apps but also included a personal aspect for me that the others dont have. Sakeenah integrates the approaches of common meditation apps while also including islamic approaches.

I am currently traveling at the moment so there isnt a single place I plan on doing my meditations rather whatever setting I am in I’m going to try to find the beauty and peacefulness and really ground myself. I feel like not having one set place to meditate will help me because I am person who likes consistency and I sometimes get anxiety in new situations so hopefully this will help me be more comfortable in new situations. The app has many different categories so depending on the day and how I am feeling I can choose a specific category for that day. I am looking forward to this 14 day experiment and hopefully its something I can continue on doing post the 14 days.

Pandemic Processing

1 dreadful year has gone by and drastic changes have occurred. This past year has hit me and so many near and dear to me hard. It feels as though I am in one long nightmare and haven’t woken up yet. With all the bad that has come with Covid-19 there are some positives. Covid-19 has been huge eye opener it has awakened my gratitude. I have taken “normal life” for granted till now, the normal days of outings with no restrictions and masks was just a normal Saturday but now it almost seems like a fairytale. I cant believe there was a time were people flooded Times Square or Central Park and were literally neck to neck.

A once reality is now a dream.

I give my condolences to those who have lost a loved one during this dreadful time. I myself have dealt with a lot of heartache during this time but through all the ache I have grown to appreciate time with loved ones so much more now. The pandemic has allowed me and my family to spend so much more time together, not in the way we would expect but I am grateful. Grateful that this new normal can be shared with my loved ones, who I wouldn’t usually see till I was home from school or they were home form work. Being home for so long, has allowed me to reflect within myself and prioritize what it good for me and what isn’t. Having so much time to myself I have selected on what truly makes me happy and what hobbies or things makes me happy. At the start of the pandemic I started sketching on a painter app on my phone to pass time, slowly my drawing skills got better and better. I started posting some of my random drawing to social media where I got a lot of attention. I then made an art page and started getting requests from other people. Art has always came naturally to me, I loved being assigned projects in school because drawing was so easy to me. Through that art page I found that I really enjoy graphic design and art design. I am now trying to pursue Graphic Design as a career. I always wanted a career that didn’t feel like work to me, something that I was happy each and everyday doing and I think I found the one and its all thanks to the pandemic… how ironic.

These are some of the early pieces I’ve done.

The pandemic has brought a lot of misery but I think at least for me I have to look at the good side and continue to push positive within myself and my surroundings. It is so easy to get down and an everyday  goal for me is to think and do positive things that will have a lasting impact on myself and the people around me. I am thankful that we are now in a place of moving forward and hopefully putting this behind us. I think we should all move forward but never forget what the pandemic has taught us. In a blink of and eye all that is normal to us and all that we take for granted can be gone. I truly believe that everyday should be lived as if its your last. Don’t put things on hold thinking you will do it tomorrow, do it today because tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. The pandemic has made me realize petty little fights that last for days are really not worth it. It is so easy to get mad about things and just stay in that mode for a long period of time, but when you’re put in a place that things are constantly changing and in thIS case not always for the better you really start to see how many things we dwell over are just little things that aren’t worth it.


Overall the pandemic has been a dreadful rollercoaster, it has brought on some highs but I am hopeful that this ride will end soon and we can start a new chapter. I am thankful for all the pandemic has taught me and my heart is with all who were taken and effected by it. I hope for brighter days soon.

Class Notes 3/11

Congratulations Maria on winning People’s Choice #4

In the next two weeks on the 23rd of March we will begin reading

“The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle 

All students should purchase the hardcover version of the book and begin reading it for our class on the 23rd.

You can find the book with this ISBN-13: 978-1577314806

Today marked 1 year after the pandemic was declared by the World’s Health Organization.

“Playing the believing game” by Peter Elbow 

The believing game is the disciplined practice of trying to be as welcoming or accepting as possible to every idea we encounter: not just listening to views different from our. own and holding back from arguing with them; not just trying to restate them without bias; but actually trying to believe them.


If anyone has any questions for Professor Belli  Tuesday March 16th there will be no office hours if you need to contact Professor Belli email her to set up a time to talk.

Homework :


  • Covid: One Year Later + various links on mental health, grief, and the pandemic [more coming soon + find your own!]


  • Blog #5: Pandemic Processing (stay tuned for a specific prompt for this response: coming soon!)





Self Care

To me self care is taking time out of your day whether it be 5 min or 5 hours and just doing something for your mind, body and soul. Self-care encourages you to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself so that you can transmit the good feelings to others. You cannot give to others what you don’t have yourself. I personally love self care days they make me feel refreshed like a whole new person. My routine for self care usually starts off with making sure whatever environment im in is clean. Once I make sure everything is clean, I like to do a face mask and then pick a movie or show to watch. I also like to reflect within myself and meditate. I usually like to eat some sort of fruit preferably pineapple or pomegranate they are so refreshing. I like to end my nights early, I write down my plans for the next day and then I call it a night.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey is a very interesting book, it has similarities to both “The Secret” and “Self Help by Samuel Smiles”. A unique approach this book has is it us of questions and blank spaces for the reader to answer. This book seems more like a reflection and survey than just a self help book. People can stop and reflect within themselves as they read which I think is a very effective approach. A similarity this book shares with “The Secret” is its many testimonies. To some testimonies may make them believe the text to be more credible but for me its off putting. I feel like the use of “names” is a way to sell people. This book deals with the authors stories and approaches which is a cool aspect. One part I really connected with was

“You might work on your attitude — you could think more positively. You still wouldn’t get to the right place, but perhaps you wouldn’t care. Your attitude would be so positive, you’d be happy wherever you were.

The point is, you’d still be lost. The fundamental problem has nothing to do with your behavior or your attitude. It has everything to do with having a wrong map.

If you have the right map of Chicago, then diligence becomes important, and when you encounter frustrating obstacles along the way, then attitude can make a real difference. But the first and most important requirement is the accuracy of the map”

This quote is a more realistic way of thinking, in “The Secret” it is said if you think positively everything will workout whereas in this text it says you can think positively but that alone won’t solve your issues you have to make sure the whole picture or the “map” is accurate first.

Overall this text was very interesting and it was nice to see how it blended the two previous self help texts we have read while also have some unique aspects.

Reading Response #2

Self-Help by Samuel Smiles is a very interesting but confusing text. This text was published in 1815 and believe me you can tell. the text didn’t have much flow and almost seemed to be said in either riddle or very formal. Chapter 1 talked about National and Individual, the author goes on and on about government and legislation with hints of self help words I am familiar with but I don’t seem to get his points, maybe I need to increase my reading in older literature. This text seems like less of a self help text and more like an old English speech about topics I do not understand.

Chapter IV much like chapter 1 has a very formal approach, it speaks about Helps and Opportunities and Scientific Pursuits. This chapter felt like I was reading a science textbook rather than a self help book, there really wasn’t anything grasping my attention or making me feel as thought this text could help me or others with “self help”.

I chose to read Chapter IX Money and Abuse as my extra chapter. The chapter begins with “HOW a man uses money — makes it, saves it, and spends it — is perhaps one of the best tests of his practical wisdom.” a very wise quote. This chapter was more interesting to me although I don’t think it directly relates to self help, I do think it had more interesting qualities that the other chapters. The author seemed to talk more about morality and character within this chapter which can be taken into consideration when pursuing self help but not as direct self help advice.

All in all the text seemed a little date to me, you really have to read between the lines and apply the words and stories into your own self help. I do think this text has some good but overall the lack of flow and use of formality created an unenjoyable read.


Class notes 2/11

Congratulations Crystal Pichardo you are the People’s Choice #1 winner!

Professor Belli: ” Thank you everyone for your participation in our first People’s Choice!”

For future People’s Choice posts: All choices need to be made in a comment to the Professor’s post on the People’s Choice for that week. Do not comment directly to the students post. You can find the link to a specific weeks People’s Choice on the schedule.

Recap on our last class 2/9

Some techniques authors use in self help texts:

  • Paratext: is a concept in literary interpretation. The main text of published authors (e.g. the story, non-fiction description, poems, etc.) is often surrounded by other material supplied by the authors, editors, printers, and publishers, which is known as the paratext. Ex: The cover, table of contents, epigraph, chapters, etc.
  • Personal Narrative:  Use of first-person : A first-person narrative is a mode of storytelling or a peripheral narrator in which a storyteller recounts events from their own point of view using the first person i.e. “I” or “we”, etc.
  • Ethos-Pathos-Logos: Ethos is an appeal to ethics, and it is a means of convincing someone of the character or credibility of the persuader. Pathos is an appeal to emotion, and is a way of convincing an audience of an argument by creating an emotional response. Logos is an appeal to logic, and is a way of persuading an audience by reason.

                                       Group work on The Secret (2o min)

           Whatever is not finished during group work complete for Home work

Definitions of words used in class:

Claim: state or assert that something is the case, typically without providing evidence or proof.

Textual evidence: deals with facts in writing and the strategies used to figure out whether or not the information is factual. Textual evidence comes into play when an author presents a position or thesis and uses evidence to support the claims. That evidence can come in a number of different forms.

Implicit: Indirectly

Explicit: Directly

Elitism: the advocacy or existence of an elite as a dominating element in a system or society.

Connotation: an idea or feeling that a word invokes in addition to its literal or primary meaning.

Denotation: the literal or primary meaning of a word, in contrast to the feelings or ideas that the word suggests.

Name drop: the act of trying to impress someone by saying the names of well-known people that you know or have met.

Pseudoscience: a collection of beliefs or practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method.
Incredulous: (of a person or their manner) unwilling or unable to believe something.
Magnanimous: generous or forgiving, especially toward a rival or less powerful person.
Pedagogy: the method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept.
The book mentioned in The Secret by Rhonda Byrnes:

The Science of Getting Rich , Book by Wallace D. Wattles

Home Work due 2/16


*Make sure you actively/close “read” this film the same way you would for a written text (article, short story, novel). You should take notes as you watch the documentary, annotating it (looking up words you don’t know, taking notes, asking questions, noting down elements of fiction, writing down quotes–cited by the time (hour:minute:second), making claims). Bring these notes to class with you, and come ready to discuss specifics of the episode (including pieces of textual evidence).


The Secret

In the book “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne the secret revealed is the “law of attraction”. The law of attraction means whatever you put out within yourself and in the world you will attract, Think and do good and you shall receive good. You create your own happiness or sadness and you are in full control of how things are steered in your life. Eliminating the bad thoughts that will bring you down and putting a greater emphases on the positive will uplift you and bring you to all that you desire.

I personally think “The Secret” can be a very motivating book when taken in the right way. It reveals that we are in control of everything that happens in our life as though its a secret and to many I guess it is. Many people forget they have so much power in their lives and often blame outside sources for their lack of unhappiness or drive. “The Secret” is bringing something to light that is within us all. On page 46 Byrnes states,

“Your wish is my command!”

This wonderful story demonstrates how your whole life and ev-
erything in it has been created by You. The Genie has simply an-
swered your every command. The Genie is the law of attraction,

and it is always present and always listening to everything you
think, speak, and act. The Genie assumes that everything you
think about, you want! That everything you speak about, you
want! That everything you act upon is what you want! You are the
Master of the Universe, and the Genie is there to serve you. The
Genie never questions your commands. You think it, and the Genie

immediately begins to leverage the Universe, through people, cir-
circumstances, and events, to fulfill your wish.”

Bynes bringing this to light highlights that we don’t need a fantasy story about receiving a Genie, we have always had one. Taking control of ourselves from our thoughts, lifestyle, actions, and will can quickly unleash the Genie. There is process to get to this point which Byrnes also highlights in the book, she doesn’t just say notice that you have always held the Genie rather she says that there in a creative process to get the point to really access your personal Genie. On page 48, “Asking is the first step in the Creative Process, so make it a habit to ask. If you have to make a choice and you don’t know which way to go, ask! You should never be stumped on anything in your life. Just ask! You do not have to ask over and over again. Just ask once. It is exactly like placing an order from a catalogue. You only ever order something once. You don’t place an order and then doubt the order has been received and so place the order again, and then again, and
then again. You order once. It is the same with the Creative Process.
Step One is simply your step to get clear about what you want. As
you get clear in your mind, you have asked.”, Starting anything comes with a process although this book is called “The Secret” the act of knowing a secret doesn’t give it value, its how you apply that secret and what you choose to do with it.

The chapter I resonated with ” The powerful process of visualization”. I am a visual person, most things I enjoy are creative things and when being creative you always have to visualize your piece coming to life. I enjoy Graphic Design and freelancing art many time people have seen my work and have not understood it at first and that when you have to tell them trust the process. Our life is no different that a piece of artwork in fact its the greatest piece of art.

“Visualization is a process that has been taught by all the great
teachers and avatars throughout the centuries, as well as by all the
great teachers living today. In Charles Haanel’s book, The Master
Key System, written in 1912, he gives twenty-four weekly exercises
to master visualization. (More important, his complete Master Key
System will also help you become the master of your thoughts.)
The reason visualization is so powerful is because as you create
pictures in your mind of seeing yourself with what it is you want,

you are generating thoughts and feelings of having it now. Visu-
alization is simply powerfully focused thought in pictures, and it

causes equally powerful feelings. When you are visualizing, you
are emitting that powerful frequency out into the Universe. The
law of attraction will take hold of that powerful signal and return
those pictures back to you, just as you saw them in your mind.” (Byrnes, page 81)

Turning a thought into visualization is what helps us turn it into reality. When you envision yourself doing something over and over again the more it feels likely to happen whether it be good or bad. We hold so much power within us that if we highlight these approaches of “The Secret” and give the right things enough value and positive thought and approach we can simply do anything.


Reem Saleh Introduction

My name is Reem Saleh, I am a sophomore student at New York City College of Technology, majoring in Liberal Arts. I was born and raised in Brooklyn.. BROOKLYN STRONG! New York City is a world of its own I even refer it as United States of New York. Although this strong pride in my city I am a big traveler. A fact I would consider interesting about myself is, I have been to 5 out of the 7 continents and am hoping to complete 7 out of 7 hopefully soon. The most recent place I have been to is Croatia, if you’re a fan of Game of Thrones a fun fact is the city of Dubrovnik in Croatia is actually Kings Landing!

Other than traveling I enjoy, art, design, fashion, music, and food! I am a huge foodie, most of my travel destinations are chosen based on their unique cuisines. Recently I have gotten into graphic design by just free drawing on a painter app I randomly downloaded one day. I started doing sketches and drawing and posted it to my social media from that I received many comments and inquiries from my followers to which I started my own art page! I am now looking into the Graphic Design field as a future career option which I am very excited about!

A word I would use to describe myself would be creative, many of the things I enjoy doing are creative. Doing things where I can just express myself how ever I want in the way that I want. Writing is one of those things. I enjoy writing, how freeing it feels to put a pen to paper and just let the thoughts flow. I would say enthusiasm and feeling would be my strong suit within writing but when it comes to proper grammar and punctuation you’ve lost me.  As writing feels so freeing and the feeling of letting everything out on paper feels releasing, punctuation almost feels like a boulder blocking all of that. I would really like to work on learning proper grammar and punctuation within my writing. My favorite pieces ever written are by Jane Austen, Emma being my favorite. My interests in genres typically vary but one genre I can say usually catches my interest is Country House. I am more of a visual person so I enjoy the broadway re-enactments of the stories within that genre.

I am very excited to be taking this course, self help isn’t a typical thing you see within courses, although it should be. Self help and self awareness is a huge thing that often times is forgotten. I think all books, short stories, movies, TV shows and games all include self help in one way or another. I don’t think something has to be particularly labeled as self help or self help literature as we are all different, what we find helps us could be anything. I think this course will help explore more deeply into self help and display the different ways of obtaining and being aware of self help. I believe self help is connected to everything we do in life from our majors to our day to day lives. I see self help improving and connecting me to knowing myself better which hopefully will lead me to choosing and doing whats best for me.

I have used Open Lab for two prior english courses, this course will be my third! I am excited for this course and am looking forward to exploring self help.