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Summary

Mindfulness is now all the rage. From celebrity endorsements to monks, neuroscientists and meditation coaches rubbing shoulders with CEOs at the World Economic Forum in Davos, it is clear that mindfulness has gone mainstream. Some have called it a revolution.   

The evangelical promotion of mindfulness as a panacea for all that ails us has begun to give way to a backlash, with questions arising whether its claims for achieving happiness, wellbeing and career success have been over-sold. Expanding on his influential essay ''Beyond McMindfulness'', Ronald Purser debunks the so-called ''mindfulness revolution'', arguing its proponents have reduced mindfulness to a self-help technique that fits snugly into a consumerist culture complicit with Western materialistic values.   

In a lively and razor-sharp critique of mindfulness as it has been enthusiastically co-opted by corporations, public schools and the U.S. military, Purser explains why such programs inevitably fall short of their revolutionary potential. Simply paying attention to the present moment while resting snugly in our private bubbles is no mindfulness revolution. Mindfulness has become the new capitalist spirituality, a disciplined myopia, that mindlessly ignores the need for social and political change.

©2019 Ronald Purser (P)2019 W. F. Howes Ltd

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just for Marxists

TLDR: Mindfulness and the industry surrounding it are evil because they don't help start the worker uprising and revolution. As a secondary point, mindfulness is a product that helps people who purchase it and earns money for people who make/sell it - which is also very bad. Lastly, the world "Neoliberalism" manages to appear in this book more often than the word "mindfulness" - perhaps symbolically. If you're already Marxist - you'll love this; otherwise, I can't see how most of the critique is relevant.

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Some fantastic points - the great hijack of mindfulness

Purser really raises some interesting questions about how mindfulness has been hijacked to encourage compliance in a capitalist society. He acknowledges some of the benefits but questions the underlying science and the limitations that arise when mindfulness is decontextualised. A really thought provoking read.

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  • Tatras
  • 23-11-19

Whole book is mostly only an (valid) critique

McMindfulness: Whole book is quite and only an (valid) critique ... But I see not much constructive solutions or alternatives from the author, despite he acknowledged the benefits of what he critiques too. It's quite sharp narative for a author trained in zen from my point of view, which is not necessarily bad, but it's not convincing for me that it's actually not the other side of the same competitive/fight coin (which leads to dualistic I versus those bad guys/system). Yet the critique is factually valid for me: scientification, psychologization, objectification and cutting pieces of some tradition (then universalizing) is a problem not only in Buddhism (and it is quite prevalent in new age movements). Capitalisation and digital age is complex stuff for itself and searching tools for better coping instead of questioning the system is a thing for throughout political debate). Mindfulness itself isn't bad or not working , it's more about intentions and with what attitude and narative it's presented/sold. Overall the book is more critique of current politics, society and scientific processes. That kind of absurdity of MBSR training is funny depicted in IT Crowd episode about stress with their first CEO. What I get from this book is that MBSR and alike programs only puts the source of the stress and problems inside an individual (which is prevalent in our society in opposite to direct physical danger of our ancestors) , which is true in absolute sense, but should not legalize outside conditions as not problematic - originally stress and anxiety told us that there is something wrong here and led us to make change. Therefore mindfulness shouldn't be used to induce passive and obedient state of mind (if there is a possibility of change - which requires taking responsibility) as its advertised in Google or Amazon. I see the truth is probably in the middle - mindfulness is a tool which is itself not good or bad and it should not connected with with buddhism (for advertising purposes and when marketed to someone else we say it's secular instead..) if we strip it from ethical and other values as it is accompanied in its origins. The mindfulness teaching is not itself invalid, only it's use is questionable. We will have to change the system/conditions or change us (with genetic manipulation or some implants probably), soothing with mindfulness, medication or productivity systems (GTD for example) can work only to some extent. I also want to state that Headspace meditation app actually teachings the ethics too - there are not only bad guys there (but I think it's too expensive anyway - it basically cost same as Netflix yet got some audio, animations and bad working software and as Ronald critiques it uses some at least unaccurate naratives, also Headspace uses techniques to keep people engaged in the same time as suggesting not using your phone...) a. I get that author is from USA where that neoliberal capitalist economy is much more "broken" (for example in healthcare) than here in Europe (I am from Czechia). Edit 24.4.2020: Yuval Harari also mentions Buddhists wars and atrocities in his book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century - mindfulness is just a tool and can be misused for "evil" things, narratives, rationalizations and for manipulating people (including validating capitalists ever grow and silencing its critics).

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  • Jason
  • 26-09-19

Thoughtful take on mindfulness

A critical, thoughtful take on how mindfulness is not all it’s made out to be, without discounting its positives. Well performed, with a healthy dose of critical sarcasm, and provides an alternative narrative to the popular idea that mindfulness can solve all problems. Highly recommend.