The false revolution of mindfulness

McMindfulness is the new capitalist spirituality.

Por Ronald Purser

According to his supporters, we are in the middle of a “mindfulness revolution”. Jon Kabat-Zinn, newly named “the father of mindfulness“, reaches the point of proclaiming that we are at edge of a Renaissance world, and that mindfulness “may be the only hope they have the species and the planet to survive in the next two hundred years”.

From TRUE? A revolution? A global renaissance? What exactly has changed or has it been radically transformed to obtain such great status?

The last time i watched the news, Wall Street and the corporations continued doing business as usual, special interests and corruption politics were not yet controlled, and public schools still suffered from lack of funds and neglect. The concentration of wealth and inequality is now at record levels. Mass incarceration and overcrowding in prisons they have become a new social plague, while the indiscriminate police shooting of African Americans and the demonization of the poor remain commonplace. The militaristic imperialism of America continues to expand, and the impending disasters of warming are already rearing their ugly heads.

In this context, the arrogance and political naivety of the defenders of the “revolution mindfulness” is awesome. Parecen tan enamorados de ellos mismos, haciendo el bien y salvando el mundo, que estos verdaderos creyentes, no importa cuán sinceros sean, sufren de un enorme punto ciego. No parece que sean conscientes del hecho de que, con demasiada frecuencia, el mindfulness se ha reducido a una técnica de autoayuda mercantilizada e instrumentalizada, que refuerza, sin saberlo, los imperativos neoliberales.

Para Kabat-Zinn y sus seguidores,  los culpables de los problemas de una sociedad disfuncional son los individuos inconscientes (mindless) y maladaptados, y no los marcos políticos y económicos dentro de los cuales se ven obligados a actuar. Al trasladar la carga de la responsabilidad de gestionar su propio bienestar a las personas, y al privatizar y patologizar el estrés, the neoliberal order has been a boon to the mindfulness industry, that moves 1.100 millions of dollars.

What answer to this, mindfulness has emerged as a new religion of the self, not engaged in the public sphere. The revolution he proclaims does not take place in the streets nor through collective struggle and political protests or non violent demonstrations, but in the heads of atomized individuals. A recurring message is that our inability to pay attention to present moment, getting lost in ruminations and mental wanderings, are the underlying causes of our distress and dissatisfaction.

Kabat-Zinn take this one step further. states that “Our entire society suffers on a large scale from a disorder of attention”. Apparently, el estrés y el sufrimiento social no son el resultado de desigualdades masivas, prácticas empresariales infames o corrupción política, sino de una crisis dentro de nuestras cabezas, lo que él llama unaenfermedad del pensamiento”.

En otras palabras, el capitalismo en sí no es inherentemente problemático; más bien, el problema es el hecho de que los individuos no sean conscientes y resilientes en una economía precaria e incierta. Y no es sorprendente que los mercaderes del mindfulness tengan lo que necesitamos para estar contentos en un capitalismo mindful (consciente).

El mindfulness, la psicología positiva y la industria de la felicidad comparten un núcleo común: la despolitización del estrés. La ubicuidad de la retórica del estrés individualista, with its underlying cultural message that stress is something that is given, should make us suspicious. As Mark Fisher points out in his book Capitalist Realism, the privatization of stress has led to a “almost total destruction of concept of the public”.

The stress, mindfulness apologists tell us, is a harmful influence wreaks havoc on our minds and bodies, and it's up to us how individuals the “be aware” of it. This is a proposal seductive that has real and powerful effects. First, we are conditioned to accept the fact that there is an epidemic of stress and that this is simply an unavoidable fact of the modern age. In second place, since stress is supposedly ubiquitous, it's ours responsibility as stressed subjects manage it, control and adapt consciously and vigilantly to the challenges of a capitalist economy. The mindfulness targets this vulnerability and, at least in the area, appears as a benign technique for self-empowerment.

But in his book One Nation Under Stress: The Trouble with Stress as an Idea,[1] Dana Becker points out that the concept of stress obscures and hides “social problems by individualize them in the most disadvantageous way for those who have less what to gain from the status quo”. In fact, Becker has coined the term stress to describe “the current belief that the stresses of life contemporary are mainly individual lifestyle problems that must be resolved through stress management, Contrary to the belief of that these tensions are linked to social forces and that, to be resolved, mainly need social and political media”.

To the uncritically ingest the cultural premises of stressism, the mindfulness movement has enthusiastically promoted itself as a scientific remedy. But focus remains squarely on the individual who is expected to heal the call “enfermedad del pensamiento” of modern civilization. I know tells us that, if we practice mindfulness, we can skillfully switch from our “Way of doing” frantic to a “way to be” plus harmonic, learning to let go and flow with stressful situations.

The mindfulness is the new immunization, a mental vaccine that supposedly can help us thrive amid the stresses of modern life. depends on we become what Tim Newton termed “stress-fit” individuals. Mindfulness is often marketed as a form of to get better our game, a useful technique for developing mental aptitudes that allow us to be more productive workers and coping agents more effective. It is not a coincidence that the slogan of the most famous app in meditation, Headspace, sea “become a member of this gym for the mind”.

The golden maxim of the mindfulness movement is “be in the present moment”. Para los devotos del mindfulness, el cambio social y político depende de su fantasía según la cual las masas distraídas deberían seguir este consejo y vivircon atención”. Este momento presente, fetiche del movimiento mindfulness, es una práctica que cultiva la amnesia social, fomenta el olvido colectivo de la memoria histórica y, at the same time, excluye eficazmente la imaginación utópica.

Este momento presente aparece, al menos en la superficie, como un disolvente terapéutico para todos nuestros problemas, haciendo que nuestra situación actual sea más soportable. Pero esta tolerancia del status quo equivale a retirarse permanentemente al refugio anti bombas psíquicas del ahora, a way to bury your head in the sand of mindfulness that acts as a sanitized palliative for neoliberal subjects who have lost hope of alternatives to capitalism.

The mindfulness movement operates in resonance with what Eric Cazdynin in his book, The Already Dead: The New Time of Politics, Culture and Illness, [2]characterizes What “the new narration”. Cazdynin explains that the new narrative “extends the present into the future, burying in the process the force terminal, making it seem like the present will never end.” Simply be in the present moment and everything will be fine. By living mindfully, can continue our lives procrastinating, avoiding and suppressing any crisis in course.

La falsa revolución del mindfulness proporciona una manera de hacer frente a los problemas del capitalismo mediante el refugio en la fragilidad del momento presente. La nueva narración nos permite mantener conscientemente (mindfully) el status quo. Esto es un optimismo cruel que estimula el conformismo, la pasividad política y la resignación. El mindfulness se convierte así en una forma de administrar, naturalizar y soportar los sistemas tóxicos, en lugar de dirigir el cambio personal hacia un cuestionamiento crítico de las condiciones históricas, culturales y políticas que son responsables del sufrimiento social.

Todo esto no significa que el mindfulness deba ser desdeñado o que todo aquel que lo encuentre útil está engañado. Hay formas emergentes de conciencia cívica social que evitan esta trampa. Estos métodos se están liberando de un enfoque biomédico de la patología individual al integrar el activismo de la justicia social con la investigación contemplativa, cultivando el pensamiento crítico en lugar de una desconexión acrítica.

Los innovadores en este campo están reescribiendo los programas de formación en mindfulness empleando pedagogías críticas y anti opresivas. For example, Beth Berila ha desarrollado métodos de mindfulness que ayudan a los profesionales a descubrir cómo han interiorizado la opresión, así como formas de desmantelar y desaprender el privilegio. Mushim Patricia Ikeda, junto con los maestros del Centro de Meditación de East Bay, has developed numerous programs that connect social justice concerns with Buddhist teachings on interdependence to foster solidarity and consciously engaged activism. And the Mindfulness and Social Change Network in the UK is experimenting with mindfulness practices that address social topics, political and environmental.

When We recognize that disaffection, anxiety and stress are not just responsibility our, rather they are connected with structural causes, mindfulness is converts into the fuel that fires the resistance.

Ronald Purser's new book, McMindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality, [3] has been published by Repeater Books.

Article Source: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/transformation/faux-revolution-mindfulness/fbclid=IwAR1hxMY8BTKJYyJy9ZC4ROAKQVeigSFOQQCkAxrAF6ijxmQ9L-fIw8p3YV0

Translated by the team of translators of the EAP blog: www.eaplena.es


[1] A nation under stress: stress problems as an idea.

[2] it already dead: the new time of politics, culture and disease.

[3] McMindfulness: How mindfulness has become the new spirituality capitalist.

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