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Mindfulness Reflected

A friend of mine recently posted an article on Facebook and asked if I had an opinion. (She knows I almost always have one!) You can read the original piece about mindfulness here. For a little follow up to this reflection, check out the blog on March 23.

My Response
I agree with her thesis that mindfulness has become the new trend in personal/spiritual development and that as such it is used in many of the same harmful ways as previous trends.

These sentences sum that up best, “So we give inner-city schoolchildren mindfulness classes rather than engage with education inequality, and instruct exhausted office workers in mindful breathing rather than giving them paid vacation or better health care benefits.” – It’s well said.

We hold a deep-seated attachment in this culture to our understanding of the power of self, personal choice and individual attitude, which may be misguided or even harmful. On the other hand, her piece reflects a very “us” approach to all practices of this nature. (Come to think of it, it reflects the approach we use to asses just about everything in our lives.)

In this case, mindfulness, is digested and analyzed based on a single driving metric: if consumed by me, will it make me happier, healthier, richer, better, etc? If consumed by me, will it enrich my life? If consumed by me, will I or my conditions be improved? If consumed by me, will this progress me forward in the on-going unfoldment of my best, most authentic, self and life? What is the direct and tangible (often material) value to me and my life by consuming this?

The author of this piece has thought about it and come to the conclusion that mindfulness might not deliver the value that its hype promises to … that’s valid. I, however, question the assumptions beneath her analysis. I don’t accept the metric. For now, I am interested in wondering about other metrics – or perhaps how to interact with life without analyzing it at all. Mindfulness is, in its most simple form, a method for getting to know life as it shows up to be lived. Our culture hears that and tends to ask, “Well, what good is that going to do me?” Then we hunger for a full explanation of benefits before we give our buy-in. Then we acquire, assimilate and/or reject based on return on investment. There are other ways to perceive and understand. I’d like to explore those for a while.

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