Writer Anna North has a new post on the “mindfulness backlash” for the New York Times‘ Op-Talk blog. In it, she writes:
[For Dr. Willoughby Britton] mindfulness in its original Buddhist tradition “is not about being able to stare comfortably at your computer for hours on end, or get ‘in the zone’ to climb the corporate ladder” — it’s about gaining insight into the human condition.
She’s not the only one to question the emphasis on meditation as a path to productivity. In Salon earlier this year, Joshua Eaton argued that the new corporate embrace of mindfulness — he mentioned a panel titled “Three Steps to Build Corporate Mindfulness the Google Way” — privileged a particular kind of “individual spiritual development” over any kind of collective consciousness or social activism. “Many Buddhists,” he wrote, “now fear their religion is turning into a designer drug for the elite.”
Michael Stone sounded a similar note a few weeks later, also in Salon, when he called for Buddhists to speak out against the use of meditation by large corporations and the U.S. military. “Mindfulness is a deeply political practice,” he wrote, “designed to reduce stress and suffering both in our own hearts and in the world of which we are a part.” It shouldn’t, he argued, be used to make members of the world’s biggest military better at killing.