17 December 2019

Ronald Purser: “[C]onventional mindfulness training finds it difficult to tie these two things [individual mindfulness and collective action] together because it views the self as a separate psychological entity. By placing the self, rather than the whole, at the center, mindfulness can function as a higher, therapeutic octave of neoliberalism, reverberating and transmitting dominant cultural assumptions about individual responsibility for stress and anxiety. The atomized self is positioned as the fulcrum of its own success and failure, while the causes of suffering are localized — contained within our own minds regardless of the broader context, which only collective action can transform. … This unbalanced tilt towards inner development not only reinforces a neo-liberal view of the world, but it is deeply disempowering. … Faced by multiple and interlinked crises of injustice, inequality and environmental degradation, this simply isn’t good enough. … [T]he insularity and quiescence that many apolitical mindfulness programs promote no longer serves us. We need a new language and praxis of spiritual and political liberation that isn’t muted by the weak balm of self-improvement. That, I hope, will be the future of mindfulness.”