Mindfulness is just Buddhism sold to you by neoliberals

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firemonkee57

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#1
Posted by Peter Doran February 26 2018

Mindfulness is big business, worth in excess of $1bn (£7.2m) in the US alone and linked – somewhat paradoxically – to an expanding range of must-have products. These include downloadable apps (1,300 at the last count), books to read or colour in and online courses. Mindfulness practice and training is now part of a global wellness industry worth trillions of dollars.

Mindfulness is just Buddhism sold to you by neoliberals | The Independent


What do people think? Is it being used as a neoliberal tool?
 
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la femme folle

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#2
Everything is. If it can make money for someone, it is a neoliberal tool.

I went to mindfulness classes last year and they didn't really include the Buddhism aspect, it was more for middle class people who were stressed. The lady knew I had had a psychotic episode and said it probably would not work well if I was psychotic, but even with the OCD it was harder.

It was just seen as a way of handling stress from work and a busy lifestyle. Which of course with neoliberalism is expected and seen as natural.
 
Parayana

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Sounds like a load of old right wing shite to me so I didn't read the article. As a practicing Buddhist I can definitely say that secular mindfulness is not Buddhism - as I told a nurse at my CMHT when asked if I was interested in their mindfulness course "I have no interest in secular mindfulness".

Secular mindfulness misses out certain key teachings that make mindfulness Buddhist. The four noble truths, the eight fold path, the five precepts for a lay man and the three marks of existence - anicca, dukkha and anatta, so it's definitely not Buddhism.

Just my 2 pence on the subject. YMMV.
 
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firemonkee57

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#4
For me it seems to be very much focussed on making you more content with your place in the capitalist hierarchy .
 
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ramboghettouk

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#5
my tibetan buddhism place is now calling it's meditation mindfulness meditation
 
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la femme folle

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For me it seems to be very much focussed on making you more content with your place in the capitalist hierarchy .
Yeah it's not very Buddhist, I don't know much about it but I am fairly sure it's very much not what Buddhism is about.

I don't have any self discipline, but all in all the kind of discipline neoliberals believe in is more to do with working as long as possible for an employer who couldn't care less about you, and paying taxes that the rich and powerful don't think they should pay. :mad:
 
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ramboghettouk

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if you read the article he says self care is now in with community care out and mindfulness comes under self care

there were a group of buddhists in china who taught lack of interest in material things included lack of interest in the state and it's power, the doctrine was seen as a threat, the emperor had them all slaughtered
 
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TheRedStar

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What do people think? Is it being used as a neoliberal tool?
Yes, I personally believe that it is... it's a sticking plaster being used to treat the symptoms of something, because the powers that be will not apply a preventative solution. As la femme folle wrote, "a way of handling stress from work and a busy lifestyle"... as opposed to fundamentally reducing people's levels of stress and busyness.

I also agree with Firemonkee's feeling that "it seems to be very much focussed on making you more content with your place in the capitalist hierarchy." Again, it's treating the symptom (discontentment) rather than the cause (the capitalist hierarchy). My repeated referrals to CBT courses have led me to notice mindfulness being incorporated into mental health care, and straightaway it felt to me as though this approach 'blames' the patient for their illness, and tacitly promotes conformity as cure.

A concept mentioned in the article which hasn't yet been raised here is that of "self-regulation in pursuit of resilience" (the emphasis there is my own). It seems to me 'resilience' is a trait which 'They' are mentioning increasingly frequently that us plebs 'need' to be, which my mind translates as 'happy to be disposable and insecure'... I've even seen the fostering of this trait in children being posited as something that the educational system 'needs' to be doing.

If I choose to see this as part of a 'grand plan', then suddenly mindfulness occupies a neat place in preparing people for a next stage of Western neoliberalism which is already well underway - the normalisation of work which is not only transient but insecure while it lasts, which is repetitive and offers little 'meaning' or social value, which pays little and offers few to no benefits, and which demands loyalty, flexibility, and enthusiasm from employees whilst providing the bare minimum of anything back in return.

People can say and think what they like about Jeremy Corbyn, but his movement within Labour is the only faction within the three main political parties that would change what I've described above - the Tories and their voters actively want such a future, and while the Lib-Dems and New Labour talk a good game when they're grubbing for voters, ultimately they lack either the will or the backbone to challenge neoliberalism.
 
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Kerome

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#9
I think there are two sides to this discussion... on the one hand it is true that mindfulness has found a place in the neoliberal playbook, and that partially accounts for its popularity. At the same time as Parayana noted it’s not really very Buddhist, it’s the thinnest possible slice of Buddhist heritage just because that’s where it came from.

Also, I would say that learning mindfulness helps you with your independence, with your resilience against neoliberalism’s pressures. It’s free from ideology, as long as you don’t look at the Buddhist ancestry, but it is still a useful tool to add to ones set of abilities.

Lastly I think the simple fact is that mindfulness is beneficial to people, and that’s why it’s been a success with many people. That it fits into one agenda or another is kind of secondary.
 
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ramboghettouk

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I think there are two sides to this discussion... on the one hand it is true that mindfulness has found a place in the neoliberal playbook, and that partially accounts for its popularity. At the same time as Parayana noted it’s not really very Buddhist, it’s the thinnest possible slice of Buddhist heritage just because that’s where it came from.

Also, I would say that learning mindfulness helps you with your independence, with your resilience against neoliberalism’s pressures. It’s free from ideology, as long as you don’t look at the Buddhist ancestry, but it is still a useful tool to add to ones set of abilities.

Lastly I think the simple fact is that mindfulness is beneficial to people, and that’s why it’s been a success with many people. That it fits into one agenda or another is kind of secondary.
the reason mindfulness is taught to the mentally ill isn't that it's beneficial to people, it's that it saves on resources, like so many other things pushed
 
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#11
the reason mindfulness is taught to the mentally ill isn't that it's beneficial to people, it's that it saves on resources, like so many other things pushed
Don't know about secular mindfulness not being beneficial but I find Buddhist meditation very beneficial. I did 25 minutes mindfulness of breathing earlier on and it's left me feeling well chilled and happy even hours later. Of course it's taken me a few years to reach that stage but it's far superior to any hit I've ever had from any drug or alcohol, going to finish my coffee and do loving-kindness sit.
 
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ramboghettouk

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#12
mindfulness or the meditation i use i'd swear by but whether as an alternative to meds and recently it's not as effective against anxiety, may look into a new group but with my social anxiety running high it'll be difficult
 
Parayana

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I don't use it as an alternative to meds, Rambo. I use it as a way to augment the benefit I get from meds, I'm certainly not going to stop taking meds. For me the meds stop nearly all my symptoms, I use mindfulness as a way to deal with any residual paranoid or anxious thoughts that have become habits in my mind.

Buddhist meditation is certainly not for everyone - it can bring up things from the subconcious, it's not all blissed out smiles and moments of satori, but i find two to three hours a day in thirty to forty five minute sessions very beneficial. However push too deep into your mind and you will come face to face with your animal self - alone with only you to stand up to it, that doesn't scare me but it could be destabilising for some people, it's one of the reasons I don't do intensive retreats.

I do believe that some gentle loving-kindness (or metta to use the pali word) would benefit a lot of people though.
 
SomersetScorpio

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#14
A concept mentioned in the article which hasn't yet been raised here is that of "self-regulation in pursuit of resilience" (the emphasis there is my own). It seems to me 'resilience' is a trait which 'They' are mentioning increasingly frequently that us plebs 'need' to be, which my mind translates as 'happy to be disposable and insecure'... I've even seen the fostering of this trait in children being posited as something that the educational system 'needs' to be doing.
I remember this absolutely shocking appointment I had with my care coordinator when I was in a major crisis and extremely suicidal.
I was asking her what was the point in carrying on because everything I try will inevitably lead me back to depression.
Her answer was that in the future, I would gain resilience!
It would be funny if it wasn't so fucking tragic. She couldn't have been any further from the point if she tried. :low:

As for the mindfulness debate, I remember someone on here a few years ago (can't remember who) describing it as essentially "giving yourself the silent treatment".
I think it pretty much sums it up.
Be mindful of how shit you feel and then turn the other cheek so you can get on with your life like a normal person. :shrug:

It's all a load of shit really.
The main things people are being offered for mental health issues are shite... CBT and mindfulness. Great! :rolleyes:
 
Kerome

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#15
It's all a load of shit really.
The main things people are being offered for mental health issues are shite... CBT and mindfulness. Great! :rolleyes:
This is kind of true. There is no magic bullet which will make things better. Nor is there a tremendously wise doctor to whom you can say “please heal me, make me well again”, and you can just hand the problem over to someone else.

Instead all recovery starts with you. If you take responsibility and charge of your own care, then things can improve, you can take these things which are being offered and realise they’re all tools to help you take control and improve your situation.

Of course you will still have ups and downs, good days and bad. The vulnerability you have is not suddenly going to go away. But you’ll feel a lot better in control of your own outcomes.
 
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la femme folle

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Sounds like a load of old right wing shite to me so I didn't read the article. As a practicing Buddhist I can definitely say that secular mindfulness is not Buddhism - as I told a nurse at my CMHT when asked if I was interested in their mindfulness course "I have no interest in secular mindfulness".
Well it is something I have been encouraged to do and I got a reduced rate for being on welfare. A psychologist I had once said to me that 20 minutes mindfulness practice a day could get rid of OCD but I think after over 30 years of such thought patterns that is a bit optimistic.

I can't see me adopting a Buddhist lifestyle, no offence, but I am not disciplined enough and it is not a reflection on the belief system, more in my inadequacies. I admire people who can adopt that way of life but someone like me could never hope to do so.

Resilience is a kind of neoliberal buzz word though, so I agree with TRS there. Last week I was meant to start a course on that but something else came up. I didn't really think of it in neoliberal terms at the time as I know I am too sensitive to negative comments from others. But it kind of is a good thing to be, resilient, in this world, if you lose your job, which can lead to family break ups, relationship break ups or homelessness and jobs nowadays are not secure.

When I practice mindfulness in bed I always fall asleep. The self compassion exercise was harder because it triggered the OCD thoughts and compulsions, and it's probably something I need to work on, but it will take more than mindfulness alone to start liking myself anyway. Mh professionals don't do self compassion classes, and they probably should, but giving you a diagnosis that says you are abnormal and broken is not going to encourage it either.
 
Parayana

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#17
La femme, it took me the best part of seven years for my Buddhist practice to pay off but at least now I can accept myself as I am - warts and all, in Mindfulness in Plain English Bhante Gunaratana says the first step in changing is total acceptance of yourself as you are, at least I don't hate myself anymore.

Personally you don't have to shave your head or wear sheet to practice Buddhism - the five precepts for a lay man or woman are not the ten commandments they are simply tools that lead to as calmer mind, I don't know what a Buddhist lifestyle is if there is one - don't think I live it. As for not having the time or the discipline well it took me a while to acquire that and to paraphrase Ajahn Chah if you've got time to breathe you've got time to meditate. But as I said above Buddhism isn't for everyone - it suits me though and I'm glad I found it.
 
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la femme folle

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So how did you acquire discipline then?

When I think about it I have shown discipline in the past and OCD itself has meant denying myself things, so maybe I just have discipline for the wrong things. Apart from just being lazy I wonder if I just don't feel that self love or liking myself/caring for myself is that important, but I know a lot of people with OCD type thinking say their brain is 'too active' for mindfulness. It has been a while since I have really been able to stop the thoughts taking hold while practicing it, and I have a theory why, but I find being disciplined for it very difficult for some reason.

Tbh the forum is addictive and I had come off all social media, but after talking to a relative about career choices decided to come back on here as I wanted to get back to helping others again in some way and it is a safer space to vent personal feelings and problems. But I spend more time doing this than I should and have again concentrated less on the mindfulness practice or anything else related.

Maybe I am just not cut out for spiritual practices but I don't see why that makes me a bad person necessarily. I still feel inferior to spiritual people though, and if it could help me like myself it is really something I should be doing.. at my age though I don't see me accepting myself now as I have hated myself since I was a child. :scratcheshead:
 
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ramboghettouk

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#19
at my buddhist centre they meditated on things to be grateful for, one was that you had come across the buddhis teaching, another was you'd been born human and able to follow it, another was you had the time to follow it ans so on, the last was that you hadn't been born disabled and unable to follow the practice

some women said she was disabled the reply was your going to hell but it's alright the buddhist hell isn't as bad as the christian one
 
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la femme folle

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at my buddhist centre they meditated on things to be grateful for, one was that you had come across the buddhis teaching, another was you'd been born human and able to follow it, another was you had the time to follow it ans so on, the last was that you hadn't been born disabled and unable to follow the practice

some women said she was disabled the reply was your going to hell but it's alright the buddhist hell isn't as bad as the christian one
??

What was that, the Nazi Buddhist centre?
 
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