Becoming calmer and less caught up in habitual patterns sounds like A Good Thing. However, modern promotion of secular mindfulness comes with a shadow side. This is explored in McMindfulness by Ron Purser, a professor of management in San Francisco, and a long-time Buddhist practitioner. The book expands on his scholarly work on the mindfulness industry, criticising how it’s coopted by corporate forces. To explore what he means, I interviewed Ron at Watkins Books.
Mindfulness adapts Buddhist meditation to everyday life. It seems effective at managing depression and anxiety, and is taught in schools to boost resilience and grades. Whilst it can help to share techniques to cope with stress, this limits the scope for transformation. A fixation on self gets reinforced, which serves a brutal market system. However, if mindfulness in schools were to cultivate "moral and civic virtues," as British MPs suggest it should, it could foster compassionate "pro-social" action.