In a conversation with Chris Maya last year, I distinguished three main approaches to mindfulness:
- liberating: application of mindfulness within a genuine spiritual tradition leading to freedom from egoism, suffering, and distress (as in Buddha-Dhamma)
- therapeutic: application of mindfulness to psycho-emotional issues, chronic pain and stress, and other situations where it is helpful for improved well-being (as in MBSR)
- unethical: perversions of mindfulness lacking appropriate spiritual and ethical context, including manipulative control of workers for the sake of productivity, named by some as “McMindfulness”
This letter to editors of local papers concerns the abuse of mindfulness in work situations, which fits the third approach.
The letter’s perspective also applies to overly individualized framing of ‘mindfulness’ as a way for women, people of color, and other targets of bias, discrimination, micro-aggressions, and dog whistles to ‘get over it.’ Such pseudo-mindfulness tends to blame the individual when a social system is more likely to be the culprit.