Mindfulness for Capitalists

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There’s a fabulous long read in the Guardian today giving a wonderful view of a left-winger’s attitudes towards Mindfulness. It’s written by a chap called Ronald Purser, who I’d not heard of before. Apparently he is a Professor of Management at San Francisco State University and likes to write culturally critical articles. He’s written a book called ‘McMindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality’.

The long and the short of the article (as you might guess from the title of his book) is that Mindfulness is a load of baloney because it makes you think about yourself and therefore makes you selfish and a Capitalist. And because lots of people are practicing mindfulness, society is collapsing because we are all becoming selfish and Capitalists, when really we should all be preparing for some great revolution (presumably based on his design) because society is completely broken and if we’re all gazing at our navels, then we aren’t out there bringing down the horrible Capitalists.

I’m guessing he’s not actually tried Mindfulness, because if he had, he’d probably know that by being mindful of your surroundings in the present moment and not following the incessant chatter of the neocortex (which mostly focusses on inane predictions about the future or wallows in useless nostalgia of the past), you tend to become more aware of other people and your relationships with them, not less, because at that point you’re looking out, not in.

It’s when you become mindful, that you tend to have moments of clarity about bigger issues, because it allows the subconscious to present you with ideas that are complex and interesting, which your chattering brain normally tends to drown out with it’s mundane rubbish.

I must agree with him that the whole eating slowly thing is a bit spurious, but that is just a small part of Mindfulness, usually a beginner’s exercise to encourage the practitioner to become more aware of their surroundings and to train the brain to actually see what the senses are presenting to it, rather than what it expects the senses will probably pass to it and ignore (see Prediction Engines).

Alas, in his eagerness to present Mindfulness as a “bad thing”, Mr Purser somewhat misses the whole point of it.

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