website statistics Mindfulness and Its Discontents: Education, Self, and Social Transformation - PDF Books Online
Hot Best Seller

Mindfulness and Its Discontents: Education, Self, and Social Transformation

Availability: Ready to download

Mindfulness, a way to alleviate suffering by realizing the impermanence of the self and our interdependence with others, has been severed from its Buddhist roots. In the late-stage-capitalist, neoliberal, solipsistic West it becomes McMindfulness, a practice that instead shores up the privatized self, corporatized and repackaged as a strategy to cope with our stressful soc Mindfulness, a way to alleviate suffering by realizing the impermanence of the self and our interdependence with others, has been severed from its Buddhist roots. In the late-stage-capitalist, neoliberal, solipsistic West it becomes McMindfulness, a practice that instead shores up the privatized self, corporatized and repackaged as a strategy to cope with our stressful society through an emphasis on self-responsibility and self-promotion, and is ignorant of the larger social, cultural and political contexts that contribute to stress, unhappiness and failure. Rather than a way to promote human development and social justice, McMindfulness covertly reinforces neoliberalism and capitalism, self-promoting systems that worsen our suffering. In Mindfulness and Its Discontents David Forbes provides an integral framework for a critical, social, moral mindfulness that both challenges unmindful practices and ideas and provides a way forward. He analyzes how education curricula across North America employ mindfulness: to help students learn to succeed in a neoliberal society by enhancing the ego through emphasizing individualistic skills and the self-regulation of anger and stress. Forbes argues that mindfulness educators instead should uncover and resist the sources of stress and distress that stem from an inequitable, racist, individualistic, market-based (neoliberal) society.


Compare

Mindfulness, a way to alleviate suffering by realizing the impermanence of the self and our interdependence with others, has been severed from its Buddhist roots. In the late-stage-capitalist, neoliberal, solipsistic West it becomes McMindfulness, a practice that instead shores up the privatized self, corporatized and repackaged as a strategy to cope with our stressful soc Mindfulness, a way to alleviate suffering by realizing the impermanence of the self and our interdependence with others, has been severed from its Buddhist roots. In the late-stage-capitalist, neoliberal, solipsistic West it becomes McMindfulness, a practice that instead shores up the privatized self, corporatized and repackaged as a strategy to cope with our stressful society through an emphasis on self-responsibility and self-promotion, and is ignorant of the larger social, cultural and political contexts that contribute to stress, unhappiness and failure. Rather than a way to promote human development and social justice, McMindfulness covertly reinforces neoliberalism and capitalism, self-promoting systems that worsen our suffering. In Mindfulness and Its Discontents David Forbes provides an integral framework for a critical, social, moral mindfulness that both challenges unmindful practices and ideas and provides a way forward. He analyzes how education curricula across North America employ mindfulness: to help students learn to succeed in a neoliberal society by enhancing the ego through emphasizing individualistic skills and the self-regulation of anger and stress. Forbes argues that mindfulness educators instead should uncover and resist the sources of stress and distress that stem from an inequitable, racist, individualistic, market-based (neoliberal) society.

37 review for Mindfulness and Its Discontents: Education, Self, and Social Transformation

  1. 4 out of 5

    Evelina | AvalinahsBooks

    Mindfulness and Its Discontents is a critique of the current direction of mindfulness educators, but it isn't only that. It's also a critique of society – a society that tries to promote compassion, and yet is incredibly uncompassionate to those it tries to teach. A society that tells the people to calm down, suck it up and "learn to control your emotional flow", regardless of the conditions the people are in and ignoring any real reasons for the stress they may be experiencing – because Mindfulness and Its Discontents is a critique of the current direction of mindfulness educators, but it isn't only that. It's also a critique of society – a society that tries to promote compassion, and yet is incredibly uncompassionate to those it tries to teach. A society that tells the people to calm down, suck it up and "learn to control your emotional flow", regardless of the conditions the people are in and ignoring any real reasons for the stress they may be experiencing – because according to most mindfulness educator programs it's the stress that needs to be fixed, and not the stressor. Not the three jobs, not the poverty, not the discrimination of certain groups of society that fall through the cracks. The author of this book dubs this 'McMindfulness' and claims it does not address the reasons why someone is having negative emotions, instead it just seeks to dull them. The perfect illustration of this is the well known meme of the dog in the burning room, saying it's all fine, when clearly nothing is fine. Mindfulness and Its Discontents also talks a lot about racism and neoliberalism and how unfair it is to teach mindfulness to children of color or children from impoverished families, and ask them to ignore the inequality they experience, while focusing on the stress and not the causes of the stress they experience – so they'd bite down the hurt and just learn to take it in stride and behave in the classroom, like good corporate drones that they're growing up to be. If they're lucky to get jobs with benefits, that is. At the same time, the promotion of such a solution – mindfulness – teaches the rest of the society to just ignore these problems and also learn to silence their mind and listen to what's there – but what's there without any moral soul searching is usually just the ego. The ego who will not "do the right thing, if only you learn to be aware". The ego will do what it has been taught, and that includes our prejudices, insecurities, microaggressions and all sorts of stuff you don't want to be helping you make decisions. Becoming more aware doesn't mean you will automatically do the right thing. Becoming aware without trying to work out your attachments, your misled beliefs and working through your hangups only makes you more concentrated on egoistic thought, and that's what the mindfulness movement seems to be ignoring. I found this quite an interesting book in terms of the concept it was explaining, but you must keep it in mind that Mindfulness and Its Discontents is not a book for fun or for philosophising. It reads more like a university thesis or scientific paper – and it's geared specifically towards educators. So while for me, a complete outsider in terms of education in the US, this was an interesting foray into this area of thought (I don't even live in the US... nor do I have anything to do with education), there were also a lot of times where I couldn't connect or thought the book wasn't quite for me. Which is why I'm saying that you really need to consider if you're the target audience for this book – someone in social sciences, with background in education or maybe working with children or teens in the US right now – and if you are, this book will be a great source of thought material to chew on for you. If not, well, you might get a little bored. Keep that in mind! I thank the publisher for giving me a free copy for review through NetGalley in exchange to my honest review. This has not affected my opinion. Book Blog | Themed Bookstagram | Quick Update Bookstagram | Bookish Twitter

  2. 4 out of 5

    Hope

    Mindfulness has become a buzz word in the last few years. The term has taken on so many different meanings in the West and is all at once meditation, letting go of your ego, getting to know your inner self, practicing kindness, learning to let your thoughts go, sitting still for a long time, not thinking, thinking a lot, hot/bikram/beer/whatever-have-you yoga, balancing stones, being thoughtful, wellness, and a lot of lotus flowers. If you’re feeling a bit lost about what mindfulness actually me Mindfulness has become a buzz word in the last few years. The term has taken on so many different meanings in the West and is all at once meditation, letting go of your ego, getting to know your inner self, practicing kindness, learning to let your thoughts go, sitting still for a long time, not thinking, thinking a lot, hot/bikram/beer/whatever-have-you yoga, balancing stones, being thoughtful, wellness, and a lot of lotus flowers. If you’re feeling a bit lost about what mindfulness actually means, or maybe you feel that the definitions or ways it has been taught to you don’t sit right then David Forbes’ up-close analysis of mindfulness in his book Mindfulness and Its Discontents is for you. This fairly short book (under 200 pages) packs a punch. Forbes does not hold back on why and how mindfulness has been dislocated from its Buddhist roots, or how it has been co-opted by neoliberalism to further promote self-serving consumerist ideologies. The book can feel very philosophy heavy, but Forbes also has a great reference section at the end of the book for followup reading. He also offers fairly straightforward definitions of major philosophical themes like Michel Foucault’s ‘governmentality’. Forbes’ book isn’t just complaining about how things are, but I truly believe he offers some interesting ways in which we could all benefit from when thinking about mindfulness. I was first intrigued by Forbes’ book because I have been watching mindfulness from the sidelines. I have tried out a few free trials with the Headspace app and I started to hear a lot of people in my life talk about mindfulness seminars at work and in school. It seemed like everyone was doing it, yet I also got the impression that a lot of people didn’t know what ‘it’ was. Now as I mentioned before, I myself am no expert and I turn to Forbes’ definitions of mindfulness to give a brief overview of what it is. WHAT IS MINDFULNESS? Person kneeling before a wall in meditative pose We cannot talk about mindfulness without first talking about Buddhism because the former is deeply rooted in the latter. Buddhism is one of the world’s major religions. If you believe Wikipedia, it is practiced by over 500 million people today. Some argue that Buddhism could also be interpreted as a philosophy rather than religion, or as a way of life. It has moral codes, it encourages kindness and mindfulness as well as helping others, and it asks its followers to constantly learn and develop wisdom. Mindfulness is one of the eight paths towards becoming free from self-attachment and reaching enlightenment. It is about letting go of the egocentric self. As Forbes’ posits, mindfulness should “help us reflect on, challenge, and change not just ourselves but our relationships, communities, and unjust social organizations.” HOW DID WE GET MINDFULNESS WRONG? The aforementioned (and brief) definition of mindfulness sounds like a positive idea. We could all do with a bit of self-examination, letting go of our egos, and being kind to each other. So what is the big problem? How could such a positive thing be exploited and used against its own purpose? Forbes points out not just the four major ways that mindfulness has been tainted, but also the solutions to these issues. Forbes looks at mindfulness with a close attention to how it is used in schools, yet I believe you could easily use these same conversations mindfulness all throughout the West. THE PROBLEMS NEOLIBERALISM Forbes uses George Moribiot’s definition of neoliberalism stating: "Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that ‘the market’ delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning." Forbes also goes one step further to say that the citizen is also a product that can be marketed and branded. By being the self, you can compete in a ruthless market that pits us against one another. It focuses on a hedonic version of happiness where self-gratification and using the self as a commodity trump “using your highest skills in the service of helping others realise a more decent life.” Mindfulness is and should always be positioned in between the absolute and the relative. That is to say, relative to the self or relative to ‘me’ and the community I am in, and an absolute truth of reality beyond the self. Neoliberalism as Forbes suggests, cuts off the community aspect of the relative. Instead of challenging social, cultural, and systemic structures that cause personal and collective stresses, it asks us to self-regulate. By only looking to ourselves for answers, we do not challenge dominant power structures. When used for neoliberalist ideals, mindfulness “helps you de-stress so you can return to more stressful striving. You can then improve your personal brand and become a more marketable commodity yourself.” This ego-centric nature of neoliberalism also allows you to “pay attention to whatever you want,” and this leads us to Forbes’ next problem. LACK OF INTERSECTIONALITY Forbes uses a common thought exercise, ‘the raisin exercise’, to highlight how intersectionality is a vital part of mindfuless, yet is often not addressed. In the raisin exercise, people are given a raisin and they are asked to use their five senses to understand and interact with the dried fruit. This, however, is an extremely egocentric way of focusing on the raisin, because Forbes also states that we should also be thinking about where the raisin came from, who picked it for us, how were the workers treated, etc. Contemporary mindfulness does not address race, trauma, sexism, and poverty according to Forbes. The lack of intersectionality ties back in with the issues of neoliberalism where the individual is the source of any unhappiness they experience and also the solution. Yet systemic problems, and every culture has them, often dictate people’s lives. An African American person being shot by a policeman because they are black has structural powers beyond their control dictating their life and death. McMINDFULNESS As you have probably noticed by now, Forbes’ problems with mindfulness often link to and feed off one another and McMindfulness is no exception. Forbes discussions of McMindfulness directly address the way that mindfulness is used by big business and the schooling system to subdue employees and students. When employees are stressed they are given mindfulness courses. For many the idea being that by changing their inner self they can just get on with things. By always directing the gaze to the self, Forbes argues that we do not challenge the structures around us. Working 60 hours a week? – take a course on how to de-stress before bed so you can take on a 70 hour work week. To summarise: "Inner work, self-reflection, is crucial to full human development. Inquiry into ones personal thoughts, beliefs, feelings, the meaning of one’s family history, and states of consciousness; into one’s imagination; into those aspects of oneself of which one is unaware; into troublesome and unhealthy thoughts; into how one’s worldview and emotional make u have been condition by ideologies, assumptions, and experiences from one’s past history and from the dominant society; inquiry into the very nature and development of the self: these are essential practices that mindfulness programs […] seldom engage or encourage—although they can and should." HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY I’ve talked about this before in my blog and with lots of friends of mine and I found myself nodding aggressively when I got to Forbes’ discussions on negative emotions, such as anger. In a lot of contemporary interpretations of mindfulness anger ‘should’ be turned into mindfulness, compassion, and understanding. And it certainly should not be felt. Yet, anger and other tough emotions like sadness, grief, frustration, and broken-heartedness are not always negative. Giving people tools to understand where these emotions came from and how they can challenge the internal and external causes of these emotions is crucial. Constantly being happy is just not possible. By assuming happiness as the base-line for all human interaction and existence we tell individuals that they have failed when they are not perpetually happy. Returning back to intersectionality, it also doesn’t allow individuals to ask bigger questions about their communities and surroundings. Often times our anger, stress, and sadness have systemic roots. THE SOLUTION Forbes has a pretty simple solution to the major problems with mindfulness, which I have touched upon in the discussion of the initial problems. We need to look at the self in relation to the outer, the community, and not just the inner. We need to not just wake up—practice productive meditation and inner-self recognition—but also stay woke—look at the way that social, cultural, and systemic structures influence the world around us. We need to be comfortable with all of our emotions rather than suppress the very human parts of our being. And lastly, know that being good at meditating and shutting off your thoughts, isn’t what mindfulness should be about. Do you practice mindfulness? Will you be incorporating any of Forbes’ ideas and solutions for making mindfulness great again? (I had to do that pun. Sorry not sorry). As always, share the reading love. NOTE: This novel was was accessed through Netgalley and Fernwood Publishing for review purposes. Expected publication is March 2019.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I loved this. It really made me reevaluate how I want to use mindfulness both personally and as a teacher with my students. It explained how mindfulness has been taken out of context and now reinforces the idea that stress is normal and something we have to overcome to do more work rather than a tool to help us want to change the circumstances that are causing our suffering, I would recommend it to all educators and those who take mindfulness seriously.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Grace

    If you're too lazy to read this book, check out this interview with the author: "Mindfulness meditation in America has a capitalism problem" https://www.vox.com/science-and-healt... If you're too lazy to read this book, check out this interview with the author: "Mindfulness meditation in America has a capitalism problem" https://www.vox.com/science-and-healt...

  5. 5 out of 5

    University of Chicago Magazine

    David Forbes, AB'71 Author From the author: "Mindfulness, a way to alleviate suffering by realizing the impermanence of the self and our interdependence with others, has been severed from its Buddhist roots. In the late-stage-capitalist, neoliberal, solipsistic West, it becomes McMindfulness, a practice that instead shores up the privatized self, and is corporatized and repackaged as a strategy to cope with our stressful society through an emphasis on self-responsibility and self-promotion. Rather David Forbes, AB'71 Author From the author: "Mindfulness, a way to alleviate suffering by realizing the impermanence of the self and our interdependence with others, has been severed from its Buddhist roots. In the late-stage-capitalist, neoliberal, solipsistic West, it becomes McMindfulness, a practice that instead shores up the privatized self, and is corporatized and repackaged as a strategy to cope with our stressful society through an emphasis on self-responsibility and self-promotion. Rather than a way to promote human development and social justice, McMindfulness covertly reinforces neoliberalism and capitalism, the very self-promoting systems that worsen our suffering. "In Mindfulness and Its Discontents, David Forbes provides an integral framework for a critical, social, moral mindfulness that both challenges unmindful practices and ideas and provides a way forward. He analyzes how education curricula across North America employ mindfulness: to help students learn to succeed in a neoliberal society by enhancing the ego through emphasizing individualistic skills and the self-regulation of anger and stress. Forbes argues that mindfulness educators instead should uncover and resist the sources of stress and distress that stem from an inequitable, racist, individualistic, market-based (neoliberal) society and shows how school mindfulness programs can help bring about one that is more transformative, compassionate and just."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Tran

    I had wanted to like this book more, but it was dry at times and focused really heavily on education (in the USA). However, I think the thesis is still super important and relevant, but I wasn't really the target audience. It might be a better read if you are familiar with developmental models. I had wanted to like this book more, but it was dry at times and focused really heavily on education (in the USA). However, I think the thesis is still super important and relevant, but I wasn't really the target audience. It might be a better read if you are familiar with developmental models.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Twinklybugs

  8. 5 out of 5

    Heather Bennett

    Mindfulness and it's Discontents is not quite what I was expecting. This would not be in my favourite 100 books on Mindfulness. Mindfulness and it's Discontents is not quite what I was expecting. This would not be in my favourite 100 books on Mindfulness.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dan Zigmond

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nomi Naeem

  11. 5 out of 5

    Katrina Bocanegra

  12. 5 out of 5

    Purple

  13. 5 out of 5

    LeeRay

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bart Everson

  15. 5 out of 5

    ~Geektastic~

  16. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cat

  18. 5 out of 5

    Elijah

  19. 5 out of 5

    D

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  21. 5 out of 5

    LC

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jim Toepel

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amber Tucker

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mikhail

  25. 4 out of 5

    Katie

  26. 5 out of 5

    J

  27. 4 out of 5

    julian

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ebony

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sam Alpha

  30. 4 out of 5

    Velms

  31. 5 out of 5

    Britney Carbajal

  32. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

  33. 4 out of 5

    Abraham Broudy

  34. 4 out of 5

    Andreana

  35. 5 out of 5

    Barry Cochran

  36. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  37. 4 out of 5

    Laura

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...