Mindfulness, work, and organizational life in balance with private space
The approaches about mindfulness can be viewed in relation to work, professional life and the balance with the private sphere. Mindfulness is not just a symptom of modernity and our maladaptation to a stressful life, it is also a way to cope with long existing diseases and health issues such as depression, anxiety and the search for meaning or solution for mental ills or preoccupations.
Mindfulness can also be considered as a tool for enhancing compassion (Jazaieri et al. 2013) and gratitude. In this sense it has a positive meaning very close to the positive psychology movement or tradition.
I have tried to combine personal experience and its ensuing subjective knowledge with the more objective knowledge based either on science or dedicated scholarship done by academics and experienced practitioners of mindfulness and related matters such as meditation or even spirituality.
I did appreciate the balanced presentation of the subject by Go-to Jones and Willem Kuyken and Rebecca Crane, as well as other specialists. My worry is twofold. On the one hand, as discussed earlier, is the commodification or the taking by storm of unscrupulous business managers (Purser 2019) in order to take advantage of a billion dollars market, just for the US in 2015, and still growing. Even the Covid-19 has been a boon for the business, offering “quick fixes” for mental disorders, stress, and other issues, without any reflection on the secondary effects of such practices.
The second worry has to do with the transformation of mindfulness as something easy, positive and without any considerations on its limits and how it can contribute to harm, in some circumstances.
The course gave an interesting introduction to mindfulness, in its philosophical and psychological dimensions. The former is very interesting in dealing with both issues I highlighted: commodification and simplification (reductionism). The latter is important in order to resist abuse through commodification and a glorification of its success and simplification, without taking into account more seriously its limits and secondary effects (Baer 2003; Valerio 2016). Mindfulness is important, but it cannot be sold as a cure all product or as a solution to deeper mental issues without the help and attention of a practitioner, and sometimes the meditation teacher or mindfulness trainer is not enough.
Above all, and after all those reflections, I think that it is important to use mindfulness ethically and with a clear idea of the purpose. If it is in the direction of positive psychology, I would support it. In a way, that is the general orientation of the current course “De-mystifying mindfulness”, with a very important philosophical considerations of its limits and possibilities, and the danger, namely with commercial mindfulness. Indeed, if the stressful professional life creates stress, why extending the consumerscape or the consumption space for “solving” an issue that is the result of the dysfunction of a system that produced it in the first place.
Baer, R.A. (2003), Mindfulness Training as a Clinical Intervention: A Conceptual and Empirical Review. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10: 125-143. doi:10.1093/clipsy.bpg015
Jazaieri, H., Jinpa, G.T., McGonigal, K. et al. Enhancing Compassion: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Compassion Cultivation Training Program. J Happiness Stud 14, 1113–1126 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-012-9373-z
Purser, R. E. (2019). McMindfulness: How mindfulness became the new capitalist spirituality. London: Repeater.
Valerio A (2016). “Owning Mindfulness: A Bibliometric Analysis of Mindfulness Literature Trends Within and Outside of Buddhist Contexts”. Contemporary Buddhism. 17: 157–83. doi:10.1080/14639947.2016.1162425