From The Nation:
Whatever ails you—be it anger, depression, or wanting a career change—there is a book on how mindfulness and meditation can help you attain your goals while bringing about a sense of contentedness. Rooted in a centuries-old Buddhist meditation practice, mindfulness, like the religion it originates from, is based on the Four Noble Truths, the first of which loosely translates to “Life is suffering.” What causes suffering? Things like desiring and craving the unattainable and humans’ greed and drive for dominance. And yet the poster children of greed and dominance, corporations with ethically dubious track records, from Goldman Sachs to Google and Monsanto, have implemented mindfulness-meditation training programs across all their levels. In 2018, Google’s mindfulness guru, Chade-Meng Tan, quietly stepped down from his role at the company after an investigation uncovered past inappropriate behavior.
Stripped of all ethical and religious tenets, mindfulness meditation has morphed into a market-friendly practice, adaptable into any context. Even the US military deploys mindfulness among its commanders and troops, teaching them how to focus on their breath as they pull the trigger.
Today’s corporatized mindfulness is largely a do-it-yourself practice (with countless books, meditation apps, podcasts, gurus, and seminars) filling the vacuum of a lonely culture obsessed with self-optimization, mind hacks, and shortcuts to self-care. Modern mindfulness is often sold as evidence-based, sanitized of any cultural baggage—neuroscience with a dash of what Jon Kabat-Zinn, known as the father of the modern-day mindfulness movement, calls “the essence of Buddhism.” It’s at once secular and clinical yet sacred.
Photograph of Goat Yoga by Hans Watson via Flickr (cc).