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McMindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  793 ratings  ·  155 reviews
A lively and razor-sharp critique of mindfulness as it has been enthusiastically co-opted by corporations, public schools, and the US military.

Mindfulness is now all the rage. From celebrity endorsements to monks, neuroscientists and meditation coaches rubbing shoulders with CEOs at the World Economic Forum in Davos, it is clear that mindfulness has gone mainstream. Some h
Paperback, 240 pages
Published July 9th 2019 by Repeater
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May 06, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: american, sociology
The Religious Right

This fellow Ronald Purser is like the committed Marxist who knows where Communism went wrong and insists we should give it another, more radical, try (Zizek and Eagleton come to mind). Or like those perennial Christians who fervently believe that some version of their religion originating at some arbitrary point in history is the authentic one to which their co-religionists should return (David Hart Bentley is one of the more recent but the appeal to the Ole Time Religion is r
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it

“If I feel resentful, exploited and stressed-out at work, and I am instructed simply to focus on the present, how will that change the conditions that have helped to produce my agitation? It won’t.”

At the risk of being mistaken for Britta Perry, I have to say that I am pretty peeved with the trendiness (and consequently, necessary watering/dumbing down) of all things Buddhist. I remember when this College Humor video came out (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBMc9... I sent it to my
Alan Hughes
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, religion
I was introduced to the raisin in the last few years of my work. Eating a raisin is often used as an exercise to explain the mechanics and theory of mindfulness. I, along with a group of mental health service providers, were invited to look at the raisin, smell it, examine its contour and texture, hold it in our mouth and examine it with our tongue and taste buds and through this, and some other strategies, learn how to be "in the moment". We were being introduced to Mindfulness which we were as ...more
Chris Middleman
Aug 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I was desperate for someone to write this book and give voice to the critique I knew needed to be made. “Mindfulness” as colonized and commodified Buddhist thought and made into DYI neoliberal subjectification. The remedy? Sounds an awful lot like class consciousness.
Nov 02, 2020 rated it liked it
I give 5 stars to the first part of the book because it was a necessary and accurate takedown of the misuses and cooption of the "mindfulness" industry by corporate America. The rest of the book was not so great. It was just a snarky and and mostly personal takedown of Cabot-Zinn. I don't care about protecting Zinn from a takedown, but the author (Purser) goes too far and seems to be blaming Zinn and the entire mindful industry for everything wrong with modern culture. I think he's mostly right ...more
Gustav Osberg
Aug 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Love a good rant, and Purser is pissed off about the latest neoliberal co-optation.

Can even mindfulness, supposedly rooted in Buddhist teachings, be utilised as a coercive tool of governmentality or ‘psychopolitics’ (Psychopolitics: Neoliberalism and New Technologies of Power)? If we are to follow Marcuse’s diagnosis in One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society, most definitely. Mindfulness today, as Purser argues, is merely supporting or even strengthening the
Randall Wallace
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Neoliberalism has entered the mindfulness field to the point that Slavoj Zizek wrote that mindfulness is, “establishing itself as the hegemonic ideology of global capitalism.” As this book shows, the problem is that mindfulness is now devoid of the ethics which clearly accompanied it when it was a part of Buddhism. And so, mindfulness helps people “adjust to the very conditions that that caused their problems.” It reminds me of Derrick Jensen’s book “50 Simple Things You Can Do to Stay in Denial ...more
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: buddhism
This book is 90% false dilemma and 10% strawman. The argument basically boils down to 'since popular mindfulness hasn't solved global warming it's only good for creating neoliberal zombies'. I don't disagree with the author about the potential for spiritual bypass and desirability of more directly teaching about ethics and social engagement bu the model for this should be harm reduction. The fact that therapeutic uses of mindfulness may not directly address social problems does not negate the be ...more
Bogi Takács
Somewhat repetitive, but also a quick read, and it helped me verbalize one of my bigger misgivings about Western-style mindfulness. Not planning on a longer review, but it's worth picking up the book if you are interested in the topic.

Source of the book: Lawrence Public Library (who ordered it for me - thank you!)
Kaelan Ratcliffe ▪ كايِلان راتكِليف
Mindful Corporatism

As someone who takes an active interest I Buddhism, volunteers and practices at a Buddhist centre in london, has used with Headspace, engaged with Kabat-Zinn meditations and been recommended MSBR courses via therapists, I found that this was directly up my alley. Not the least because I also happen to take an interest in social critisicm and capitalist critique.

Purser has opened an extremely important dialogue that's been playing on my mind for quite some time. There's bee
Tina Miller
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was stunned. I've bought into the whole, "the only thing you can change is how you cope" practice of moving through the world. Instead, we all need to know that only changing things in the world will enable us to cope! The extremes of our current political/social culture (Trump, climate change, wealth inequity, etc,.) have occurred because it is critical that we see the difference and act. ...more
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book started very strong and I still think the overall premise is good. I got tired and the stars in my review slowly fell away as I continued reading, as the author spends a ton of time railing against Jon Kabat-Zinn in particular, and enumerating allllll the mindfulness programs that seem like they might be suspect. I think the author has a podcast, and this book reads kind of like a podcast. Excellent idea, loved the intro and the beginning, got so tired by the end that I need to read so ...more
Jt O'Neill
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ronald Purser certainly made me think about the whole mindfulness thing. Damn! I can be such a sheep. I bought the notion of mindfulness hook, line, and sinker probably ten years ago and didn't bother to question or look back or anything. I took what was presented by "the experts" (Jon Kabat-Zinn et al) and went right along with it because they were the experts. Now that I've read McMindfulness, I know to be a more critical thinker. (In my case, chalk it up to a grim childhood steeped in Catholi ...more
Cruz Zamora
Jan 13, 2022 rated it liked it
well… we all know that capitalism is the source of many issues if not most. this just confirms that and more. it’s scary reading and realizing how subtle oppressive strategies have become. essentially, how mindfulness has become a scheme for the wealthy elite to keep getting wealthy and for the income disparity to become exponentially worse than the times of the french revolution, even with adjusting for inflation. nevertheless, mindfulness hides the face of the oppressor and is more of a tactic ...more
Moon Captain
Dec 28, 2019 rated it liked it
DNF. It's a good book but I am not interested in the particulars of every single way the concept of meditation has been mangled and packaged and sold as a pacifier.

I just started reading it in a waiting room :p
Özgür Takmaz
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
We can be liberated moment to moment by meaningful action.
Mirek Jasinski
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
While a lot of criticism of the mindfulness movement and the commercialization of it is more than valid I found it difficult to cope with the author's emotional attitude. ...more
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Peter is coming back from work. Before he commits himself to the cooking a healthy meal he sits down on his cushion for some me-time. Focusing on his breath he lets go of the day. What can be wrong with this picture?

Mindfulness has been presented and proven to be as a great help for those who suffer form stress, anxiety, pain and depression. But nowadays mindfulness is presented to be much more than that. It is used to improve workers, soldiers, politicians and students. Purser, a Buddhist and l
Jun 19, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Totally on point. I was always suspicious and resistant to the mindful practices taught in a corporate environment, but never had so many arguments that would prove that there's indeed, a lot to be suspicious about. Author describes how neo-liberal individualistic approach wants to numb people from taking actions to improve their situations and challenge status quo by simply adjusting and accepting current alignment and creating "cheerful social robots". Author is also on point when saying that ...more
Frank D'hanis junior
I didn't very much care for the religious criticism in the book: since Purser is himself a Buddhist he takes issue with mindfulness opportunistically presenting itself on different occasions as religious or non-religious. Frankly as an atheist I don't care about little internecine conflict between religious adepts. What did strike home very much was his double critique of mindfulness as a largely unproven practice and as an anesthetic to keep people functioning in these neoliberal times. Even wo ...more
Polina Beloborodova
Although I disagree with some of Dr. Purser’s arguments, I throughly enjoyed reading this book. His writing is clear and convincing, with historical digressions, direct quotes from various characters who played a role in what mindfulness has become in the West, as well as accounts of his personal experience.

This book gave me a much needed antidote against mindfulness hype and justified the uneasiness that I feel about teaching it to the military and corporations. Today’s mindfulness has very lit
Jul 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
I received this book as an ARC in exchange for my review.

The term "mindfulness" has become a new catch phrase. You can't look at a self help, recovery or parenting section of a bookstore without finding a dozen or more books with 'mindful' in the title. You hear about it in school meetings, workshops, on the cover of magazines & in the news. I started to feel like this term was just the 'new thing' & wondered how watered down these approaches had become. After a few school meetings, i just about
Mehwish Mughal
Jan 15, 2022 rated it really liked it
This critique of western mindfulness needed to be written. Some takeaways:
- Mindfulness is divorced from its Buddhist traditions and sold as a secular practice to appeal to the west
-It is depoliticised - your suffering is your problem and not contingent upon historical, social, capitalist context
- It has privatised and pathologised stress - it's all in your head and let's fix it with being present in the moment or whatever
It is revolutionised by Jon Kabat-Zinn (Who is heavily criticised in the
Sophie Harrington
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
The thesis is infallible but there is significant repetition.

“Students are taught to meditate away their anger and accept their frustrations (non-judgemental, of course). This might help then focus on work, but unless the also learn about the causes of stress in social, economic and institutional structures, links between education and democracy are severed.”
Jonathan Karmel
Feb 12, 2021 rated it liked it
According to the author of this book, Ronald Purser, mindfulness training in the Buddhist tradition is inseparable from ethical development. Right mindfulness is only one part of Buddha’s Eightfold Path. The author doesn’t discuss his own background, but according to the internet, the author is a California college professor and an ordained Zen Dharma Teacher in the Korean Zen Taego order of Buddhism. Presumably, the author approves of mindfulness in that context.

McMindfulness is mindfulness pr
Jul 05, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Indispensable analysis of the American mindfulness industry. Don't be dissuaded by some of the negative reviews, I can only imagine that they come from individuals who felt personally attacked by Purser's critiques. While his tone does dip into what could be called snarky, it is far from a "Kabat-Zinn hit piece;" rather, Purser critiques the American mindfulness industry from an exhaustive number of perspectives. He concludes mindfulness, as presented and sold in this context, is not the liberat ...more
Apr 14, 2022 rated it it was ok
This book is a perfect example of being correct but having an argument so poor that it nearly invalidates it.

I was really happy to see a book that was about the shortfalls of the contemporary movement of mindfulness, as adopted by capitalism; how it reinforced the failure of the individual and not the circumstances surrounding them; how it followed an American Neoliberal ideal; etc. I thought I would be reading a book that supplied examples and anecdotal evidence of how mindfulness was co-opted
Patricia Makatsaria
Sep 02, 2021 rated it it was ok
DNF - I wanted to give this book a shot because the idea is intriguing to me, and I do think the proliferation of mindfulness in American society is one to be examined. However, after about a quarter of the way thru I simply got tired of the author’s catastrophization (I think that’s a word) of the movement. And really it seemed more of a commentary on capitalism and neoliberalism. As my late grandmother would say, “Thanks, but not for me!”
Jan 31, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, culture
Oh, so many thoughts on this. He juxtaposes mindfulness (yoga, meditation) and capitalism. My first thought was why in the world would you pit those two things against each other? He takes mindfulness as a revolutionary practice...but was that really ever what it was? I mean, who thought meditation, a seemingly solipsistic act, would bring about world peace? (Note that it's the solipsism that he seems to be raging against.) He seems to want the original Buddhist practice, not the Americanized ve ...more
Dustless Walnut
Feb 28, 2020 rated it did not like it
May as well have been shortened to an op-ed: "Corporate Mindfulness: It Stinks and I Hate it, Almost As Much As Neoliberalism!"

No new information, incredibly repetitive, full of buzzwords. I think mindfulnish as preached by Kabat-Zinn and Chopra is nonsense and just leftist versions of Jordan Peterson, but this book gives no new insight on the practice to anyone.

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128 likes · 5 comments
“Anything that offers success in our unjust society without trying to change it is not revolutionary — it just helps people cope.” 8 likes
“The Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek has analyzed this trend with great acuity. As he sees it, mindfulness is “establishing itself as the hegemonic ideology of global capitalism,” by helping people “to fully participate in the capitalist dynamic while retaining the appearance of mental sanity.” 5 likes
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