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McMindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  341 ratings  ·  74 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 belief 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 ri
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
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 ( I sent it to my
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.
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
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.
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!)
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
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
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
I checked the bio of the author and he is likely a boomer but his style is that of the Baffler a totally Gen X leftish magazine. The snarky criticism of business culture fads that are both flaky and overbearing has Gen X middle children bridling at their attention-seeking of their boomer elders written all over it. This is not a criticism. I enjoy that style and find it surprising coming from a likely boomer. Generational BS aside it does put criticism to the business fad of appropriating mindfu ...more
Kaelan Ratcliffe▪Κάϊλαν Ράτκλιφ▪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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.”
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.

Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: counseling
Purser provides excellent analysis of the corporatization and appropriation of Buddhist dharma for the purpose of serving the neoliberal, capitalist order.
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Spot on. A bit waffley but the point is so important. Mindfulness without the whole noble eightfold path is like praying and doing nothing else to improve the world.
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
While there are good points to these books, critiquing popular things because they are popular is walking a fine line between edgy cynicism and straight up pessimistic spitballing. Some of the good points are about how mindfulness and Buddhist meditation have been sanitized, stripped of their ethical significance and reflection, and repackaged to make stressed out consumers and workers more complicit in the capitalist system. It made me notice more and more how my students who are stressed out b ...more
Rachel Brown
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is a sharp, intelligent critique not of mindfulness itself, but of mass-marketed, corporate, pop culture mindfulness. Mass produced like a Big Mac. And stripped of any nutritious value, stripped of any spiritual or ethical grounding.

The book perfectly sums up the feelings I have had about mainstream mindfulness for a while, but have not quite been able to articulate as well.

“Anything that offers success in our unjust society without trying to change it is not revolutionary — it just h
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
there is the larger (good) point that corporate wellness programs, specifically mindfulness based ones, have become extensions of the neoliberal (i hate that word too but it applies here) viewpoint that responsibility for health/everything else begins and ends with the individual & are preventing people from recognizing most causes of stress actually are socially determined and then trying to remedy them by community action etc etc etc...
but honestly the thought i had most often when reading thi
Mihai Barbat
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow! This book was a very powerful deconstruction of the mindfulness malaise that is becoming so pervasive in our neoliberal infested culture. Using a critical lens that draws from Foucault to the late Mark Fisher, the book exposes the disturbing ways in which Mindfulness is packed and sold as snake oil to the alienated souls that capitalism shapes and forms (me included).

The main point of the critique is the complete anti-revolutionary effect Mindfulness has on its adherents. By privatizing str
Frank Jude
Between the explosive popularity, commodification, and cooptation of mindfulness, and my deeper study and understanding that came from both my zen training under the Korean zen master, Samu Sunim and, especially, my Graduate Studies with Peter Harvey, I often tell students using my book for yoga teacher training that if I were writing it now, the chapter on mindfulness would be very different. Back then, my understanding of mindfulness meditation was still heavily influenced by the modernist ver ...more
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a pretty good book, though the author is very academic. But it is a good critique of companies and people who seek to make all societal problems the exclusive purview of individuals. Can't fix social inequality by meditating on yourself.
Peter Geyer
For someone of my age and background, "mindfulness" as a term easily drifts off into the old phrase of "being mindful of others" – a common admonishment of the past possibly supplanted by other phrases these days.

Someone I know said not long ago that they liked everyone, which is possibly an extreme view of this kind of mindfulness, notwithstanding in practice it can manifest itself in avoidance and projection, perhaps conflict, all of course the problem of the other person(s) because everyone
Vojtěch Tatra
McMindfulness: Whole book is quite and only an (valid) critique ... But I see not much constructive solutions or alternatives from the author, despite he acknowledged the benefits of what he critiques too. It's quite sharp narative for a author trained in zen from my point of view, which is not necessarily bad, but it's not convincing for me that it's actually not the other side of the same competitive/fight coin (which leads to dualistic I versus those bad guys/system). Yet the critique is fact ...more
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is going to piss off a lot of Kabat-Zinn followers. But I think it needs to. Even though it is indeed scathing in nature, Purser makes a strong point. (If you decide this book is too much for you, at least read the last chapter). Purser's point is that mindfulness is not just about tolerating the status quo. It's purpose is to address the suffering that originates within yourself but also to proactively interrogate the suffering you see in the world, something that it is not currently ...more
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