There is no ignoring the growing popularity of mindfulness. It’s been brought out of the shadows of Buddhist practice and into boardrooms of some of the most self-serving corporations. Like many other things lifted from Eastern thought, is mindfulness just another fad that will be here today and gone tomorrow?
Is Mindfulness a Fad?
In a recent article in Forbes magazine titled, “The ‘Mindfulness’ Craze: Headaches To Come”, the author takes a look at the “trend” of mindfulness and possible blow-back from it gaining popularity to quickly. He states four possible scenarios:
As it spreads, I suspect we’ll see some pushback:
- Some of its more zealous fans will show the proselytizing zeal you associate with those Jehovah’s Witnesses who knock on your door to inform you how wrong you are about everything.
- It will irritate many secular people who won’t appreciate the overtones and undertones of Buddhism and Zen that its many practitioners bring to it. [The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley notes that mindfulness has its roots in Buddhist practice, though its practitioners insist it need not be seen through the prism of any religion.
- It will be denounced as the work of the devil by some religiously orthodox Americans, while many conservatives will see it as yet more evidence of the eroding of America’s once-strong spine. Keep an eye out especially for the reactions of charismatic and Pentecostal Christians, who tend to be spooked by any form of mental discipline that isn’t overtly “Biblical.”
- And, of course, it will be seen as a menace by many practical people who believe that it is a distraction from their time on Facebook and Twitter.
As one who lives this day in and day out, and writes about it, I can certainly see his points. I’ll discuss these below in regard to his four areas of concern and expand on them a bit.
As with anything that people find value in believing or doing, there will always be those who feel the need to validate their own beliefs by pushing them on others. This is true of every major religion and cult worldwide. It’s even true of TV shows and movies.
Take the second Star Wars trilogy for example. There were many people who enjoyed the films. There were also many who blamed Lucas for destroying their childhoods. As these movies were so polarizing, we saw people on both sides trying so hard to convince others how good or bad the movies were. It still goes on today in forums internet-wide.
Politicos use this as a way to win campaigns. They know that they can drum up polarizing issues and get the fringe voters and TV blowhards to attack their opponents and spread their message. We just saw this in the USA as the GOP won back both houses of Congress.
The funny thing here is that with mindfulness, it can certainly be a “fad”, but there is no reason to proselatize it. There’s nothing to attack or defend really. It’s everything to do with uncoloring your thoughts and being able to see the truth in your life. This negates the need to proselatize the practice. It’s antithetical to mindfulness.
Regardless, there will still be those who do it. That can make this “trend” a trend. People will push back.
The Secular and the Conservatives
If there is anything that can stoke fires quicker than a spark in dry brush, it’s a threat to a commonly held belief structure. The USA is a great place to watch this unfold. Just look at the fear and xenophobia that exists here sharply contrasted by the progressive spirit. Both have their places and uses, especially to those who want power and know how to manipulate this.
Watch cable news and you’ll see this craziness in play. There are entire shows devoted to smashing anything that doesn’t fit within a tightly defined box. Any idea that falls outside of this box is instantly labeled as un-American and hateful. This works on both sides of the liberal/conservative divide. It’s a great money-maker for the owners, and serves to divide the electorate.
Irrespective, people will guard their beliefs like Gollum guarding the ring. I’ve written about cognitive dissonance here. It basically states that once you hold a certain belief, if you are proven wrong, even in the face of unquestionable proof, you will go to great lengths to defend your belief! It’s more painful to your ego to admit that you’re wrong than it is to defend a lie.
Luckily, when you practice mindfulness, in time you learn to see right through this crap.
So if people want to bash mindfulness for whatever reason, I say go for it. It doesn’t matter. The second you realize, like many of us do, that life might go many levels deeper than what we experience day to day, you’ll find mindfulness. You’ll see your own mind in action. You can call it mindfulness, prayer, whatever… Only then can you say whether your beliefs are true or just your own reaction to life.
As for the work of the “devil”… I’m not even going to comment on that crap.
That sounds like a great band name. Of course there are people who will denounce this as rubbish. They’ll try it once. When it doesn’t work, they’ll call it a waste of time and go back to the real world of Facebook and Twitter, or the Kardashians. So be it. It’s not for everyone.
See, I’m not proselytising…. am I? LOL!