Monday, March 14, 2016

Thoughts on Mindfulness

It's been very interesting to watch the subtle changes in the decor at the local 24-hour Fitness, and in the fitness industry in general in the past few years. Modern "mindfulness" is definitely creeping in to every corner of commercial scene, complete with the well-composed, aesthetically satisfying yoga photos and cute tips like "stress is bad for stressed out bodies! don't stress!" Certainly, I welcome any increased awareness of holistic health in a society that has for far too long been obsessively reductionist.
What I've found bizarre, in a hard-to-put-a-finger-on sorta way, since I first became aware, some years ago, of the mindfulness movement [or is it just an industry?] is that it is in every way incongruous with the big picture of industrial life. Slowing down and smelling the roses is completely antithetical to what our controllers/managers/rulers would have us do in their ideal universe. Mindfulness, pursued authentically, would be extremely dangerous to the current socio-politico-economic order. When you start to reflect deeply enough to realize that huge amounts of collective stress and anxiety drive not only every-day production and markets, but culture, you're gonna have a tendency to take a step back and go, "wait, what the fuck are we doing here? does it really have to be so unpleasant?"
If the answer you find is "yes," then the goal of mindfulness will always be a farce, just a pose struck for the camera to fit in with a crowd or to sell another magazine: "10 great new de-stressing techniques! Learn them all and be your own master! Take control of your life! [Only $9.99! I'll take one]"
If your heart sings "NO!", you will tend to become interested in political economy in a way that puts you at the forefront of societal innovation; dangerous shit for those in power. They have an interest in stifling the true spirit of mindfulness while using it as just another management technique to maximize the efficiency of their labor force.
We can also interpret mindfulness not exactly at its word, but as just another trend in consumer entertainment, and we can see the figures in the photos as iconizations of ourselves, motivating us with their big, hyperreal, bolder-than-bold relatability. The big powerful slogans, the fit people looking all serious in their cute little outfits. It coheres into an impression of being part of a big important collective project. I also get the feeling like a Big Sibling is watching me from those posters. [And it's barking - "get to work! get fit! let's go! move it!"]
What are your thoughts on the modern mainstream mindfulness movement? I'd love to hear your comments below!