Mindfulness for All?

I recently got an email from UCSB’s Wellness Program and Psychology Department inviting the UCSB community to comment on a proposal that everyone (students, staff and faculty) receive mindfulness training so as to reduce burnout and other contemporary ailments.  Mindfulness training is indeed something everyone should consider–its benefits are considerable–but something about this email made me feel chilly, like the spirit of Big Brother was “in the room.” My questions are:  should we be cautious about the idea of using benign things like mindfulness training in order to help people work harder? That is to say, as a means of becoming better adjusted to things (like speedup, under/overemployment, budget cuts and the weakening of morale) that aren’t good for us in the first place?  Or should we proceed on the assumption that mindfulness is simply a good in itself, and so good for us that we shouldn’t be concerned about its uses by large institutions, governmental or corporate?

2 thoughts on “Mindfulness for All?

  1. I appreciate your question regarding the usage of mindfulness by large organizations and corporations. At first glance, I would’ve found it commendable that UCSB is offering this training. Mindfulness techniques have helped and continue to help me with my own issues with anxiety. Nonetheless, your inquiry is a good one and should be considered. Are the cognitive tools of mindfulness being used as numbing agents by the powers that be? Creepy, indeed.

  2. Yes! Probably it was the mention of “burnout” that triggered my unease. As we work till 9 in our offices (and if you’re an academic, longer), and feel guilty about taking time off, and forget to pet the cat, if we are lucky enough to have employment in the first place, why wouldn’t we also focus on the reasons for all that bad craziness and try harder to change it?

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