First, I wish I could, but I can’t lay any claim to the title of this weeks’ blog. The term ‘McMindfulness’ surfaced in an ABC podcast I was listening to over the weekend on mindfulness, a subject about which I have for some time been somewhat sceptical. Why?
We are living in a world which, for many people, moves at rapid speed and with change so constant that many are barely keeping up. With our pre-occupation being hyper-connected 24/7 we have managed to create inordinate amounts of self-induced pressure leading to anxiety and in some instances stress.
Suddenly, mindfulness appears and is promoted as a “the penicillin for the 21st century” that will enable us to return to some level of stable equilibrium. I am sure that for many millions of people who understand mindfulness and practice the techniques as correctly taught by professionals, it has brought tangible benefit.
I decided to investigate further and found the original reference to McMindfulness in an article written by Ron Purser . He refers to McMindfulness as a movement driven by entrepreneurs that has burgeoned beyond a cottage industry into a major revenue generator throughout the western world with claims it reduces anxiety, improves performance, efficiency and effectiveness, plus a plethora of other skills.
Mindfulness might just do that; however, I am reminded of the words of one my lecturers from Macquarie Graduate School, Professor Robert Spillane, who instilled in us MBA students that when looking at any situation consider “Cui Bono” which translated from Latin to English literally means “for whose benefit”.
Again drawing from Purser et al, the origins of mindfulness are founded in Buddhism as far back as the 5th century BC to help free us from greed, hatefulness and disillusion. This suggests that mindfulness is not about focusing only on the positive. As Thomas Joiner suggests in his article “Mindfulness recognises every instant of existence, even those of great misery as teeming and sundry. It encourages adherence to be dispassionate and non-judgemental about all our thoughts… Mindfulness wants us to pause, reflect, and gain distance and perspective.”
Yet much of what is on offer from so-called “gurus” in this minefield called mindfulness make promises that seem to get bigger and bigger, about mindfulness’ value and capabilities and about delivering it in shorter and shorter times. How can that be? My understanding from my research is that to truly practice mindfulness well requires time and devotion.
As I stated earlier, when properly understood and taught correctly mindfulness techniques are of benefit to many. The key is to look carefully at what you are being offered. Is it predominantly focused on practice or promotion?
Remember, Cui Bono.
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