Overcoming the McMindfulness Craze

Jeffrey R. Rubin examines the troubles that arise when meditative practices of detachment, like those in Buddhism, are decontextualized and used to further repress our emotions. He recommends another kind of engaged reflection called emancipatory meditation.

Emancipatory meditation – which involves intimacy with oneself – is an extraordinarily vital and alive activity in which one attends to whatever one is experiencing without any preconceived conclusions about it and without trying to get rid of it. To return to the example of the meditator who was undergoing a painful divorce: In emancipatory meditation, he would be more interested in truly experiencing and learning from his sadness, loneliness and fear, rather than anesthetizing himself or getting rid of his feelings by prematurely detaching from them.

We need to investigate the content and meaning of what we become aware of in meditation instead of attempting to transcend it or reduce it to what we already believe based on Buddhism, psychotherapy or any doctrine. Practicing meditation in an emancipatory way could be a powerful ally in our efforts in the 21st century to live with greater awareness and sanity, intimacy and passion.

via The McMindfulness Craze: The Shadow Side of the Mindfulness Revolution.


  1. Seems to me our Western educated minds easily misread spiritual practices and traditions, particularly when there is apparent ambiguity or choice in interpretations and nuance. Monotheism seems to encourage the simple polarity of right and wrong in points of view. Too many Western buddhists ( or hobby-buddhists) use the platform of Buddhist philosophy to bolster or dress up their neuroses and remain intellectually tight-arsed and puritanical ( not that that stance cannot also be found within Buddhism itself – it can be awfully Roman Catholic sometimes…). Seems that here the neurosis of avoidance is being replaced by the neurosis of analysis. Mental understanding of motives and goals can be helpful in life, but might have more to do with maturing the personality than with transformative clarity… (But then the opposite may, and almost certainly is also true)

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