For over 20 years I’ve tried to make peace with these elitist, arrogant, narrow-minded so-called mindfulness experts who disparage what they term McMindfulness but no longer. I am sick and tired of this group of self-proclaimed, “mindfulness insiders” telling the world who and what mindfulness is and is not, and who are the “real mindfulness trained, certified mindful people.” These “mindfulness experts,” documenting their disdain for McMindfulness are laughable and absurd. These are some of the articles written by McMindfulness haters.
“McMindfulness”: is Buddhism contaminated by capitalism– Terry Hyland
The McMindfulness Craze: The Shadow Side of the Mindfulness– Jeffrey B. Rubin
McMindfulness: has “Mindful” been co-opted? – Sean Feit Oakes, PhD
McMindfulness: Buddhism as sold to you by neoliberals– Peter Doran
The Dangers of McMindfulness– Kristen Ghodsee
Mindfulness vs McMindfulness
Some definitions are important at this point. Mindfulness is about creating awareness in every aspect of your life. You learn that every thought, word and action have a ripple effect. Your thoughts, words and actions affect you, society and the environment. Official mindfulness training takes an extended amount of investment of your time and money. I know because I’ve done it. In our overbooked, overworked, overwhelmed world very few individuals who are working and raising a family have the resources, money, energy and time, to go for formal mindfulness training. Therefore, a space in society and healthcare opened for individuals to be trained in shorter periods of time at a cheaper expense. You can now download an app, take an online course or an in-person course with a teacher to learn mindfulness practices. Many of the archaic, narrow-minded, aristocratic mindful practitioners have called these emerging facets of mindfulness training McMindfulness. They compare our new types of training to going through the drive-through at McDonald’s and getting substandard fast food.
Let me begin by letting you know I have been trained in mindfulness, meditation and other practices for over 30 years with some of the most illustrious mindfulness teachers in the world. I am a committed, happy, daily practitioner. I am attempting to practice what I have learned as I write this article but am fuming after reading several articles by “mindfulness experts” saying the meanest, judgmental, narrow, dishonest, angry, elitist, arrogant statements I have ever read.
McMindfulness Haters Are Hypocrites
Let’s peruse some of the written articles about the fraudulent and unethical nature of McMindfulness. Amy Elias in the Huffington Post stated McMindfulness is, “lower end, less quality and lower integrity,” than mindfulness. Her arrogance and judgment are astounding. Is she really the mindfulness expert and practitioner she claims to be with her terse language and charges? She also says, “Doing McMindfulness depreciates the cultivation of one who has had a long-standing, over time, moment by moment practice.” How dare you Ms. Elias? Is your ego leaking all over the page of the Huffington Post? If this is authentic mindfulness count me out! And finally, Ms. Elias you ask, “Do you see the Buddha hopping onto the fast food line to consume mindfulness as a commodity and as a consumption?” She says nope, and I say heck yes.
For that matter I believe the Buddha and Jesus break bread at Whole Foods and at McDonald’s. They do sit down with organic, expensive dinners as well as regular, nonorganic diners at the drive through with great French fries. As a previous professor of world religions and a student of Thich Nat Hanh for almost 20 years, I say Buddha and Jesus would create love, compassion, kindness, nonjudgment and acceptance with the people at Whole Foods and McDonald’s.
Another McMindfulness hater is Terry Hyland. He says McMindfulness is, “the commodification of all aspects of life through standardization, calculability and control in the relentless capitalist pursuit of profit.” Mr. Hyland continues saying, “The goals of McMindfulness products are typically strategic and linked to the achievement of materialist outcomes such as selling books and courses, increasing productivity in the workplace and short-term objectives in education and training. McMindfulness strategies are linked to the sale of products in the pursuit of materialist gain are a contradiction of Buddhist ethical precepts.” Wow Terry! You are in the same cynical, mean-spirited, judgmental group of haters like Ms. Elias except you are toxic. How dare you be judge and jury for the Buddha. Besides, mindfulness evolves just as the earth and philosophies and religions evolve and morph to become more relevant and accessible to the needy and those who are suffering. Remember the alleviating of suffering in the four noble truths Terry? Can all God’s children afford the money, time off and level of commitment to be a “certified mindfulness expert,” like you? Or can they learn a ten to twenty-minute meditation to help them calm their mind, make them happy and create awareness? Yes, apps and classes help them alleviate their suffering. These are regular working-class people that cannot take off. They cannot commit themselves to your level of training and do not want to. So, you want to deny them of any access to mindfulness unless it is your way. Terry ’s your way or the highway. Whew! You need a mindfulness retreat or an exorcism. You choose.
The Mindfulness Caste System
I am a serious mindfulness practitioner but that does not make me a Brahmin, the upper caste, and a person who learns mindful meditation on an app, a Sudra, the lowest caste. These arrogant mindfulness practitioners are indicting regular people teaching these practices, creating apps and working with people as greedy capitalists. Really? What do you charge for a week of your mindfulness training?
The Big Picture
The more people exposed to mindfulness, however they do it, is a gift to the universe. An individual’s suffering becomes less, they become mentally and physically healthier and happier when they do any form of mindfulness. Therefore, their family, work and society become healthier and happier. Let’s face it that the mother of three kids, working full time can’t afford the money, time and energy to go off for mindfulness training. So, she has no right to attempt to change her life by going to a local or online class? Or beginning her journey with a simple app she can use during her busy day? Who do you McMindfulness haters think you are? Doesn’t sound like the Buddha or Jesus to me.
Both-and, not either-or.
Let’s just celebrate the miracle, healing and mysterious nature of mindfulness. If you choose to take a seriously committed path go for it. Spend your time and money and do it. If you are barely able to get by paying your bills each month you may download an app, or visit a mindfulness website. I believe both paths are beautiful or the middle path as the Buddha would say. This is not either-or, it is both-and. I am going to McDonald’s drive-thru for some French fries because I’m still hungry after my Whole Foods organic lunch.