Justin Hudgins

Justin Hudgins

Criticism of an Aeon Piece on Mindfulness

I don’t have a PhD from Cambridge, but I feel like the argument in this essay is pretty flawed. Putting aside the implicit claim the author understands mindfulness and Buddhist practice enough to levy criticism, he criticism of modern mindfulness also strikes me as off. She moves from criticizing the modern mindfulness movement for divorcing itself from certain Buddhist metaphysics, to then giving a somewhat clumsy explanation of anattā, and then proceeding to criticize that amalgam as if it were the entirety of mindfulness past and present, as if the only difference between mindfulness in a Buddhist context and McMindfulness is a superficial understanding of emptiness.

I also find it a bit ironic that someone who talks about problems with modern medical “one size fits all” approaches then seems to argue that, because mindfulness did not work for them, it is flawed and has little utility outside of specific applications, like when the author is having trouble sleeping.

I guess it’s not surprising, after being watered down as a modern psychoanalytic panacea, that McMindfulness is criticized in this way, but I guess I would have appreciated if someone getting a PhD at Cambridge stuck to criticizing that in their article, rather than assuming their understanding of modern psychoanalysis and therapeutic techniques would carry over to familiarity with Buddhist metaphysics/philosophy/practice.