Mindfulness and Its Discontents
Education, Self, and Social Transformation
Forbes (Boyz 2 Buddhas), associate professor in school counseling at Brooklyn College, levels a heavy critique at contemporary American mindfulness in this trenchant work. Decrying the stripping of socially engaged Buddhist traditions from conceptions of mindfulness, Forbes believes the practice of mindfulness has become another way to shape self-centered, individualized, and corporatized subjects for a global capitalist economy. To combat this trend, Forbes encourages mindfulness teachers to take a more critical approach to the application of mindfulness by considering the wider social, political, and cultural context of its practitioners. Doing so, he writes, would allow teachers to become more aware of their own biases, and also foster engagement with ills plaguing society as a whole—such as racial inequality or climate change— rather than those only concerning the individual self. With a focus on the use of mindfulness in the realm of education, Forbes advocates for a refreshed “emergent mindfulness” that augments the benefits of meditation for students’ well-being with a broader social justice perspective. Forbes’s trenchant analysis of mindfulness in American culture will appeal to readers interested in the intersection of market forces and spirituality.
— Publishers’ Weekly, May 2019