Dr. Hilmert Presents on “Mindfulness Materialism” at Science, Religion, and Lunch Seminar

“Mindfulness” is a word that has permeated our health-care, wellness-centers, academic institutions, advertising, and even our housework (see “How to Be Mindful While Cleaning the Bathroom,” NYT, April 19, 2017). The idea is borrowed from the Buddhist tradition of satipaṭṭhāna, a term referring to key techniques for achieving mindfulness, which is most prominently, meditation. The modern western conception of mindfulness most prominent in health-care and science, at least in part, be traced to “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction” (MBSR) developed by the microbiologist, Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1991. Since, then, Kabat-Zinn’s “meditation without Buddhism” practices have spread, gaining recent attention in major (and minor) media outlets. Recently, empirical research has found some benefits to the practice, but these effects are small and sparse. In this talk we will explore the idea that meditation without “right motivation” or “mindfulness materialism” is distinct from true mindfulness and consider the implications of this distinction.

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