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Mindfulness: Towards A Critical Relational Perspective



Significant attention has been given to mindfulness and mindfulness meditation in Western culture – often allied with a concern to enhance ‘subjective wellbeing’ through interventions aiming to ameliorate stress, depression and anxiety. While much professional and scientific research has been conducted which studies the nature and effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions, few critical accounts exist. I seek to produce a social critique of current understandings of mindfulness in relation to contemporary psychology. I illustrate how mindfulness has become individualised as an object of contemporary psychological investigation. I then propose a relational approach which instead sees mindfulness as socially contingent and as a potential resource for individuals and communities to cultivate a critically distant stance towards society. This involves revisioning our basic understanding of mindfulness as not only an inner state of mind, but also as a public social practice.

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