Note to Self: Let Shit Go: Towards Critical Reconciliation with Progressive Self-development Practices

Erik Mygind du Plessis, Sine Nørholm Just

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Note to self
Mindfulness meditation has been described as “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally” (Kabat-Zinn, 2017: 1127). Contrary to common belief, then, the aim of mindfulness meditation is not to clear the mind of thoughts, but instead to cultivate a certain way of relating to thoughts, emotions and sensations – succinctly summed up in the popular t-shirt slogan ‘Meditation – it’s not what you think’ (Kabat-Zinn, 2015). Incidentally, the slogan also captures the aim of this paper, which is to nuance the way in which mindfulness meditation, understood as a set of practices aimed at self-realization and the attainment of personal authenticity, is generally perceived in critical management studies as well as the broader critical social sciences. According to the general consensus, self-development practices produce various individual pathologies and reinforce the societal status quo (e.g. Cederström and Spicer, 2015; Garsten and Grey, 1997; Hancock and Tyler, 2004; McGee, 2005). Using the practice of mindfulness meditation as an example, the paper sets out to challenge this consensus and explore the possibility of progressive self-development practices. That is, we will examine the criticism as well as the potential of mindfulness and, to use another popular phrase, let shit go on either side, aiming to arrive at a critical reconciliation through a hopeful and realistic account of what noting the self can do.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2019
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventSASE 31at Annual Conference 2019: Fathomless Futures: Algorithmic and Imagined - The New School, New York, United States
Duration: 27 Jun 201929 Jun 2019
Conference number: 31


ConferenceSASE 31at Annual Conference 2019
LocationThe New School
CountryUnited States
CityNew York
Internet address

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