The mindfulness movement has narrowly focused on attention enhancement, present moment awareness, and its stress reduction effects. Current operational definitions of mindfulness in the literature not only differ considerably from those derived from classic Buddhist canonical sources, but also assume that the dharma can be essentialized. This article interrogates the rhetorical gloss of secular conceptions of mindfulness, and offers a triadic model of “right mindfulness” that is more inclusive of the social context. The decontextualized, individual-level construct of mindfulness that has informed the corporate mindfulness programs is also critiqued. We argue that a denatured mindfulness
divorced from it soteriological context reduces it to a self-help technique that is
easily misappropriated for reproducing corporate and institutional power, employee pacification, and maintenance of toxic organizational cultures. The result is that such mindfulness programs create “integrity bubbles,” but fail to challenge roots of corporate greed, ill will, and delusion.

Ronald Purser, PhD

San Francisco State University