An Implicit Religion of Control
Corporate Mindfulness Meditation Programs
Keywords:Mindfulness, meditation, affect, pastoral power, Foucault, implicit religion
"Mindfulness," or the practice of focusing one's conscious awareness on the present moment, has become increasingly popular in mainstream culture over the last decade. Commensurate with its widespread acceptance in secular culture, mindfulness programs have been adopted by a number of large corporations, albeit largely stripped of mindfulness's religious ties to its roots in Buddhism. This article theorizes some of the ways mindfulness programs reinforce neoliberal ideologies that valorize individual self-surveillance and self-discipline through employees' bodies and minds. By promoting greater self-awareness, calm, and focus, such programming is also homologous with greater (employee) productivity and (company) profitability. As a kind of implicit religion, mindfulness may hold special appeal for workers who seek meaning and purpose beyond what is currently provided by their current workaday lives. The article, therefore, makes the argument that mindfulness, a kind of implicit religion, in these settings is conducive to perpetuating neoliberal ideologies.
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