An Implicit Religion of Control

Corporate Mindfulness Meditation Programs


  • George Sanders Oakland University



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.   

Author Biography

George Sanders, Oakland University

George Sanders is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, USA. His research explores the theoretical dimensions of late capitalism and religion in mainstream, contemporary American culture.


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How to Cite

Sanders, G. (2019). An Implicit Religion of Control: Corporate Mindfulness Meditation Programs. Implicit Religion, 21(1), 70–92.




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