The erosion of right livelihood: counter-educational aspects of the commodification of mindfulness practice

The links between education, therapy, and mindfulness practice are explored as a preliminary to the analysis of the commodification of such practice as a result of the “McDonaldizing” process over recent years. Contemporary “McMindfulness” developments in education and the workplace run counter to the Buddhist precept of “right livelihood” in that they distort both the means and ends of the educational endeavor. When mindfulness practice is employed to achieve instrumentalist outcomes linked to short-term productivity or specific operational goals, the therapeutic function concerned with the transformation of negative emotions and the alleviation of suffering is submerged beneath predominantly utilitarian and materialistic concerns. In order to restore mindfulness teaching and learning – and relationship roles and transaction modes within psychotherapy – to a position of right livelihood, it is necessary to challenge this crude commodification process by emphasizing the ethical and genuinely educational aspects of mindfulness programs.

Die Erosion der richtigen Lebensgrundlage: gegen-erzieherische Aspekte zum Prozess der Kommerzialisierung der Achtsamkeits-Praxis

Die Verbindungen zwischen Erziehung, Therapie und Achtsamkeitspraxis werden untersucht, was Voraussetzung ist für die Analyse des Prozesses der Kommerzialisierung einer solchen Praxis als ein Resultat der ‘McDonaldisierung’ in den vergangenen Jahren. Gegenwärtige ‘McAchtsamkeit’-Entwicklungen in Erziehung und am Arbeitsplatz sind gegenläufig zum buddhistischen Grundsatz der richtigen Lebensgrundlage insofern, dass sie sowohl die Mittel als auch die Ziele der erzieherischen Bemühungen verfälschen. Wenn die Achtsamkeitspraxis angewendet wird, um einen instrumentalisierten Outcome zu erzielen, der an kurzzeitige Produktivität und spezifische operationale Ziele gebunden ist, so wird die therapeutische Funktion, die mit der Transformation negativer Emotionen und der Linderung von Leiden verbunden ist, vor allem von utilitaristischen und materialistischen Absichten verschüttet. Um die Lehre von der Achtsamkeit und das Lernen wieder auf das Thema von der richtigen Lebensgrundlage zurückzubringen, ist es notwendig, diesen plumpen Prozess der Kommerzialisierung in Frage zu stellen, indem man die ethischen und echt erzieherischen Aspekte von Achtsamkeitsprogrammen unterstreicht.

La erosión del verdadero sustento: aspectos contra-educacionales de la mercantilización de la practica de Mindfulness

Se exploran los vínculos entre la práctica de la educación, la terapia y mindfulness como paso preliminar al análisis de la mercantilización de esa práctica, como resultado del proceso de 'McDonaldizacion a lo largo de los últimos años. Los desarrollos en educación y en el lugar de trabajo de 'McMindfulness' contemporáneas van en contra el precepto budista de 'subsistencia correcta” en la medida en que distorsionan tanto los medios como los fines de la actividad educativa. Cuando la práctica de mindfulness se emplea para lograr resultados instrumentales vinculados a la productividad a corto plazo u objetivos específicos operacionales, la función terapéutica vinculada a la transformación de las emociones negativas y el alivio de sufrimiento queda sumergida bajo preocupaciones predominantemente utilitarias y materialistas. Para restablecer la enseñanza y aprendizaje de mindfulness a una posición de verdadero sustento es necesario desafiar este crudo proceso de mercantilización mediante la enfatización de los aspectos éticos y genuinamente educativos de los programas de mindfulness.

Pleine conscience et spiritualité: perspectives thérapeutiques

Les aspects sociaux relatifs aux croyances et à la spiritualité relèvent de l'âme et de l'esprit, un matériel qu'il faut étudier en-dehors du cadre du monde matérialiste. Ils transcendent le corps et se nichent dans les expériences de l'âme. Néanmoins, comme l'enseigne la Pleine conscience, une pratique issue de la spiritualité orientale et de la croyance religieuse, le religieux et/ou le spirituel sont des expériences vécues à travers le corps, un objet pourtant matériel qui provoque une croissance spirituelle. Dans cette étude, nous avons exploré la corrélation entre le caractère de la pleine conscience et les expressions spirituelles. Ces résultats fournissent un aperçu de l'impact potentiel des interventions de Pleine conscience chez des patients qui valorisent la spiritualité et les croyances méta-cognitives dans le processus thérapeutique. Ces découvertes préliminaires procurent un aperçu potentiel des mécanismes possibles sous-jacents à la Pleine conscience et à la psychothérapie.

A erosão do Modo de Vida Correto: Aspetos Contra-Educacionais da co-modificação da prática do mindfulness

As ligações entre educação, terapia e a prática do mindfulness são exploradas como preliminares da análise da co-modificação de tal prática, em consequência de um processo de «McDonaldização» que se verificou em anos recentes. Os desenvolvimentos do «Mcmindfulness» contemporâneo na educação e no local de trabalho vão contra o preceito budista de «modo de vida correto», na medida em que distorcem quer os meios, quer os fins da prática educacional. Quando a prática do mindfulness é empregue para obter resultados instrumentalistas relacionados com a produtividade a curto prazo ou com objetivos operacionais específicos, a função terapêutica relacionada com a transformação de emoções negativas e o alívio do sofrimento é submergido debaixo de preocupações maioritariamente utilitaristas e materialistas. De forma a restituir ao ensino e à aprendizagem a uma situação de modo de vida correto, é preciso desafiar este processo de co-modificação, enfatizando os aspetos éticos e genuinamente educacionais dos programas de mindfulness.


Introduction to the special issue on mindfulness, meditation and the person-centered approach

The Person-centered approach (PCA) is characterized by a fundamental ethical core but has over time been arguably co-opted by neoliberalism. The latter has a penchant for reducing any multifaceted methodology or clinical philosophy attending to the complexity of being human into yet another set of techniques aimed at measuring and computing what can neither be measured or computed.

In a similar way, the practice of Mindfulness as taught by the historical Buddha has been largely decontextualized in order to serve the needs of neoliberalism. The dominant view of Mindfulness is no longer one of several practices embedded in an elaborate and rich context with ethical, religious, mythical, and anthropological connotations, nor is it particularly rooted in how one lives. Instead it has become another set of techniques aimed at de-stressing before going back to the assembly line. In an attempt to create an open and hospitable dialogue, the following articles offered here are a variety of descriptions within the realm of Mindfulness and its therapeutic application and impact.

In his opening article, Terry Hyland offers a shrewd and well-argued critique of the ways in which current mindfulness programs may be bypassing the fundamental Buddhist principle of right livelihood.

Julie Webb offers a description of Person-centered therapy as a kind of artistry similar to that of Zen practice. Her paper discusses the ethics implicit in such a view of the human and reinforces the vitality and importance of the ethic necessarily embedded at the heart of the PCA that aids our becoming human.

Inviting the reader to take part and feeling Passionate about presence, Zoe Shobbrook-Fisher gives a detailed and poetic personal account of her own use of mainstream Mindfulness approaches, of her practice as a person-centered therapist, combined with some invitations to experience directly the benefits of mindful practice.

In his article A certain kind of mindful man David Brazier becomes curious about Carl Rogers as a person and paints a gentle portrait of a man whose way of being in the world feels implicitly attuned to the wisdom of the Dharma.

Joey Weber and Rachel Taylor (Can leopards change their spots?), present an investigation into how mindfulness can make use of natural plasticity within the brain, and present a study of how mindfulness can impact our thoughts and change brain function, that may in turn result in a change of behavior. Weber and Taylor detail how active engagement in a practice such as Mindfulness reminds us that we are free to take action and affect change, even when feeling plighted by an anxious sense of powerlessness in life.

Going refreshingly against the grain of secular interpretations of mindfulness, Asimina Lazaridou and Panagiotis Pentaris (Mindfulness and spirituality) investigate the often forgotten link between mindfulness and spirituality.

In asking the question Is suffering therapeutic? Cristalle Hayes considers how we might come to accept our suffering compassionately, and discusses the similarities and perhaps helpfulness, of ideas from Person-centered conditions necessary for acceptance and change, and a Buddhist understanding of what it is to suffer well. Aside from suffering, often clients arrive in therapy feeling that they are fixed or stuck somehow and experience hopelessness in what may seem like an immovable life position creating overwhelming anxiety.t

Finally, Manu Bazzano weaves old and new tales in order to reiterate the fundamental point that mindfulness is always in context, in this case mindfulness of impermanence, in turn a powerful aid in being more present to our day-to-day interaction with others and with clients in particular.

Mindfulness is no longer one thing, one approach or one understanding. It varies in its description, application and impact, and therefore will sometimes naturally be at variance with what some consider being at its heart: a way to live a life with others. Our hope is that the articles assembled here will inspire you and prompt further discussion.


The artistry of therapy and Zen practice

At a time when to become a therapist we may be required to measure our empathy against some sort of growth chart, we may also be witnessing the emergence of a radical battle against such systemizing of subtle and natural human capacities. This discussion will offer a description of the process of becoming and the actualizing tendency, as trust and faith in the subtle and natural opening of the true dharma eye. Zen writings often engage with the challenge of our ability to notice what is right before our eyes and perhaps as therapists our task is to be open, receptive and awake to the intimacy of phenomena in order that we may aid a person, who for whatever reason, may have their eyes closed. Openness and receptivity may help nurture a creative feedback loop that is inherent in human relating but often unacknowledged explicitly in therapy, and everyday living. This explicit acknowledgement may also correspond with notions of non-conscious affect and affective resonance.

Die Kunst von Therapie und Zen

In einer Zeit, wo wir vielleicht unsere Empathie an irgendeiner Form von Wachstums- Messlatte überprüfen müssen, um eine therapeutische Fachperson zu werden, werden wir vielleicht auch Zeugen eines radikalen Kampfes gegen eine solche Systematisierung von subtilen und natürlich menschlichen Fähigkeiten. Diese Diskussion gibt eine Beschreibung des Prozesses des Werdens und der Aktualisierungstendenz als Vertrauen und Glauben im subtilen und natürlichen Öffnen des wahren Dharma Auges. Maezumi Roshi sagt, dass “etwas subtil ist, nicht etwa, weil es verborgen ist oder schwer fassbar, sondern weil es genau vor uns ist” (2002, S.4). Vielleicht ist es unsere Aufgabe als therapeutische Fachpersonen, offen, empfänglich und wach zu sein für die Intimität von Phänomenen, damit wir einer Person helfen können, die, aus welchem Grund auch immer, die Augen geschlossen hält. Offenheit und Empfänglichkeit können dazu beitragen, eine “kreative Feedback”-Schleife zu unterhalten (Loori, 2005), die dem menschlichen In-Beziehung-Sein inhärent ist, aber oft weder in der Therapie noch im Alltag explizit gewürdigt wird. Diese explizite Anerkennung korrespondiert vielleicht auch mit Gedanken “eines unbewussten Affekts und affektiver Resonanz” (Schore 2012).

El arte de la terapia y de Zen

En el momento en que para convertirnos en terapeutas podamos necesitar medir nuestra empatía contra algún tipo de tabla de crecimiento, también podremos estar presenciando el surgimiento de una lucha radical contra tal sistematización de capacidades humanas, sutiles y naturales. Esta discusión ofrece una descripción del proceso de convertirse en persona y la tendencia actualizante, como confianza y fe en la sutil y natural apertura del verdadero ojo dharma. Maezumi Roshi dice que “algo es sutil no porque es oculto y esquivo, sino porque ya está aquí” (2002, p.4) y tal vez como terapeutas nuestra tarea debe ser estar abiertos, receptivos y despiertos a la intimidad de los fenómenos a fin de que podamos ayudar a una persona que, por cualquier motivo, puede tener los ojos cerrados. Apertura y receptividad pueden ayudar a nutrir un circuito de “retroalimentación creativa” (Loori, 2005) que es inherente en relación humana, pero a menudo no reconocida explícitamente en la terapia y la vida de cada día. Este reconocimiento explícito puede también corresponderse con nociones de “afecto no consciente y resonancia afectiva” (Schore 2012).

La part artistique de la thérapie et du Zen

Lorsque nous devenons thérapeutes, il se pourrait que nous soyons supposés mesurer notre empathie à l’aune d’une sorte de charte de croissance. Il se pourrait aussi que nous soyons témoin d’un combat radical contre une telle ‘systémisation’ des capacités humaines subtiles et naturelles. Cette discussion veut proposer une description du processus du devenir (becoming) et de la tendance actualisante, en tant que confiance et foi dans l’ouverture naturelle de l’œil du juste Dharma. Maezumi Roshi affirme qu’« une chose est subtile non pas parce qu’elle est cachée ou insaisissable, mais parce qu’elle est simplement là. » (2002, p.4). En tant que thérapeutes, notre tâche est peut-être d’être ouverts, réceptifs et en éveil devant l’intime du phénomène, afin de pouvoir aider une personne qui garde ses yeux fermés, qu’elle qu’en soit la raison. L’ouverture et la réceptivité du thérapeute peut nourrir une boucle de « feedback créatif » (Loori, 2005) inhérente à la relation humaine mais qui souvent n’est pas reconnue explicitement en thérapie ou dans la vie quotidienne. Cette reconnaissance explicite peut aussi correspondre aux notions d’affect non conscient et de résonnance affective. (Schore 2012).

A arte da Terapia e do Zen

Numa época em que, para nos tornarmos terapeutas pode ser-nos pedido que comparemos o nosso nível de empatia com alguma espécie de tabela de desenvolvimento, podemos estar também a testemunhar a emergência de uma batalha radical contra uma tal sistematização das capacidades humanas subtis e naturais. Esta discussão fornecerá uma descrição do processo de tornar-se e da tendência atualizante, enquanto confiança e fé na abertura subtil e natural do verdadeiro olho dharma. Maezumi Roshi afirma que “uma coisa é subtil não porque se encontra escondida ou porque é elusiva, mas sim porque está aqui mesmo” (2002, pg 4) e talvez enquanto terapeutas a nossa tarefa seja estarmos abertos, recetivos e despertos para a intimidade dos fenómenos, de modo a conseguirmos ajudar uma pessoa que, por qlgum motivom possa ter os olhos fechados. A abertura e a recetividade podem ajudar a alimentar a espiral de «feedback criativo» (Loori, 2005), a qual é inerente aos relacionamentos humanos mas que também pode corresponder às noções de «afeto não consciente e ressonância afetiva» (Schore, 2012)


Call for proposals to host WAPCEPC 2020 Conference – DEADLINE EXTENDED to 31st May 2016

The WAPCEPC board invites organizational members and/or national groups of members to prepare proposals to host the PCE Conference due to be held in 2020 in your country.

The guidelines for hosting a PCE Conference, including the procedure for establishing a venue for the PCE conference, are available on our website at http://www.pce-world.org/news-and-events/pce-conferences.html. Members who are interested in convening the conference in 2020 are invited to indicate their interest by sending a proposal to the WAPCEPC board (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) by 31st May 2016.

In their proposal to host PCE 2020, members should present their team, their competences in scientific, administrative and financial matters, and their plans concerning the location of the conference. We ask that you address the main issues contained in the conference guidelines within the proposal. Please contact Tricia McCann, Chair of the Board, (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) if you have any questions about the requirements outlined within the PCE conference guidelines.

Following the deadline for proposals, the board will review all proposals that have been received and may ask proposing groups to address any perceived gaps identified within their proposals.

The board will inform members about the proposals by publishing them in the WAPCEPC newsletter and website prior to the General Assembly due to be held in New York, United States of America, July, 2015.

All groups proposing to host PCE 2020 will present their proposals to WAPCEPC members at the General Assembly in New York, 2016. Voting on proposals will take place in the General Assembly, where members can vote in person or by proxy.

Alternatively, if agreed by the General Assembly, all members will be invited to vote on the proposals electronically at a date arranged at the earliest opportunity following the General Assembly.


Tricia McCann on behalf of
The Board of WAPCEPC