Mindfulness in Context: A Historical Discourse Analysis


‘Mindfulness' has become a buzzword, yet its meaning and origins have received relatively little critical consideration. This article places the current ‘mindfulness movement' in context, examining the evolving discourse surrounding the concept of mindfulness. Through the first systematic etymology of the term, drawing from old Western and Buddhist writings, contemporary psychology and popular media, it is established that the contemporary understanding of mindfulness has been substantially simplified and divorced from its origins. However, quantitative data suggests that this manoeuvre was essential for the mainstreaming of the concept. Moreover, the resulting momentum has stimulated a new and dynamic discourse about the relationship between ‘secular' mindfulness and Buddhism, sparking questions about ‘McMindfulness', ‘stealth' Buddhism and cultural imperialism. Therefore, this article argues that the recontextualisation of mindfulness created the scaffolding that supported the emergence of a deeper and …

Contemporary Buddhism