Thursday, April 17, 2014
The other day, I was in a meeting at the yoga center I teach meditation at, and the other meditation teacher and I were talking about student numbers. I said I had a few regulars in my class now, and he said "That's because you teach mindfulness, right?" I had a very odd reaction. Almost straight aversion. I responded that I teach a lot of practices, not just mindfulness. But the response was muddy at best, and I've been left with this curious feeling about it all.
I'm almost certain he wasn't thinking of Sati, the Pali word for Buddhist mindfulness, which is steeped in ethical considerations as well as development of attention skills. He was probably more thinking of the pop mindfulness that I've written so much about in recent years. At the same time, the classes I've been teaching haven't been highly focused on social ethics or connecting big picture issues. That's more one element among many. Nor could what I've been offering be reduced to mindfulness of any variety. Again, that's one element among others. My whole goal has been to offer a diversity of gates into meditation, and the classes has focused on everything from grief for recently lost pets to reflecting on our roles in supporting the health of the planet.
Anyway, as I was reading this article - yet another critique piece on the Wisdom 2.0 conference - I thought of this odd feeling I had being labeled a "mindfulness" teacher, and how corrupted that word seems to have become. To the point where part of me doesn't even want to claim it, because doing so without an explanation doesn't seem right anymore.