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21-11-2014 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 5/2015

Mindfulness 5/2015

Accessibility Versus Integrity in Secular Mindfulness: A Buddhist Commentary

Mindfulness > Uitgave 5/2015
Robert Marx


This paper explores secular mindfulness approaches (MBSR/MBCT) from the standpoint of Buddhist mindfulness practice. Secular mindfulness is presented in a format that is accessible to far more Westerners than a traditional Buddhist approach is likely to be and has already been of considerable benefit to many people. However, the paper questions whether the translation of a Buddhist-derived practice into a secular format has also resulted in some serious losses—specifically, the loss of the meaning of some practices and exercises, and ultimately, the capacity to deeply liberate from suffering. The heavy emphasis placed in secular mindfulness on acceptance and meditation is questioned, as are some of the possible results—namely an approach that reinforces individualism and which can be used as a value-free technique to enhance performance and productivity. Recommendations are made for ways in which the integrity of the secular mindfulness approach could be maintained without sacrificing accessibility.

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