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What is Enlightenment? Mindfulness in the Moment of Stress

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dc.contributor.advisor Albanese, Denise Anderson, Daniel Gustav
dc.creator Anderson, Daniel Gustav 2016-09-28T10:20:49Z 2016-09-28T10:20:49Z 2016
dc.description.abstract Mindfulness is a meditation technique that involves attending to the present moment, without reference to past or future, and without judgment. In the “radical acceptance” of the present it prescribes, mindfulness is a practice concerning one’s relation to time that is promoted as a health boon in times of turmoil and tension appropriate for those short on time. A self-help practice legitimized by appeal to Buddhist cultural references and public figures, mindfulness promises do-it-yourself stress relief, performance enhancement, and happiness to the belabored North American petit bourgeois enduring increasingly stressful and diminished working and living arrangements. While scholars have investigated mindfulness as a religious phenomenon, few studies have considered its generalization and use in everyday life as a cultural formation in the context of its historical milieu. The generalization of mindfulness coincides with that of stress as a pathology, and the production of a pressured, volatile, and competitive social environment by the economic liberalizations of the 1980s to the present. This dissertation offers a discursive history of mindfulness as an artifact of this historical juncture, and probes the social problems and possibilities that are encoded in its applications for spiritual growth and professional development. Here, mindfulness comes into focus as a paradoxical formation: As stress management and as a disciplined elision of history in the present, mindfulness reproduces and retrenches the class relations that generate the stress of this juncture, even as the appeal of mindfulness is grounded in an Enlightenment ethos of freedom by practiced self-knowledge and the explicit anti-capitalist sentiment and desirable social alternatives to the present figured in the Buddhist sources it appropriates, frustrating its realization by generalizing its own opposite.
dc.format.extent 481 pages
dc.language.iso en
dc.rights Copyright 2016 Daniel Gustav Anderson
dc.subject American studies en_US
dc.subject Spirituality en_US
dc.subject Advice Books en_US
dc.subject Buddhist Studies en_US
dc.subject Cultural Studies en_US
dc.subject Meditation en_US
dc.subject Mindfulness en_US
dc.subject Neoliberalism en_US
dc.title What is Enlightenment? Mindfulness in the Moment of Stress
dc.type Dissertation Ph.D. Cultural Studies George Mason University

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