What is Mindfulness, Anyway?

iStudent Blog

Published: April 24, 2020 by Havilah Steinman

Diversity is an important value of faculty and administration at San José State University iSchool. One of the projects the iSchool’s diversity committee works towards is creating engaging content that fosters that value. Recently, a diversity webinar series took a long look at mindfulness, and it’s role in the corporate world. See below for highlights of the recorded webinar What is Mindfulness, Anyway? by speaker Jamie Lin. Hopefully, this timely topic offers insight during a time of such stress and uncertainty in our country. For more engaging content, check out SJSU iSchool Podcast Feed via Apple Podcasts, SJSU iSchool YouTube Channel and iSchool On-Demand Webcasts Portal.

Corporate Mindfulness

Lin presented mindfulness within the context of corporate America, and the interesting juxtaposition of those two concepts. American values are built upon a Capitalistic society and work ethic, leading to monetary success. Mindfulness, built upon Buddhism, is a spiritual practice and is free to all who seek it. This spiritual practice of mindfulness was translated into a booming industry with thousands of apps, books and especially expensive corporate training.

Criticism of Monetized Mindfulness

Lin further explored the critique of the mindfulness craze. Critics believe mindfulness has been removed from the context of Buddhism and other spiritual disciplines that actually empowers mindfulness to create joy in an individual’s life, and through that joy, compassion for their surrounding community. The term used to describe this is ‘sanitized’ or ‘frozen’ mindfulness, referring to the idea that all the long term nutrition has been taken from mindfulness, and it’s only being used as an ability to cope with the repercussions of bad habits and behaviors. 

Cultivating a Heart for Generosity

Lin excellently presented mindfulness and its role in corporate America, as well as the criticisms of the way it’s been translated into American culture. Perhaps what’s most interesting about her perspective is that she was once a skeptic, but now practices mindfulness in her daily life. Lin cautions attendees to not be overwhelmed by all the options for mindfulness our society presents, but instead, feel empowered to try those options and see what works best.

Lin believes, “It’s not mindfulness that annoying, it’s the way that it’s marketed and whitewashed. Welcoming mindfulness will help you not buy into anything that makes you feel bad about yourself.” Further, “I used to define myself by my emotional pain. But now, I am a happy person. By happy, I define that as a peace of mind and my place in the world. And it is a heart that wants to share, breathe out love, and have compassion. Cultivating a heart for generosity.”

Examples of Mindfulness Tools for Information Professionals

For practical application of mindfulness in the library and information science profession, look no further than Library 2.0’s recent conference Wholehearted Librarians, Soft Skills for 21st Century Information Professionals. Over 4,000 individuals attended this virtual conference live, and the recordings are free to everyone who signs up for a free Library 2.0 profile. Additionally, for books that take a hard look at mindfulness in libraries, check out Recipes for Mindfulness in Your Library: Supporting Resilience and Community Engagement and The Mindful Librarian: Connecting the Practice of Mindfulness to Librarianship


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