Mindfulness is everywhere these days. It’s in corporate America, with large companies encouraging their employees to "be mindful" as a method for efficiency and decreased stress in the work place. It’s on the cover of magazines, in news specials, and in yoga classes. It is, of course, here on this blog! But is it getting to be too much? Is the commercialization of mindfulness as an idea negatively impacting mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)?
Well, perhaps it’s not that simple. In an article on psycritic.com, "Is Mindfulness Doomed to Become a Fad?" the author mentions that MBCT, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) have all come about in the last several years, indicating that mindfulness is becoming more popular, but has not begun decreasing in popularity. On the contrary, because mindfulness-based therapies are shown as effective, and further clinical trials are being completed to introduce new training methods, it’s quite likely that mindfulness will only become more popular as time goes on.
Turning mindfulness into a business
Obviously we at NogginLabs are behind this trend and will continue to work towards advances in training for MBCT, such as our online mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, which is in testing now. But when something becomes “mainstream” it also becomes appealing to businesses and entrepreneurs who want to capitalize on it, often without the legwork that is necessary to ensure that the true message of training is maintained. When we designed Mindful Mood Balance for Professionals, we knew it would be easy to adapt some of the behaviors to apply more directly to e-learning. But we didn’t do that, because we realized the most valuable part of MBCT is the evidence-based testingthat has been done to prove its effectiveness.
The strength of our MBCT program lies in its true-to-reality qualities, and the fact that our training simulates an in-person training as closely as possible. We wanted to stay true to the way the program was created and tested to maintain its value, and that’s exactly what we did. We created training with treatments based on scientific studies, and changing that would lose the heart of the program.
Commodifying mindfulness without losing the inherent meaning of the practice
Where the commercialization of mindfulness becomes a problem is in the marketplace. In the blog post, "Beyond Mindfulness," by Ron Purser on the Huffington Post, the author notes that when companies make an effort to rebrand mindfulness as their own, they brand it often as “Buddhist-inspired” to appeal to popular culture. But when it comes down to it, most companies are unwilling to link themselves to Buddhism, and therefore “uncouple” mindfulness from its ethical and religious origins. This inherently strips down the practice and loses something valuable: the basis upon which it was created. Commitment to the way a therapy was created and intended is important, here especially. You can’t create your own type of therapy while maintaining the scientific testing and successes of its predecessor. You can create an entirely new training, but that of course has its own challenges.
By becoming commercialized, Purser says, mindfulness has become stripped down and used as a “banal, therapeutic, self-help technique.” One the one hand, mindfulness has so much to offer participants and should be shared as widely as possible. On the other, wouldn’t it be great if we could guarantee the mindfulness practice that users are getting is the one we offer in Mindful Mood Balance for Professionals? We certainly think so!
At the end of the day, commercialization of mindfulness has its advantages and its disadvantages, but we remain dedicated to delivering only the most pure and studied version.