Mindful America: The Mutual Transformation of Buddhist Meditation and American Culture

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9781491589670: Mindful America: The Mutual Transformation of Buddhist Meditation and American Culture
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Thirty years ago, "mindfulness" was a Buddhist principle mostly obscure to the west. Today, it is a popular cure-all for Americans' daily problems. A massive and lucrative industry promotes mindfulness in every aspect of life, however mundane or unlikely: Americans of various faiths (or none at all) practice mindful eating, mindful sex, mindful parenting, mindfulness in the office, mindful sports, mindfulness-based stress relief and addiction recovery, and hire mindful divorce lawyers. Mindfulness is touted by members of Congress, CEOs, and Silicon Valley tech gurus, and is even being taught in public schools, hospitals, and the military.

Focusing on such processes as the marketing, medicalization, and professionalization of meditation, Jeff Wilson reveals how Buddhism shed its countercultural image and was assimilated into mainstream American culture. The rise of mindfulness in America, Wilson argues, is a perfect example of how Buddhism enters new cultures and is domesticated: in each case, the new cultures take from Buddhism what they believe will relieve their specific distresses and concerns, and in the process create new forms of Buddhism adapted to their needs. Wilson also tackles the economics of the mindfulness movement, examining commercial programs, therapeutic services, and products such as books, films, CDs, and even smartphone applications. Mindful America is the first in-depth study of this phenomenon - invaluable for understanding how mindfulness came to be applied to such a vast array of non-religious concerns and how it can be reconciled with traditional Buddhism in America.

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About the Author:

Jeff Wilson is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and East Asian Studies at Renison University College (University of Waterloo). He is the author of Mourning the Unborn Dead: A Buddhist Ritual Comes to America (2009) and Dixie Dharma: Inside a Buddhist Temple in the American South (2012).

Review:


"The definitive catalogue of the ways 'mindfulness' is being used by Americans."--Journal of the American Academy of Religion


"Feature[s] a superb bibliography of contemporary English-language writings on mindfulness...Recommended."--CHOICE


"This book [is] fascinating, eye-opening...I hope that the makers of the mindfulness movement will read [this] and consider its implications for their work and for Buddhism in America. I hardly need add that all scholars of contemporary Buddhism and of American history should do the same."--H-NET


"[A] compelling study."--Journal of Religion


"But true to his word, Wilson never indulges in speculation about whether or not mindfulness delivers on its professed benefits. His unsparing account instead amounts to a spirited cross-examination of everything 'mindful' in America."--Tricycle Magazine


"Despite its intended scholarly audience, this is an accessible and remarkably jargon-free study. Wilson is clearly not a reluctant writer, and his prose is clear without being reductive or dry. The readability, and thus possibility of a larger, non-academic audience, is due in large part to the fantastic organization of his argument. He makes his case clearly and forcefully, without treading into repetition."--Winnipeg Free Press


"Mindful America could not be more timely: mindfulness is widespread, at its height of its influence, and significant both in terms of the history of American religion and of Buddhism. This book is well researched, thoughtfully conceived, provocative, intelligently theorized, and accessible to both scholarly and lay audiences. Any serious consideration of mindfulness in the West must address the issues Wilson brings up in this important book." --David L. McMahan, author of Buddhism in the Modern World


"This is a much-needed guide to the mindfulness movement that has moved onto central stage in American Buddhism over the course of the last two decades. Jeff Wilson demystifies the current mindfulness vogue by setting it in historical perspective and providing insightful analyses of the way in which an Asian Buddhist religious practice and value has been spiritualized, medicalized, psychologized, and secularized as it has been reshaped to address the needs of middle class Americans. General readers, practitioners, teachers, authors, and promoters alike will value Wilson's insights into the way in which mindfulness as a technique to address suffering has come to mean many different things for many different people. Wilson again shows himself to be the leading interpreter of the American Buddhist scene." --Richard Seager, Bates and Benjamin Professor of Religious Studies, Hamilton College


"In this well-honed study, Jeff Wilson explores the mindfulness movement in the context of modern American religion and culture. As he does so, we are invited to reflect upon the multi-faceted phenomena of religious transformation, appropriation, and commodification of old world meditation techniques and new world realities. An engaging and enlightening read." --Jan Willis, author of Dreaming Me: Black, Baptist and Buddhist-One Woman's Spiritual Journey


"Mindful America is a superb study by Jeff Wilson, scholar of American religion, that situates the practice of mindfulness within the lineage of American religious movements. What makes this movement unique, of course, is the central focus on the traditionally Buddhist practice of mindfulness... The study has both breadth and depthappropriately encompassing of the broad expanse of mindfulness practice yet specific enough to avoid reckless generalization that neglects the nuance and subtlety of mindfulness in America today. No stone is left unturned as Wilson seeks to understand mindfulness in the broadest possible contextsin light of the aforementioned American cultural tropesalongside some of its benevolent and dastardly particulars: from mindfulness for suicidality to mindfulness for sex. In the end, it represents an ideal example of the study of religion in America." --U.S. Studies Online


"In Mindful America, Wilson explores the origin of the mindfulness movement. The book offers one of the first critical descriptions of the movement, which is focused on more that the movement's practices... Mindful America does a very good job in exploring the mindfulness movement." --Metapsychology


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9780199827817: Mindful America: The Mutual Transformation of Buddhist Meditation and American Culture

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ISBN 10:  0199827818 ISBN 13:  9780199827817
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2014
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Book Description Audible Studios on Brilliance, 2015. CD-Audio. Condition: New. Unabridged. Language: English . Brand New. Thirty years ago, mindfulness was a Buddhist principle mostly obscure to the west. Today, it is a popular cure-all for Americans daily problems. A massive and lucrative industry promotes mindfulness in every aspect of life, however mundane or unlikely: Americans of various faiths (or none at all) practice mindful eating, mindful sex, mindful parenting, mindfulness in the office, mindful sports, mindfulness-based stress relief and addiction recovery, and hire mindful divorce lawyers. Mindfulness is touted by members of Congress, CEOs, and Silicon Valley tech gurus, and is even being taught in public schools, hospitals, and the military. Focusing on such processes as the marketing, medicalization, and professionalization of meditation, Jeff Wilson reveals how Buddhism shed its countercultural image and was assimilated into mainstream American culture. The rise of mindfulness in America, Wilson argues, is a perfect example of how Buddhism enters new cultures and is domesticated: in each case, the new cultures take from Buddhism what they believe will relieve their specific distresses and concerns, and in the process create new forms of Buddhism adapted to their needs. Wilson also tackles the economics of the mindfulness movement, examining commercial programs, therapeutic services, and products such as books, films, CDs, and even smartphone applications. Mindful America is the first in-depth study of this phenomenon - invaluable for understanding how mindfulness came to be applied to such a vast array of non-religious concerns and how it can be reconciled with traditional Buddhism in America. Seller Inventory # BRI9781491589670

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