The Emotional Neutrification of Mindfulness

(TORONTO, ON) – My colleague, Kennedy Jones, submitted an article to The Square warning of the Dangers of Mindfulness. I understand his position as being that corporate culture will further latch onto mindfulness, enabling it to extract more productivity from a depleted and stressed out workforce suffering from cost cutting.

In short, he takes the position that mindfulness is an exploitative tool in the hands of corporate human resources departments.

Jones makes a fair point.

Corporation’s monkey and tinker with all sorts of newfangled fads, whether it be empowerment, succession planning, or a diagnosis of its worker’s personality, such as passive aggressive.

I will let Jones speak for himself, but I must caution about another possible danger of mindfulness, namely emotional neutrification.

I agree completely with the stress reduction effects of mindfulness but, I must note, after taking numerous courses on mindfulness and weekly booster sessions, there is a possible unintended emotional neutrification side effect of mindfulness.

What do I mean by this?

I agree that properly guided mindfulness courses make one aware of the moment and seek to neutralize unnecessary and possibly harmful reactions to stressful events by disentangling one from unhelpful reactions to events. In a simple analogy, mindfulness will recognize your handling of a hot frying pan without an oven mitt will lead to a genuine instinctual reaction.

But, then it will cultivate awareness about all the unhelpful additional reactions such as, “Why did I do this stupid act?” or “What an idiot I am” or “This is the second time I have done this in two months. What is wrong with me!”

Eliminate these secondary negative thoughts and you liberate yourself from negative emotions. That’s great.

However, if mindfulness can eliminate the negative, what about the positive?

I have noticed that, in the midst of this mindfulness, I welcome the ability to eliminate unnecessary and negative emotional reactions. However, what about receiving good news with enthusiasm and zest?

I have found that in the face of encouraging news and events, being trained to ignore negative reactions has translated into ignoring positive life events. Where once I would be pumping my fist and saying, “Fantastic,” I shrug my shoulders and simply acknowledge, without passion and enthusiasm, the good news.

Like it’s equally bad to react to good events as bad events. Emotional castration?

Just a little something to keep in mind if you want to delve into mindfulness.

Does mindfulness rob you of enthusiasm and joy so you are on an even keel? Is this the price to be paid for neutralizing negativity? Does being successful at mindfulness lead to modern eunuchs?

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write." Email Robert Stephen