Becoming fully present in your body: Analysing mindfulness as an affective investment in tech culture

Somatechnics 9 (2-3):353–375 (2019)
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Abstract

Tech companies have eagerly utilised mindfulness techniques in order to increase both creativity and productivity among their managers and employees. However, while a growing number of studies within fields of clinical psychology and psychiatry suggest that mindfulness provides myriad health benefits, such literature does not critically evaluate the societal and affective influences of mindfulness and other wellness practices on working bodies. By focusing on discourses related to mindfulness training, this paper explores the conception of ‘being present’. Drawing on the phenomenology of the body, affect theory, and critical mindfulness studies, we develop a new theoretical framework for analysing mindfulness as a somatic and social force in technology-driven business contexts. Using research material drawn from the online advertising of mindfulness programmes for managers, this paper describes ‘presence’ as a new labour concept associated with the cultivated performance skill of the managerial body in the era of late capitalism. We conclude that mindfulness training – transforming the somatic into an affective investment – has transformed Buddhist meditation into capital that can be bought and consumed.

Author Profiles

Jaana Parviainen
Tampere University
Ilmari Kortelainen
Tampere University

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