The Mindful Elite: Being Patronized For How Poorly I Think About Nothing…

Karen Kilbane
Sep 12 · 3 min read

I just read a whole essay about how bloody low quality and self obsessed most modern humans are who claim to practice mindfulness. The patronizing comments were written by a self proclaimed expert in mindfulness, a guy who claims to be top notch at the art of not thinking. The absurdity of this is wicked funny to me.

Here is what I have to say to the patronizing non thinker who wrote the essay.

According to you, so called mindfulness is quite the elitist sport. Only the purest of people are acceptable enough to practice it. Everyone else, stay away.

Noted.

I don’t think I’ll be doing it because I’ll never be good enough. Also, science.

New brain research shows all of our thinking is the same, whether the information is coming externally through our senses or internally through our organs, or from our own thoughts. Each and every thought goes through the same set of steps from beginning to end. Each thought ends up as a prediction for what to do next. These predictions are what engages our every subsequent thought and our every subsequent movement. So mindfulness is not a different way of thinking. We only have one way to think. Furthermore, the only language our brain makes available to us is the language of concepts. If we don’t have a concept for something, we cannot know it. Therefore, our concept of self is whatever concept we generate for it. This means we can’t get any deeper knowledge of ourselves in any other way than plain old thinking. When we try to meditate mindfully, we need a concept for what that is. We don’t conjure a state of mindfulness up in a spiritual inner cloud of meaningfulness. We conjure up anything and everything with our concepts for those things.

It turns out, even our emotions are experienced as concepts. An internal sensation that feels sad, can only be experienced as sadness if we have a concept associated with that feeling. Observing our sensations and/or our thoughts requires concepts. Not judging our thoughts requires concepts. The only thing we can literally do to change our experience of our life is to change our concepts. Mindfulness, which is not really every fully explained for how it happens, just for what is supposed to happen, can’t make one category of people better or more self aware or more enlightened or of higher quality than another category of people. This claim is mind boggling elitist and not what seems to be the ultimate aim of what people call mindfulness. But I get it, mindfulness needs to be conceptualized as a magical, spiritual, all powerful tool only able to be accessed by the very best people. Because telling people to rest in a rocking chair each day to calm the nervous system is not sexy and does not lend itself to supporting a religion or ideology. But most of all, telling people to rest in a rocking chair will never, ever coerce them into paying gazillions of dollars for workshops, books, DVD’s, gurus, or T-shirts about it. One must have as many hooks as possible, and the vaguer the hooks are, the more exploitative they tend to be as a rule.

Mindfulness, when you get right down to it, is just thinking with a specific set of concepts in a moment. Ironically, with the irony here being in the extreme, to keep one’s thought on the present moment requires extra thinking, not less. It is a huge effort to keep one’s thoughts to the present moment because it is not natural. Our brain is supposed to scan the environment periodically to keep us safe from potential threats. So, maybe we should all just focus on making better decisions in every moment depending on the context rather than pretending to be enlightened because we know exactly to the letter of the law when and how to think about nothing.

Being patronized for how I do or do not think about nothing is so something…

Karen Kilbane

Written by

My students with special needs have led me to develop a hypothesis for a brain-compatible theory of personality. Reach me at karenkilbane1234@gmail.com

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade