Mindfulness and Resilience in Britain: A Genealogy of the “Present Moment”

Joanna Cook


In Britain, mindfulness practice has increasingly been incorporated into preventative healthcare as a support for psychological resilience. An awareness practice originating in Buddhism, mindfulness is framed as a scientifically verified way of cultivating a skilful engagement with life to support mental health. What has led to this unprecedented interest in mindfulness? And how have British people come to think of cultivating a kindly relationship with their own minds as a constituent aspect of the “good life”? In this paper, I explore the specifically British history that informs the association between mindfulness and psychological resilience today. I show that the association between psychological resilience and mindfulness practice is the result of broader historical concerns about the nature of modern society and psychology. Taking a genealogical approach, I argue that changing patterns in British psychology and Buddhism, while framed in universalist registers, are constituted in and constitutive of a broader historical and political context.


Resilience; mindfulness; Buddhism; psychology; Britain

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4727573


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