While a good number of my colleagues and friends will likely disagree with Ronald Purser (especially the ones profiting from the “Mindfulness Revolution”), he certainly makes a strong case for employing some critical thinking before indulging in a series of mindfulness classes, a wellness retreat or any number of offerings from the self-help world. It’s high time to be (politically) mindful of mindfulness.
The following is an excerpt from Chapter 22 of The Mass Psychology of Fittism(Undocumented Worker Press: ’15)
The Foot To understand how humans might have looked, felt, moved and behaved before we entered the modern to postmodern era—that is, when we were fitter in the evolutionary sense—it is instructive to turn once again to Mr. Darwin and both the environments in which our human genome developed and those in which humans continue to flourish.
It turns out that the human body has remarkable capacity to adapt to virtually any terrain on Earth. We may have evolved on the African savannah, but we thrived virtually everywhere on Earth. And this means that the most important environmental constant in human existence could be variation and its propensity for generating neurological complexity. Today, in places where humans encounter daily variation underfoot, we see tell-tale signs of our evolutionary heritage: strong feet, legs and backs. Unfortunately for most modern city dwellers, however, the possibility for becoming strong and healthy has been largely surrendered after years of shielding ourselves from Mother Earth and her varied ways of appealing to our senses.
Noam Chomsky gives a fascinating and important talk entitled “Education For Whom and For What” about two major possibilities for education. For a funny and illuminating personal anecdote, go to minute 29-31.
Charles Eisenstein‘s seminal work, Sacred Economics, played a pivotal role in inspiring my latest book, The Mass Psychology of Fittism. In the following video by Ian McKenzie, Charles talks about the role that a debt-based money economy has played in fundamentally promoting political oppression, poverty, inequality, war, environmental destruction, anomie, and the severing of deep social ties.
Changing perspectives through an imaginative use of constraints is what leads to learning and breakthroughs–whether in the world of dance, martial arts, sports, mathematics, philosophy, cabinet making, or indeed any field you can imagine. Architect and professor, Hajime Narukawa has created the world’s most remarkable map–one which allows you to change perspective and thereby alter your concept of up, down, right, left, center, East, West, North, and South. This is exactly the map–or perhaps more accurately stated, these are precisely the mapping possibilities, that I have been searching for for almost 20 years.
“I could say that when I was a young man, an adolescent, and I hungered for a voice, I studied the English poets, and I knew their work well and I copied their styles, but I could not find a voice. It was only when I read—even in translation—the works of Lorca, that I understood that there was a voice. It is not that I copied his voice—I would not dare—but he gave me permission to find a voice, to locate a voice, that is, to locate a self—a self that is not fixed, a self that struggles for its own existence. And as I grew older, I understood that instructions came with this voice. What were these instructions? The instructions were never to lament casually. And if one is to express the great inevitable defeat that awaits us all, it must be done within the strict confines of dignity and beauty.”
“This boy said to me, ‘See that bird standing on the stump there? What’s the name of it?’ I said, ‘I haven’t got the slightest idea.’ He said, ‘It’s a brown-throated thrush. Your father doesn’t teach you much about science.’” -Richard Feynman
Richard Feynman elucidates the difference between learning and mindless parroting in this short and concise article.