Meditation in the Age of its Technological Mimicry: A Dispositive Analysis of Mindfulness Applications

Slunecko, Thomas; Chlouba, Laisha
International Review of Theoretical Psychologies

In recent years, mindfulness meditation has become a popular technique to reduce stress or anxietyrelated problems and to enhance happiness and wellbeing. Apart from specific real-life mindfulness programs in schools, hospitals, military, and business environments, there is a strongly expanding field of digitally mediated mindfulness. From a critical psychological, ‘Foucauldian’ perspective,
we analyse popular mindfulness apps as dispositifs of power that contribute to aligning the selfgovernance of individuals with the requirements of neo-liberal governance. Our analysis exposes them as sociocultural artefacts fostering exactly such forms of subjectification that fit the neoliberal state of affairs. By freely amalgamating and interweaving psychological, Buddhist, and economic
‘knowledge’ (their ‘meditations’ being inspired, apart from alleged Buddhist sources, from cognitive behavioral therapy, positive psychology, and management literature), such apps orient self-government towards competition, optimization, enhancement, and acceleration, i.e., towards a happiness conflated with productivity – probably not quite what the Buddha had in mind.