Since 2012, when the app Headspace launched (“a gym membership for the mind”), it’s been downloaded by 3 million users at £7.95 a month. At the end of September, the Barbican debuts the first “mindfulness opera”, an immersive four-hour performance that includes a gentle yoga session.
As mindfulness becomes a trend embraced by companies and schools, as well as the rest of us civilians frayed by anxiety, I wonder how many of us really believe that, like orgasms in 1998, we can buy inner peace. At the end of the Huffington Post’s recent guide “Mindfulness for Mindblowing Sex”, the author adds: “Want to be a more mindful lover? Want a more conscious connection? Like this article and share with the object of your affection. Please leave a comment.”
The difficult thing about meditation – a word so imbued with hemp you can almost hear it telling you it doesn’t own a TV – is that you don’t have to pay for it. All you need to meditate is a quiet space in which you can be alone. Which I think, to our busy ears, sounds a bit suspicious. How can it be of worth today if it doesn’t have a price? Hence its rebranding as mindfulness – a multimillion-pound business concerned with training the brain, using it to quiet the pressures of Instagram or to lose weight rather than with finding nirvana. Where meditation suggests something wrong with you that needs to be fixed, mindfulness suggests something very, very right – you’re ambitious, successful, DTF. And proud to tell anybody who will listen that you’re working to be even more so.