The idea of mindfulness has never been so popular in the UK. Ever more frequently, we are informed of the impressive benefits of “being mindful”, from improved relaxation and concentration to greater creativity and physical health. Popular accounts of mindfulness, however, are often short on detail concerning how this hallowed state is to be attained. Defining mindfulness simply as a “present-centred” and “non-judgemental” form of awareness lacks instructiveness and brushes over some of the more deliberative and conceptual activities that mindfulness has traditionally been associated with.
Recent scholarly work has come to emphasise the rich historical connotations of the term, problematising simplistic definitions. It has likewise stressed that an appreciation of this history can help us in the actual practice of mindfulness, that is to say, how we might cultivate it. In this talk, Philosophy postgraduate Michael Roberts, outlines how these considerations highlight the importance of memory and active forgetting in practice and suggest that we might best conceive mindfulness practice as a procedure of “remembering to forget” what is unhelpful to us.
Presented by Department of Philosophy, Theology & Religion.