Mindfulness in Western Contexts Perpetuates Oppressive Realities for Minority Cultures

The Consequences of Cultural Appropriation

  • Maria Ishikawa Simon Fraser University
Keywords: cultural appropration, mindfulness, Buddhist, scientific-rationalism, oppression, individualism


This paper examines mindfulness-based practices in North American classrooms as culturally appropriated through the dominantly western modality of individualism and scientific-rationalism. Through investigating MindUP™ and other mindfulness teaching resources, I demonstrate the construed qualities of mindfulness practices in western contexts.  I argue that mindfulness is molded to fit colonial ontologies of values and knowledge and perpetuates oppressive realities for minority cultures. I propose that mindfulness should be reoriented into its Buddhist contexts through required lessons and trainings in Buddhist cultures, ontologies, and knowledges, and creators and supporters of mindfulness-based educational programs should refer to the practices they are promoting as attention-focusing and stress-reduction strategies and not as misconstrued, individualistic qualities of mindfulness. This paper intends to extend awareness to the broader sociopolitical consequences of culturally appropriating mindfulness practices.

How to Cite
Ishikawa, M. (2018). Mindfulness in Western Contexts Perpetuates Oppressive Realities for Minority Cultures. SFU Educational Review, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.21810/sfuer.v11i1.757