Thursday, 22 January 2015

Government Volte-face on Meditation?

Recently I came across a story in the Guardian, "Meditation may prevent absenteeism by stressed public servants, MPs claim". The article goes on to say that, "Stressed out teachers, prison officers and nurses should be trained in ancient techniques of mindfulness meditation, a cross-party group of MPs and peers said on Wednesday.

An eight-month inquiry by the all party group on mindfulness found frontline public servants could be less likely to fall ill with stress, or quit altogether, if they engage in the increasingly popular meditation practice which involves increasing awareness of the present moment to help control anxiety and depression."

I was reminded that back in 2010 George Osborne took a pop at meditation, dismissing it as "Labour nonsense" – examples of "waste and bureaucracy" that are to be vigorously swept away.

In his speech to the Tory party conference earlier in October 2010, the chancellor took a dig at a range of "contemplation suites", a reference to the relaxation area that was part of a refit at the Department for Children, Schools and Families under Ed Balls.

"Osborne's throwaway remark highlights a bigger issue – in a world that thinks the solution to every problem is found in action, more introspective approaches are viewed with suspicion, or even contempt, perhaps because their value is more difficult to quantify, linked to nebulous concepts such as "soul" or "mind". We might recognise that many troubles come from the unchecked pursuit of material goals, but we still want answers that fit the materialist schema."

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