One of the things that helped me realize the need for self-improvement by not-self-improvement was regular practice with the excellent Headspace meditation app, created by a former Tibetan monk named Andy Puddicombe. Headspace is at the epicenter of “McMindfulness”: the app normally charges for access but I get it for free as a work wellness benefit, and this arrangement has made Puddicombe millions of dollars. In turn, the app is a big reason I defend McMindfulness – especially through John Dunne’s hugely helpful distinction between “classical” and “nondual” mindfulness.
That is to say: the core practice in Headspace is noticing your emotions, positive and negative, as they arise, and reacting to them with nonjudgemental acceptance. And you do so, yes, in the present moment. Critics like Ron Purser correctly note that that present-moment focus is not found in classical Indian texts like the Pali suttas or Śāntideva – but Dunne notes that it is found in other premodern Buddhist traditions, like the Tibetan writings of Wangchuk Dorje. And I dare say that that present-moment technique is an improvement: one that does a better job than the classical tradition’s techniques at their shared goal of reducing our suffering.Continue reading