Critical Social Mindfulness: Foundations and Emergent Practices for a New Mindful Deal

Critical Social Mindfulness webinar

The October 2020 ACMHE Webinar:

Critical Social Mindfulness: Foundations and Emergent Practices for a New Mindful Deal

Presented by David Forbes
Friday, October 30th, 2020, 3-4pm EDT

Watch the recording on the ACMHE member portal (join ACMHE here)

From Dr. Forbes:

Progressive social critics call out certain mindfulness practices as McMindfulness—the unmindful focus on individualistic stress reduction, self-regulation, and personal wellness that ignores the neoliberal and racist social context and the very sources of the stress, unhappiness, and lack of well-being people experience. These practices unwittingly reinforce a self-centered neoliberal society that regards people not as social beings but as privatized, competitive selves who feel compelled to meet their needs through the market and constantly improve their personal brand.

In this webinar I will critique some conventional mindfulness practices in K-12 schools that risk adjusting students to social inequities, e.g. high-stakes tests and conformity to alienating curricula and policies, rather than working together to mindfully identify, resist, challenge, and transform them. We will look at some common concerns of students for which educators introduce conventional mindfulness practices that arguably serve the status quo:

  • Stress
  • Anger
  • Self-care
  • Attention
  • School Culture

We will explore questions such as: is the purpose of mindfulness to adjust people to “the way things are” in society, increase personal happiness, reduce symptoms of stress, and promote conventional success and productivity? Or is it for the transformation of ourselves and society, to help us recognize our social nature, strive for moral, universal development, and overcome social injustices and end suffering?

I will describe some psychological, social, and moral foundations for an alternative critical social mindfulness in schools and then suggest ways we can address these issues in more transformative ways. As an emergent perspective and practice, a critical social mindfulness sees personal development as inseparable from identifying and challenging social and educational inequities with others, and through the commitment to both personal and social transformation may help us create an evolved, compassionate, equitable society for all.

David ForbesDavid Forbes, PhD, is an Emeritus in the Urban Education Doctoral Program at the CUNY Graduate Center. He teaches and writes on critical and integral approaches to mindfulness in education and consults with New York City schools on developing social mindfulness programs. He studied psychology at The University of Chicago and the New School and received his doctorate in counselor education from U.C. Berkeley. 

As a counselor educator David taught School Counseling in the School of Education at Brooklyn College/CUNY for nineteen years. While there he wrote about his experience teaching and practicing mindfulness with a Brooklyn high school football team in his book, Boyz 2 Buddhas: Counseling Urban High School Male Athletes in the Zone (2004) and was a co-recipient of a Contemplative Program Development Fellowship from the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society.

His latest book is Mindfulness and its Discontents: Education, Self, and Social Transformation (2019). He co-edited the Handbook of Mindfulness: Culture, Context, and Social Engagement (Springer, 2016) with Ron Purser, with whom he co-produces the podcast, The Mindful Cranks

David is a member of the Mindfulness and Social Change Network based in the UK from which he is featured on a website, “Being Mindful of our World: A Collection of Social Mindfulness Voices.” He has written and co-written articles in their series on Open Transformation: Mindfulness and Social Change. He is a member of the multidisciplinary academic network, Popular Psychology, Self-Help Culture, and the Happiness Industry, and was “Member of the Month” (March 2017) on the Mindfulness and Contemplative Education network website. 


  1. Dr Pearse McCusker on October 27, 2020 at 3:30 am

    Hi there, will the webinar be recorded for folk who can make it?

    • Carrie Bergman on October 28, 2020 at 10:53 am

      Hi! Yes, a recording will be sent to all who register & be available to ACMHE members via the member portal.

      • pearse on October 29, 2020 at 12:12 pm

        Hi Carrie, thanks, that’s great – I’ll register.


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