In early 2014 activist Amanda Ream and members of Eviction Free San Francisco disrupted the fifth annual Wisdom 2.0 conference, at which Silicon Valley leaders discuss the benefits of ‘mindfulness’ practices. It was another confrontation between working-class residents of San Francisco and the technology employees who have gentrified their neighborhoods. A member of the East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, Ream’s actions garnered support from other ‘socially engaged’ Buddhists from Berkeley and elsewhere. Secular critics have likewise questioned the appropriation of Buddhist practices by corporations whose business practices and products arguably undermine the cultivation of mindfulness. This article intervenes in these debates by outlining an approach called Contemplative Media Studies, which integrates critical media studies with the emerging field of Contemplative Studies. I argue that market imperatives have favored a corporate-friendly understanding of mindfulness that perpetuates structural injustice, and conclude that an expanded notion of civic mindfulness must include the revitalization of journalism and the development of non-commercial media systems.
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