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The Mindful Cranks

Shortly after my Huffington Post essay “Beyond McMindfulness” went viral, a popular mindfulness promoter accused me of being a “crank”. So why not own it? Alas, The Mindful Cranks was born. The Mindful Cranks was the first podcast to critique the mindfulness movement. Conversations with guests soon expanded in scope to include critical perspectives on the wellness, happiness, resilience and positive psychology industries - sharing a common concern that such highly individualistic and market-friendly techniques ignore the larger structural and systemic problems plaguing society. Whether these be trendy Asian spiritualities such as mindfulness or yoga, or other interventions from therapeutic cultures, The Mindful Cranks will call them out without mercy. I am very fortunate to engage with my favorite journalists, authors and public intellectuals whose works that I admire, as well as educators and spiritual teachers who I have learned from — fellow cranks who don’t simply accept the way things are. They’re modern muckrakers who dare to question the unquestionable. But being cranky can be critically wise and compassionate. Casting a wide net around the impending meta-crisis, The Mindful Cranks also explores with leading thinkers how the problems of our times are deeply entangled with our ways of knowing and being. Rather than just retreating from such problems by sitting on cushion, doing yoga or listening to a meditation app, I believe using our minds is not necessarily a bad thing if it challenges the limits of human knowledge.
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Now displaying: Category: Yoga
Jan 23, 2021

In this episode I spoke with Andrea R. Jain, Associate professor of religious studies at Indiana University, Indianapolis about her new book Peace Love Yoga: The Politics of Global Spirituality, published by Oxford University Press. Our conversation explores how modern, commodified yoga serves a neoliberal agenda by containing social activism and political dissent, something she calls gestural subversion. As a religious studies scholar, Andrea takes modern yoga seriously – viewing its practitioners not as passive dupes but as people with agency – but whose identities have been shaped and formed to serve neoliberal ends. We touch on a range of topics and issues – from the “feel good” neoliberal discourse of yogaware – such as Spirtual Gangster clothing products, cultural appropriation and contested claims of spiritual “authenticity,” the global spread of capitalism where even in India neoliberal forces have led to coopting yoga for extremist and exclusionary nationalist agenda, as well as QAnon’s followers attraction to yoga.

Andrea is also author of a previous book -  Selling Yoga: From Counterculture to Pop Culture and is currently the editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Her areas of research include religion and capitalism; global spirituality and modern yoga; the intersections of gender, sexuality, and religion; and theories of religion. 

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