The Imagery of the Mindfulness Movement

Google “mindful” and look in images and you might see something a little disturbing. I say “might” because it might not trouble you in the least. What I see is rather a rather impoverished visual vocabulary. It appears that if you want an image to convey “mindfulness”, which is an admittedly internal and vague state (trait, practice, movement), you have some rather limited options:

  1. a drop of water, rebounding upwards from water, frozen in time
  2. raked sand (as in a Japanese garden)
  3. someone meditating (mostly in silhouette)
  4. a stack of rocks (as in a Japanese garden?)
  5. side profile of a head exploding into something else (birds) or formed by something else (tree) or containing gears, or band-aids on a brain
  6. the utterly banal (“be mindful today!” on a post-it)
  7. a lotus plant (preferably floating in very still water)
  8. a leaf (preferably floating in water)
  9. powerpoint slides

Beyond that, it’s pretty much an endless combination of those elements. Not sure why this bothers me. Maybe it’s just the lack of imagination. Or the blandness.


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Clinical Psychologist practicing in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

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