Commonly defined as a way of paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally mindfulness meditative practices are being increasingly adopted in diverse domains of social life in Norway and globally. In this thesis, which is based on part-time fieldwork carried out over a period of 24 months from October 2010 to October 2012 in Northern India and among mental health practitioners in Norway, I explore the ontological differences between mindfulness as a set of techniques, a state, a result, and a normativity or aesthetic which allow for particular ways of knowing and relating to one's experience.
Unlike more renunciatory vipassan meditation practices where the goal is to affirm Buddhist principles. mindfulness meditation in a secular, clinical setting engenders a way of knowing which opens up a gap between precept and narrativity. Through the training of attention and awareness, and the instilment of a non-judgmental, self-compassionate attitude, meditators learn to observe, accept and let go of their narratives about themselves, their feelings, and sensations and recognize their thoughts as thoughtsUnlike meditation in Buddhist contexts, the status of the self remains unchallenged in mindfulness practice. Since virtually all Western psychotherapy forms have some conceptual base or model of a self or ego, I would argue that this is may be one of the reasons why mindfulness has been so readily adopted by psychotherapist adhering to a wide variety of theoretical backgrounds.
Mindfulness thus achieves a transformation of the relationship of self to self and self to the world, which, I have argued, can be understood as a refashioning or Foucauldian technology of the self.As a way of knowing, mindfulness challenges practitioners understandings of what it is to know and can be more readily understood as a embodied, non-verbal care of the self.