The politisation of secular mindfulness - Extinction Rebellion's emotive protest practices
Sauerborn, Elgen – 2022
The environmental movement Extinction Rebellion (XR) not only uses civil disobedience for its radical protests against climate change, but it also employs narratives and practices of mindfulness. Internal guidelines include numerous standardised and mindfulness-based emotional precepts and techniques that promote the well-being of individuals for the purpose of sustainable coexistence. While sociological critiques of mindfulness have primarily condemned its tendency to depoliticise, privatise, and heighten individual responsibility, XR’s novel politicised reception raises numerous questions. Using a qualitative analysis of public documents and the regulations of the movement, this article examines the extent to which mindfulness, which has been criticised for its individualist disposition, can be deployed in a political context. This analysis sheds light on the often conflicting consequences for XR and mindfulness itself. Building on this, the article then explores how institutionalised emotion programmes can work in a decentralised movement to establish order.