Mindfulness helps bring clarity to the day to day activities. We're always telling ourselves stories in our heads, sometimes it 's fantastical stories of a world where our dogs could suddenly talk, sometimes it's about a conflict with another person, a stressing meeting scheduled for next week, a difficult problem that is not easy to solve. All of these narratives that are clouding are heads all day are also clouding our judgement. If we are to experience the world as it is, we must also clear the clutter that impedes our vision. For leftist, the obvious obstacle for clarity is ideology, but it is also the clutter of our personal lives that makes us see things differently. If you are hungry and tired, you will more likely misinterpret someone's tone. This is where mindfulness helps, apart from the benefits of general meditation mentioned above.
This is the hardest to come to terms with. Not all religions have "enlightenment" as a core goal. New age spirituality and (my western understanding of) buddhist religion do, and it's practitioners seek to further their overarching goal of reaching it, because that's the reason they came into this world.
Capitalist ideology plays a very cruel game in terms of self realization. First it speaks about everything in terms of productivity, and of course, makes labor power a commodity, which further gets internalized as making humans a commodity that is owned by the individual. It promotes reaching self-actualization by having large quantities of money. It promotes the idea of entrepreneurship as a viable way to get out of poverty. It figuratively and literally says that your "worth" is tied to your personal assets value. Of course, people lose meaning and purpose all the time, modern capitalism is so alienating that it is very hard to see one's "value" in the chain of production, many modern workplaces have evolved to have easily replaceable human resources too. If one has pursued money accumulation their whole life, they might doubt the goal, what type of self-actualization is "having a lot of money" after all?
I see at least 3 ways that people seek self-realization through capitalism: climbing the corporate ladder (or selling better in the employee market), starting their own business, maximizing cash/asset value. I see 3 other ways that people seek self-realization outside work: hobbies, children, religion/spirituality.
As a leftist, seeing past capitalist ideology can be very depressing and demotivating. If you don't particularly enjoy your work, it can be even more alienating than it was originally.
Where is the non-ideological self-realization for leftists? There are no catch all, be all, self-realization for leftists, instead, if one looks to Marx for inspiration, creation and non-alienated work is the cure of one's ailments. I once heard someone make the remark that our hobbies are what we used to do as work before industrialization. It is true that a lot of hobbies bring us satisfaction because they are productive unalienated work, but not all hobbies are work or productive. Many hobbies have a strong component of growth (skill or knowledge), that require a lot of patience to get going, but after some time start reaping large rewards. Many hobbies also have a component of community even when the activity of the hobby is individual (watchmaking individually, but also going to watchmakers conventions for example), which contribute greatly to fulfill the need of belonging. Is it possible to make leftist activism an attractive hobby? If so, should we?
I see two core leftist related activity that act as a tool for personal self-realization. Organizing politcally is working towards a common goal, with a team, and putting in productive work. Depending on how tight the ship is run and how involved you are, people might depend on you to get things going. When you organize, ideally you bring your skills, knowledge, etc to help out. Likewise, others bring their experience to the table, which means that organizing will expose you to a myriad of different industry practices, teach you how people solve problems, how to interact with and organize people effectively, and potentially teach you useful skills that you can put into practice elsewhere (such as work or life). The learning, the unalienated work, the community, and the wider purpose makes political organizing a source of fulfillment of self-realization. My local org hosts cookouts, which makes organization much more relaxed and fun (and delicious). Perhaps the question is better phrased, should we work towards making political organizing more enjoyable? If so, how?
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