The MWS Podcast 40: Alison Armstrong on Mindfulness & Compulsive Buying

My guest today is Alison Armstrong, who is a mindfulness teacher and researcher and founder of Present Minds. She’s going to talk to us about mindfulness and compulsive buying which began as a research project for her PhD and became a ground-breaking RESOLVE study. She’ll also talk about how all this relates to the Middle Way.

Here’s also an article Alison wrote for the Guardian which gives an overview of the topic.


MWS Podcast 40: Alison Armstrong as audio only:
Download audio: MWS_Podcast_40_Alison_Armstrong

Click here to view other podcasts

About Barry Daniel

I live in the Lake District in the UK where I run a guesthouse with my partner Kate and my cat Manuel. I enjoy painting, hillwalking, reading, visiting and entertaining friends, T’ai Chi and playing the guitar. I’m engaged to a certain degree in the local community, as a volunteer with Samaritans and I’m a fairly active member of the local Green party. I’ve had a relatively intuitive sense of the Middle Way most of my adult life but it found a greater articulation and a practical direction through joining the society. It’s also been interesting and great fun engaging with other people with a similar outlook. My main contribution to the society is conducting the podcast interviews, something that gives me a lot of satisfaction and that I’ve learnt a lot from.

2 thoughts on “The MWS Podcast 40: Alison Armstrong on Mindfulness & Compulsive Buying

  1. Another fine interview Barry, helpful facilitative questions that helped Dr Armstrong to give a very thorough account of her work and her conclusions.

    One thought that occurred early on and stayed to the end: the larger part of our society and the economy has been built upon, and relies on the continuation of, and the production of, consumer goods and services; AND in parallel with that production, there are powerful industries dedicated to stimulating and managing our desire to consume. Before we are citizens now, we are consumers of goods and services. Our patterns of consumption have begun to define who we are, and who we aren’t but ought to be.

    I agree with Dr Armstrong that we can, from a wider perspective, get a glimpse of that, and perhaps change our outlook, consume less, produce less, and be present and more content with less.

    But do we imagine that such a change will not be challenged, and perhaps thwarted, in the interests of those with an economic stake in things staying as they are? I think we should anticipate the probability of such a challenge. We should be thinking about whither it will come, in what form(s), and how we can counter it. I don’t think it will be soft, when it eventually comes, or that there will be be no casualties.

  2. I agree with Peter: a very interesting interview. Your interviews with experts are beginning to build up into a resource exploring different applications of the Middle Way that we ought to index and make use of better.

    Coincidently I have been thinking about economics recently in relation to the book I’m writing. I think it’s not just the consumers who need more integration, but also the economic interests that Peter mentions – the businesses. However, the businesses in turn are obliged to compete by the economic system in a way that can strongly discourage more sustainable and integrative approaches. I’d see compulsive buying as a tip-of-the-iceberg indication of the systemic relationships between an unintegrated economic system and the unintegrated psyches of the wider population. So who’s responsible for all this? Partly the consumers, partly the businesses, partly governments – but these all have limited room for manoeuvre. The people who seem to me most to blame of all are the economists. These are the people who have the capacity to develop realistic plans to switch to a sustainable and integrative economy, but by all accounts most of them are still propagating the same old narrow assumptions. See for example, the Post-Crash Economics Society, http://www.post-crasheconomics.com/, a protesting group of economics students at the University of Manchester who say “We believe that the mainstream within the discipline has excluded all dissenting opinion… Students are routinely taught that only one type of economics is ‘scientific’ and ‘correct’.” Mindfulness is a small part of the solution, but there is a much bigger and more formative narrowness of intellectual assumption of which these compulsive buyers are also to some extent the victims.

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