THIS October the first ever Mindful Drinking Festival in Scotland comes to Glasgow, and it’s a sign as much of where the mindfulness revolution has come to as of anything about our relationship to drink. Mindfulness is everywhere. If there’s an activity you like, or have to do, someone somewhere will be talking about a mindful version of it. Possibly there will even be an app. And a book, and a course. Sometimes how and in what way it is mindful will be vague. Sometimes it will be obvious – perhaps involving meditation, or simply being more present in the moment, which are the two main principles of the Buddhism inspired practice.

Mindful eating. Mindful parenting. Mindful dating. Given its ubiquity and the claims made for it, we ought by now to be a society less stressed and anxious, more productive and creative. But, in fact, it seems as if we are more frazzled than ever.

Of course, that could be because not enough of us are doing it yet.

One of the problems with mindfulness is that it can seem like another job we have to do, almost a moral imperative. I must work out. I must clear my inbox. I must cut out the carbs. I must work on my mind. I must distance myself from my thoughts through meditation so that I can watch them drift by recognising that they are not really me at all.

Mindfulness began to become popularised in the 1990s, and the backlash began this century. Many philosophers have questioned its value. Theodore Zeldin, for instance, declared it “bad for people”. Slavoj Zizek once described Buddhism as the perfect supplement for the consumerist society. But the real attack came mostly from people who believed that Buddhism and its practices had a great deal to offer, but who saw in what was frequently being marketed as an antidote to our problems, a corrupted version of it, one they sometimes called McMindfulness.

Back in 2015 Zen Dharma teacher Dr Ronald Purser and Edward Ng wrote an article in Time magazine titled, “Corporate mindfulness is bullsh*t: Zen or no Zen, you’re working harder and being paid less”. The problem they were describing was that the corporate world, instead of acknowledging that some of our problems are caused by the system in which we work and live, and changing it, has put the responsibility on us, blaming our minds. If we just calmed them through a nice bit of meditation, we would be able to cope with the relentless emails, deadlines, demands on our thoughts, and invasion of work into our home lives. Ng and Purser observed that “those celebrating the mindfulness boom have avoided any serious consideration of why stress is so pervasive in corporations and society”.

But it’s not only work that is causing us stress, it’s also the demands of our consumer society and ever-more-complicated digital personal lives – and naturally the corporate world, which has created this, is also there to sell us the antidote. Rather than encourage us to use our phones less, it delivers us mindfulness apps.

In her book, Natural Causes: Life, Death And The Illusion of Control, Barbara Ehrenreich charts how the mindfulness movement took hold in Silicon Valley and comments on the irony of how it mass-marketed the approach to a tech-addled population in the form of more technology – apps. “This is Buddhism sliced up, commodified and drained of all reference to the transcendent,” she observed. “In case the connection to the tech industry is unclear, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist blurbed a seminal mindfulness manual by calling it 'the instruction manual that should come with our iPhones and Blackberries'.”

Meanwhile, however, there is still much debate over whether the claims made for mindfulness are actually backed by sufficient evidence. Increasingly studies are suggesting that its impact may not be as vast as has sometimes been argued. A 2014 meta-analysis of existing studies found that, while meditation programmes could help treat stress-related symptoms, they were no more effective than other interventions like muscle relaxation, medication or psychotherapy. A 2015 review in American Psychologist found that only 9 per cent of research into mindfulness interventions had been tested in clinical trials that had used a control group. That’s sloppy science.

But the problem isn’t, of course, really with mindfulness or Buddhism itself. It’s with the way it’s been sold, the way a neoliberal market has brought us only the ideas from Buddhism that suited it, leaving out the philosophy’s ethical message, which would provide pathways to criticism and resistance.

Meanwhile, we see that word mindful everywhere. It’s no longer cool to just go on a run, you have to go on a mindful run. Rather than let go to sex, you must practice mindful sex. Don’t just eat – consume mindfully. Some of this may be useful, some of it just buzz. Here’s our list of some of the things the word is now attached to. Please be mindful as you read.

Mindful drinking

You could call it just drinking less, or not getting trollied so often, but instead, Club Soda, have called its movement and the festival it is bringing to Glasgow, “Mindful Drinking”. That doesn’t mean you have to start meditating every time you have a craving for a glass of wine, or even that you need to sip slowly revelling in the way the chemical is now affecting the different parts of your body, including your woozy brain.

At no point in the website’s list of seven mindful drinking habits, does Soda mention anything to do with meditation or Buddhism. Laura Willoughby, one of the founders of Club Soda, has said: “The idea behind mindful drinking is that you treat drinking as a special occasion and think about why you drink and how much. You don’t simply slug something down mindlessly in front of the TV.”

That said, if drinking is a problem for you, cutting back could be a good idea, and there is some evidence that a mindfulness-based approach could help people cut down the booze. One study found people who did a meditation practice around drinking for a week, consumed 9.3 fewer units of alcohol the week after than they had before.

Mindful parenting

We live, as we all know, in the era of distracted parenting. Parents are exhausted, overworked and constantly connected to their devices. No wonder mindful parenting is the latest buzz phrase and current enlightened approach to raising kids. But what exactly is it? The concept, in fact, is so vague that it’s hard to see how anyone could have researched it – though studies do exist. Mostly, though, people mention putting aside a bit of time for meditation, pausing before acting or reacting, and letting go of ideas of what a great parent is.

Mindful screen use

Turns out you can be “in the moment” even while holding a mobile phone and swiping. Rohan Gunatillake, the Glasgow-based creator of the mindfulness app Buddhify, advises that, for those who struggle with their technology use, better still than using an app is just to start taking a mindful approach to using your phone. “If you go to a meditation class,” he says, “the first thing you’ll do is some kind of body awareness practice. Typically, you do something like pay attention to your breathing, or body scan. And you can do exactly the same technique while holding your phone. When you’re checking your email, if you are the same time aware of what it feels like to hold your phone while you use it, part of you is present.”

Mindful military

Earlier this year more than 150 military personnel came together in a symposium in London to be taught about mindfulness. This wasn’t some crackpot new idea, though. In the United States, the military have, for some years, been looking into the way in which mindfulness might be used to help improve soldier performance also help people deal with PTSD. Research by the US Army Research Laboratory, led by Dr Valerie Rice, has shown positive results around meditation and body awareness exercises. “Our results,” she has said, “have shown practical and clinically relevant reductions in PTSD symptoms, as measured by the PTSD Checklist – Military Version."

Mindful running

Most runners have long known there’s something meditative about what they do. But it’s only recently that mindful running became a thing, and, naturally, there’s an app to help you on your way. Nike recently partnered with Headspace on a series of audio-guided mindful runs, which help you be more present in your body by whispering in your ear while you run. Mindful running, of course, is also a rather vague term, which seems to mean slightly different things to different people, though mostly it appears to be about just not being distracted, whether by that podcast, the music, or your thoughts of that email you forgot to reply to last week. Research suggests that this is good for mental health – but then so is just running.

Mindful dating

When all else fails, and you didn’t manage to find your true love at the local meditation group, there’s always an app. In this case it’s MeetMindful, which prides itself as offering an experience less mindless than the swipe left of Tinder. Users fill in highly detailed profiles in which people are encouraged to identify fitness, spirituality, diet and other preferences. “We didn’t want to force our members to make ‘swipe judgments',” Baglan says. “Just like dating IRL, the basic flow of browsing on the app definitely helps to slow people down and explore whomever strikes their fancy in the moment.”

Mindful sex

Yes, sex can be mindful too. We’ve all long known that it’s about freeing yourself of your inhibitions, letting go and not allowing your thoughts to wander. And, naturally, mindfulness is the latest buzz in the world of sex therapy. There are apps, there are courses and there are books. Canadian psychologist Lori Botto, author of Better Sex Through Mindfulness, says: “I would argue that satisfying sex is quite simply not possible without mindfulness. When you ask people to describe an optimal sexual encounter, they unanimously describe them in a mindful way – I felt fully alive. Nothing else mattered. I was in the zone.”

Mindful drudgery

All those jobs you didn't want to do – the dish-washing, the tidying, the hoovering – even these can be turned into a life-enhancing mindfulness experience. Particularly decluttering. The web is cluttered with articles on how and why to declutter mindfully.