The headline of this article caught my eye because I know that I’ve been seeing a lot of recommendations about Mindfulness, and I am sure that you have too.
There are a lot of claims about what mindfulness can do, and for some people, it can be incredibly beneficial, but as Jason points out, there have also been some documented cases where mediation or mindfulness practices have had negative effects as well, so we shouldn’t necessarily buy into the hype. Maybe the problem is, as he describes, a fixation on this one tool:
Despite the risks mentioned above, there are still many documented benefits of mindfulness. But, as the adage goes: if you only have a hammer, everything can look like a nail. The reality is that we need many tools in the “mental health toolbox” for a variety of stressful situations life will throw our way: what about the saw, screwdriver, or pliers? A contributing factor is that we live in a consumerist, capitalist country. It has been overly commodified, its origins partially distorted. Not enough people, especially health professionals are researchers, are talking about the risks, contraindications, or downsides of practice, or who specifically it’s best suited for and when.
So yes, I’d agree with this. It can be a tool. Personally, it has not previously been a tool I have used, and I have somehow managed without it all these years. I do plan to give it a try, mostly because it’s one of the tools, through an app, that my employer is giving us free access to in order to deal with employee mental health, so why not give it a try? If it works for me, that’s great, never a bad thing to have another tool. If it doesn’t work for me, I go back to the things I know that do work for me, until I’m ready to try something else.
If Mindfulness is something that helps you, great. If it doesn’t, don’t beat yourself up over that fact, or continue a practice that is actually causing harm. That makes no sense at all. Just accept that it’s not for you, and hopefully, the people around us who are pushing it as the cure-all, especially the ones trying to sell it to you, can learn to accept that too.
What has your experience with it been? What other “recommended” tools have not worked for you? How did you handle the folks who continue to tell you it would?