Mindfulness has really broken out in a big way, becoming very popular among more and more people. However, there is a danger here that we need to all be aware of. The way of approaching life can bear wonderful fruit, it has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, prevent against future relapse of depression, change perception of chronic pain, help with eating disorders, cultivate joy, compassion, kindness, satisfaction with life and even change neural pathways in the brain.
Obviously being the host of The Mindfulness and Psychotherapy Blog, I am a big fan of living a mindful life. It is a way of life for me and has been life changing.
But wait; there is a danger in things that become popular in any capitalistic world. People can see something that is sell-able and as a result will exploit it in the hopes of reaping economic rewards.
There are pros and cons to this. The pros is that is gets the words out, how wonderful that so many people are learning about being more present to life and becoming introduced to being more aware of their minds. This is a very good thing we might say.
However, the cons are when people begin to use mindfulness with the primary purpose of cashing in on the popularity. In this respect, it becomes shallow and the real rewards of becoming more intimate with life becomes a far and distant dream. Some people get dragged into their narcissistic tendencies, craving to be recognized and to be famous and the shallow nature of this leads to a lack of efficacy in the practice.
It’s inevitable that Mindfulness, Inc. is already occurring and will continue to grow. Remember, this isn’t a bad thing in itself. It has wonderful consequences, but it’s important to be aware that with this will also bring some mindfulness approaches that are promising a “quick-fix” in service of the “quick-buck” and will lack depth.
Remember this, while mindfulness has its practices that we can all learn and cultivate a discipline with, it really can be considered a way of approaching life; Learning how to relate to our stress and pain differently with greater kindness and compassion. The instructions may be simple, but it is not always easy. But that’s ok, because we have our entire lives to keep coming back when we’ve strayed.
It’s our most incessant habit to judge, criticize and berate ourselves for “not doing something right” or “as I should be doing it.”
One instruction I often tell to people is that, even if you have strayed from practicing being mindful for quite some time, the moment you noticed you have strayed, you are present! That is the practice. And, it’s just as important to remember to be kind to yourself for straying and gently guiding yourself back to practicing, as it is to practice. Beginning to integrate this new way of relating yourself is a big part of this new of relating to yourself or this new “way of life.”
At the end of the day, marketing is important because it helps get the word out. However, if you get a sense that there is a shallow nature to the way mindfulness is being taught by someone, know this is not a reflection of mindfulness, but perhaps the way it is being taught. Trust your experience and insight as this is truly your greatest teacher.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories, and questions below. Your interaction here provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
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From Psych Central's website:
PsychCentral (November 18, 2009)
Last reviewed: 18 Nov 2009