Mindfulness: Is the Media Harming or Helping?
Well as you may know by now mindfulness has made the cover of Time Magazine. This means that mindfulness has arrived, right? When I first heard this I said to myself something I said to myself over a decade ago which was “this practice is going to reach the mainstream world, it something we sorely need right now.” But watching a short clip on MSNBC made me curious about whether it’s being conveyed in a way where people are going to truly get the benefit that the science of mindfulness promises.
Let me explain.
In a recent clip on MSNBC TIME editor Radhika Jones talked to host Mika Brzezinski about the benefits of mindfulness when it comes to multitasking, sleep and sharpening our lack of focus. On this show there were two women and three men around a table. Radhika was making the case that science is showing us about all the benefits of meditation.
Mika asks one of the anchors, “Do you buy it?” He replies, yes, we living a busy world now and I think this can help us. Then Mika reads something out of the magazine and attempts to lead a short meditation. It’s hard to lead a meditation if you’ve had no experience with it yourself. The two male anchors try to do it, but visibly look uncomfortable and then make a joke out of it saying they need to look at their phone or watch their sports highlights.
They inevitably say they don’t get it and I understand, it wasn’t conveyed in a way where they would connect to it.
When it comes to mindfulness, I’m an advocate of meeting people where they’re at. You won’t catch me with an elitist mindfulness perspective saying you have to practice mindfulness a certain way or it’s simply bastardizing the teachings of it. You can see this in my response to the McMindfulness article.
No, no, no. Mindfulness can be beneficial practiced formally or informally. I know plenty of people who benefit from bringing mindfulness into the things they’re already doing without sitting for long periods of time.
However, we have to make sure it’s being conveyed by people who have a practice of it themselves. We also have to convey it in a way where it’s not all about the hook. In other words if the hook is “stress reduction” or “focus” or “weight loss” or “breaking bad habits,” somewhere in the teaching the point has to come across that mindfulness is really not about any of this at all. There is a bigger sell here.
What is it really about?
At the least it’s about training awareness so we can have a greater sense of personal control in our lives beyond these specific extrinsic factors. At the most it’s about transforming ourselves to become more awake and compassionate beings for the benefit of all people and this planet. That’s actually really what it’s about, but that doesn’t always get someone’s foot in the door.
As the media continues to give mindfulness a more public voice, I hope they bring in people who have more experience with it themselves to help bring the message across to the masses.
This can lead to a much greater reception and transformation.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Goldstein, E. (2014). Mindfulness: Is the Media Harming or Helping?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 26, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindfulness/2014/01/mindfulness-is-the-media-harming-or-helping/