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Perspective | Mindfulness would be good for you. If it weren't so selfish.

Mindfulness is a limited tool

Gazing inward to focus on a connection with yourself cannot deliver magical benefits. Acknowledging your thoughts is not the same as cherishing them.

While mindfulness has some usefulness, we should also realize the benefits when we lose self-awareness, for example when we are in a state of flow.

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Perspective | Mindfulness would be good for you. If it weren't so selfish.

Perspective | Mindfulness would be good for you. If it weren't so selfish.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/mindfulness-would-be-good-for-you-if-it-werent-all-just-hype/2017/08/24/b97d0220-76e2-11e7-9eac-d56bd5568db8_story.html

washingtonpost.com

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Key Ideas

The imposter

True mindfulness has been spoiled by an imposter. The imitation provides an excuse to be self-centered and self-indulgent. It promises health and spiritual purity.

Definition of mindfulness

Mindfulness is the nonjudgemental awareness of the richness, subtlety and variety of the present moment, not just of the self. It is not the same as meditation, although meditation can form part of it.

Mindfulness acknowledges every moment of existence, good and bad. It is used to stand still in the moment, reflect and gain perspective.

Mindfulness is a limited tool

Gazing inward to focus on a connection with yourself cannot deliver magical benefits. Acknowledging your thoughts is not the same as cherishing them.

While mindfulness has some usefulness, we should also realize the benefits when we lose self-awareness, for example when we are in a state of flow.

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Mindfulness is not a magic panacea

The inventor of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction proclaims that mindfulness may "be the only promise the species and the planet have for making it through the next couple of hundred years...

Mindfulness has been repackaged

Although mindfulness originated from Buddhism, it has been stripped from most of its teachings. 

What remains is nothing more than a self-help tool to help one get used to the very conditions that caused the problems. While is it a noble aim to reduce stress and anxiety, it is more important to acknowledge and address the underlying cause of the suffering.

The message of the mindfulness

The message of the mindfulness movement is that the underlying cause is in our mind - a "thinking disease" or a kind of attention deficit disorder. 

Rather than discussing how attention is monetized and manipulated by corporations, mindfulness advocates to view the crisis as an internal battle. The result is that we meekly retreat into the private sphere without critically engaging with the causes of suffering in the structures of power and economic systems of capitalist society.

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Mindfulness

... is a collection of practices aimed at helping us to cultivate moment-to-moment awareness of ourselves and our environment.

Meditation sharpens your attention

Meditation helps to counter our tendency to stop paying attention to new information in our environment. Other studies have found that mindfulness meditation can reduce mind-wandering and improve attention.

Larger randomized controlled trials are still needed to understand how meditation might work with other treatments to help people manage attention-deficit disorders.

Consistent meditation

Long-term, consistent meditation mindfulness changes our ability to handle stress in a better, more sustainable way.

  • Practicing meditation reduces the inflammatory response in people exposed to psychological stressors.
  • Mindfulness practices help us to be less reactive to stressors and to recover better from stress when we experience it. 

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Use of mindfulness
Mindfulness can be used as a preventative treatment for depression.

The idea is that you actively pay attention to the moment, without judging. It helps the mind to revisit thoughts about...

Mindfulness as an effective treatment

There is clinical evidence for mindfulness-based cognitive therapy as a way to prevent depression and anxiety.

Mindfulness may be good for other psychiatric conditions including bipolar disorder.

There is also growing evidence that mindfulness is effective for chronic long-term health conditions.

Mindfulness can be overstated

Mindfulness is not a cure all. With all the hype around mindfulness it can sometimes be difficult to tell whether the information is quality-controlled and reliable. We need  to be careful not to overstate it's usefulness.