Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Mindfulness Backlash?

Mindfulness is certainly in the news. I get Google Alerts on the subject, and every day, a long listing of articles comes to my inbox.

We have mindfulness coloring books, apps. We are told that mindfulness can help us lose weight, cure depression, assist us in concentration, productivity, and profit, and teach children to learn better.

The above claims are probably potentially true, but I see a danger—actually, several dangers—in what appears to be a growing mindfulness craze.

“Girlfriend left you? Try a little mindfulness.”

“Need a better job? Meditate for success.”

“Kids bothering you? Send them to mindfulness school.”

People are beginning to see mindfulness as a cure-all, just as other segments of the population see pharmaceutical drugs. Given a choice, I’d prefer that parents send their kids to mindfulness school rather than drug them up. What makes me nervous is the possibility that it will be seen as a quick fix.

Since it isn’t, people will become disappointed and check it off as one more New Age hype that didn’t deliver.

This would be unfortunate, since mindfulness does have so much to offer anyone who approaches it in a different way. Instead of thinking, “I will do this thing in order to achieve X,” we do better to say, “I choose to live my life this way because each mindful moment and act gives its own reward.” Not tomorrow, not next month when you look at your stock dividends or your kid’s report card, but NOW.

Because mindfulness is about now. When it’s practiced that way, it will never disappoint. When it’s seen as a means to an end, disappointment is inevitable.

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