The cynical view of Mindfulness

“Cecil Graham: What is a cynic?

Lord Darlington: A man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.

Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan

Much of the recent press coverage on Mindfulness has been overwhelmingly positive; where the benefits both to the individual, as well as to the wider community are widely highlighted. However, there is an element within the press that appears to be cynical about the benefits. Comments such as “it is just another self-help fad and will fade” or “it is being used in the business world as another load of executive bull”, are just a couple of examples I picked up on.

In some respects, Mindfulness and the practices that support it – both the formal meditation, as well as the informal, in the present moment focus – is not a universal panacea for all of the ills of people. Some people believe that it will cure their depression; or will stop them feeling so angry; or will make them a happy person. In business, it is being touted as a way to make the employee more productive and to get managers to be more focused on the work itself.

Mindfulness, of itself, is not designed to fix all these issues. There are many different forms and practices of Mindfulness meditation. Almost too many to describe. These include such practices as Breathing meditations. Body scan meditations. Sitting meditations. Sound. Thought. Light. Loving-kindness. Even walking meditations. The focus for all of these is being aware, in the present moment and recognizing the thoughts and feelings as they arise.

Then there are different types of programs you can follow. The two most common are MBCT and MBSR. MBCT, or Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is used in support of treating people with mental health issues, especially depression. MBSR, or Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction is used to help people “de-stress” and become more focused.

And just like food, people will prefer one type of meditation to another. Some people prefer to be in groups. Some prefer to be on their own. Some, prefer to practice in complete silence. Some prefer guided practice, where you follow instructions. Some, prefer to practice in the morning or in the evening. I know someone who can only afford the time to do it in their lunch hour at work.  

I have my own preferences and have my own preferred style of practice. It works for me, but equally, might not work for you.

The beauty is, nothing is wrong. All are equally valid.

The point is this, the practice itself. And just like any activity in life, it takes time, patience and the desire to create a long-term habitual change, that makes the difference. So if you have started practicing mindfulness and are finding it hard going. Or if you have tried it and given up, don’t despair. Instead, contact someone you know that practices Mindfulness on a regular basis. Or possibly, join a group session in your local area. Feel free to contact me for some help if you would like.

Finally, apologies for the small break in articles. I took some time off for Easter to recharge and reflect. Oh, and I spent quite a bit of time reading some great books.Or as I call them “brain food”.

I leave you with the following quote:

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Oscar Wilde


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