Mindfulness: Can it be fine tuned?
I do not think mindfulness is broken. As far as modern mindfulness goes it is still a baby. I do think there are some shortcomings that deserve further discussion. I am not the person that can suggest any perfect fix because as mindfulness practices are unique in many ways to the individual so a simple prescription isn’t easy to mandate.
What are some of the areas worthy of discussion?
1.Has mindfulness been relegated to a stress reduction or psychiatric tool? Where I have seen mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) in a hospital setting both are seen as tools, MBSR to reduce stress and MBCT to address a psychiatric problem. Both programmes seem administered like a tool. Mindfulness has deep Buddhist and Daoist roots primarily based on the reduction of human suffering and compassion. Is it time that mindfulness teachers inform students of its historic roots so they can derive an even greater benefit from it?
Mindfulness can do wonders from a stress reduction perspective and a therapeutic tool of psychiatry so let’s not demean or understate those successes.
I will note on the mindfulness academic front I have experienced going back to the roots is seen as fundamentally important.
2. Has mindfulness caused emotional nutrification? One negative reaction that certain mindfulness students suffer is a sort of mental neutrality in that while the negative stress and anxiety have been successfully managed feelings of elation and joy have also been reduced or eliminated. Could it be “the man on an even keel” overtakes feelings of joy and satisfaction?
Perhaps a cruder way of stating the problem is there a danger mindfulness creates zombies?
Is the message in mindfulness that challenging the established order and accepted contradictions to by an elite is a negative thought that requires management via acceptance?
3. Has mindfulness been hijacked by corporations, bureaucracies and schools? Are corporations and large bureaucracies more concerned with the emotional well being of their employees or making them less of a victim of workplace stress and anxiety in an attempt to reduce long term disability costs?
Are schools using mindfulness to create a more caring environment or to increase discipline and create conformity?
4. Is mindfulness fixated on the present moment and the killing off the wandering and negative mind? I think the answer to this must be a no. In mindfulness mediation realizing that one is in the present moment and controlling away the wandering mind is an exercise in discipline. Successful meditation can in rare occasions lead one to transcending the present and taking a journey deep within the mind. However if this is a fixation with being in the present moment during mindfulness meditation that is far different than being a mindful personality. One mediation technique I encountered in my University of Leiden mindfulness certification was a technique “Meditating Through Difficulty”. The institutional training I have encountered so far has difficult situations being at best something to acknowledge but to avoid getting entangled in.
5.Does mindfulness teaching need to be regulated? Mindfulness deals with your mind. That’s a valuable asset. Mindfulness teachers look for positive results. But can they deliver? Is it time to set legislative requirements for teachers of mindfulness and set up a self-regulatory body for them?
6. What about the commodification of mindfulness? You have seen it in yoga and it is becoming embedded in mindfulness. Useful or exploitative?
In summation there are many issues with mindfulness that need addressing and discussion but I have not encountered anyone who has admitted to me mindfulness is a waste of time.