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Cross-Cultural Therapists' Stories: Overdose of mindfulness and meditation: What if it's not for me?

Overdose of mindfulness and meditation: "What if it's not for me?"

Mindfulness has rightfully earned recognition as a valuable approach for mental health.

It's no secret that it's been around for over 30 years, with meditation dating back thousands of years.

However, every year it seems to be the latest trend in mental health, touted as the magic solution for stress, depression, and relationship problems. While Mindfulness practices and protocolized programs like MBSR, MBCT, and MSC have been scientifically validated and given us helpful tools for mental health, some people find themselves frustrated or disappointed with meditation.

So, why do useful tools end up producing negative feelings in many people?

Firstly, like all trends:

1. There is an information bombardment, making it challenging to choose a reliable source.

2. We also tend to compare ourselves to others and demand too much from ourselves, leading to frustration and abandonment.

Additionally, the abundance of apps and platforms offering meditation tools make it difficult to choose from the infinite personalized and automated list of recommendations for videos, audios, and images.

However, the most significant issue is the lack of prior education on what Mindfulness truly is and what the present moment means.

Many people start practicing with a meditation audio, which is not entirely wrong, but it is out of context when our goal is to improve our mental health, creativity, and performance.

Mindfulness is not just about relaxation or falling asleep. It's an attention training that enables us to accept distractions, difficult thoughts, or unpleasant emotions without fighting against them and refocus on something else afterward.

Formal meditation, like yoga practices or conscious stretching, are simply tools to train our attention, bringing our focus back to our breath, asana, or a part of our body when our mind wanders elsewhere.

Moreover, Mindfulness can be practiced in various activities, such as Mindful-Walking, Mindful-Communication, Mindful-Eating, and Mindful-Showering. By paying attention to what we see, smell, and feel during these activities, we can train our attention and improve our focus.

It is important to bear in mind that, despite the many trends and technological tools available to us, the essence of mindfulness lies in simply training our attention, focusing on two key aspects:

1. Acknowledging that distractions, difficult thoughts, and emotions will inevitably arise, and learning to accept them rather than fighting them.

2. Redirecting our attention to whatever we're doing in the present moment, be it breathing, walking, talking, stretching, reading, working, writing, or learning.

However, the most crucial aspect of mindfulness is often overlooked: it's not about how many times your attention wanders, or how many distractions you encounter. What matters most is your intention to return to the present moment, no matter how many times you may need to do so.

So, what can you refocus your attention on today? What present moment can you be fully engaged in, without judgment or distraction?


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