This is a question that I get asked a great deal or the other common question is “does mindfulness work?”
The prevalence of this question is down to a number of reasons –
- Mindfulness is becoming popular and high profile.
- There are a lot more people qualifying as mindfulness teachers
- A lot of people are searching for a solution to their worries and anxieties.
Anything that raises the importance of taking care of our emotional health is a good thing in my mind. There is a “however” and this one is, however just because it is popular does not mean it is the panacea that some may think it is.
What’s my answer to these questions?
My answer in conversation goes something like this …
“If you learn from a good teacher, commit to it and practice it consistently every day there is a good likelihood that it will work for you. It is one of many practices and tools that may help you. Don’t be afraid to try and don’t be afraid to try other forms of personal development either. Whatever you try, commit to it and give it enough time to have an impact.”
I am interested in mindfulness and have met many mindfulness teachers, but I am not a qualified teacher. On some retreats and workshops that we run we bring in expert mindfulness teachers who are excellent at both communicating how mindfulness works and in teaching it. There are many I respect immensely and others who I am not so confident in.
One particular teacher I know, not only practices every day but she also attends a monastic retreat twice a year to deepen her own learning. She is authentic in her commitment to being mindful. When she is there she is in the company of monks who practice mindfulness every day for many, many hours. They are clear that in prolonged periods of many hours of practising and meditating they may experience only a fleeting moment of true mindfulness.
The challenge I have with some mindfulness teachers is that they are promising benefits based upon just 10 minutes a day. And for many 10 minutes may make a difference but what about those who it does not?
It’s called a practice for a reason
I my opinion and experience the psychological backflip that is required with mindfulness is that you need to practice it daily without the expectation of a result.
Go into it expecting a result and the likelihood is that you will make it more challenging for yourself.
It’s called a practice for a reason.
My worry is this.
Mindfulness could be in danger of becoming the new Life Coaching. What I mean by this is that in the 1990s life coaching got similar levels of profile and it attracted a lot of people to qualify in life coaching. What it inevitably led to was a lot of people giving people a poor experience of life coaching and promising more than they could ever deliver. The few who were really good at it struggled against the bad experiences generated by the “dabblers.”
Mindfulness is in danger of experiencing the same issue, as every day I see on social media another newly qualified mindfulness teacher. When space gets flooded with people offering services there is an inevitable issue with people struggling to get their voice heard. To do so they start to promise more and more and maybe overpromising what it can deliver.
You will notice I am not a newly qualified teacher. I am not promoting my latest mindfulness course. If I want to be instructed in mindfulness I have a handful of people I know personally and who I trust.
If you want are a recommendation I am happy to offer that.
Finally, what do I think of mindfulness?
I think it is, in principle, great and it is worth committing to…..try it….see what happens
Finally, I hope I have not offended any mindfulness teachers or life coaches and please feel free to tell me about the great mindfulness teachers (and life coaches) you know below……