As I’ve been online recently, I’ve noticed a couple articles that shocked me. They degrade mindfulness as a practice. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying people aren’t entitled to their opinions. I just think people need to back their opinions up with facts in order to truly sound credible.
What makes matters worse is that the sources spreading this information are some very well known sources. Some of their information is very likely to highly influence viewers, and I just want to make sure everyone understands all sides of the issue.
Well I guess that’s enough of a disclaimer, I’d like to discuss some statements made in an article from the Washington Post. Before I get in too deep, I’d like to say that their point made regarding mindfulness being more or less effective than antidepressants is valid. They have done plenty of research to show that there isn’t enough evidence to make a clear correlation. What I want everyone to keep in mind is that treatments for mental health issues should be approached in a very individualized manner. If you prefer not taking medication, and would rather use a mindful approach, then you have every right to do so and vice versa. The same concept applies to using both medication and mindfulness (which is what I do). There’s nothing wrong with any of these options so long as they work for you.
Later on in the article there was a statement that I personally had a problem with. I’d like to share it with you all, then discuss my personal take on (and rebuttal to) the statement.
“Is it the meditation itself that causes the positive effects, or is it more to do with learning to step back and become aware of our thoughts and feelings in a supportive group environment? And why does it only work for some?”
I’m going to break this statement down into parts. Based on the beginning part of the first sentence, it seems that they are trying to claim that mindful mediation is separate from awareness. If that’s the case then they couldn’t be more wrong. The whole point of mindful meditation is to use the guidance to increase our awareness of our thoughts and feelings. So I would say that both of those things are what cause the positive effects. Another thing I want to make note of is that in this article they are discussing the effectiveness of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. This is essentially set up like a group mindfulness class. So in this quote they ask if the supportive group environment is actually more effective than the mindfulness itself. I’d like to say that this isn’t necessarily true. There are many people who practice mindfulness alone, with or without audio guidance. And many of them find just as much success as the ones who take classes. Therefore I think it just depends on what works best for the individual. Also, they ask why it only works for some. Well, as I said before everyone is different. Many antidepressants don’t work for everyone, so it’s only natural that the same goes for mindfulness. Treatments for mental illness are so individualized, and I think more people need to realize and accept this.
At the end of the article they even make note that mindfulness is not very individualized, however I think this is inaccurate. Many meditations allow you to really take it however you want. Also, they make the claim that mindfulness can be bad because it brings anxieties to the surface, but I think one of the first steps to getting over anxiety is recognizing it. Now, I’m not a therapist, but I have been to therapy, and a lot of my initial sessions were about uncovering the roots of my anxiety. A lot of times this was painful, but I can confidently say that it was extremely helpful. A lot of these sessions involved mindfulness as well. I personally feel that bringing up what scares and upsets us is super important, and that’s exactly what mindfulness allows us to do.
There you have it folks that’s my take on this article. Again I’m not a licensed professional. I feel that everyone is entitled to their opinion and I’m simply sharing mine with you.
What did you think of the article? What do you think of my interpretation? I invite you to share your opinions with me in the comments.
A mental health journey through mindfulness