Mindfulness and its expectation – are you at risk?
The term mindfulness has been spreading like wildfire and used in just about every industry. It’s been advertised tirelessly as the answer to everyone’s stress and anxiety. But mindfulness as a practice and being mindful need to be seen and understood as different concepts.
To clarify why I’ll explain.
What is mindfulness?
As a practice refers to the act of meditation, concentrating on inner thoughts and emotions. The idea behind it is from the clinical psychological perspective of exposure. Using empirical evidence to support claims, that many disorders are caused and maintained by avoiding situations that are triggering.
Are you being mindful?
Is an emotional regulation shift which seeks to increase adaptive strategies used to improve one’s emotional reaction to daily happenings. Quite often it is used when talking about children and emotional regulation, teaching kindness and empathy.
Here’s the kicker.
Both are great when used appropriately.
Mindfulness as a meditation practice has been pushed towards those suffering anxiety and other disorders. Although a lot of disorders caused and maintained by avoidance would be positively affected by deliberately attending to threat. Previous peer reviewed psychological studies have found that anxiety and other disorders can be caused and maintained not only by attentional bias away from threat, but attentional bias towards a threat.
Can you explain that please?
If you ask someone to do mindful mediation practice to help their anxiety or other disorders, you better be damn sure of the core reasons they have them in the first place. If they are someone who is triggered by sitting in silence and allowing these thoughts, feelings and emotions to be experienced, you will do more damage to their anxiety and other disorders without professional guidance.
The extent to which this damage occurs, depends on the individuals baseline level. Something which cannot be determined by yourself, only with a professional evaluation from a psychologist.
This post is far from telling everyone to quit the mindful meditation practice, because its useless, because it’s not. It can be very rewarding for those without previous traumas, disorders and high levels of anxiety. Just be aware of who you suggest the practice to and what it will mean for them.
Do you have a fidgeter? they might be struggling with feelings or worry, read here.