Mindfulness pill

Mindfulness (meditation in a conscious state of mind) lost its Buddhist roots and it might be harmful for you.

Mindfulness is on fashion as psychological aid. Recent reports of the latest discoveries suggest that the cognitive therapy based on mindfulness is as effective as the antidepressants used for preventing the relapse of the recurrent depression.

While the authors of the respective study interpreted the results in a less bright light saying that (in opposition with their hypothesis) mindfulness is not more effective than medication, many others declare in the media that mindfulness would be superior to this.

Mindfulness is a technique of meditation coming from Buddhism through which the individual tries to watch his present thoughts, sensations and feelings, without analyzing them. The aim is to create a state of pure awakening of the conscience.

What it was before a means for spiritual exploration was transformed into a panacea of the modern times – a therapy – of all the common human problems, from stress, to anxiety and depression. If we take daily this `natural pill`  we become open to numerous benefices without any side effects in comparison with the chemical pills like the antidepressants which have well known side effects we are all aware of.

We don’t know how it works

Mindfulness was put at our disposal and we buy it as it is. However numerous studies suggest that this causes many types of obvious psychological and biological effects. Despite the idea which is generally spread that science has proved how meditation can change our life, this is a myth. Studying the literature of the last 45 years regarding the science of meditation, we realize surprised that we don’t make anhy progress in what regards the way meditation works or who benefits more or less from it. The few meta analysis available presents reduced proofs that meditation would be beneficial reducing anxiety and increasing positive emotions. However it is less clear how powerful and how long lasting are these changes – do they work better than physical relaxation for example? Are they only a kind of placebo? The proofs regarding this issue are contradictory and nonconclusive.

The cognitive therapy based on mindfulness is a group therapy which lasts eight weeks and combine cognitive education with mindfulness techniques. This therapy was purposefully conceived for the treatment of the persons suffering from depression for preventing recurrence.

Beside the weekly group sessions, the participants are encouraged to practice daily at home mindfulness meditation (consciously) during the entire course of the therapy. This kind of therapy is more and more popular, being recently demanded to be applied in the national health system.

However we cannot be sure what’s the active ingredient of this kind of therapy. Is it the meditation itself which causes the positive effects or this has more to do with the learning to make a step behind and become aware of our feelings and thoughts within a support group. And why does it work only in certain cases?

The secondary effects

Mindfulness is present as a tehnique which has a multitude of positive effects – and only positive. It is easy to understand why it is so spread this myth. Ultimately staying still and focusing on breathing or on becoming  aware of the flow of thoughts and feelings it seems a rather inoffensive activity with a very low potential to cause something bad.

But considering that many of us stay sometimes alone with our thoughts it is not hard to understand that in certain cases would bring on surface hard thoughts and emotions – which we could face or not. However the scholars who studied this kind of meditation, mass media or the mentioned training courses rarely speak about the potential of the emotional and psychological disorders.

Thus we come to a significant point. Buddhist meditation was not invented to make us happier but to change our feeling of self awareness and of perceiving the world in a radical way. Taking into account this thing it is not surprising the fact that some people will experience negative feelings like dissociation, anxiety and depression. However as it is mentioned with small letters in the prescriptions of the drugs in the case of certain persons these secondary effects are not what the inventors of these pills want to promote.

In the case of some people penicillin  may save their life. In other cases this may cause a harmful reaction. The fact that your friend or family react at a certain pill in a way it doesn’t mean that you will feel the same effects. The same thing is true for mindfulness: for some it may be efficient or it may not have any effect but for others it may have harmful effects.

Mindfulness was torn from its roots, emptied of its ethical and spiritual connotations and it was sold to us as a therapeutical mean. Although this thing cannot negate its technical power for changing our conscience status having implications at the level of mental sanity, it limitates without doubt its naturalness and potential – as it was initially intended.

Many Buddhists disapprove the use of mindfulness in purposes which are different from what they meant it to be – to gain emptiness and free the spirit of any attachment. As has recently said Giles Coren, this technique was turned into a McMindfulness, which strengthens only the selfish tendencies of man.

The idea that each one of us is unique represents the basis for the individual therapy.But because f the approaches based on mindfulness, it remains very little space for someone’s individuality in part because it is a group practice but  also because there has never existed any serious attempt to discover why there are different reactions in what regards this meditation technique.

So if you apply it – as it is the case with any other pill we take – beware. Don’t use it blindly!

Source: theconversation.com


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