Many of the benefits of mindfulness are little more than hype.
Mindfulness is better than medication for treating depression. Mindfulness helps students combat negativity, focus on their homework and pay more attention in class. Mindfulness helps long-haul airline travellers avoid air rage over delays and bad service. Mindfulness gives hedge fund managers a competitive advantage.
That’s what the headlines say about mindfulness. But is it really a wonder drug for the 21st century?
More and more people are realizing that much (not all) of hopes placed in mindfulness are little more than hype. First, if mindfulness meditation proves a legitimate treatment, it could be harmful if used wrongly. The same is true of drugs, surgery, nutritional supplements, psychotherapy, or any intervention at all. Rigorous criticism feels harsh but it is part of a program aimed at grounding true knowledge. For example: Who should and who shouldn’t try mindfulness meditation, and on what rationale? Far from being a threat, evidence-based criticism is a good sign for the continued clinical use of the practice.
It is a reasonable assumption that, in a pragmatic secular culture, the further the concept strays from its original indefiniteness the more likely it will warp into something like “McMindfulness.” That’s the main concern with the “mindfulness” programs sweeping corporate America and finding their way into military training and prisons as well. Sati may be hard to define but the goals of business, the military, and prisons are not (or should not be). So the potential for losing the plot is obvious. More.
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