Mindfullness is a specific form of meditation where its goal is to make your feelings have less power over you, so you can essentially lead a happier life. It does this by allowing you to acknowledge or ‘see’ your feelings without reacting to them.
It’s hugely popular and practised across the world, and indeed I did it myself. If you do practise it then great! But is it all it’s cracked up to be? And does it really work?
How does mindfulness actually work?
While doing a mindfulness meditation you essentially sit with your eyes closed and see what feelings come up. During a mindfulness meditation you might notice you feel happy, anxious, angry, confused, excited or a million other emotions.
It’s not about trying to change how you feel, it’s just about objectively seeing how you do feel.
For example while doing the meditation you might notice yourself feeling angry because something happened to you recently that made you feel stupidly angry. Instead of wanting to scream into a cushion or throw the remote across the room, you’d simply say to yourself “ok, I’m feeling angry right now”.
After you notice how you feel and acknowledge it, the feeling usually passes, or greatly diminishes in power. When this happens you then sit and wait for the next feeling to come up, and you repeat the process of acknowledging the next emotion.
The result is that your emotions have less control over you in the short term. It’s essentially like a paracetamol for emotions.
Mindfulness described in a picture
A way that some people practise mindfulness (and indeed how I did it) is to imagine yourself looking into the sky, and as you notice each emotion coming to you, you just picture it floating past like a cloud moving across the sky.
It doesn’t matter what the emotion is, it could be positive or negative. You react to each emotion in the same way: simply acknowledging it and letting it pass like a cloud. You don’t wish it away any quicker or want it to stay longer, you just ‘notice it and let it pass’.
So what’s wrong with mindfulness?
Well, nothing. That is nothing is wrong with it if you only want temporary relief from the bad feeling. If you want to understand the feelings and ultimately eliminate or reduce them in the long term, mindfulness won’t do this.
mindfulness covers up the bad feelings, it doesn’t fix them
Mindfulness is like a band aid solution
The issue with mindfulness is that it never addresses the question of why you might be feeling a certain way, it just covers it up. Let’s say that you’ve realised you’ve started feeling slightly anxious for no apparent reason. The feeling isn’t strong enough to have a huge impact on your life, but you do notice it.
You get home, practise mindfulness, see the anxious feeling float by like it were a cloud, and after the meditation you notice it has less of a hold over you. Three days later you feel slightly anxious again, you do the meditation again and you feel better again. You repeat this cycle again and again, without ever realising why you’re feeling slightly anxious.
Is the anxiousness being dealt with, or is it just being hidden? The answer is it’s just being hidden and until you attempt to understand why you’re feeling anxious, it’ll stay with you. If it stays with you and impacts your life in a negative way, you should see a psychologist.
Mindfulness works when you understand why you feel the way you do
Now I’m not saying that every time a bad emotion happens you should go and see a pro. Obviously there are tolerances we all have and sometimes we do understand why we feel a certain way.
If you do understand how you feel then mindfulness is a great way to temporarily get rid of that annoying feeling. However if it’s something deeper than surface level, or if it’s a feeling that is lingering and you don’t know why, mindfulness won’t fix it.
That’s the flaw with mindfulness: it doesn’t fix the feeling if you don’t know why you’re having it
A psychologist will help you kill that little bugger
The best way to understand, cope with, and ultimately banish crappy feelings from your life is through the help of a psychologist. I’ve written posts about why everyone needs to see a psychologist, and how to find a psychologist and what to look for which are great resources to help you understand in depth the immense benefits of seeing a pro.
Before you get all “oh I don’t need that shit I’m fine”, or “I’m not crazy” think about this: if you had a slight tooth ache that stayed with you for a while would you see a dentist? Or just sit with the pain?
If your knee suddenly went weird for no apparent reason would you go and see a doctor, or just say “oh I don’t need that shit I’m fine”? The chances are you’d go to a doctor to see what’s wrong.
a psychologist is a doctor for your mind
You don’t need to accept how you feel
There’s no reason whatsoever why you should accept feeling slightly off, or confused about why you’ve started feeling a certain way. You shouldn’t need to cover up the feelings, or forget about them, you should attempt to understand and eliminate them.
If you talk to a pro you will understand them and eventually eliminate them. Or if you don’t want to talk to a pro, do some research to educate yourself about why you might be feeling that way.
We all deserve to feel comfortable in our own skin, and mindfulness will only help if we already understand why we feel bad
Please take a look at all my self-development posts for a crap ton of other useful articles. From how can I stop feeling regret? to giving yourself power and confidence by learning how to say NO!