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Is Mindfulness Meditation Always Good For Us?

Some people have described mindfulness meditation as a modern phenomenon. Others believe it be a panacea for all wrongs. A few think it’s all totally over-hyped, but there’s no doubt that it has become a very popular approach to managing the stresses and strains of modern life.

However, have you ever stopped to ask whether mindfulness meditation is actually good for everyone? There are some who feel it should be approached with a degree of caution.

What exactly is mindfulness meditation?

With so much publicity around mindfulness, you probably believe you know all about it, but if you’re going to understand why it can sometimes cause problems then t’s important to have a clear understanding of what mindfulness really is.

With roots in Buddhist practices, mindfulness focuses on developing awareness of the “present moment”, releasing us from the constant pressure to strive and perform. It’s about appreciating life as it is, and focusing on the positives, whilst nonetheless not denying negative aspects.

During meditation, participants are encouraged to dwell on the frequently unnoticed details in life, such as the cheeping of a bird amidst traffic noises. Broadly speaking, they are aiming for a sense of non-judgmental detachment, in which they observe their thoughts and reactions rather participating in them.

What’s made mindfulness meditation so popular?

Traditionally, meditation has usually been a guided activity—people can attend classes or retreats and build n relationship with a mentor who directs their meditation journey. Of course, they may continue to practice individually, but it’s not historically been considered a “do it yourself” activity.

Although it’s still possible to attend classes for mindfulness, many people now like the convenience of practicing using books, podcasts or audio downloads, which make it easier to integrate the practice into daily life. Many people find a couple of short sessions a day easier to maintain.

Where can mindfulness meditation go wrong?

Some experts are becoming concerned that mindfulness cans sometimes have a negative effect on people’s mental well-being—in extreme cases, it can even lead to a mental health crisis.

Some have reported unsettling feelings during meditation sessions, although these are generally during longer sessions at a retreat, and some feel that the meditation has triggered serious mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder. There may be several reasons for this:

Awakening of suppressed emotions

One of the stated benefits of mindfulness is its ability to help calm the emotions. But sometimes long-buried emotions, memories and traumatic incidents can surface during meditation sessions, triggering feelings of fear and distress.

This has been described as being like scum floating to the top of a boiling pot, and it can be scary if you’re not prepared. For a few—such as those with PTSD—it can cause extreme reactions.

A sense of detachment

Although cultivating a sense of benign detachment is an essential part of mindfulness meditation, if this becomes over-developed it can lead to real difficulties. Some of the outcomes of detachment—such as lack of connection to others—can mimic symptoms of depression.

Triggering psychological conditions

If people are already struggling with a mental health condition, perhaps without even being aware of it, mindfulness meditation can bring it to the fore.

There are reported instances of people experiencing severe psychological reactions to long periods of meditation, with some claiming it has even triggered long-term problems.

Underestimating the complexity of meditation practice

From the way mindfulness meditation has sometimes been promoted, it would be easy to think that it’s a simple, cure-all treatment for every problem we have. It’s sometimes been offered as a quick and simple solution for all today’s ills, perhaps encouraging many to embrace it without due consideration of what’s involved and the possible effects on the psyche.

Naturally, most mindfulness instructors are responsible, being aware of possible difficulties and leading people in a safe and measured way. But if people are not led well, or if they carve their own path without adequate knowledge, things can go wrong.

Should I be doing mindfulness meditation?

There’s no doubt that for the vast majority of people, mindfulness mediation can bring significant benefits and help them to cope with the demanding nature of contemporary life. But it’s essential for people to be very aware of the possible pitfalls, and to seek expert professional help if they feel that practicing mindfulness may be doing them harm.

Author Bio: Johan Olers is a resident writer for vidmate app download 9apps