The dangers of misusing mindfulness

Over the years, meditation and many of its variations have become deeply rooted in the Western world.

And it is that there are multiple variations of meditation and oriental principles with a lot of potential to improve people’s lives.

But all is not rosy. Is Mindfulness Good For Everyone? Can it solve all the psychological problems that society brings about? Keep reading.

    The benefits of mindfulness

    The potential benefits of mindfulness are undeniable. I practice it myself in my everyday life, and sometimes I use it as a therapy tool.

    Mindfulness has become very fashionable over the years in Western countries. Mindfulness appears as a relatively simple, inexpensive tool accessible to almost everyone who has access to the Internet or to a meditation course center in the neighborhood.

    And many people have seen videos and documentaries of the scientific studies that have been done, of Tibetan monks with electrodes on their heads, showing that after years of intense meditation practice, the brain waves are different from those of the Western stressed person.

    Numerous books have been written (and sold) on the subject, courses have been given, some companies have even included Mindfulness in the work program of their employees (whether they like it or not).

    The general idea that is anchored in collective memory is that mindfulness is good for everything from managing anxiety or depression, to increasing your performance at work or even opening doors to another spiritual reality.

    What very few people know is that mindfulness it doesn’t work with everyone. In some cases, it can even make matters worse.

    Possible dangers of mindfulness for some people

    Mindfulness is all the rage, and like any big fad, there are a lot of people making money with it. When a person’s finances depend on their ability to sell books, classes, or mindfulness classes, it’s hard to expect that person to show us the “dark side” of meditation.

    We don’t talk much, but there is a lot of scientific research that shows how, among all the people who practice mindfulness, there is always a small percentage that pays off. episodes of anxiety, panic, or even unconsciousness. Obviously, this does not happen to everyone. But it does happen.

    The main mistake, from the point of view of experts, is placing too much expectation on mindfulness as a tool.

    Yes, it is very useful in certain clinical cases, it can be very useful in the management of stress and daily worries. But mindfulness, on its own, it cannot make depression, anxiety or panic attacks go away. Especially if people treat themselves by watching videos on the internet, without first consulting a professional.

    Mindfulness and panic attacks

    For example, the case of panic attacks or anxiety. These problems can be understood as excessive hypervigilance towards certain physical sensations or thoughts.

    The person’s natural response to stress is activated (by any element in the environment) i that the person, upon perceiving his nervous symptoms, becomes more nervous. Then bodily sensations and anxious thoughts intensify. Then it continues to climb, until the person loses control.

    If that person, instead of going to a psychologist, decides to start mindfulness on their own, it could increase the chances of experiencing a panic attack during meditation. Because that’s exactly what mindfulness is: making ourselves more aware of our feelings and thoughts, accepting them and letting them go.

    But if the person’s problem is precisely hypervigilance or over-reactivity to certain stimuli … he could end up activating the whole sequence until the panic attack.

    If the person had gone to a professional psychologist first, they would first have done an assessment, a functional analysis, the person’s learning history would have been studied. The irrational beliefs that cause and sustain panic attacks would have been eliminated.

    And finally, the person would have been gradually exposed to the feared stimuli, with a hierarchical system and under surveillance. Step by step. The person would have been properly prepared.

      Mindfulness as an escape from reality

      Another misconception of many people is that when they practice Mindfulness their worries go away or they stop feeling fear, worry or anxiety.

      Unfortunately, it is not up to us, unpleasant emotions are an integral part of life.

      Some people begin to practice mindfulness by believing the positive dogma that “everything depends on our attitude”. And yes, our attitude to problems matters. Corn the source of the problems does not go away, because we can never 100% control the world.

      Precisely by becoming too obsessed with these kinds of ideas, we can put too much responsibility on ourselves. Our families, our bosses, our partners, the politicians of our countries all have responsibility for the things they do to us.

      Then, if I convince myself that “everything” depends on my attitude, I send the message that everything is my fault, my lack of personal development. And I miss the opportunity to fight for social improvements, for context shifts that solve many real problems.

      Mindfulness is a great tool. But just like you can’t build a house with just a hammer, you can’t solve all psychological problems just by meditating.

      Do you suffer from anxiety?

      Anxiety shouldn’t be a problem in your life, if you let science go with you. I am Luis Miguel Real, a psychologist, and over the years I have helped many people overcome their anxiety and feel life satisfaction again.

      Mindfulness will be just one of the many tools we have available to work with any psychological problem. Contact me and we’ll get to work asap.

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