The Problem with Mindfulness

The mindfulness movement’s heavy focus on positive, health-related perks, like stress or anxiety reduction, turns meditation into a mere tool for mental hygiene.Photograph by DrewHeath / Wikicommons

Should we be mindful of how popular “mindfulness” now is? Carl Erik Fisher says we should. Fisher is a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University and a practicing psychotherapist who integrates meditation in his practice, and meditates himself. But he worries some popular meditation practices, which stress salvation through a clear mind, undermine the genuine benefits of meditation. Recent studies in psychology show mindful meditation has been detrimental to practitioners.

“The overselling of mindfulness can lead to this idea that we should always be rigidly focused on what’s in front of us and our minds should be totally clear of any sort of. “That’s a total misrepresentation. Mindfulness doesn’t mean the eradication of thoughts, in any tradition. In any sort of basic, secular, clinical application, it just means paying attention to the present moment…Maybe we need to clarify what we mean by mindfulness before we slap it on a bunch of posters in every school and every workplace.”

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