The adult colouring-book industry is a spin-off of the marketisation of wellbeing and mindfulness. In an era when therapy culture dominates the Western imagination, the transformation of the childish hobby of colouring-in into a worthy adult pursuit has been made possible by its association with some mental-health benefits. In a world where ‘mindfulness’ is successfully marketed as a panacea for the existential problems of humanity, it isn’t surprising that colouring books are sold as a remedy for stress.
I think we could say that “attending carefully to the irreducible particularities of each case” more or less is, or at the very least is an absolute precondition of, “living rightly moment to moment.” Ethical action requires such mindfulness, a point that was also essential to the thought of Simone Weil, for whom attentiveness as she called it was the touchstone of ethical, intellectual, and spiritual action alike.
via Alan Jacobs, Text Patterns: Prosaics of the Digital Life.
Up to now, the mindfulness movement has avoided any serious consideration of why stress is so pervasive in modern business institutions. Instead, corporations have jumped on the mindfulness bandwagon because it conveniently shifts the burden onto the individual employee: stress is framed as a personal problem, and mindfulness is offered as just the right medicine to help employees work more efficiently and calmly within toxic environments. Cloaked in an aura of care and humanity, mindfulness is refashioned into a safety valve, as a way to let off steam — a technique for coping with and adapting to the stresses and strains of corporate life.
As such, not only is “Mindfulness Meditation” (the approach most often taken in the West) a redundancy, but it misses the point of meditation completely as I see it.
People are told that meditation is “about bringing the mind back to the here and now, as opposed to letting the mind drift.” But who or what brings the mind back to the here and now? That implies a separate entity making an effort to do so. And upholding the separate self is antithetical to meditation.
Indeed, to initiate authentically meditative states one has to let the mind drift, and watch it as it does. Control is an illusion, and effort is a diversion from what is. Letting go of control and effort opens up space in the mind, releases emotions, and allows insight. It is insight that changes the brain.
Meditation isn’t about methods, techniques, effort, or stress reduction; it’s about play, experiment, discovery, and insight.
Mindfulness therapy is no fad, experts say – Los Angeles Times
Segal said mindfulness therapy could help patients avoid rumination, the process of endlessly chewing on incidents from the past. Rumination is a driving force behind depression, he said, and it just doesn’t mesh with mindful thinking. He also believes that by encouraging patients to focus on their current thoughts, mindfulness can discourage anxiety and worry — up to a point.
The existing body of research on the effect of MBSR on health is large and broad. It has been found to have measurable positive effects on chronic pain, psoriasis, insomnia, and other conditions.5,6 The positive effects of MBSR on anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders led to the development of a new approach to cognitive therapy, termed mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.7 In a healthy population, MBSR has been found to decrease perceptions of daily hassles, psychological stresses, and nonspecific symptoms.8 Additional psychological benefits include having increased empathy for one’s self and others;9 an enhanced sense of well-being; and a greater sense of self-actualization, self-responsibility, and self-directedness.10
Mindful awareness has been demonstrated to alter brain function, mental activity, and interpersonal relationships toward well-being. This article hypothesizes that mindful awareness promotes these positive changes through a proposed “internal attunement” that catalyzes the fundamental process of integration. Integration—the linkage of differentiated elements of a system—leads to the flexible, adaptive, and coherent flow of energy and information in the brain, the mind, and relationships. This coherent flow enables the individual to attain an intentionally established state of mindfulness with practice in the moment and creates the experiential substrate for developing mindful traits in daily life. By freeing the individual from the top-down associations of memory, mindfulness also promotes an emergent sense of a vital and resilient self.
Mindfulness therapy — in the form known as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)– demonstrates greater efficacy than antidepressant medications for the prevention of a depression relapse, according to new data.
MBCT combines the use of tried-and-true cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques with greater focus on self-awareness and self-reflection.
In the current study, the researchers describe how they implemented mindfulness-based therapy: “This is accomplished through daily homework exercises featuring (1) guided (taped) awareness exercises directed at increasing moment-by-moment nonjudgmental awareness of bodily sensations, thoughts, and feelings; (2) accepting difficulties with a stance of self-compassion; and (3) developing an ‘action plan’ composed of strategies for responding to early warning signs of relapse/recurrence.”