“The mind becomes your tool, and you are no longer the tool of your mind.” – Serge Augier
I offer two basic service in this regard – specialised ‘Mindfulness for Stress & Chronic Pain’ and a ‘Developing a Meditative Practice’.
There are numerous and varied meditative practices from all over the world, from almost all religions and spiritual practices. Mindfulness currently is undergoing a ‘fad’ as a way of treating stress, pain, mental health, addiction… etc. It is heavily research and there is plenty of good evidence in support of it. There are also many fantastic practices that have be adapted and ‘made modern’ (such as ‘The Wim Hof Method’).
‘Meditation is like cooking: Cook with rice, you get rice. Cook with sand, you never get rice.’ – Korean Zen saying
Meditation means many things, to different people. But at it’s essence, it is about training the mind. It is concentration training. The secret is to meditate on the appropriate things, in a skilful way. Otherwise it is like trying to cook sand, and create rice. This is why it is important to have a good teacher.
Can it help you with developing empathy? Being more kind? Being happy? Managing stress? Controlling emotional reactions? Managing pain? Yes, but it is not a magic bullet. It might be difficult. You might get bored. It does require practice and disciple, just like developing any other skill.
There are thousands studies on mindfulness alone. There is good scientific evidence at mindfulness’ effectiveness, despite the difficulties in the measurements, blinding, control and placeboes. Some (obviously cherry picked) reviews and data that suggests that mindfulness can Improve:
- Adaptive psychological functioning.
- Cognitive flexibility
- Subjective well-being
- Self-regulation of behaviour
- Working memory
- Focus & attention
- Relationship satisfaction
- Fear modulation
- Immune functioning
- Counselling skills
Mindfulness can also Reduce:
- Rumination & worrying
- Pain, high blood pressure
Now, I know reading a list of things that mindfulness can help with makes it seem like the best things that could ever happen. But lets be put it in context for a moment: Until very recently historically, we had large amounts of time when there was nothing to do except sit and think. There were fewer distractions and we couldn’t be entertained whenever we wanted. Now it is impossible sit somewhere and not do anything without suppressing the urge to listen to music, go online, watch tv, stare at your phone or pick up a book or magazine.
The contemplation that used to be a normal, natural part of human life, is now largely missing. We reject the opportunity to contemplate because feel bored.
Developing a mindful or meditative practice can be liberating and a wonderful addition to ones life. I strongly suggest most of my clients to at least begin a practice, and if they let it fall – they can.