Why mindfulness meditation doesn’t guarantee… mindfulness
LAST WEEK I WAS visiting my friend Lonneke who happens to be a psychologist and mindfulness trainer. Being complete mindfulness devotees we talked about… mindfulness, of course 🙂 but we also discussed why mindfulness meditation not always gives the results that people are after.
I explained to Lonneke that I developed my mindfulness-without-meditation approach because I learned from my readers, who know perfectly well that mindfulness keeps them calm, focussed and grounded, that they don’t seem to be able to develop the habit of practising mindfulness on a daily basis.
Mindfulness meditation is too hard to turn into a daily habit
She told me that the participants of her mindfulness training (this is the traditional, 8-week training where people meet up in a group and are guided by a trainer) also struggle with turning the meditations into a natural habit.
At the end of each fully completed training, for each of the participants Lonneke notes how they plan to schedule their daily meditations and stick to their resolve.
After six weeks the group meet up again and discuss their progress. BUT… then she finds out that 99% of the participants didn’t get to implement a regular meditation schedule into their lives, and consequently don’t practise mindfulness anymore… at all! Within a few weeks mindfulness turns into a vague memory and people find themselves in exactly the same stress mode as when they started the training.
And so the question is: How can you develop the habit of practising, so that you can profit from all the goodness of mindfulness on a daily basis?
Each mindfulness master, guru and trainer would automatically answer: formal meditation. They would tell you that even if you would sit still for just 10 minutes a day and silently observe your thought process, this will have a healthy impact on your wellbeing and how you’ll experience the rest of your day.
Really? So how come that I’ve seen those very masters, gurus and trainers meditate until they drop, and still experience emotional breakdowns as soon as something out of the ordinary happens to them?
Burn-out caused by formal meditation
A Dutch Zen-monk called Paul Loomans, got himself in serious emotional turmoil while meditating for hours a day, and even wrote a book about his burnout – something I think was very courageous of him to do.
The conclusion is simple: mindfulness meditation doesn’t automatically make you mindful
And so my advice to you is: please don’t get wound up about those formal meditations as these don’t quite guarantee everlasting zen bliss.
TIP: Practise mindfulness simply in challenging situations you’ll encounter naturally while going through your day. You don’t have to plan or schedule formal meditation. You just grab the opportunity and practise with whatever life throws at you, right in that specific moment when you need mindfulness the most.
Practise mindfulness today
Have you trained yourself, when the alarm goes off in the morning, to jump up and run to the bathroom to take a shower? Well, today you can try something different, something more mindful 🙂 Now you won’t jump up, but you’ll stay in bed and listen to your breathing for a few minutes – without allowing your though process to harass you that you should hurry up instead of ‘wasting time’. Just breathe calmly, and allow this peaceful feeling to flow through your body. When, after a few minutes, you rise and walk to the bathroom, still focus on your breathing. And when you’re under the shower, still focus calmly on your breathing, rather than thinking about breakfast or worrying about the meeting you’ll have later that morning.
This is my mindfulness-without-the-airy-fairy-stuff
My approach is highly effective and gives good results because it teaches you to become aware and calm during potentially stressful or busy events, right in that very moment when you need the power of mindfulness. And this works so much better than starting the day with a long meditation session, but still losing your temper when something unexpected happens later in the day.
“I just want to give you a neat piece of equipment to calm yourself down right when you’re struggling to contain your emotions. Not before, not after. But right when you need it.”
My Karma Kickstart e-course is a fully integrated program of 20 carefully developed and highly effective exercises which you can apply in all kinds of situations you might encounter during the day. With this digital e-course you will get on top of impactful stress reactions, at home or at your work, because you’ll be practising with everything that happens in normal life.
In this article I have written and explained why mindfulness meditation not necessarily leads to a relaxed life empowered with mindfulness. So throw your meditation cushion in the corner and simply use all the opportunities to practise that you’ll encounter naturally when living your life.