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This is an interesting recent critique which adds new emphasis to the dangers of McMindfulness.

The following was originally posted by Bill Abbott on 7/27/2014 at 9:16 AM

Warning. This article alerts us to a very real concern:

My concern here, as echoed in the article, is that as the mindfulness movement sweeps the United States, it is in danger of being badly misunderstood as to its true character and that then it ultimately will be discarded by many because it isn’t “working”.

We are new to mindfulness here in SMART Recovery, and thus it seems timely to blog a bit about it so that we have as accurate an understanding of what mindful awareness practice actually is and does to avoid any misconceptions. So this blog will focus on what mindfulness awareness practice cannot or does not do – so that there are no false expectations.

In fact it is easier to describe what it is not, than what it really is. So I’ll start with the nots.

Mindful awareness practices or MAPs are not a panacea. In fact a mindful awareness practice cannot “fix” anything. As a matter fact to be perfectly accurate it doesn’t “do” anything. Some good things happen during the course of such a practice of course. More on this to follow next time.

MAP is not a quick fix for anything, it is simple yet difficult. If one expects instant results and short-term gratification they will be disappointed. Yes, some things can be noticed early, but not necessarily so.

MAP is not about relaxation. There are other excellent relaxation exercises that are not mindful. Yes relaxation can occur as a benefit but sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t.

MAP does not make you smarter.

MAP does not make you more creative. That might happen but no guarantees.

Mindfulness does not eliminate stress. Yes it can lessen stress but it’s a good thing that it is not eliminated because we are hardwired for stress for a very good reason. Evolutionarily we needed it to survive

MAP does not take away negative emotions such as fear, anger, sadness, etc… All that occurs is a change in one’s relationship to these negative emotions in such a way that it can ameliorate the suffering associated with them.

Specifically to our own areas of concern it does not eliminate urges. Similar to other negative emotions, it allows you to put them in a different perspective where they are no longer powerful.

MAP is not a self-improvement practice. Yes there can be an intention to improve certain things, but if that becomes a goal then it is no longer mindful. Mindfulness is “presence” and goals are in the future. Presence and the future are incompatible.

MAP is not about transcendence, some people claim transcendental effects, but transcendence is definitely not part of it. Conversely MAP can be very transformative. It sure has been for me.

More on what can happen with the proper intention of MAPs will follow in a subsequent posting.

Bill from the Science Corner.

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Name: Bill Abbott

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