Quick foreword: my cynicism knows no bounds. If you’re unlike me and thus have never had and never will have any problem with the mindfulness movement, please leave, go ahead and enjoy its benefits untainted by doubt and distrust. For the rest of you sceptical scoundrels, read on…

 

I cringed writing the word mindfulness

That’s how bad this has become

Mindfulness has turned into the latest hot yoga activated almond quinoa spewing cliché of what basic b*tches love (can I say that because I’m in the right demographic to be one? Or is it basic-ist?)

 

It was meant to be a useful tool for focus

It was meant to be the new cognitive behavioural therapy

It was meant to be the antidote to our millennial med student lack of attention span (we can’t all be ED doctors some of us will eventually need to concentrate for more than 10mins at a time)

What happened?!

 

I refuse to believe it was a money-spinning tactic right from the get-go. Ok I 80% refuse to believe it – my cynicism can only be so lenient.

So lets assume it started out with pure (if maybe a little preachy) intentions.

It started wanting to change the world in an accessible, cheap way, defying all SES barriers.

 

Now? In a cursory interwebs search I found several mindfulness active-wear (pronounced active-wah) lines. Enough said. But if I go in to all of my qualms with the concept I’m sure I would lose even the most dedicated amongst you by page 34. So basically it boils down to:

  1. It’s nothing new

Buddha statue

Can we PLEASE stop acting like mindfulness is some fab new idea we invented?

Lets live in the moment, appreciate what we have, try to stay present. Buddhism has been teaching this forever, just because the Western world took a few millennia to catch up doesn’t mean it’s our own Einstein-level innovation.

  1. Its current form is preachy af
    • Mindfulness is the new-world equivalent of that annoying kid in school who just did NOT get that you weren’t interested in coming to their youth group. By all means they’re probably doing it with the best intentions and for some people it might just work. Doesn’t mean every gym class or beauty salon needs a guru.
  2. Commercialised to within an inch of its existence
    • Mindfulness cookware, teaware, homeware, activewear even UNDERWEAR (‘Intentional Intimates’ is a real brand and apparently not some weird joke)

Yoga pose

Even your fitness apparel can now be overpriced and extra mindful! Huzzah!

 

  1. It offers a quick fix for serious mental health issues
    • As much as I can whinge and mope about the preachiness and the derivativity of mindfulness (they’re definitely words. No question about it), my main issue is the ‘quick fix’ mindfulness offers.
      • It advertises protection against serious mental health disorders. This can lead to delays in people seeking professional help
      • When people don’t get the ‘quick fix’ they’re after for a serious issue it can be demoralising
    • I’m not the only one with concerns here
    • There is some fantastic research looking into legitimate ways mindfulness activities can be utilised to improve mental health. Sadly there’s also an inordinate amount of quick-fix apps and sites that don’t have evidence to back up their curative claims.

 

Don’t worry; I’m getting to the actually useful stuff now. In order to sort the preachy dot-to-dot exercises and potentially dangerous from the useful, and to fulfil my monthly quota for masochism, I tried out some mindfulness techniques and figured out a few easier equivalents that might feel a little less ridiculous.

A brief comparison

Mind-full-of-sh*t

I couldn’t resist writing that

I sincerely apologise

My interpretation as a distrustful, broke medical student
Buy one of thousands of books about mindfulness to read

Full disclosure: did not buy. Did peruse in bookshops. Did not enjoy.

Read any book.

Get captivated by it. Enjoy it. It doesn’t have to be high-brow literature, it can just be something that engrosses you.

Do some colouring in, or dot-to-dot of a mandala

 

I work in a kids stationary store so this just felt a lot like a job to me

 Do whatever hobby floats your boat. Unashamedly. Play video games, colour in, collect furbies who cares it’s for YOU

Doing something you legitimately enjoy will be much better for your mental health than feeling obligated to do some colour exercise

Youtube videos

There’s a lot of mandalas you have to stare at idk for this one

Download windows media player?
Eat a raisin really slowly

It got soggy. It did make me appreciate my non-soggy toast afterwards?

Make yourself a nice meal (or just one that doesn’t involve mi goreng) and eat it without distractions
Meditation

If you can manage it this is a pretty useful tool (no sarcasm – really!)

Doesn’t have to be a big deal: headspace has some good quick exercises
Awareness training – staring at something for a while and noticing everything about it

Did not realise how many cracks there are in my walls until now. Thanks for that?

Watch a film

REALLY watch a film and don’t check your phone or the time or social media. Harder than I thought

 

Maybe one of these will work for you, maybe not. Hopefully it’s of some help to the others out there who hate being force-fed mindfulness in every aspect of their life. If not, I’m sure the commercial craze at least will pass soon and there’ll be some other equally annoying mantra I can write about.

 

Eva Matthews Staindl

Year 4 med student, lifelong cynic

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Mindfulness. Why does it sh*t me so much?
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