Why Mindfulness Isn’t for Everyone

woman looking outside sipping a beverageI’d argue that mindfulness is among the greatest health patterns of our time. It guarantees less tension, more inner peace, and a strong dosage of self-awareness. It’s likewise a multi-billion-dollar market, from apps that administer assisted meditations to full-on retreats in tropical locations.

However prior to you download the paid variation of Headspace or examine roundtrip fares to Bali, ask yourself this crucial concern: Am I all set to stop running on auto-pilot, duplicating the very same less-than-healthy patterns over and over once again?

I’ll let you consider one that for a minute.

What Is Mindfulness, Anyhow?

Mindfulness is a 2,500-year-old practice. It’s the capability to be totally present, where you’re completely tuned into what’s occurring, what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it — in the minute and without judgement.

A great deal of my health training customers are encouraged they’re being conscious when it pertains to their consuming practices, yet in some way, handle to polish off a bottle of red wine or wheel of cheese without understanding it. Now, I’m all for hedonistic behaviour, however if your options leave you loaded with remorse, pity, and regret, it’s most likely rewarding to pursue a various technique.

Mindfulness isn’t for the faint of heart. It likewise isn’t terrific for perfectionists (if you’re identified to “get it right”), those with restricted perseverance, or anybody searching for a short-term repair. Or if you don’t think modification is possible.

The Issue with Mindfulness

Contrary to most things in our pleasure principle world, you most likely won’t get outcomes right now. Which is why mindfulness isn’t a terrific suitable for everybody. In truth, one research study revealed that it can really make tension even worse, although it’s unclear if the result was associated with the individuals’ state of mind, their mode of mindfulness, or a combination of both.

Another struggle that comes up with a mindfulness practice is that it can be uncomfortable to take a good hard look in the mirror. When you embark on a mindfulness journey — and stick with it — you will reprogram your thoughts and actions. Assuming you want to, you’ll begin to recognize your self-sabotaging behaviours and establish different habits. Heck, you might even start to like yourself more.

In this research study, researchers from the University of Utah recruited 1089 undergrads, ranging in age from 18 to 53, to complete questionnaires about different traits:

  • Mindfulness (their tendency to be aware of their thoughts and feelings, and to respond in a non-reactive, non-judgmental way)
  • Well-being (how much they felt a sense of self-acceptance, autonomy, and control over their environment)
  • Clarity of self (how stable, clear, and unconflicted their views about themselves were)

Researchers found that the more mindful students also reported experiencing more well-being. Diving deeper, they also discovered that certain aspects of mindfulness were more impactful than others, specifically, students who were non-judgmental about their thoughts and feelings had a clearer and stronger sense of self. One researcher adding, “If we don’t expect to beat ourselves up for our flaws, we may be more willing to take a clear look in the mirror.”


So, Who Is Mindfulness For?

Obviously, there are benefits to embracing mindfulness, from having more self-compassion to changing your relationship with food. But is it right for you? It might be, if you fall into one of these categories:

  • You struggle with chronic tension, anxiety, or depression
  • You have trouble focusing on single tasks
  • You feel overwhelmed or out of control
  • You’re worried something is wrong with you
  • You have a hard time putting yourself first
  • You eat out of boredom or for emotional reasons
  • You self-sabotage
  • You tend to look at the negatives side of things
  • Your relationship with yourself or others isn’t what you’d like it to be
  • You’re ready to stop going through life on autopilot

Make Mindfulness Work for You

If beating yourself up, or feeling guilt, shame, or other useless emotions hasn’t worked for you in the past, perhaps you’re open to trying something different. Perhaps you’d be keen on doing something that didn’t require forcing, white-knuckling, or falling off a wagon.

It’s one thing to decide to be more mindful, but it’s something entirely different to know how to do it. And that’s the secret sauce the separates the folks who start to move the needle on their thought patterns (and health goals) from those who struggle to get started.

Take the pressure off

Most people think being mindful means they’ve got to commit to an hour-long daily meditation practice with ornate pillows, dimmed lights, and chanting voices. Setting unrealistic expectations will only make you feel even worse. Instead, start with something that feels easy that you can do anytime and anywhere.

Try this: Your brain craves periods of stillness, so step away from your phone, TV, computer, and yes, family members, and sit quietly, taking a much-needed pause from the constant flood of info coming at you. For 30 seconds, do nothing except for being still and breathing. Can’t sit still the whole 30 seconds? Totally normal. Do the best you can, and, this is key, don’t judge yourself for what you can or can’t currently do.

Notice your breathing

Is it shallow and fast or deep and calm? Your breathing affects your mind, so if you’re someone who’s constantly overthinking, worrying, anticipating, or stressing, I’d recommend reviewing your breathing patterns. This study from the Journal of Neurophysiology shows how deliberate breathing activates different parts of the brain associated with emotion, attention, and awareness.

Try this: Consciously inhale and exhale to a set rhythm. I personally love “triangular breathing,” a variation of box breathing, where I inhale for six seconds, hold for two seconds, and exhale for eight seconds. It doesn’t have to be that complex either, just slow down your breathing, making your exhales longer than your inhales. Not only can this make you feel calmer and more focused, it has the power to regulate your nervous system and allow you to be still in the present moment, aka mindfulness.

Be aware of judgements

Consciously or not, you’re constantly judging yourself and others. Dozens of times per day, you’re evaluating your decisions, appearance, and self-worth, replaying scenarios and conversations, and trying to mentally strongarm outcomes that are out of your control. It gets exhausting. On a subconscious level, judgements are how you protect yourself, and you know how much your brain likes to keep you safe. You don’t have to be thrilled with every thought or emotion, but it’s worth your while to a create safe place for them to live — even for 30 seconds.

Try this: This is the time to notice, not to fixate and freak out. It’s an opportunity to sit with uncomfortable emotions and give yourself room to feel them in the moment. So, practice observing your thoughts without reacting to them. The more you practice embracing all the parts of you (the good and the painful), the easier mindfulness will become.

Get outside

Thanks to the pandemic, we got fairly used to staying indoors, working too much, perfecting our sourdough and banana bread recipes, and completely neglecting the great outdoors. But there’s something so freaking magical about the great outdoors. The grass, the trees, the dirt, and of course, the fresh air. Being surrounded by nature has some pretty powerful benefits too, including reducing muscle tension and blood pressure, decreasing cortisol, and boosting endorphins.

Try this: Take a walk in the woods, move your yoga practice to the backyard, or just stand in the grass barefoot and notice the sights, sounds, and smells. Connecting with nature allows you to slow down and be more present, which is what mindfulness is all about. Can’t get outside? Evidence suggests even just looking at photos of natural landscapes can have similar benefits.

Mindfulness: Health Trend or Key to Happiness?

Wouldn’t it be nice to feel less stressed and less critical, rather than racing through each day overwhelmed, overworked, and believing you’ll be happy if you could just get to the other side of your challenge du jour? Listen, mindfulness isn’t for everyone. But if you’re ready to flip the script on your current state of mind (and I think you are), use these tips to get started:

  • Sit in silence for 30 seconds, away from your phone, computer, or TV
  • Slow your breathing, being conscious of your inhales and exhales
  • Practice observing your ideas without reacting to them
  • Notice the sights, sounds, and smells of the great outdoors

What do you think? Does mindfulness work for you?


About the Author

Erin Power is the Coaching and Curriculum Director for Primal Health Coach Institute. She likewise helps her clients regain a loving and trusting relationship with their bodies—while restoring their metabolic health, so they can lose fat and gain energy—via her own private health coaching practice, eat.simple.

If you have a passion for health and wellness and a desire to help people like Erin does every day for her clients, consider becoming a certified health coach yourself. Learn the 3 simple steps to building a successful health coaching business in 6 months or less in this special details session hosted by PHCI co-founder Mark Sisson.

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Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.