My brain hurts

Mindfulness • September Pagan Challenge # 12.

I don’t do mindfulness because it makes me ill. There’s a large body of evidence that people with a predisposition to anxiety and depression shouldn’t engage in mindfulness practices because they exacerbate these issues.

Also, in the West meditation and mindfulness are often taught out of context and without the processes and safeguards that have been developed over centuries of practice and tradition in the East.

So if you do these practices, and feel any sort of ill effects, stop and seek advice or get help.

From The Joy of Tech

8 thoughts on “My brain hurts

    • It’s supposed to be all about focusing on the moment, yada yada, but I think humans are meant to reflect on and digest the past, and wonder about the future.

      Side note, I wonder what research has been done on the effects of Ignatian spirituality, which in some ways is similar to Buddhist practices like vipassana?

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  1. As you mention, Eastern practices include a much higher level of processes and safeguards; for me, the most important is that even the people most Westerners will picture when they think of meditation, little enlightened monks, don’t actually spend much of their day meditating.

    Even if one doesn’t have predispositions, there’s a risk of overdoing it: the idea one shouldn’t go straight from no exercise to an hour of hardcore exercise every day is commonplace, but the same warning about the need to build up isn’t nearly as common in places that praise mindfulness or similar techniques; so some people who could benefit take on too much and either give up almost straight away or push themselves into somewhere they aren’t ready to be.

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    • Also true. There was one person who went from near-zero meditation to a very long silent retreat, and sadly ended up dead due to the extreme reaction. I think people in the West assume that meditation doesn’t actually DO anything physical to the brain (Cartesian dualism has a lot to answer for) and therefore cannot have harmful side-effects.

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  2. Thank you as always for highlighting this. due to various MH reasons, meditation and mindfulness is not a good idea for me, and yet every Pagan book/course I read bangs on about the importance of meditation in your practice; it’s hard not to feel like a bad Pagan for not doing it. And don’t get me started on corporate workplace “mindfulness” and “stress reduction” as a distraction from making actual structural change.

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    • Yes, absolutely to all this. I even saw a post from someone who was trying to practice mindfulness despite depression, anxiety, and dissociation (all contra-indications). I left a comment suggesting they avoid mindfulness.

      My other post on Medium is about the corporate pushing of mindfulness as a patch for hopelessly destructive patterns of management.

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