MINDFULNESS MYTHBUSTERS

Mindfulness is really simple to explain. It is the act of paying attention to our direct experience as it unfolds in the present moment and without judgement. But there are a lot of misconceptions about what it really all means and how to practice it.

Mindfulness teacher and author of Mindfulness for Children, Uz Afzal helps bust some of the common mindfulness myths below.

Is mindfulness emptying your mind?

Mindfulness is not about emptying

your mind or stopping yourself from

thinking. Instead, it’s about observing

what’s happening in your mind. Even if

you become aware of lots of thoughts or

distractions, that’s okay.

 Is it religious?

Mindfulness is not religious, it’s a

secular practice. However, most religions

do contain an element of mindful

contemplation and some have practised

in this way for a couple of thousand

years. The writer and mindfulness

expert, Daniel Rechtschaffen, puts it this

way, ‘Mindfulness does not belong to

Christianity, Buddhism or Taoism, just as

the breath we inhale and exhale does not

belong to any one of us.’

 Is it about feeling happy and calm all the time?

Mindfulness is about feeling the way

you are feeling. Sometimes you may feel

calm and happy, sometimes you may feel

anxious or overwhelmed. Mindfulness is

about accepting the truth of our experience

with a sense of kindness, no matter how we

are feeling.

 Will I need to sit cross-legged on a cushion?

You can do this if you like, but you don’t

need to. You can carry out many of these

 practices sitting upright in a chair with

your feet flat on the ground. You can also

practise as you sit on a bus or a train, or

as you walk down the street or down a

corridor. You can practise as you carry out

routine activities and as you move through

your day.

Is it only for people who are stressed?

 Mindfulness can certainly help people

who are stressed. Much of the research

on the benefits of mindfulness has been

conducted on an eight-week course called

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.

However, it’s wonderful to practise

mindfulness when you’re not feeling

stressed, to help you open up to the details

and vividness of life and also so that you

become familiar with it. If you do this then

you will hopefully remember to practise in

difficult times as well.

Is it just a fad?

 I wonder if that’s what they used to say

thousands of years ago.

Will it turn me into a hippy?

 Hang on, let me untangle myself from

this tree I’m hugging before I answer.

Mindfulness is practised in government, in

many of the Fortune 500 companies, by the

emergency services, the armed forces, in

prisons, schools and hospitals. They can’t

all be hippies, can they?







More about mindfulness in Uz Afzal’s Mindfulness for Children.

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