Being Mindful of Mindfulness: Why Mindfulness Is Not for Everyone

The concept of mindfulness has become increasingly popular in recent decades, with its status shifting from marginal to mainstream over the years, even though its origin can be traced back thousands of years with its roots in Buddhism (Forbes). We hear about mindfulness everywhere now, with practices ranging from mindful eating to mindfulness meditation. According to research, both public and academic interest in mindfulness has increased exponentially in the past decade (SAGE Publications). Far from being just a trend or buzzword, mindfulness is a practice that has indisputable impacts (for better or worse) on its followers.

Mindfulness appears to be a cure-all; with the surge in studies regarding mindfulness, researchers have painted an optimistic picture of it and delineated its benefits, while businesses have incorporated it into employees’ programs to better manage their stress. In 2019, the British government even introduced mindfulness as a subject in up to 370 English schools, as part of a research study focused on improving youth mental health (New York Times). But what exactly is mindfulness and is it really all that it claims to be?

Definition of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a state of mind generally defined as being fully present in the current moment and being aware of one’s thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment (Mindful). It involves observance and an accepting, non-judgmental disposition towards these observations (Greater Good Science Center). Mindfulness can be practised in a myriad of ways like mindfulness meditation, mindful eating, observing our thoughts and emotions, or simply trying to be fully present in the moment (Huffpost, Mindful).

Importance of Mindfulness