In recent years, mindfulness has become the latest health buzzword. Despite mindfulness gaining increasing amounts of attention for its well-being benefits, few people fully understand what it entails. In order to separate fact from fiction, here are some of the most common myths associated with mindfulness.
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Mindfulness is the same as meditation
Arguably one of the biggest misconceptions about mindfulness is that many people assume it’s just another word for meditation. Although there are some similarities between the two, they aren’t the same. Meditation involves focusing on your breathing or a part of your body, while mindfulness is being aware and concentrating on the here and now. With mindfulness, you think about how you currently feel or what is happening around you, without making any judgements. Meditation can often involve removing your thoughts to another place, such as a tranquil beach or peaceful landscape.
You need a blank mind to achieve mindfulness
Many people shun mindfulness as they think it’s about ridding your mind from having any thoughts, which is actually hard to achieve. This isn’t true. In fact, mindfulness is about noticing what you’re currently thinking or feeling without casting any criticism on yourself. By accepting that these are just thoughts and nothing else, and letting them go, it can bring about a sense of calm.
Mindfulness is religious
Although mindfulness is associated with Buddhism, it’s a well-being practice that can be carried out by anyone, whether they’re religious or not. It has a universal approach that isn’t dictated by beliefs or moral values.
You’ll always be mindful with mindfulness
Mindfulness is not about living in a permanent state of awareness. It’s simply not possible to be constantly mindful every second of the day, no matter how well you’ve mastered the technique. There will be some moments during the day when you’ll daydream or need to plan ahead, so don’t beat yourself up if your mind starts to wander.
Mindfulness is only for nice moments
There’s a common misbelief that mindfulness is only for savouring positive moments. While it is about noticing how you feel when you watch a beautiful sunset or eat a piece of chocolate, it’s not just about awareness of the good times. Mindfulness is also about recognising when you feel angry or are in pain, as well as when you might feel apathetic to some situations. Assessing your feelings, whether good or bad, lets you put them into perspective and gain a sense of control.
Mindfulness can’t help me
Because mindfulness isn’t like taking a pill, and involves actively channelling the mind, many people write it off as too simplistic or unlikely to be of any help to them. Yet, mindfulness has been at the fore of a lot of scientific research in recent years, with evidence to suggest it calms the mind, reduces stress and improves the memory. Mindfulness is even recommended by the NHS as a helpful strategy to bolster mental well-being.
Mindfulness is a faddy trend
Trends come and go, and many people assume mindfulness is a fad that will be here today and gone tomorrow. Although mindfulness might seem like a fairly recent concept in the UK, in the rest of the world it has been around for many years. It has been a way of life in the Far East for centuries, and even in the USA, mindfulness has been prescribed in hospitals since the 1990s.