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What Mindfulness Isn’t

06 Oct

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With our second installment of Mindful Community Conversations happening tonight (a monthly series I put together to focus on difficult topics that incorporate the practice of mindfulness as a tool to help along the path of healing), I’ve been thinking about the sometimes common tendency to regard mindfulness as the only tool needed in order to build a healthy, happy life, or to recover and heal from difficult situations. It’s important to relay, especially to newer practitioners, that mindfulness, while a big tool in the tool box, is only one of many others. Just as we would not be able to use only one tool to build a foundation for a house, we will likely not be able to use mindfulness alone to build a foundation for our well being.

Over the years I’ve heard from people who regard mindfulness as some kind of magic solution to every situation that arises. Those same people then become deflated and disappointed in themselves (as though they were a bad practitioner) as a result of mindfulness not being enough to help them through certain difficulties, such as when dealing with depression, addiction, loss, grief, anger, anxiety or trauma. While the practices of mindfulness: sitting meditation, walking meditation, mindful eating, mindful breathing, and so on, can aid in any situation that arises, we also need to develop and work with other tools in order to support and nourish our entire being.

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Sometimes, mindfulness will not be enough. Sometimes we may need the help of trained counselors, medication, drug treatment programs, 12-step groups, skilled mentors, spiritual advisers, creative outlets, positive influences, healthy social networks, or a myriad of other possibilities.

We want to be careful of not putting all of our focus on the practice of mindfulness, especially when it comes to finding our way through very hard challenges. There are many times when we’ll need additional support through the use of other tools. Please try not to over inflate the benefits that mindfulness has to offer, please search out other supportive measures when you need it.

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