What to Do If Mindfulness Isn’t Working

What is Mindfulness? 

Mindfulness is awareness without judgment or reactivity. This awareness is often of our environment, thoughts, emotions, and/or body. The idea of mindfulness is to observe our experiences with the intention of complete acceptance.  

What does Mindfulness do?  

Despite popular belief, mindfulness is not a strategy for solving problems. Rather, it’s a state of being. Mindfulness allows us to take on the role of the observer, which can create distance between us and our sensations. This distance can improve our ability to allow uncomfortable experiences and remain unattached to pleasurable experiences, empowering us to stay grounded and content in our reality.

I’ve tried meditation. Why isn’t it helping me? 

Due to the various benefits that can come from practicing mindfulness, it’s often sold as a healing tool for various struggles (I.e. Stress management, improving sleep, strengthening relationships, etc.). The issue is that these potential benefits are not the primary purpose of mindfulness. When we practice mindfulness expecting a change, we’ve already laid judgment on the outcome, which is the opposite of the point. Again, mindfulness is about non-judgmentally observing and allowing our experience to be as it is, even if it’s not what we want!  

What can I try instead? 

Consider incorporating more mindfulness throughout your day. Rather than saving mindfulness for a ten-minute meditation, see if you can connect to your awareness when you’re brushing your teeth, driving, in conversation, and really during any activity! Simply holding the intention to stay present as often as possible can have a significant impact. 

You can also try different methods of mindfulness if traditional meditation isn’t your jam. For example, creative activities like singing and painting, or movement activities like dancing, walking in nature, and yoga can be great ways to bring more mindfulness into your life. There’s also mindful eating, sound baths, journaling, and more! Stay open to the range of opportunities to practice mindfulness.  

If you’re trying to achieve a specific goal with mindfulness, like decreasing your anxiety, consider speaking to a professional about other methods that may work best for you. A counselor can help you to go deeper in understanding the source of your pain and guide you toward more personalized solutions. 

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