Minding the mindfulness

Scales of justiceAs I’ve been planning to unveil the Creative + Mindful website, I’ve been stockpiling a bunch of resources about mindfulness and meditation.

I think of myself as fairly down-to-earth and pretty darn logical. But I do also feel like I’m a solid example of how engaging in the practice of mindfulness can change a life. Which is why I was surprised to find a number of articles slamming mindfulness.

One in particular got my hackles up.

A little background on me: I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression all my life. It has been pretty debilitating at times – full-blown, blinding panic attacks; missing out on a lot of life; alienating the ones that I love; dropping all of my creative projects; etc.

I had meditated off and on since I was in high school but came at it again seriously as a way of dealing with my issues. Nothing else seemed to work (although medication and therapy does take the edge off) and I figured I didn’t have much else to lose.

Meditation and the practice of mindfulness has since led me to several silent retreats, a daily practice and – most importantly – sanity. Sure, I still have sucky days. Days where the dull edges of depression creep in and I let things slide. Days where I’m too anxious to enjoy other people’s company and social situations make me want to peel my skin off.

But by and large, I operate more like a “normal” person most days, versus a ticking time-bomb of misery. Engaging in a practice where I gently quiet the meanie in my head and pay attention to what I’m doing in the here-and-now, instead of living in the past or future, is my saving grace.

Bottomline, mindfulness gets me through the day.

Which is why I was annoyed when I read an article in the Spectator called “Mindfulness is something worse than just a smug middle-class trend.”

Ok, so I get the issue with mindfulness getting commercialized and being turned into things that it is not. But the article clearly shows that the writer has not truly experienced the practice of mindfulness and has some very serious misunderstandings about what it really is.

I’ve written a lot about mindfulness and meditation (on the Forest of Healing blog) and will be transferring those posts over to Creative +Mindful. In the meantime, I’d be interested to know what others have to say on this topic… mindfulness: live-changing experience or a load of hooey?

Do you agree with Melanie McDonagh? Have you practiced mindfulness and/or meditation?

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