In defense of mindfulness


In defense of mindfulnessI’m a hopeful millennial. I love a good experiment. When trendy new methodologies pop up, suggesting you can eat, pray, love yourself to a better you or some other catchy phrase, I’m all over them with glass half-full optimism. But I’m also pretty analytical; and so I also tend to lean toward the tried-and-true avenues.

Therefore, I continuously find myself putting more stock into one particular approach: Mindfulness. Though the practice has endured through the ages, it’s only gained mainstream traction within the last 10 years.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is described as a mental state when you’re deeply attuned to the present moment, thus being hyper aware of your emotions, breathing, surroundings, and purpose. In a simpler description, mindfulness tends to involve meditation.

Advocates of the practice say the benefits can include everything from reduced stress to improved diet. Workplaces have encouraged mindfulness courses as a way to boost employee productivity and teamwork. School systems have attempted mindfulness practices as a way to improve student performance.

Is mindfulness not all it’s cracked up to be?

Yet, a new study on the tradition is claiming it’s hogwash. According to a study recently published in the Perspectives on Psychological Science journal, the mindfulness movement and existing evidence on meditation has been poorly researched. The authors say, “misinformation and poor methodology associated with past studies of mindfulness may lead public consumers to be harmed, misled, and disappointed.”

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I admit it; after reading this news, I was a little crushed — mostly because I always embrace new research. When studies suggested going from margarine to canola oil to butter to coconut oil back to canola oil again, I followed suit (though cursing the unused value-size bottle of coconut oil still left in my pantry). Would this new study lead me to abandon everything I thought I knew about mindfulness?

A new way of looking at mindfulness

Short answer: No. While I agree, more research is definitely needed on the meditative practice, and specifically as a complementary or alternative therapy, I’ve already witnessed the proof of mindfulness benefits in my own personal life. Yet, instead of the “kumbaya” chants and the warrior pose that you might imagine when the word meditation is mentioned, I’d like to redefine mindfulness as positive thinking.

When you choose to infuse positive energy and encouraging thoughts into each task, I find you’re more likely to succeed in that task. Furthermore, we live in an age of distractions, where so many things compete for our attention. So, when you actually force yourself to focus on a moment or a task while at the same time pushing away negative thoughts from that task, you are being mindful, at least, in my opinion.

I recognize that this thinking isn’t foolproof, even in my own circumstances. Positive thinking has never miraculously pushed back deadlines, put money in my account, or dropped me down a dress size. But positive thinking has made my journey to a better me feel a little easier, a little more certain, and a little more enjoyable. And that’s evidence I can support.

Again, I’m a hopeful millennial. As a whole, the generation is often stereotyped as entitled, naïve, and narcissistic with grand expectations, but our positivity is our winning asset. Growing up, we were told we could do anything we wanted to do — if we put our minds to it. But more than just being a tired cliché that no one believed, we, millennials, actually saw this mantra manifested in examples all around us. Perhaps, this is part of what makes us so optimistic.

So if mindfulness is “putting your mind to it” in a positive way — whether that be on a job task, a career ambition, a relationship goal or diet plan — then, of course, I’m all over it.

 

Nina Reeder is a journalist and media manager, who has contributed to outlets such as Ebony, AOL.com, Marriott Hotels, and more. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie, but also has passions for health/wellness (which doesn’t always work out well). You can follow her on Instagram here.

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