A report I had recently read on the BBC about Mindfulness having adverse reactions on a large number of practitioners grabbed my attention. According to the BBC article, Julieta Galante, researcher at Cambridge University in Mindfulness-based programmes for mental health promotion in adults in nonclinical settings: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials, found that some 25% of Mindfulness meditators have experienced some form of panic attack or dissociation with feelings. However, overall, the results of the research had indicated a positive effect on mindfulness meditators. I have read of such reports before and the adverse results do not surprise me.
Mindfulness practice, in a similar way to Acupuncture, was extracted from its Eastern spiritual ecological roots founded on a context of an ethical, moral and community framework and placed into an isolated environment where practitioners have little connection to a ‘sangha’, or community of supportive practitioners, guidance and values centred context. And we wonder why we have problems. Acupuncture was ripped out of its holistic Chinese Medical context of diet, movement, herbal medicine and mental focus and we wondered why it lacked efficacy. Context and interdependent framework are essential.
In Cloud Thinking the practice of mindfulness plays a very important part. In the Cloud Thinking model of thinking the Mindfulness Cloud is closely linked with the Values and Principles Cloud. These are two of the Eight Clouds or processes which guide our thinking and help us emerge through our struggles, problems giving meaning and purpose to our life. Without ethical values, without deep compassion for others, indeed all living creatures, then our mindfulness practice is no more than detached introspection. Mindfulness is relational at its core. Many people believe that the aim of mindfulness is to get rid of stress and problems. Wrong! Its purpose is to change our relationship with our problems and stress. Most (if not, all!) of our pain and suffering is relational. When relationships with others, our natural environment and yes, even ourselves, break down then we create the fertile ground for struggle and suffering and no amount introspective breath watching can change that at a deep level.
Your mind is much more than just thoughts. Contained within thoughts are beliefs and values about yourself, others and the world. Your mindfulness must be guided with purpose rooted within values that seek the common good and well-being of all. It is then that you will find your mindfulness effective and even more so when practiced with sound guidance from experienced and compassionate teachers. Watch not only what you think but also how you think. It just might make all the difference to your life and those around you. Your mindfulness will then be a rich and rewarding experience.