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The biggest misconceptions about mindfulness

Many sceptics see mindfulness as something vague and woolly. Others think of it as a mental state that is virtually impossible to achieve. If there is one thing I would tell them, it is that you don’t have to locate your third eye, or buy a singing bowl, or learn Sanskrit in order to practise mindfulness – you only need to be aware. In a society that is obsessed with instant gratification, however, it is not surprising that the concept is often simplified and misinterpreted to reach a wider audience.

The biggest misconceptions about mindfulness
Leestijd: 2 minuten |

Five misconceptions

#1. Mindfulness is a quick-fix for everything
Even though mindfulness is much more accessible than people tend to think, it is anything but a magical quick-fix. Many people spend a minute a day on a meditation app or breathing exercise and expect immediate results. Of course, some people might experience some direct effect. But in general, mindfulness should be compared to weight training. If you put someone who has never done any fitness on the weights for an hour, you can’t expect that person to leave the gym all buffed up – that is never going to happen. That person would have a better idea of how weight training works, and maybe even have enough basic knowledge to continue training on his own. The same applies to mindfulness.

#2. Mindfulness is a passive experience
A lot of sceptics assume that mindfulness is a passive experience that doesn’t require a lot of effort. In reality, it requires time, intention and active participation. Because we get so many stimuli in our lives, it goes against our habits to calm down and live in the moment. But if you work on it, you can definitely change things.

#3. Mindfulness is only meant for relaxation
Relaxation can, for some, be the desired result of their mindfulness practice. That’s perfectly fine. But not all mindfulness techniques are meant to relax you or help you sleep. In fact, it is also very suitable for situations where you have to be super sharp and focused. For example, you can do a quick scan to evaluate which thoughts are running in the background, and consciously put them aside to focus on the task at hand.

#4. Mindfulness has to be practised a certain way
There isn’t really a specific or ‘correct’ way to practise mindfulness. It is more of an ‘Create-your-own-adventure’ thing. If you want to go all out with singing bowls, poofs and incense, go ahead. But it is not required. You can do anything mindfully. It is all about awareness. Take doing the dishes, for example. When you’re consciously aware of the temperature of the water, the feeling of the soap and de sponge in your hands, that counts as a mindful experience.

#5. You’ll be instantly convinced if you just try it
Not everyone will have an epiphany the first time they try it. Maybe you have to try multiple mindfulness techniques and apps before you discover something that’s really your thing. If you read a book and you don’t like it, that doesn’t mean you’re never going to read anything, right? Then you just try another book!

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