With rates of anxiety and depression on the rise, what is the answer? Enter, mindfulness meditation. Nothing seems easier to do than sit just being mindful.
Mark Vernon from The Guardian speaks with Andrew Oswald, a professor at Warwick University who studies wellbeing, about the process which for many is a source of insight and hope.
For Oswald, one main benefit of meditation is that it doesn’t come with theological assumptions. Rather, the practice involves releasing the mind’s tendency to cling to things…like assumptions. In mindfulness meditation, one attempts to connect to and generate curiosity about one’s current state of being.
It’s a way of concentrating on the here and now, thereby becoming more aware of how the here and now is affecting you. It doesn’t aim directly at the dispersal of stresses and strains. In fact, it is very hard to develop the concentration necessary to follow your breath, even for a few seconds. What you see is your mind racing from this memory to that moment. But that’s the trick: to observe, and to learn to change the way you relate to the inner maelstrom. Therein lies the route to better mental health.
Mindfulness, then, is not about ecstatic states, as if the marks of success are oceanic experiences or yogic flying. It’s mostly pretty humdrum. Moreover, it is not a fast track to blissful happiness. It can, in fact, be quite unsettling, as works with painful experiences, to understand them better and thereby get to the root of problems.
Read more from Mark Vernon’s discussion with Andrew Oswald here.