My Scepticism about the World of Mindfulness and Self-Help

When I think of the term ‘self-help’ I think of books that promise to completely change your life from day one and seminars by motivational speakers that leave you feeling ready to take on the world for about twenty minutes. And then when I think of the word mindfulness, nothing really pops into my head at all. Maybe those colouring books that adults started using in 2015, but not much beyond that.

Either way, neither of those terms really mean anything to me right now other than a vague sense of self improvement. A very quick google describes mindfulness as sitting in silence so you can pay attention to your body and the sensations around it which, frankly, sounds like an absolute nightmare to me.

There’s an article on The Heart Movement’s app, which explains that mindfulness is the practice of bringing awareness to ordinary moments and allowing ourselves to live in the present, instead of in our heads. Which feels a bit less intimidating, but still a long way away from my experience of the world. I’ve become adept at keeping myself as distracted from the moment as possible. Twitter scrolling while I watch tv. Audiobook whilst I’m working out. Podcast before I fall asleep. Right now, allowing myself to be in the moment is the same as allowing my thoughts to overwhelm me.

The whole concept feels a bit alienating; like it’s a club I have to be invited to join and I don’t even really know who to ask.

Also, the whole concept feels a bit alienating; like it’s a club I have to be invited to join and I don’t even really know who to ask. And then if I do manage to get into this strange, secretive club, what do I do? What does practicing mindfulness look like? What are the benefits on a day to day basis? How am I supposed to know it’s working or even if I’m doing it right?

I’m concerned that this will end up being a bit like having good posture; something I remember I’m supposed to do, and correct every hour or so, but then slowly melt back to the hunched over goblin I was to start with. Maybe that’s the point as long as I keep reminding myself to straighten up.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to dive head first into the world of mindfulness, with the help of the Heart Movement team, and try to document my journey as honestly as possible. I’ll let you know how – and if – things change from this fairly sceptical starting point, over the course of a few weeks of regular practice.

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Kenzie Ward