Utpal Dholakia Ph.D. – The Little-Known Downsides of Mindfulness Practice

As I pointed out recentlymindfulness practice has entered the mainstream of western culture to such an extent that 2014 was proclaimed as “The Year of Mindfulness” by the New Republic, and futurists see “mindful living” as a top trend that will influence consumers in the years to come.

Most readers may know this already, but here’s a quick refresher. Mindfulness practice refers to a set of activities and exercises that concentrate an individual’s mind on experiencing the present moment and excluding the stream of diverse thoughts and mind-wandering that happens normally. Mindfulness practice usually involves some form of meditation, with or without a spiritual locus. Its goal is to create and maintain a nonjudgmental and nonreactive state of awareness.

To capture and keep one’s concentrationin the present, the practitioner continuously focuses on a single concept for a period of time ranging from a few minutes to hours. During the practice, he may pay attention to his own breathing, counting breaths, monitoring and regulating each cycle of inhalation and exhalation. Alternatively, she may listen to a soothing, mellifluous sound or recite a chant, over and over, maintaining complete attention on the chosen stimulus, and bringing it back each time it drifts.

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