No. Mindfulness Meditation Isn’t the Only Way to Feel Calm
Meditation apps tried to convince us mindfulness was the only way to feel calm. They're wrong.
Rooted in ancient Buddhist practices, mindfulness involves cultivating present-moment awareness and acceptance. And in recent years it has become famous as a path to achieving calm.
This surge in popularity may be due to its well-documented health benefits. Scientific research highlights the positive impact mindfulness can have on
- stress reduction,
- emotional regulation, and
- overall mental health.
As a result, mindfulness has shifted from a niche spiritual practice to a mainstream self-care tool.
Which is understandable. Our fast-paced modern world has led to heightened levels of stress and burnout. So people have sought mindfulness as a way to reduce overwhelm and feel calm.
But why mindfulness? Why is it seen as the most popular way to calm down?
Mindfulness meditation’s rapid integration into consumer culture reflects capitalism’s knack for commodifying wellness.
As corporations embraced mindfulness, it became a marketable product. Complete with apps, workshops, and branded merchandise.
Which preys on our desire for improved mental health and stress reduction. Sadly, this capitalist infusion may not offer holistic well-being.
Capitalism emphasises individualism and personal responsibility. And mindfulness is marketed as a tool for self-improvement.
Which aligns with the capitalist idea that people can take control of their well-being through consumer choices.
But what about systemic stress? What about the crushing cost of living crisis? What about racism, ableism and sexism that cause pervasive stress and trauma?
The Role of Community Care in Healing
Healing from systemic oppression extends beyond personal practices.
Community care emphasises collective support. Healing spaces that address the impacts of systemic racism, discrimination, and marginalization.
Community care also addresses the need for collective action and advocacy.
Mindfulness might not adequately address the trauma of systemic injustices. The mental detachment of mindfulness may also hinder the urgency required for activism. Especially activism aimed at dismantling oppressive systems.
In contrast, community care centres the voices and experiences of marginalised people. This provides a platform for shared healing, validation, and empowerment.
Challenges for Neurodivergent People
While mindfulness has proven effective for many, it may not work for neurodivergent people. People with autism, ADHD, or sensory processing differences may find mindfulness difficult.
Maintaining sustained focus and sensory awareness can lead to distress or frustration.
Plus, the introspective nature of mindfulness might amplify anxiety or intrusive thoughts. This could potentially cause more harm than healing.
Mindfulness often overlooks the diverse cognitive patterns and needs of neurodivergent people.
This highlights the necessity of making meditation practices more accommodating.
Alternatives to Mindfulness Meditation
In addition to community care, here are eight alternatives to mindfulness meditation:
1. Deep Breathing Exercises
These techniques focus on breath control to activate the body’s relaxation response. These exercises are simple, quick to learn, and can be practised anywhere. This makes them highly accessible and effective for calming down.
2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This technique involves tensing and then releasing different muscle groups. It helps you become more attuned to your body and can provide relief from stress.
3. Listen to meditones
Meditones® help you produce calm brainwaves, effortlessly. Just listen with headphones, and the meditones effect occurs naturally and easily.
4. Nature and Outdoor Activities
Spending time in nature has been proven to have a grounding effect and help reduce stress.
5. Somatic Therapy
This focuses on the body’s sensations and movements to release physical and emotional tension. Somatic therapies can also aid in processing trauma.
6. Art and Creative Expression
Drawing, painting, writing, or playing a musical instrument can help you get into flow states and relieve stress. Creative pursuits can also give you a great sense of fulfilment.
7. Guided Imagery
Guided imagery involves visualising calming scenes. This can be quite effective if you have a vivid imagination.
8. Dance and Movement Therapies
These can provide a unique way to connect to your body. They can release pent-up emotions and achieve a state of flow. Leading to a sense of calm and release.
While mindfulness may be a valuable tool for achieving calm, it isn’t the only option. There are a range of alternatives to mindfulness that offer diverse ways to manage stress.
It’s essential to explore different options and find what works best for you. A combination of approaches might be most effective in overall well-being.
By embracing a diverse array of practices, you can create a more inclusive approach to well-being and calm.