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  • Writer's pictureTom Robinson

Mindfulness 'doesn't work for everyone' according to research study

Updated: Jan 29, 2022

Yesterday's article about my ketamine 'experience' really took a lot out of me, because in writing it I revisited so many of the stressful ordeals from the last four years.

I notice that when I delve into past horror stories like the ketamine one, it affects me so personally because there are still unresolved issues surrounding it all, and now I'm desperate to stop others having to go through the things that I did.

I am especially concerned this morning because while scanning the news pages last night I came across a report detailing the opening of a 'ketamine-assisted psychotherapy clinic' in Bristol, which sent me into panic when I read it! How can this treatment be allowed to be used like this when people like me have had catastrophic reactions?!

The whole thing distresses me so much because I cannot allow others to have to endure the same mental decimation that ketamine treatment caused to my brain.

I'm also so upset by the hospital's claims that 'this had never happened before', so I will now spend my whole day fighting with Ombudsman and patient liason services to get this sorted out, and I don't do all this for my own benefit - I'm doing it on behalf of all the other people that have been affected but are too ill to do anything about it!

Anyway, back to today's post and the subject of mindfulness. I read an interesting article on the Very Well Health page yesterday which reports that mindfulness can benefit some people but not others and it's not helpful for all types of mental health problems either.

To be completely honest I see mindfulness as another 'sticking plaster' that's only useful for mental wellbeing and pretty much useless for those with severe mental illnesses.

It's actually dangerous to keep reporting the benefits of practices like this because it leaves those with severe mental health problems thinking 'Is it my fault that I feel this way because I'm not being mindful?' There's now a notion now that if we follow the media's advice of 'mindfulness, exercise and talking', we should be perfectly fine, which is completely untrue.

The article does touch on this point by saying that the study found mindfulness to only be useful in reducing stress, and not in helping with depression or anxiety.

Accessing 'inner peace' or a state of living in the present moment has been documented for centuries. The roots of mindfulness come from Buddhist principles created centuries ago, but it's only now that it's been termed differently that people are really aware of its existence.

Although I don't practice mindfulness per se, I do advocate living in the present moment, because with depression very often comes rumination about past and future, and it's helpful to be able to 'challenge' these thoughts for survival purposes.

When I was using bibliotherapy as part of my recovery, I found a lot of Eckhart Tolle's books particularly useful, specifically 'The Power of Now', which resonated so strongly.

I have detailed all the things that I learnt from Eckhart and others in my own combined memoir and self-help book. His main principle is that if you can focus on appreciating the current moment rather than past or future you will discover inner peace and joy.

I can only access this state when reading or writing, but others can achieve it through other pastimes like painting, gardening, baking or dancing. When you hear people say 'art saved my life', they are talking about the benefits of being in the present state - The Power of Now!

It's interesting that the way in which mindfulness is explained to people can also influence whether they are likely to adopt its principles. I'm definitely not going to sit for hours 'zoning into the feeling of my feet on the ground' (I can't imaging many men doing this!), BUT, I am likely to appreciate and take pleasure from the 'power of now' when I'm engaging in reading and writing like I am at this very moment.

It's a lovely feeling when you've been absorbed in the present without noticing that hours have passed by while you have been taking pleasure from experiencing it.

The take-out point from the study was that mindfulness actually fared no better that physical exercise or other feel-good practices and I can tell the researchers why, and save them a lot of time and effort! It's all to do with the same principle - accessing the power of now! Oh dear!

Right, now I must go and start ringing journalists and complaints departments while fighting to be heard for the sake of others!

Tonight I will be watching the Roman Kemp documentary 'Our Silent Emergency' which is about male suicide and is being aired at 9pm on BBC One. I will be discussing the programme tomorrow.

If you would like to read the Very Well Health research paper then you can find it here.

I have also added a video about the Power of Now to the home page.

Thanks for reading,

Speak to you soon,


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