Many people ask me if mindfulness is good therapy to cure problems such as stress, anxiety, or depression.
What is mindfulness?
You could call mindfulness a modern western packaging of some positive elements from Eastern wisdom and the buddhism. Buddhism is one of the most balanced system to help people to live a happier life. It contains a lot of wisdom, valuable insights, and useful practical techniques to learn to see problems in a relative way or accept them.
What does mindfulness do?
Mindfulness contains some of these practical techniques in a simple, (rigid) 8-week plan which is easily taught in group training.
What is the advantage of mindfulness?
The advantage of this rigid structure is that they give the modern western person a simple grip to hang on to. This means it is more motivating and easier to learn for many than Buddhism itself. It shows a clear, learnable approach.
What is the disadvantage of mindfulness?
The most important disadvantage of mindfulness, is that it is not therapy in itself, while some people thing that it is therapy, meaning it can give people a wrong impression. If you understand yourself that mindfulness can be a useful tool, without the promises of full-blown therapy, mindfulness is definitely a good choice for you. In my doctor's practice, I often see people who have followed a course in mindfulness with wrong expectations, and then they of course do not end up happy with that.
Why does mindfulness help?
Mindfulness can help you to learn to build up more inner peace. Also, mindfulness teaches you to discover and learn to accept your boundaries. These are thus two useful ingredients which are also often present in successful therapy. Peace and acceptance often improve the healing of some stress-bound problems such as tension, anxiety, depression, and burnout.
Is mindfulness therapy?
No, mindfulness is not therapy. Mindfulness can be therapeutic and healing in minor types of stress. But good therapy also helps you to solve certain problems by bringing own, new solutions to light. The traditional mindfulness does not offer this: it gives exercises, but it does not help you to develop your own successful formula at a personal level. Of course it can be so that a mindfulness teacher happens to also be a good therapist, in which case you enjoy a broader spectrum.
Self-test for stress
Would you like to know to what extent stress, tension, anxiety, or even depressed feelings affect your life? Then test this easily by filling out a simple test of 21 short questions.
For simple stress, mindfulness can be a good solution, just like many other methods such as yoga, meditation, and so on ... For more specific stress, it is best to pick a doctor, psychologist, therapist, or online self-help program which combines mindfulness with tested therapeutic techniques.
Paul Koeck, MD