Answer: yes and yes
Yes, meditation works
It’s incredible (and I don’t use the word lightly) how much some people are helped through daily meditation, whether it’s 10 minutes or an hour. Participants in my training have seen effects like a hollow back straightening and realizing that their bike was best parked differently in their shed.
Statistically mindfulness (MBCT) works as well in helping people with recurrent depression as medication. However, neither work for everybody.
Brainscans show that meditation changes the brain. In general, people who have meditation experience, respond differently to stress than people who don’t.
There is also research on the effect of mindfulness on concentration, creativity, work productivity and more.
Yes, Mindfulness has become a hype:
Mindfulness does not work for everybody, nor for everything. It also has risks.
Meditation has a different effect on different people. It works on your brain and that means that individual history, habits, intelligence, and self-reflective ability all impact the path you start on when meditating.
In some cases this can be a very intense path, that triggers emotions that had been buried. In trauma cases, this can be disruptive to relationships, short term mental health as well as productivity. Long term, especially with qualified help, it may turn out to be a blessing. However – if you can’t afford a psychiatrist, or don’t have spare time to deal with what’s coming up, you may be better off not opening Pandora’s Box.
Meditation costs time. Don’t count on the exercises to bring inner peace right away. Yes, for some people this happens, but many people experience boredom and impatience. In fact: it’s learning a new way of dealing with boredom, distraction and impatience that is probably a central part of what makes mindfulness so effective for many people.
Don’t get discouraged: even 10 minutes of focusing on the breath is a long time at first. In fact – after 5 years I’m still not very good at it.
The point is: it only works if you do invest that time.
Meditation works best when you don’t have a burning goal in mind. If you need a solution to problems NOW, meditation is not the best method. Try bullet journaling instead 😉 Mindfulness training is a bit like making a parachute: you only have the time to do so when you don’t need it yet.
Like with many things: you only get what you put in.
It’s essential to go into the process any kind of meditation training with an open mind, without counting on results.
So does Mindfulness deserve the hype?
I would say that it does. I’ve seen some pretty spectacular changes in people’s lives through doing the 8-week program.
However, like any powerful technique, it has limitations and risks. The first lesson in mindfulness is listening to yourself and you are the only one who can decide whether it is right for you.