Mindfulness

Is mindfulness selfish?

One of the criticisms often levelled at meditative practices, like self-hypnosis, is that they are selfish. Too introspective, too inward-looking. Drawing our attention away from all the bad things happening in the world that we should be out there trying to fix. Encouraging us to settle, to embrace inadequacies. To sit cross legged in a bubble of peace while everything around us collapses. 

In 2017, Psychiatrist Dr Alison Gray of the Royal College of Psychiatrists suggested that solitary meditative practices can cause us to become more self-centred (Petter, 2017). Instead, Dr Gray encouraged us to seek out a community with whom we can practice mindfulness.

However, as COVID-19 isolates much of the world in their own homes, away from their support networks and away from their communities, these solitary meditative practices can be a useful tool in lowering our anxiety, building our resilience, and connecting with our inner resources. Gifting ourselves some time each day to nurture our minds, release anxiety and embrace the present moment can be a powerful antidote to the feelings of frustration and helplessness brought about by the lockdown. We are locked down, but our minds don’t have to be.

Embracing mindfulness to protect our mental health can be far from selfish. As neuroscientist, philosopher and best-selling author Sam Harris writes in his book Waking Up, meditating alone doesn’t necessarily equate with self-centredness; in fact, it can amount to precisely the opposite: “One can […] spend long periods of time in contemplative solitude for the purpose of becoming a better person in the world – having better relationships, being more honest and compassionate and, therefore, more helpful to one’s fellow human beings.”

We don’t need to feel guilty for prioritising our inner peace sometimes, even while those around us are struggling, as we have more to offer them when we ourselves are calm and centred. As Sam Harris argues “The world is in desperate need of improvement – in global terms, freedom and prosperity remain the exception – and yet, this doesn’t mean we need to be miserable while we work for the common good.”

References

Petter, O. (2017, December 29). Mindfulness could be making you selfish, psychiatrist warns. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/mindfulness-selfish-mediation-psychiatrist-dr-alison-gray-a8133106.html

Harris, S. (2014). Waking up. Simon & Schuster.

Mindfulness

Connect to your inner self

As varying versions of the COVID-19 lockdown continue across the world, fear remains around how we can safely reconnect with those we love. Many are isolating alone, and for lots of us, isolation is far from over. In such times, the solution focused approach of connecting to our inner strength can be a balm, helping us to build our resilience, so that loneliness doesn’t become overwhelming. You can take the words below as a moment for you to stop, switch off the news, focus on the present, and feel a sense of connection.

Take long deep breath, and release. You’ve got this.

Stay safe.

Connection

From the moment we are born,
We have a primitive need to be held. Soothed.
To feel the warmth of touch.
To feel connected to something bigger than ourselves.
So, in a time when connection is tainted with fear,
And touch, with frightening consequences,
We can feel lost.
Helpless to meet our deep desire to connect.

But something magical happens,
When we start to connect with our inner self.
To nurse our fear with our own inner strength.

So take a moment to close your eyes,
And feel your breath.
See light in the centre of your chest,
Beating with your heartbeat.
Let that light fill your chest cavity.
Let it drop down your torso,
Down through the water table, the rock and magma.
Connecting you right down to the centre of the earth.

Allow yourself to bathe in the warmth,
Of that grounding cord of light.
Feel its strength,
Beaming out to every living thing.
You are a part of that beautiful firework.
Connected to everything.