Calm black businesswoman taking break meditating doing yoga at work

(© fizkes - stock.adobe.com)

BATH, United Kingdom — Stress is everywhere these days, lurking just out of sight around every dark alleyway or imminent Monday morning conference call. Everyone has their own way of keeping calm and shaking off anxiety, and millions nowadays advocate for the technique of mindfulness, an approach to tranquility centered on focusing on the present moment while blocking out distractions and worries from the past and future. However, a new study explains that mindfulness needs to be about more than just your personal well-being.

New research suggests all the self-help “gurus” out there espousing the benefits of mindfulness may be getting the true message of the approach all wrong. More specifically, researchers from the University of Bath Centre for Mindfulness and Community indicate that instead of people using mindfulness to focus on their role in relation to others, more often they end up focusing on themselves and self-improvement.

The analysis, put together by a team of psychologists and therapists, goes on to explain that the broader meaning and applications of mindfulness are often lost, meaning the true benefits of the practice in developing a deeper sense of reflection and connection are consequently missed.

One of the study’s leads, clinical psychologist Dr. Liz Marks has successfully used mindfulness within the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) as a means of managing tinnitus. Marks says she recognizes its effectiveness in encouraging people to stop and reflect on their busy lives. However, she also thinks people could benefit even more if they used mindfulness to think deeply about other people and the world around them.

Senior, older man doing yoga or mindfulness meditation
Senior man meditating (© Halfpoint – stock.adobe.com)

“There is growing interest in mindfulness around the world, and rightly so. The practice offers an important opportunity in ever-hectic lives to pause and reflect. But too often, this is presented as another tool for self-betterment. We suggest that mindfulness can offer more than this, giving people the chance to ‘look outside themselves’, deepening their sense of place within nature and interconnectedness with their community,” Dr. Marks says in a university release.

Dr. Marks’ other areas of research include environmental psychology, the rise of eco-anxiety, concerns about our planet, and what society can do about all of this. Instead of viewing mindfulness as a fix for “how to make my life better,” Marks believes it is a supportive practice that can help people live well alongside the challenges of modern life, all while also helping them think about “how can we make the world a better place for all of us?”

Study co-author Dr. Pamela Jacobsen is a specialist in cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness. She hopes the findings can spur extra interest in testing mindfulness in clinical settings.

“There is a great potential to use mindfulness across a range of health conditions, from chronic pain to depression. In line with growing interest in the practice, there has also been a proliferation of online ‘Mindfulness apps’. We need to ensure these are matched with fully tested and evaluated programs which people can access and benefit from,” Dr. Jacobsen concludes.

The study is published in the Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy.

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About John Anderer

Born blue in the face, John has been writing professionally for over a decade and covering the latest scientific research for StudyFinds since 2019. His work has been featured by Business Insider, Eat This Not That!, MSN, Ladders, and Yahoo!

Studies and abstracts can be confusing and awkwardly worded. He prides himself on making such content easy to read, understand, and apply to one’s everyday life.

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1 Comment

  1. Mandy says:

    What a crock of huey… the reason people (myself included) have to use mindfulness to begin with is because (speaking for myself) is bcuz the world around us is the cause of our anxiety. I have major anxiety all day every day it just different degrees of anxiety based on “the world and environment around me” which determines how much anxiety I am going thru at any given time. In order for me to ease the more severe cases I have to mentally remove myself from the outside and focus on myself and me alone. To think about anything outside that opens an array of other anxieties and floods me until I’m in full panic. So I don’t believe this method is good for everyone.