Testing Out Mindfulness

Mindfulness is in. What began as a form of Buddhist meditation has now been picked up by the mainstream, with even the NHS recommending it as a treatment for mental health conditions. It seems like everyone and their gran is preaching the benefits of switching off and finding your inner peace. So qmunicate challenged 5 of our contributors to take a break from their stressful lives of lectures, essays and making the best magazine in Glasgow. Here they report back on the challenges and benefits of the latest craze in mental wellbeing.

I’ll be the first to admit that my brain can at times resemble of the more shocking episodes of Extreme Hoarders. As a self-confessed over thinker and worrier with no clear rhyme or reason for any aspect of my life, least of all my thoughts, the chance to fix all the constant befuddlement in only 10 days was too good to pass up. The cure-all, easy to follow solution – mindfulness. The pursuit of ‘mindfulness’ is growing in popularity, with numerous apps and programs springing up designed to help you make some sense of the foreign country of your mind. I volunteered myself as a human guinea pig in an attempt to add ‘functioning adult person’ to my CV.

I tried Headspace, an app that offers a free 10 day trial including one mindfulness session a day, lasting about 8-10 minutes. The whole idea, as far as I could gather, was to become more conscious of what happens in our noggins and not to engage in a futile fight against the hustle and bustle of our thoughts, but rather to learn how to handle them better. At least I think so – I made it to session 5. Between work for my classes, a part-time job, writing for this lovely magazine and an on-again off-again relationship with the sesh, it was easy to forget to do the session that day. Maybe if I had been more mindful I would have remembered…

The two times I actually followed the app’s instructions I relaxed to dangerous level that I hadn’t even known existed (what do ya mean not everyone is constantly just a little bit anxious?). I got so chill that accidentally relaxing my bladder was becoming a real concern. Afterwards I felt like I’d had a super rejuvenating nap, and vowed to keep going with the app until the end. Like every New Year’s resolution, this went out the window faster than piece from a twenty storey flat. Life got busy again, and somehow mindfulness slipped down the priority list to below catching up with the Great British Bake Off (r.i.p).  Several times I ended up using the exercise to send me to sleep, which is not at all what it’s meant for, and actually made me resentful because I knew there’d be talking at the end which would wake me up again.

If I had had been in the right mind set to make a serious effort at this, things probably would have turned out differently. You never know, I might have become one of those annoying people who have their shit together seemingly effortlessly, and bang on about how you can too. When it comes down to it, it seems a completely non-scientific investigation into whether mindfulness works conducted purely out of curiosity on my part, and with absolutely zero belief that it could accomplish anything, might not be the best way to go about becoming mindful. Who knew?

[Louise Wylie – @WomanPendulum]

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