Is Mindfulness Good Medicine?

Amidst claims that mindfulness could be harmful for some, new research emerges on how mindfulness might prevent relapses into depression and reduce healthcare visits.

Photo by Liza Matthews

There’s no doubt that mindfulness’ popularity has grown rapidly in the past year—but there are signs that the honeymoon phase is over. Making minor headlines is the work of Willoughby Britton, psychiatrist and mindfulness practitioner, who researches “difficult or challenging mind states” among advanced meditators and scholars that can occur as a result of intense meditation practice.

Now that the avalanche of media hype on mindfulness research and practice is coming to an end, we’re beginning to get a more tempered view.

Meditation is not all calm and peace. Mental material can come up that can be uncomfortable or need to be addressed.

Britton spoke generally with Mindful about how mindfulness has been marketed in this country as a “warm bath,” when in actuality, you have to deal with whatever comes up in the mind.

“A lot of psychological material is going to come up and be processed. Old resentments, wounds, that kind of thing,” says Britton, “But also some traumatic material if people have a trauma history, it can come up and need additional support or even therapy.”

Ed Halliwell, mindfulness teacher and author of The Mindful Manifesto, admits that meditation can be…