Should We Be Mindful of Mindfulness?

As a powerful industry grows around the practice, The Guardian asks: does mindfulness really work?

Real benefits or new age waffle? To respond to the question, The Guardian invited Mark Williams, one of the pioneers of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), to explain.

From the article:

“A good example of how it can work is when you’re kept awake at night thinking,” says Williams. “You toss and turn and you get angry because you can’t sleep. The anger doesn’t help, but you can’t seem to stop it. Mindfulness isn’t about suppressing those thoughts, but about enabling you to stand back and observe them as if they were clouds going past in the sky. You see them and you cultivate a sense of kindness towards them.”

Williams cautions against seeing mindfulness as a panacea:

“A lot of people think it will cure everything. But we know there is nothing that cures everything. There is some interesting work in psychosis, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia but it’s in its early days. There’s a lot of hype around mindfulness and we need to be cautious because it doesn’t serve our science or patients well if we’re overenthusiastic. We have to make sure the science catches up with the enthusiasm.”

Williams developed the 8-week MBCT course and conducts it through the Oxford Mindfulness Center at Oxford University in the UK.

To read the full article, including a summary of current studies, click here.

If you want to learn more about Williams’ work, check out “Stress and Mindfulness,” a short video interview where Williams talks about the effects of stress on the brain and body.