Many therapy methods work well with the therapist who developed it, but don't give good results when packaged into programs and courses. Kabat-Zinn is experienced meditator and I'm not surprised if his therapy works when he is involved. He has so much personal experience. Meditation traditions transfer their knowledge to the next generation trough training regime that takes decades. It's not (yet) science that can be transferred trough short courses and readings.
I have instructed newcomers in meditation. If they have mental problems I suggest they seek therapy and do little meditation on the side. Meditation can help, but I have also seen meditation induced psychosis several times when people see it as the cure for everything. Many experienced meditator's go to normal therapy to deal with their mental problems and find it useful. Some use medication.
My experience is that people with mental problems benefit more from concentrative meditation that builds one-pointedness and calmness, than pure mindfulness type awareness meditation that brings problems into the consciousness. Build strength before facing your inner dragons.
Specifically, I think there's definite short-term benefit to be had from small amounts of relaxation-oriented meditation, and from the common teaching "don't identify with the feeling" ("I am angry" vs "I notice anger is present"), allowing some freedom in reaction different from acting out the emotion that is felt.
Isn't the premise of MBSR, mindfulness? What in your opinion, is the delta that makes such therapies different than plain mindfulness?
Quite unworthy article of HN front page in my opinion, besides the possible interesting discussion that might arise based on it.
I recommend starting with the free short book, Mindfulness In Plain English - http://www.wisdompubs.org/sites/default/files/preview/Mindfu...
I'm not saying it won't, by the way. I myself practice something that some might consider to be mindfulness. But you are assuming facts not in evidence, as a lawyer might say.
For these reasons studies on nutrition are also hard and mostly flawed. But do we need a study to tell us that sugar is poison?
Well, ok, we do, but we can also notice our grandparents weren't eating that much sugar, they weren't suffering that much from obesity or diabetes and that's enough for me.
I'll grant you that nutritional science is hard, but surely holding studies to a lower standard isn't a logical solution?
The past year being one of the most difficult of my life. For me, I see direct evidence of the techniques personally in that it has been reducing the impact anxiety has on me when it occurs.
Its also been improving my ability to: 1) be 'present' and not have anxiety come up as often to begin with, 2) quickly address/resolve the anxiety when it does occur, using the techniques
Also, the premise of that book is wrong (that no human is content).
like if i'm in an argument w/ my wife i'm better equipped to pause and try to figure out what is really happening even as the argument occurs.
i hate flying. after meditating for a year or so i would fly and still be scared but would able to sit and experience fear and watch it. see what it does to my body, my stomach, breathing, etc. doing this didn't completely remove the fear but it made it interesting.
haven't really meditated for a very long time but it did help me.
When you say "I get caught in thinking/fantasy/etc," what exactly are you referring to?
I like thinking, and I think a lot; but of course, I've recognized that some thoughts are useless, some are unproductive, and some are harmful. I've trained myself to get rid of those, and I've also made sure to have room for the thoughts I do want. Not only have I made room, but I have techniques and rules I live by which increases the interval at which these thoughts I do want occur.
Sometimes this can be a jarring experience. Like suddenly waking from a dream.
For persons who don't benefit from such therapy, mindfulness could mean re-focusing away from the abstract thinking that solves problems or invents or creates. Many people deliver their work product or improve their circumstances through this type of thinking. Practicing mindfulness may negatively impact them by reducing the amount of time they spend contemplating in such areas.
I understand where you're coming from with this, as I used to also hold this (very logical) opinion. However, after meditating and engaging with Buddhist philosophy for many years, I've never felt negatively impacted in this way. I now view this opinion as resulting from an overly-simplified understanding of mindfulness.
The lack of rigorous scientific support for this assertion is the entire point of this article (and the journal article it summarizes).
Just a food for thought. In any case aside from the endless and consistent anecdotal evidence, there is a science to it
Stress has a big psychological component, but it is also something that can be physilogically seen and can be measured. It's important to see the distinction between the psychological perception and the true physiology.
Stress may not be the best example because as stated, stress has a lot to with the psychological state.
These monks practice mindfulness meditation for decades, and as a result, they have such control over their minds that they are literally able to "ignore" the pain of being on fire and sit still through the entire duration.
Your body can only handle so much pain before it basically shuts off, and then you don't feel much of anything. The real pain comes later, when you're healing.
Not going to test it out though.
Ever had a severe accident, like a motorcycle accident, or been ran over by a car? The pain comes after, not in the moment when the trauma occurs.
And yes, I have been in high pain incidents. I recall the pain happening during and after.
Think what you wish, but sitting there in pain for a few minutes while my life ends (by my own accord) doesn't seem all that difficult comparatively.
I take on very hard tasks daily, and sustain work on them for a lot longer than three minutes.
Don't make me challenge you to a vipassana, friendo.
Why do people put monks on such a pedestal?
You realize not everyone has the luxury of living like that, right?
p.s. book is worth read IMO.
Stress and depression and other mental health conditions are determined much more by concerns about the past or future, questioning why or how things have or will happen. That's not to say that these are unreasonable thoughts...but for afflicted people, they can become consumed by these thoughts. If people wanted to become monks and completely live in the present, that's their choice. But striking a balance is probably a more reasonable goal for someone with aspirations of success...or whatever.
If instead one feels anger and is mindful about it, one acknowledges the anger but keeps room to decide how to act. This seems to me an improvement.
(As I mentioned above, you go from "I'm angry!" to "I notice there is anger present" and that non-identification leaves room to decide how to act. Sure, this is harder with emotions that go on a long time, e.g. being 'OK" with the presence of anxiety.)
"Absolute focus" and true constant mindfulness is a thing for advanced meditators that you won't get from 20 minutes a day.
The self-restraint aspect of mindfulness is one superficial outcome of the practice, one which I think emerges quickly if you engage with mindfulness. It's not the whole thing.
What would such proof look like?
(Self-reports of well-being? Seems wrong)
Self-reports of well-being are important, because self-perceived well-being is so important to the construct. I'm not saying other perspectives aren't important, but think of it this way: if you thought you were severely lacking in well-being, but others thought you weren't, would you want others to ignore your own perspective on that?
Why would that seem wrong ? Because it could miss cases where people don't know their own happiness ? I think a model based on actual observations is more right than a hypothetical transcendental happiness. Because people could lie ? That's where the proper design of the experiment steps in.
This is off the top of my head.