The Other Side of Mindfulness: Dangers of Meditation

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Scientific Studies Recommend a Balanced Perspective on the Practice of Mindfulness, Since this Practice can Generate Both Positive and Negative Results.

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LatinAmerican Post | Julieta Gutiérrez

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Leer en español: La otra cara del Mindfulness: peligros de la meditación

It is common to hear that mindfulness, or the ability to pay full attention to the present moment, has the positive effects of reducing stress, increasing self-awareness, and improving general well-being.

In fact, according to the Mindfulness and Health Society, an Argentine organization that has been dedicated to the practice and teaching of meditation for more than 10 years, ensures that this practice has been integrated into Western medicine and psychology. According to its criteria, this type of care allows one to consciously work on pain, illness, stress and other challenges that arise in life, in order to recover internal balance and have a greater capacity for compassion and lucidity.

But, is this an absolute truth? Or perhaps could it have unfavorable effects on the daily life of some people who practice it?

Dangers that mindfulness can have

According to the Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, an international forum for the dissemination of information that contributes to the progress of the science and practice of psychiatry, studies have been presented that show challenging or harmful effects, including hospitalization and suicidal tendencies in people who may develop a “meditation sickness”.

According to the results that they discovered in 40 studies, in which there were a total of 6,703 participants who practiced Mindfulness or full attention; concluded that the most common symptoms were anxiety (18 studies) and depression (15 studies). In addition, the most common psychiatric adverse effects of this practice included signs of delusion (9 studies), or re-experiencing trauma in which participants relive traumatic memories. Something closely associated with consciously working on pain or illness. Well, according to their results, it led many participants to present suicidal behaviors.

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They also reported that within the psychotherapeutic study there was increasing evidence that mindfulness, or psychological treatment may be severely associated with Abnormal Narrowing (AD). Which is the reduction of the field of consciousness by systematic selection of current and past contents, where false insights about reality can be added with negative hallucinations.

In addition, another discrepancy on Mindfulness presented by the Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (ACAMH), shares research that shows the failure of mindfulness to generate healthy results in young people.

Because one of the most expensive studies in the history of meditation science, in which approximately 6.4 million euros were invested, growing evidence of possible negative effects associated with Mindfulness was demonstrated. Well, more than 8,000 infants from 11 to 14 years of age were examined in 84 schools. The results were surprising, since it was shown that mindfulness meditation failed to improve children's mental health, and could even have had an even more detrimental effect on adolescents who are at risk of mental health problems. .

However, when the main research centers that defend Mindfulness realized that the general public noticed the possible negative effects of meditation, they decided to justify this practice using the metaphor of the 'gym model of the mind'. Insinuating that the negative effects occur more for inappropriately performing the practice of mindfulness, since the damage could occur due to excessive or unsafe physical exercise.

According to the Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (ACAMH), these statements can be very dangerous, since presenting mindfulness as an innate, muscle-like cognitive ability, instead of showing it as an exercise in Meditation that was developed to produce abnormal states of mind, which can lead to harmful and challenging experiences, is not only a historically unfounded scientific argument, but also ethically incorrect reasoning.

All this leads to the conclusion that although Mindfulness has positive effects on health, its counterproductive consequences must not be ruled out or taken as a practice that is capable of curing everything. It is necessary to remember that there are conditions that require professional attention and that there is no generic solution to attend to all people, each patient has particular needs.