Could Mindfulness Be a Kind of Avoidance?

Could Mindfulness Be a Kind of Avoidance?
October 1, 2014 Ann Weiser Cornell

Focusing Tip #442

“I would rather have a relationship with what I feel than let it pass by me.”

A Reader writes:
I find that I feel a certain resistance toward the whole “brand” of mindfulness, and today I was reading your article about Finding Distance Techniques, and I was wondering whether you think that mindfulness is related to those? I sense that for me it has to do with that — I would rather have a relationship with the things, than let them pass by me.

Dear Reader,
I think it’s understandable to have a resistance to anything that’s become a brand, and perhaps especially those things that involve sensitive awareness, like mindfulness. On the one hand, I’m super-glad that mindfulness has become popular! Who ever thought THAT would happen? On the other hand, it’s a bit hard to see something we care about become a popular buzzword.

But I understand your specific concern about mindfulness is that it may involve a kind of passing over of certain kinds of felt experience, especially the difficult emotions.

So I would say that it isn’t mindfulness as such that is the problem, but rather what one does with it, or what one does next. A mindful kind of awareness is a great preliminary to Focusing…but I would suggest we need to go on to do Focusing then, or some other kind of deeper inquiry.

David Rome, whose method Mindful Focusing combines the two, has a new book out which I highly recommend: Your Body Knows the Answer. From the Preface:

“Meditation is wonderful for stepping away from the speed and complexities of everyday life and finding refuge in a calmer, more spacious quality of mind, but it can be insufficient to bring to light the deeper roots of feeling, memory, and belief, including sources of emotional and creative blockage.”

So to answer your question, I don’t think mindfulness in itself shares the problems of Finding Distance techniques, in which the person moves away what is being felt. Mindfulness isn’t a moving away. But it also isn’t a moving toward…and for that, we want Focusing.



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