Q: But what about (secular) mindfulness? I hear a lot about that in the news nowadays.
A: Secular forms of mindfulness practice which developed in the 1970s largely under scientist Jon Kabat-Zinn have a lot to offer in terms of stress reduction and mental health benefits. For instance, mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) is commonly found in most major hospitals nowadays for the treatment of chronic pain and stress related disorders. Another related form of therapy called mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is considered the gold standard treatment for depressive relapse for patients with 3 or more past episodes of depression. That being said, mindfulness was never intended to be a standalone method and is one part of a much larger integrated Buddhist system. For example, Buddhism also includes other powerful practices such as (self) compassion that can address negative internal self-criticism and self-loathing, and it has loving-kindness practices that can address anger and hatred issues. Buddhism also addresses unhealthy behaviors that if not attended to can become problematic for one’s peace of mind such as addictive behaviors or infidelity. Buddhist Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy incorporates mindfulness practices including those found in MBSR and MBCT which I am also familiar with and trained in, but in my opinion offers a more complete framework for working with the mind.
W.C. Ark, PsyD
As always, if you find yourself struggling with mental health issues please seek a professional’s help. Blog posts not intended to replace a professional’s advice.