Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

sad-468923_1920Ann has been unhappy and anxious regarding her current life circumstances. Her husband left her for another woman. As Ann tries to cope with this harsh reality, the therapist tells her to stay present, to live in the moment and practice mindfulness. While Ann has tried this several times and come up short in terms of her new reality of living single, the therapist continues to push this strategy.

Ann is frustrated, feeling that the message from the therapist is–try harder to rid yourself of this unhappiness. Be more mindful and you will find contentment. Yet, her husband’s actions have daily implications on her past, present and future life.

While mindfulness techniques teach contentment in the moment, they do not help people problem-solve real life problems. Ann can calm herself when she starts to feel anxious, but she also has to deal with the fallout of the affair and the way it will affect her future. Feeling unhappy isn’t simply a reaction to the moment. It often involves a serious of situations and events that require action and response. Right now, she is blaming herself for not staying present and doing better with mindfulness.

Is Ann’s self-condemnation an overreaction to the hype around mindfulness? A large meta-anlaysis of mindfulness found small benefits to mindfulness use when compared to people who had no treatment. In other words, despite the popularity of mindfulness programs and techniques, the data calls for more research to see if there is a lasting and measurable benefit. No advantage was found using mindfulness over other therapeutic techniques. The review of data indicates that we can’t make the grand conclusions about mindfulness that are being made.

So for Ann, she needs additional help navigating through her current life stress. She doesn’t need to feel that if she doesn’t practice mindfulness right or enough, then she is somehow to blame for feeing anxious. The root of Ann’s stress isn’t wrong thinking. It’s her husband’s unfaithfulness. The consequences reach into all parts of her life- past and future as well as the present.

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