Mental health professionals and people around the globe have increasingly been embracing the positive benefits of mindfulness and guided meditation for several decades. But like all good things, there can be a down side.
So beginners to mindfulness, especially those who browse online meditations and experiment with them without the collaboration of a mental health professional, are wise to keep a few cautions in mind, even as they notice positive developments.
Mindfulness and guided meditation can be started by anyone finds the audio online and begins to sit quietly and listen. They may experience an improvement in perspective and managing emotions in daily life. Used in conjunction with therapy, many mental health professionals say the benefits can be focused and increased.
“Through mindfulness-based therapy, my clients gain three essential skills,” said Shai Lavie in an article in Psychotherapy Networker. Lavie is a licensed family and marriage therapist in San Rafael, California who has seen clients experience some of these benefits:
Research and personal experience has shown how valuable meditation is – it can reduce stress, help ease pain, make it easier to sleep and deepen the meaning of our life, said psychologist Itai Ivtzan of the University of East London in England.
“It is also important for us to recognize the potential hazards of meditation, which might arise during practice. This is especially relevant to beginners,” Ivtzan said in an article in Psychology Today.
Those potential dangers of beginning guided mindfulness mediations on your own include:
Jon Kabat-Zinn, the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center who is credited with launching the interest in the benefits of mindfulness beginning in 1979, offered this perspective on mindfulness in an article in Psychotherapy Networker: “The message of mindfulness is an invitation to everybody to wake up to the true dimensionality of who we all are, and to move in a direction of maximizing the good that comes from our activities and minimizing the harm both to ourselves and others. And that could be done on a corporate level, on a national level and on an international level.”
It’s important when beginning mindfulness practices to make sure the developments on a personal level are heading in a positive direction. Mindfulness, said Kabat-Zinn, is “the development of practices to cultivate wakefulness, kindness and compassion.”
One safe and simple way to begin a mindfulness practice may be with the sounds of nature:
Calm: Nature sounds and shorter guided meditations
Fragrantheart – Heart centered meditations include 1-minute guided meditations on calming, stress release, peaceful sleep and inner peace.
Simon, Rich, “Jon Kabat-Zinn on the Healing Capacity of Mindfulness in the Modern World,” Psychotherapy Networker, Washington, D.C., Feb. 16, 2016.
Lavie, Shai, “Helping Clients Bring Mindful Awareness to Anxious Thoughts and Sensations,” Psychotherapy Networker, April 28, 2016.
Ivtzan, Itai, “Dangers of Meditation,” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, United Kingdom, March 11, 2016