You Don’t Need to Fight with Your Mind

Mindful's Editor-in-Chief Barry Boyce offers some clarity on what exactly is supposed to happen in “the present moment.”

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Now that mindfulness practice has drawn a lot of popular attention—which is good news, since it means more people are likely benefiting from the practice—it is often written about in the press in ways that misrepresent what actually happens in the practice. The New York Times recently published an op-ed by Ruth Whippman called “Actually, Let’s Not Be in the Moment.” A number of mindfulness teachers and readers have suggested we address some of the distortions in the piece.

The author describes mindfulness practice as “policing” or “manhandling” or “struggling” with our thoughts in order to mount a “defense against the pressures of modern life.” It’s completely understandable that someone would think of mindfulness practice in this way. When you begin, in fact you usually do treat it as a struggle—as yet another opportunity to beat yourself up—until you figure out that you don’t have to. Sometimes, you need to figure that out repeatedly. And then you get a chance to laugh at yourself for making such a big deal about every single thought in your head. And laughing at yourself is almost always a pleasure.

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