What mindfulness adds to existing approaches

Rather than using mindfulness meditation as a stand-alone panacea or magic bullet, recent initiatives for both adults and young people see mindfulness as being a “value added” intervention, augmenting other evidence-based approaches. Relatively small amounts of mindfulness can usefully be added to enhance other efforts such as CBT in health contexts and social and emotional learning (SEL) in school contexts, to help people manage their thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Mindfulness brings to more cerebral and words-based approaches, the ability to ground both therapy and learning in immediate felt and embodied experience. Mindfulness also provides a balance to the tendency of therapy and education to want people to change, to “fix things” and help people immediately think more “positively”—the value-laden judgments of which can sometimes get in the way of helping people get in touch with and understand what is happening to them, actually making them feel worse. Mindfulness can bring a greater recognition of the value of first simply accepting how things are, and the paradox that it is only when people accept who they are that they are actually able to change. We explore further the ways in which mindfulness brings this ‘value added’ to existing work in schools on ‘resilience’, life skills, and social and emotional learning later in this chapter.

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