Mindfulness isn't enough for men

Discussion in 'Self Improvement' started by WalkingForward, Apr 22, 2017.

What is your opinion about mindfulness?

  1. It's a miracle method.

    11 vote(s)
  2. It can be a useful tool in a proper context.

    8 vote(s)
  3. It's worthless

    0 vote(s)
  1. WalkingForward

    WalkingForward Fapstronaut

    This became quite a wall of text, there is a short summary at the bottom.

    A study has shown mindfulness meditation improving the mood for women, but not for men: https://news.brown.edu/articles/2017/04/meditation

    I'm a man and mindfulness meditation has helped me a lot, particularly with insomnia and in handling anxiety. But, I don't think the findings in this study should be dismissed.

    If you use mindfulness meditation for trying to get rid of unpleasant feelings, it will most likely backfire. Here's a good video about why trying to get rid of unpleasant feelings is a bad idea:

    Mindfulness done right is learning to accept unpleasant feelings. I think a big reason why mindfulness didn't help the men in the study, could be that we men generally are more prone to problem-solving.

    Problem-solving can be great. If you want to cross a river, you can build a float or a bridge. But when we apply problem-solving to troubles that are outside of our control, it only leads to frustration and drains our energy.

    Trying to get rid of anxiety usually only leads to more anxiety followed by other unpleasant feelings. What's much more effective is learning to do meaningful things while feeling anxious. If for example going to the gym makes you anxious, do it anyway.

    Being able to focus on the present moment is very helpful. And mindfulness done right, trains your ability to do that.

    But mindfulness certainly isn't enough. Done in isolation, it can even be destructive. Mindfulness is about not letting your thoughts control you. Which is good. But then, what is going to guide you through life?

    I've listened to many Alan Watts lectures. They can be very entertaining, and often helpful. But Alan Watts died of alcoholism at the age of 58. Clearly, he isn't a perfect role model. If mindfulness makes you stop following your thoughts, and you instead just do whatever you feel like, it can lead you down a path of addiction and hell.

    I have periodically worked with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). And it has been very helpful for me.

    Several studies have shown ACT to be very helpful for many mental health problems. Such as anxiety, OCD, depression, psychosis and handling chronic pain.

    The founder of ACT, Steven C. Hayes, studied why mindfulness techniques works and developed them to create what I would call mindfulness on steroids. Then he added an absolutely crucial component to form ACT, commitment to values.

    ACT is basically about accepting your thoughts and feelings, focusing on the present moment and doing what you find meaningful.

    ACT doesn't eliminate painful thoughts and feelings. But it makes you mentally stronger, so that you can handle it and still carry on with your life. And it makes you better at returning your focus to the present moment. To focus on what you do have control over.


    So to summarize. Mindfulness isn't enough. Done wrong or in isolation, it can even be harmful. But it can be a great tool. I strongly recommend combining it with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

    There are self-help resources based on ACT, link to booklist
    This interview with it's founder is a great introduction to ACT and to available resources:

    Last edited: Apr 22, 2017
  2. WalkingForward

    WalkingForward Fapstronaut

    This article is also interesting though: http://www.businessinsider.com/mindful-men-are-more-attractive-to-women-2015-11?r=US&IR=T&IR=T

    It's blocked for Adblock-users but the title shows what it's about. You shouldn't desperately try to be attractive to women, but it shows that even for men, mindfulness can bring many benefits. Numerous studies have shown benefits of mindfulness.

    I didn't get much sleep last night because I was thinking about the recent study that showed that there were no mood improvements for the men doing mindfulness.

    But more knowledge and truth is always worth it in the end. So the effects of mindfulness and gender differences definitely should be studied more.

    So far, I certainly don't think it would be a good idea to abandon mindfulness. But I think I should start working with ACT again. Mindfulness isn't enough for me
  3. Peacekeeper

    Peacekeeper Fapstronaut

    I think mindfulness is a great method to cultivate positive mind qualities, but it shouldn't be a replacement for things like therapy. And sometimes you have to take action, sitting for hours won't change your problems, but it can give you clarity of mind to make better choices and do the right thing.

    Oh and I think you shouldn't pay attention to "studies". There is a lot of wrong information out there. We live in a sea of information these days and it's difficult to know what's really true. Sometimes these studies even contradict themselves.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2017
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  4. WalkingForward

    WalkingForward Fapstronaut

    Yeah, quite strong conclusions have been drawn on a small amount of data. Especially since there have been thousands of studies about mindfulness. If mindfulness really was intrinsically ineffective for men, that would most likely have been discovered earlier.

    Since there so far only seems to be this one study showing a slight (non-significant) worsening of mood for men following a mindfulness course, it might have been something completely unrelated that worsened their mood. Maybe a friend died or something.

    There isn't much support for claiming mindfulness to be ineffective for men at the moment.

    I just did a guided meditation by Tara Brach, and I'm still alive. :p
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2017
  5. mcrcvrng

    mcrcvrng Fapstronaut

    I'm not going to invest in watching the longer video on ACT right now since it's like 80 minutes, and also there's no doubt a lot more info at the links you shared but that would take a bit of time investment so I will just comment on the post so far and the shorter video.

    What stood out for me is the idea of doing something meaningful. What if we turned that around, and asked what is the meaning of doing any particular thing? While a lot of the meaning we attribute to things are subjective, there are some that are just objective and applies to everyone. A simple example would be getting out would be good exercise. That part applies to everyone. But depending on what's going on in someones head, say social anxiety, there may be other subjective meaning specific to their interpretation, and of course depending on where they go out whether it's to a fairly secluded trail or the mall there's a big difference.

    So that's a simple example of the part that is equally the same meaning for everyone (physical exercise) and another part that is subjective and could be interpreted in different ways - maybe depending on whether someone is an introvert or an extrovert.

    So basically, the part that can be subjectively interpreted is the part that can be worked with, since physical exercise is good for everyone. We could still do things we subjectively find meaningful, but that can also change. So I figure it's a way to look at how to put together a plan and how to work with it.
    WalkingForward likes this.
  6. vulture175

    vulture175 Fapstronaut

    @WalkingForward : It really depends on what kind of mindfulness the studies are about. If they're talking about mindfulness to relax, then i agree with them, but that's not the mindfulness i wanna do. I really like this definition of mindfulness: "Not a relaxation exercise, Not a way to avoid difficulty, Not a way to by-pass personality problems, Not about achieving a different state of mind." Most of self-help books write about mindfulness as relaxation, adding positive thoughts, removing negative thoughts, be happy which are not really effective on me, they even made me feel worse than before.

    I agree that mindfulness should be about happiness, but that happiness appear even with sadness, not changing or remove sadness. Or i can say for me my definition of mindfulness can be dealing with our dark side or other's dark side, not just for relaxation. Even sometimes mindfulness can make me feel even more distressed. However, i suffer from anxiety disorders and sometimes i can feel a strange feeling of happiness while still feeling anxious, both happened at the same time, but it doesn't always happen, i wish i knew :(

    Also you shouldn't stuck in those articles, to get out of the chaos of information, you may want to add more questions as possible. Most of the articles above only talk about the data, not what mindfulness is, the one that talks about it is not what we're talking about, "overcome negative effects", NO, i want to experience negative effects. Secondly, i think mindfulness is a kind of spiritual thing, so it can't just be researched and proved by science.

    Physical (body), mental (thinking), emotional (feeling), spiritual (spirit), we all have 4 factors, and spiritual (spirit) is the base, if it's broken, the whole system is broken. Mindfulness can help us build the spiritual health, but doing mindfulness is not easy, it can give you energy and also drain your energy.

    WalkingForward likes this.
  7. Buzz Lightyear

    Buzz Lightyear Fapstronaut

    I think mindfulness is being aware of your inner life in its negative elements. You become aware, you distance, you practice 'impulse control'. But the flip-side of all of this is the need to continue building positive elements in your life. You wouldn't want to be stuck in a cave navel-gazing forever. The real task is to emerge from your cave and grow into your full stature in the full light of day. This is a biological and teleological view of life. Go Greek!
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2017
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  8. I Free I

    I Free I Guest

    I believe everybody will always have a different reaction to something & anything in life , It all depends on how it works for you . As for me, mindfulness meditation works in my favor but it is interesting to know that if done wrong, it can possibly have a negative effect on you as well . I guess the only way to truly know what works for you is by you trying it out yourself... I would say do some more research & be aware/careful with your emotions .
    WalkingForward likes this.
  9. WalkingForward

    WalkingForward Fapstronaut

    Here's a good video explaining values in ACT:

    I got quite worked up about this study. The Telegraph quickly wrote two articles about it, suggesting that men shouldn't do mindfulness meditation.

    Which is absolutely ridiculous, since mindfulness in its pure form is essentially being aware of the present moment. "Never notice anything around you, always distract yourself! If you become aware of your breath, stop breathing! Noticing your breath is dangerous!"

    The Telegraph is like many media outlets, absolute garbage. And this researcher enabled them by drawing such heavy conclusions based on so little data.

    Having a "mindfulness"-mindset (attention to the present moment) is so powerful, I am a better and more productive person when I access that state. Maybe the men in the study needed their moods worsened, maybe they became aware of destructive patterns in their lives.

    Or it could have been that they were doing mindfulness wrong, or that something completely unrelated worsened their mood. Thousands of studies on mindfulness have been made. Claiming after this small and limited single study, that men should avoid mindfulness, is absolutely ridiculous.

    I'm all for science and research. But this has given me something to consider. You need replication in several large, independent and peer-reviewed studies before you can make any boisterous claims. There can be so much contradictory noise in publications about research. Researchers and media outlets are often jumping to unfounded conclusions.
  10. WalkingForward

    WalkingForward Fapstronaut

    Definitely, but it's still better to do it wrong initially than to not try at all. We couldn't ride a bike the first times we tried. We probably fell and hurt ourselves a couple of times before we got it right. But that of course doesn't mean we should give up and avoid it. Just keep practicing.
    I Free I likes this.
  11. vulture175

    vulture175 Fapstronaut

    I find this video kinda useful
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  12. WalkingForward

    WalkingForward Fapstronaut

    Mindfulness training produces less stressed marines


    Mindfulness therapy works as well as anti-depressant drugs, major new study finds

  13. SheMonk

    SheMonk Fapstronaut

    Mindfulness "done wrong" isn't mindfulness to begin with. Just saying.
    WalkingForward likes this.

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