Short answer - no. Long answer - also no. Hear me out.
My personal experience
When I first heard about mindfulness, it sounded wanky to me. I pictured a very relaxed monk, sitting on a mountaintop somewhere, fingers curled into circles, chanting “ohhhhm…”
But then I started to learn a bit about it, through my therapist. In my experience, it’s actually just about having awareness of my thoughts. No need to go meditate in silence for 10 days, or sit with my eyes closed until my mind is empty. (If you want to do that though, go for it, I’ve heard they can bring plenty of benefits.) Like anything worth doing, it takes practice.
At first the very idea of doing “mindfulness” was stressful - how the hell am I gonna “clear my mind”? And now that I’m trying, I’m just having more thoughts, so I’m obviously doing it wrong??? But after chatting with said therapist and friend Moe, a very cool guy who had begun using mindfulness as a daily tool to improve his mental health, I realised I could start to practice it too - by simply observing my thoughts. I did it while in the shower, while driving, at work, with friends, just observing the thoughts without judging them.
A few years down the track, having practiced it here and there, negative thoughts are less frequent, and when I do have them, less intense. This is backed up by science, too. As clinical psychologist Dr Qusai Hussain tells me, mindfulness is just “being more aware of what you’re doing and thinking in the present moment”.
“It's confused with meditation, but it’s not about that,” he says. “The idea behind it is that if you're more attentive to what you’re doing in the present moment, you're able to disengage from negative thought patterns that you would be having otherwise." It’s not about ignoring or changing the thoughts, but just being aware of them, and acknowledging that there’s a lot going on, a global pandemic and it’s overwhelming. Mindfulness is simply a strategy of bringing yourself back to the present, enjoying life in the moment and bringing more joy to things you’re doing.
Not for dickheads.
STUFF shower challenge
Next time you're in the rain room try to observe your thoughts and what you’re doing. Lather up some STUFF, notice how the goo feels in your hands and feel the foam on your skin. Be present and notice what thoughts are rattling around inside that skull of yours.