Apparently mindfulness isn’t working with the teenagers. A load of clever people have gone into schools around Britain and asked a load of teenagers if they have found even the slightest bit of benefit from being ‘taught’ mindfulness, and most of those crazy kids have said no. You may think that any negative response from a teenager to almost anything should be taken with a shovel of salt, but in this case they’re likely to be spot on the money. The researchers, who surveyed hundreds of teachers and thousands of pupils in secondary schools, say the results were “disappointing”, but that’s only because it essentially means that mindfulness has been found out and now they’ll have to come up with a very slight variant and pummel that down everyone’s throats instead. Mindfulness is more often than not a silly way of getting people to relax at exactly the moment they’ve got a plateful of problems to deal with, and it simply isn’t working anymore. It probably never did.
The blunt reality is that this world just isn’t set up to entertain a concept like mindfulness. This idea that we should forget about what has happened and what might happen and instead just live in the moment is pretty much laughable, not to mention virtually unachievable. What possible good could come from detaching yourself from the past and the future and just living in a moment that is gone before you’ve even had a chance to enjoy it? We’re so obsessed with wellbeing that we’ve failed to address the actual issue: which is that there is such a limitless amount of awful shit going on all around us all the time that to forget it all even for a second seems almost irresponsible. Will blanking your mind from a problem make it go away? Of course not, you might not think about it for a second or two but it’ll still be there when you open your eyes. I wish I was wrong.
It may mean well, but to teenagers mindfulness is boring. That’s what they’ve said, they think it’s boring. Not that the researches are buying that excuse, because if mindfulness is boring then there’ll be quite a few colleagues of theirs out of a job. Teenagers don’t want someone to teach them how to focus on the moment and they certainly don’t want to go home and do even more mindfulness exercises just so their wellbeing levels are up to the recommended guidelines prescribed by the Institute For Mindfulness, Wellbeing And Sticking Your Head In The Sand And Hoping It Will All Go Away. Whether it be through gentle music, breathing in a slightly more meaningful way or colouring in some swirly pictures, with your tongue sticking out of the side of your mouth, they’ve decided that if mindfulness hasn’t quite gelled with the kids yet then it must be the kids fault, and not because they’re dealing with a concept that has all the robust qualities one could expect from a thin sheet of wet toilet paper.
So, it turns out that all this extra mindfulness that’s been delivered in schools has had no better effect than the kinds of therapy those schools were already offering: therapy like longer breaktimes with friends, and openness sessions with friends, and discussing serious issues with friends, and allowing mobile phones in class so pupils can send each other naked pictures of their friends or troll their friends into despair, dyslexia or an early grave. And if it’s not that then mindfulness is sort of being taught by telling teenagers that by the time they turn fifty the world will be on fire and drowning at the same time and that they might want to think twice about having too many kids, because some of them just aren’t going to make it. And besides, if you want to be mindful and live in the moment then just go nuts: I envy the bugger who can find a space in their heads to completely unbutton themselves from the stresses of the world while they’re being attacked by a pack of angry wolves because their car ran out of petrol in the woods because they had initially planned to top up the tank but had decided to just live in the moment instead. I only wish I had that kind of willpower. I’m also very glad I’m not a teenager anymore, no wonder they’re not putting all their money on a long, deep breath and a lot of hot air; they’re clearly not as stupid as they sound.
G B Hewitt. 13.07.2022