Not everyone likes mindfulness practice

Mindfulness practice has become extremely popular in Western society over the recent years, with thousands – if not millions – of people trying to incorporate this element of Buddhist philosophy into their daily lives.

Studies have found mindfulness to be beneficial across a number of psychological challenges and helpful in improving mental and spiritual well-being. It allows us to stay grounded in the present moment and respond better to stressors in our lives by adopting an attitude of mindfulness.

It may seem blasphemous that such a beneficial practice is not enjoyed by all people. I’ve certainly had patients myself in which mindfulness was not something they found beneficial and preferred other therapy techniques.

Mindfulness is after all, not an easy practice. Moreover, it may not be what’s right for everybody.

Today, I discuss 7 reasons why somebody may not enjoy mindfulness. I also provide some solutions to tackling these reasons if you are interested in pursuing mindfulness to see whether it has benefits for you. Therefore, the purpose of today’s article is to provide insight into the purpose of mindfulness and discuss some of the challenges that can occur when practicing mindfulness (providing some possible solutions for them).

1. Mindfulness can feel unpleasant

Issue: Perhaps one of the biggest reasons why some people discontinue mindfulness practice is because they find that mindfulness is simply unpleasant. They notice that their thoughts are running; their body is uncomfortable with anxious sensations or tension; they are filled with negative emotions (e.g., sadness, guilt); or they are just bored. Because of these experiences, they find mindfulness to be useless or even bad for them.

Possible solution: Many people believe that mindfulness is supposed to relax them and reduce these sensations during practice. It can – but that’s not the purpose of mindfulness. In reality, mindfulness is about being able sit with negative emotions and sensations; to notice them and not give them power by letting them go. Over time, this increases our ability to accept all types of experiences, but be able to respond in spite of them. Therefore, there is a difference in purpose between mindfulness and relaxation.

Although I am happy when mindfulness is well-received by patients, I actually prefer that some practice is harder than others. Why? Because that’s the point of mindfulness! To accept the bad with the good, and a take a non-judgmental curious approach to all that life has to offer.  

2. Mindfulness is too much of a time commitment

Issue: Some people find mindfulness to be too time-consuming. Their schedule, which may be filled with work, children, friends, chores, and hobbies, may not support lengthy mindful practice.

Possible solution: To be honest, if I had to practice mindfulness 30 minutes, twice a day, I’d probably quit too! I find it helpful to be flexible in my practice. On busy days, even a 3-minute meditation in the morning is enough. I find it helpful to protect few minutes of my time every day to engage in a short mindfulness practice, which helps me stay consistent without feeling like the practice is becoming a burden.

A second option is to practice more active types of mindfulness. One can practice mindfulness simply by single-mindedly focusing on the activity you are doing. For example, really focusing on the music you are listening to, paying attention to the scenery around you when you are taking a walk, or losing yourself when listening to music.

Man late for work
“I knew I shouldn’t have done my mindfulness practice today!”

3. Having to be mindful all the time

Issue: At the same time, some people think of mindfulness as having to engage in all activities mindfully, and never being able to think about other things when doing chores or multi-tasking. These might be activities that they really enjoy doing and find productive in their lives.

Possible Solution: Absolutely agreed! I personally do not engage in every activity with a mindfulness approach. I find this helpful when I am engaging in an activity I’d like to focus on (e.g., eating a delicious meal; spending time with loved ones), but I am also protective of my daydreaming and multi-tasking. To support mindful practice, I would choose to engage in mindfulness activities only when it feels right for you to really stay in the moment.

4. Mindfulness makes me feel like I am being unproductive

Issue: Sometimes, people feel that sitting still and engaging in a mindfulness practice can feel unproductive: “I could be doing so much else right now”.

Possible Solution: There’s a few ways I might handle this issue. Sometimes, I have the thought of being more productive, but I consider to myself “would I really be more productive if I had an extra 3 minutes instead of practicing mindfulness or it is just my brain being somewhat silly?”. In most cases, I’m just being silly. In truth, the mindfulness practice sets my day up to be more productive. Moreover, it allows me to observe with curiosity the feelings of hurriedness and tension in a mindful way. Understanding these feelings allows me to let them go and take a wiser and calmer approach to the day, focusing on what is important.

multitasking with four hands

5. I would rather challenge my thoughts, not just accept them

Issue: This is more of a therapy issue where patients sometimes prefer to directly challenge thoughts rather than letting them go.

Possible Solution: Not all clinical skills give patients the same mileage. In cases where a patient prefers to change their thoughts, then a thought record may be more appropriate. I think it’s still important to recognize that changing and accepting thoughts are not necessarily mutually exclusive; you can absolutely learn both skills to improve your mental health. In fact, taking a flexible approach by employing both in your daily life may be optimal in many cases!

6. Preferring relaxation meditations to mindfulness meditations

Issue: Some people prefer relaxation meditations because they may be more enjoyable compared to mindfulness meditations.

Possible solution: Absolutely nothing wrong with this! I am a strong proponent for choosing the type of practice that is must helpful to the specific person. As we discussed earlier, mindfulness and relaxation exercises have different purposes. There can be utility to practicing both, but if you find just one to be beneficial to you, then there is no need to include the other.

7. It’s just not for you

Issue: “It’s just not for me” – period.

Possible solution. And that’s perfectly fine! Everyone is unique in what works or is beneficial to them. If you don’t enjoy mindfulness or find it beneficial, then let go and choose something else that works. That’s what mindfulness would probably want for you anyways!


I hope this post was helpful in understanding possible challenges in mindful practice! Although mindfulness is beneficial, it’s not for everyone.

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Best wishes,