Mindfulness can lead to selfishness, warns psychiatry expert  

Mindfulness can lead to selfishness, warns psychiatry expert  Mindfulness has grown in popularity as people search for meaning in life.  But doing it alone could actually make you more selfish, an expert at the Royal College of Psychiatrists has warned.  Dr Alison Gray, chair of the spirituality special interest group at the College, which advises psychiatrists on how to deal with spiritual issues, said more "inward-focused" types of spirituality "can become self-involved".  "In as much as religion is about binding people together, spirituality can become inward looking and selfish," she said.  "In no way does that happen to everyone – in many cases increases their passion for the whole world. But there's a potential for it to become inward-looking and basically self-centred." She warned that meditation can lead to problems as people uncover the more negative aspects of their personality, which they might previously have buried.  "When you look inside yourself what you find can be quite negative and quite destabilising, and so you need a community around you to help process this stuff and keep you healthy", she told the Daily Telegraph.  Meditation and mindfulness can mean people notice "selfish drives and ambitions, bits of themselves that they previously projected onto other people, anger hatred, all the negative emotions." To counter this, the practises should be done in groups.  "I would encourage people to be in with a community," she said.  Practises such as meditation and mindfulness have been growing in popularity in the UK and other western countries as people who do not have religious beliefs turn to "spirituality" instead.  Mindfulness is increasingly offered by schools and workplaces to help employees and students improve their mental health.  Dr Gray said she believed people were "rediscovering the old ways".  Mindfulness: a cheat's guide  "We're still the same human beings that have been around for thousands of years. The neanderthals had basic religion and ways of burying the dead, it's always been there.  "I would suggest that it's a  rediscovery of the old ways rather than anything completely new – the newness is the recombination of different traditions." Several studies have linked religion with better health and wellbeing.  Data from the Office for National Statistics published last year found that people with no religion have below-average happiness and life satisfaction levels.  On average respondents scored their life satisfaction as 7.53 out of 10 and their happiness the previous day as 7.38, while those who describe themselves as having no religion scored their happiness slightly below average, at 7.22 out of 10. But the data on spirituality is less clear, with the vague meaning of the word making it hard for scientists to define. 



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