The rise of mindfulness has been difficult to ignore. Since 2012, the movement has garnered endorsers like Arianna Huffington, Gwyneth Paltrow and Richard Branson. Beyond media moguls, film stars and business personalities, the practice of meditation has crept into less expected areas. In the UK, around 150 government MPs and Lords have taken mindfulness classes. Financial services company KPMG, investment banking company Goldman Sachs and consumer goods company Unilever have all presented mindfulness to employees as a way of overcoming the cut and thrust of modern life. The shift is perhaps most pronounced in publishing. Book sales across all genres have dropped in 2017, except those that offer a path to spiritual growth, a category which has risen by 13%, according to Nielsen Book.
The mass move towards mindfulness is easy to explain. The signs of over-stress, pressure and burnout are evident in society. More than 8.3 million US adults suffer from serious psychological distress, according to research published in the journal Psychiatric Services. In the UK, the ONS found that overall satisfaction with physical and mental health has been on the decline since 2013. The methods we use to address these issues may not come from the public sector. According to Kings Fund, mental health problems account for 23% of the burden of disease in the UK, but spending on mental health services accounts for just 11% of the NHS budget.
In the future, these issues will be mitigated by individuals who take charge of their mental wellbeing with an array of techniques and technologies. Mental wellness will become something we can cultivate by adapting our lifestyles, regardless of what life throws at us.