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Mindfulness & Behavior

Posted By Amanda Leaman, Thursday, July 10, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Mindfulness and its implication on well-being

It has long been known that the practice of mindfulness (see box) adds both clarity and vividness to one's experience, and that it facilitates a closer sensory connection to life. In the last decade or so, a number of researchers have been looking at how the practice of mindfulness also helps the process of self-regulation of behavior--and at the implications of such behavior for academics, psychological and social health, and well-being. Self-regulation is, after all, what a number of character educators would hope for as at least one result of their efforts. The beauty in mindfulness training is that it has so many beneficial effects, and so few drawbacks.

 

 

"Mindfulness is associated with enhanced executive functioning, better self-regulation, greater autonomy, and enhanced relationship capacities...all attests to the fact that when individuals are more mindful they are more capable of acting in ways that are more choiceful and more openly attentive to and aware of themselves and the situations in which they find themselves." 

(Brown, Ryan, Creswell, 2007, p. 227)

 


Mindfulness and autonomous action

In a summary statement about research on mindfulness, Kirk Warren Brown, Richard Ryan, and J. David Creswell noted that  "mindfulness is associated with enhanced executive functioning, better self-regulation, greater autonomy, and enhanced relationship capacities...all attests to the fact that when individuals are more mindful they are more capable of acting in ways that are more choiceful and more openly attentive to and aware of themselves and the situations in which they find themselves." (p. 227)

 

Mindfulness and self-expression

Several studies lend support to the role mindfulness plays in both behavioral self-control and self-endorsed (that is, autonomous) self-expression. Barnes, Brown, Krusemark, Campbell, and Rogge (2007) found that mindfulness had a greater ability to help individuals override or change inner reactions, and to interrupt and refrain from reacting to situations in ways they would prefer not to. Mindful individuals tend to engage in less habitual responding than their peers. It is as if the practice of mindfulness created mental space--more opportunity for autonomous choice--and thus helped one break habitual patterns. Mindful individuals feel more willful and congruent in their actions (Brown & Ryan, 2003) and their practice has been shown to help people in attaining their goals, including academic goals (Brown and Vansteenkiste, 2006). There thus appears to be much to be gained from the practice--academically, psychologically, and especially in the way that the practice enhances the basis of well-being and human flourishing.

 

 

Barnes, S., Brown, K.W., Krusemark, E., Campbell, W. K., & Rogge, R. D. (2007). The role of mindfulness in romantic relationship satisfaction and responses to relationship stress. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy.

 

Brown, K.W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 822-848.

 

Brown, K.W., Ryan, R.M., & Creswell, J.D. (2007). Mindfulness: Theoretical foundations and evidence for its salutary effects. Psychological Inquiry, 18, 4, 211-237.

 

Brown, K. W., & Vansteenkiste, M. (2006). Future and present time perspectives, goal-attainment, and well-being: Antithetical or complementary? 

 

 

Mindfulness - A Practice

 

The particular practice of mindfulness discussed here refers to that developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn and colleagues at the Stress Reduction and Relaxation Clinic at Massachusetts Medical Center. The practice in many of the studies mentioned here began with teaching participants about meditation and mind-body connection, and then having them engage in the actual exercise of meditation in both group meetings and at home; this was followed by group discussion regarding problem solving and daily applications of mindfulness. 

 

The meditation component entails the attempt to be fully present in the moment. As breaths enter and leave the body, the practitioner attempts to be fully aware of the sensation they engender. Specifics of engaging in the practice may be found in Jon Kabat-Zinn's book,
Mindfulness for Beginners or his CD/Audiobook
Guided Mindfulness Meditation.

 

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