WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?

WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?

“Mindfulness has helped me succeed in almost every dimension of my life. By stopping regularly to look inward and become aware of my mental state, I stay connected to the source of my actions and thoughts and can guide them with considerably more intention.”  Dustin Moskovitz, Co-Founder of Facebook & Asana

Several years ago AnJenette completed The Mindful Schools research-backed professional development program. The following is from the Mindful Schools:

Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment with openness and curiosity. 

It has a variety of research-backed impacts, including reduction in stress, and improvements in job satisfaction, emotional regulation, and focus.

Mindfulness is a state, a trait, and a practice.

Mindfulness can be thought of a “state,” a “trait” or a “practice.” You can have a moment of mindfulness, which is the state of your mind. You can also have a sustained experience that is more like a habit or strong tendency to be mindful, a trait. Or you can engage in a more intentional practice of mindfulness by using different forms, postures and activities, such as seated mindfulness meditation, mindful walking, and mindful eating.

Why do people practice mindfulness?

Mindfulness can support and sustain you, by helping you manage the stress of today’s world. Mindfulness has been shown to have a positive impact on stress, attention, and even relationships. The American Psychological Association shares research on a range of benefits of mindfulness, including:

  • stress reduction
  • boosts to working memory
  • focus
  • less emotional reactivity
  • more cognitive flexibility
  • relation satisfaction

Mindfulness Develops Our Brains

1. The amygdala is activated when detecting and reacting to emotions including difficult or strong emotions such as fear. Following sessions of mindfulness training, this part of the brain may be less activated.10

2. The hippocampus is critical to learning and memory and helps regulate the amygdala. The hippocampus is more activated12, and produces more gray matter density13 following mindfulness training.

3. The prefrontal cortex is most associated with maturity, including regulating emotions and behaviors and making wise decisions. This part of the brain is more activated and developed following mindfulness training14.

How to start practicing mindfulness:

The experience of mindfulness is something that is available to you in every moment of the day. But it can be very helpful to set aside a specific time to practice mindful meditation, mindful walking, or a body scan. When mindfulness becomes a “practice,” you’ll notice that mindful moments begin to occur more frequently throughout your day – like taking a moment to pause and breathe before rushing into the kitchen to make your first cup of coffee!

    ©Mindful Schools

    Further Reading

    1 Chiesa, A., & Serretti, A. (2009). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for stress management in healthy people: a review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15(5), 593–600.

    Sedlmeier, P., Eberth, J., Schwarz, M., Zimmermann, D., Haarig, F., Jaeger, S., & Kunze, S. (2012). The psychological effects of meditation: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 138(6), 1139.

    2 Jha, A. P., Krompinger, J., & Baime, M. J. (2007). Mindfulness training modifies subsystems of attention. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 7(2), 109–119.

    3 Roemer, L., Williston, S. K., & Rollins, L. G. (2015). Mindfulness and emotion regulation. Current Opinion in Psychology, 3, 52–57.

    4 Goldin, P. R., & Gross, J. J. (2010). Effects of mindfulness-­based stress reduction (MBSR) on emotion regulation in social anxiety disorder. Emotion, 10(1), 83.

    5 Ortner, C. N., Kilner, S. J., & Zelazo, P. D. (2007). Mindfulness meditation and reduced emotional interference on a cognitive task. Motivation and Emotion, 31(4), 271–283.

    6 Condon, P., Desbordes, G., Miller, W. B., & DeSteno, D. (2013). Meditation increases compassionate responses to suffering. Psychological Science, 24(10), 2125–2127.

    7 Birnie, K., Speca, M., & Carlson, L. E. (2010). Exploring self-­compassion and empathy in the context of mindfulness-­based stress reduction (MBSR). Stress and Health, 26(5), 359–371.

    Neff, K. D., & Germer, C. K. (2013). A Pilot Study and Randomized Controlled Trial of the Mindful Self-­Compassion Program. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 69(1), 28–44.

    Shapiro, S. L., Brown, K. W., & Biegel, G. M. (2007). Teaching self-­care to caregivers: effects of mindfulness-­based stress reduction on the mental health of therapists in training. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 1(2), 105.

    8 Chiesa, A., & Serretti, A. (2009). Mindfulness-­based stress reduction for stress management in healthy people: a review and meta-­analysis. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15(5), 593–600.

    Pbert, L., Madison, J. M., Druker, S., Olendzki, N., Magner, R., Reed, G., … Carmody, J. (2012). Effect of mindfulness training on asthma quality of life and lung function: a randomised controlled trial. Thorax, 67(9), 769–776.

    9 Hoge, E. A., Bui, E., Marques, L., Metcalf, C. A., Morris, L. K., Robinaugh, D. J., … Simon, N. M. (2013). Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness Meditation for Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Effects on Anxiety and Stress Reactivity. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 74(8), 786–792.

    10 Lutz, A., Slagter, H. A., Dunne, J. D., & Davidson, R. J. (2008). Attention regulation and monitoring in meditation. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 12(4), 163–169.

    Desbordes, G., Negi, L. T., Pace, T. W., Wallace, B. A., Raison, C. L., & Schwartz, E. L. (2012). Effects of mindful-­attention and compassion meditation training on amygdala response to emotional stimuli in an ordinary, non-­meditative state. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6.

    12 Goldin, P. R., & Gross, J. J. (2010). Effects of mindfulness-­based stress reduction (MBSR) on emotion regulation in social anxiety disorder. Emotion, 10(1), 83.

    13 Hölzel, B. K., Carmody, J., Vangel, M., Congleton, C., Yerramsetti, S. M., Gard, T., & Lazar, S. W. (2011). Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 191(1), 36–43.

    14 Chiesa, A., & Serretti, A. (2010). A systematic review of neurobiological and clinical features of mindfulness meditations. Psychological Medicine, 40(08), 1239–1252.

    15 Zarate, K. Maggin, D. Passmore, A. (2019)   Meta‐analysis of mindfulness training on teacher well‐being. Psychology in the Schools, 56(10),  1700-1715.

    Flook, L., Goldberg, S. B., Pinger, L., Bonus, K., & Davidson, R. J. (2013). Mindfulness for teachers: A pilot study to assess effects on stress, burnout, and teaching efficacy. Mind, Brain, and Education, 7(3), 182–195.

    Jennings, P. A., Frank, J. L., Snowberg, K. E., Coccia, M. A., & Greenberg, M. T. (2013). Improving Classroom Learning Environments by Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE): Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial. School Psychology Quarterly, 28(4), 374–390.

    Kemeny, M. E., Foltz, C., Cavanagh, J. F., Cullen, M., Giese-­Davis, J., Jennings, P., … Wallace, B. A. (2012). Contemplative/emotion training reduces negative emotional behavior and promotes prosocial responses. Emotion, 12(2), 338.

    Roeser, R., Schonert-­Reichl, K. A., Jha, A., Cullen, M., Wallace, L., Wilensky, R., … Harrison, J. (2013). Mindfulness training and reductions in teacher stress and burnout: Results from two randomized, waitlist-­control field trials. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105(3), 787–804.

    16 Jennings, P. A., Frank, J. L., Snowberg, K. E., Coccia, M. A., & Greenberg, M. T. (2013). Improving Classroom Learning Environments by Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE): Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial. School Psychology Quarterly, 28(4), 374–390.

    Klingbeil, D.A. Renshaw, T.L. (2018). Mindfulness-based interventions for teachers: A meta-analysis of the emerging evidence base. School Psychology Quarterly, 33(4) 501-511.

    17 Jennings, P. Doyle, S. Oh, Y. et al. (2019) Long-term impacts of the CARE program on teachers’ self-reported social and emotional competence and well-being. Journal of School Psychology, 76, 186-202.

    18 Flook, L., Goldberg, S. B., Pinger, L., Bonus, K., & Davidson, R. J. (2013). Mindfulness for teachers: A pilot study to assess effects on stress, burnout, and teaching efficacy. Mind, Brain, and Education, 7(3), 182–195.

    19 Jones, D. E., Greenberg, M., & Crowley, M. (2015). Early Social-­Emotional Functioning and Public Health: The Relationship Between Kindergarten Social Competence and Future Wellness. American Journal of Public Health, 105(11), 2283–2290.

    20 Baijal, S., Jha, A. P., Kiyonaga, A., Singh, R., & Srinivasan, N. (2011). The influence of concentrative meditation training on the development of attention networks during early adolescence. Frontiers in Psychology, 2, 1-9.

    Napoli, M., Krech, P. R., & Holley, L. C. (2005). Mindfulness Training for Elementary School Students. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 21(1), 99–125.

    Semple, R. J., Lee, J., Rosa, D., & Miller, L. F. (2010). A randomized trial of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for children: promoting mindful attention to enhance social-emotional resiliency in children. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 19(2), 218–229.

    21 Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Oberle, E., Lawlor, M. S., Abbott, D., Thomson, K., Oberlander, T. F., & Diamond, A. (2015). Enhancing cognitive and social–emotional development through a simple-to-administer mindfulness-based school program for elementary school children: A randomized controlled trial. Developmental Psychology, 51(1), 52-66.

    Sanger, K.L. Dorjee, D. (2016)  Mindfulness training with adolescents enhances metacognition and the inhibition of irrelevant stimuli: Evidence from event-related brain potentials.Trends in Neuroscience and Education, 5(1), 1-11.

    22 Barnes, V. A., Bauza, L. B., & Treiber, F. A. (2003). Impact of stress reduction on negative school behavior in adolescents. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 1(10), 1–7.

    Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Oberle, E., Lawlor, M. S., Abbott, D., Thomson, K., Oberlander, T. F., & Diamond, A. (2015). Enhancing cognitive and social–emotional development through a simple-to-administer mindfulness-based school program for elementary school children: A randomized controlled trial. Developmental Psychology, 51(1), 52-66.

    Semple, R. J., Lee, J., Rosa, D., & Miller, L. F. (2010). A randomized trial of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for children: promoting mindful attention to enhance social-emotional resiliency in children. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 19(2), 218–229.

    23 Cheang, R., Gillions, A. & Sparkes. (2019) Do Mindfulness-Based Interventions Increase Empathy and Compassion in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 28(7), 1765–1779. 

    Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Oberle, E., Lawlor, M. S., Abbott, D., Thomson, K., Oberlander, T. F., & Diamond, A. (2015). Enhancing cognitive and social–emotional development through a simple-to-administer mindfulness-based school program for elementary school children: A randomized controlled trial. Developmental Psychology, 51(1), 52-66.

    24 Napoli, M., Krech, P. R., & Holley, L. C. (2005). Mindfulness Training for Elementary School Students. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 21(1), 99–125.

    Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Oberle, E., Lawlor, M. S., Abbott, D., Thomson, K., Oberlander, T. F., & Diamond, A. (2015). Enhancing cognitive and social–emotional development through a simple-to-administer mindfulness-based school program for elementary school children: A randomized controlled trial. Developmental Psychology, 51(1), 52-66.

    25 Metz, S. M., Frank, J. L., Reibel, D., Cantrell, T., Sanders, R., & Broderick, P. C. (2013). The effectiveness of the learning to BREATHE program on adolescent emotion regulation. Research in Human Development, 10(3), 252–272.

    Thieery, K., Bryant, H;, Nobles, S.  et al. (2016). Two-Year Impact of a Mindfulness-Based Program on Preschoolers’ Self-Regulation and Academic Performance. Early Education and Development, 5(1), 1-11.

    26 Etherington, V. Costello, S. (2019) Comparing Universal and Targeted Delivery of a Mindfulness-Based Program for Anxiety in Children. Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools, 29(1), 22-38.

    Marusek, H.A, Elrahal, F., Peters, C.A. (2018) Mindfulness and dynamic functional neural connectivity in children and adolescents.Behavioural Brain Research, 336:211-218. 

    McKeering, P., Hwang, Y. S. (2019). A systematic review of mindfulness-based school interventions with early adolescents. Mindfulness, 10, 593–610.

    Napoli, M., Krech, P. R., & Holley, L. C. (2005). Mindfulness Training for Elementary School Students. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 21(1), 99–125.

    27 Barnes, V. A., Davis, H. C., Murzynowski, J. B., & Treiber, F. A. (2004). Impact of meditation on resting and ambulatory blood pressure and heart rate in youth. Psychosomatic Medicine, 66(6), 909-914.

    Mendelson, T., Greenberg, M. T., Dariotis, J. K., Gould, L. F., Rhoades, B. L., & Leaf, P. J. (2010). Feasibility and preliminary outcomes of a school-based mindfulness intervention for urban youth. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 38(7), 985–994.

    Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Oberle, E., Lawlor, M. S., Abbott, D., Thomson, K., Oberlander, T. F., & Diamond, A. (2015). Enhancing cognitive and social–emotional development through a simple-to-administer mindfulness-based school program for elementary school children: A randomized controlled trial. Developmental Psychology, 51(1), 52-66.

    Sibinga, E. M. S., Webb, L., Ghazarian, S. R., & Ellen, J. M. (2016). School-Based Mindfulness Instruction: An RCT. Pediatrics, 137(1), 1-8.

    Zenner, C., Herrnleben-Kurz, S., & Walach, H. (2014). Mindfulness-based interventions in schools—a systematic review and meta-analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 5.

    28 Sibinga, E. M. S., Webb, L., Ghazarian, S. R., & Ellen, J. M. (2016). School-­Based Mindfulness Instruction: An RCT. Pediatrics, 137(1), 1-­8.

    29 Raes, F., Griffith, J. W., Van der Gucht, K., & Williams, J. M. G. (2014). School-­based prevention and reduction of depression in adolescents: A cluster-­randomized controlled trial of a mindfulness group program. Mindfulness, 5(5), 477–486.

    Sibinga, E. M. S., Webb, L., Ghazarian, S. R., & Ellen, J. M. (2016). School-­Based Mindfulness Instruction: An RCT. Pediatrics, 137(1), 1-­8.

    30 Liehr, P., & Diaz, N. (2010). A Pilot Study Examining the Effect of Mindfulness on Depression and Anxiety for Minority Children. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 24(1), 69–71.

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