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Welcome to the Mindfulness online newsfeed. Here you’ll find all the latest research, news stories, policy updates and guidelines. View our other newsfeeds for more subject-specific news.

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The benefits of mindfulness for computer science students

A group of computer science students from the University of Seville who participated in mindfulness sessions outperformed peers who had not participated. (via Science Daily)

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In fact, there have been previous neurological studies that show that meditation stimulates activity in certain areas of the brain connected to different aspects of mental activity, such as compassion, attention and concentration. In the study, two variables were evaluated: effectiveness (how well the students performed a task) and efficiency (how quickly they did the correct part).

To be able to see how the students’ effectiveness and efficiency were progressing with this activity, their performance was compared with the control group that were not taking part in the mindfulness sessions.

In the three experiments carried out so far, the students who practised mindfulness were significantly more efficient as they took less time to achieve the same results.

While the sample of the study is small; the researchers intend to replicate their experiment in other universities to be able to generalise their findings.

Full story from Science Daily 

Being mindful may support healthy behaviours

A new study investigated a mediation model that explores psychological and emotional coping processes as mechanisms connecting mindfulness to reduced stress perceptions and reactions, which then predict physical activity, fruit and vegetable consumption, and sleep quality. They found that being mindful may have stress reductive effects that support individual’s participation in healthy behaviours.

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Abstract

Engagement in modifiable health behaviours plays a critical role in the development of chronic illnesses. Research suggests that mindfulness facilitates health-enhancing behaviour, yet the influence of mindfulness on different health behaviours and the mechanisms underlying this association are unclear. This study investigated a mediation model that explores psychological and emotional coping processes (reappraisal, suppression, and psychological flexibility) as mechanisms connecting mindfulness to reduced stress perceptions and reactions, which then predict physical activity, fruit and vegetable consumption, and sleep quality.

Adults (n equal to 233) completed self-report measures via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and path modelling was used to test the model for direct, indirect, and total effects. Results revealed that greater mindfulness was indirectly associated with greater engagement in all 3 health behaviours through the proposed mediators, although the association with fruit and vegetable consumption was only trending in significance. Among the coping processes, psychological flexibility emerged as the strongest mechanism in the prediction of stress. Findings suggest that being more mindful may have downstream stress-reductive effects that enhance engagement in healthy behaviour, supporting mindfulness as a potential addition to behavioural health interventions.

Sagui-Henson, S.  et al| Examining the psychological and emotional mechanisms of mindfulness that reduce stress to enhance healthy behaviours |Stress and Health | ePub (ahead of print) | doi: 10.1111/cp.12147

The article may be requested by Rotherham NHS staff here 

Being in nature helps to support mindfulness practices

New research suggests mindfulness training can be improved if it is carried out in natural settings. The study published in the Consciousness and Cognition journal, demonstrate  how a natural environment can support mindfulness practices, as it less ‘effortful’ than traditional training which favour an exercise-based approach. 
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Abstract
Mindfulness courses conventionally use effortful, focused meditation to train attention. In contrast, natural settings can effortlessly support state mindfulness and restore depleted attention resources, which could facilitate meditation.
The researchers erformed two studies that compared conventional training with restoration skills training (ReST) that taught low-effort open monitoring meditation in a garden over five weeks. Assessments before and after meditation on multiple occasions showed that ReST meditation increasingly enhanced attention performance. Conventional meditation enhanced attention initially but increasingly incurred effort, reflected in performance decrements toward the course end.

With both courses, attentional improvements generalized in the first weeks of training. Against established accounts, the generalized improvements thus occurred before any effort was incurred by the conventional exercises. We propose that restoration rather than attention training can account for early attentional improvements with meditation. ReST holds promise as an undemanding introduction to mindfulness and as a method to enhance restoration in nature contacts.

Full reference: Lyemus, et al. |Building mindfulness bottom-up: Meditation in natural settings supports open monitoring and attention restoration |Consciousness and Cognition| Vol. 59 | March 2018| P. 40-56 | doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.concog.2018.01.008
The full article is available to request for Rotherham NHS staff here 

The relationship between mindfulness and coping strategies

A new diary study explores the association between mindfulness and psychological coping strategies in students. It examines the potential link between practising mindfulness and the usage of adaptive (constructive) coping strategies and conversely maladaptive coping strategies, those that may increase stress. 

Abstract

Despite research demonstrating the relationship between trait mindfulness and averaged use of adaptive (and maladaptive) coping strategies, little work has examined the potential association between mindfulness and flexibility in coping.

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Among various conceptualizations, coping flexibility can be operationalized in terms of within-situational coping variability, referring to the extent of use of different strategies to varying degrees in a given situation, and within-strategy temporal variability, which refers to the extent of use of a particular coping strategy across different situations over time.

Using a diary study approach, the  study examined the association between trait mindfulness and the two forms of coping variability. 192 undergraduates from a Singaporean university were recruited and administered questionnaires and diary logs, in which they reported on use of seven different coping strategies in response to six stressors sampled over a period of 3 weeks.

Consistent with hypotheses, factor analysis differentiated within-situational coping variability, within-strategy temporal variability, and averaged use of adaptive and maladaptive coping strategies as distinct constructs. Higher trait mindfulness was associated with lower ruminative self-criticism and greater use of adaptive coping. Importantly, trait mindfulness predicted higher within-situational coping variability, over and above personality traits as well as the average use of adaptive and maladaptive coping strategies.

Overall, the study lends support to the idea that mindfulness facilitates adaptive coping in the context of daily life and provides preliminary evidence for the association between mindfulness and greater coping flexibility.

Full reference: Keng, S. L. et al |Association between Trait Mindfulness and Variability of Coping Strategies: a Diary Study |Mindfulness | 2018| doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-0885-4

The article is available for Rotherham NHS staff to request 

Mind the Hype: A Critical Evaluation and Prescriptive Agenda for Research on Mindfulness and Meditation

Van Dam, N. T. et al.| Mind the Hype: A Critical Evaluation and Prescriptive Agenda for Research on Mindfulness and Meditation | Perspectives on Psychological Science| Vol. 13| 1| p. 36-61 | https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691617709589

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Abstract

During the past two decades, mindfulness meditation has gone from being a fringe topic of scientific investigation to being an occasional replacement for psychotherapy, tool of corporate well-being and widely implemented educational practice. Yet the mindfulness movement and empirical evidence supporting it have not gone without criticism. Misinformation and poor methodology associated with past studies of mindfulness may lead public consumers to be harmed, misled, and disappointed.

This article discusses the difficulties of defining mindfulness, delineates the proper scope of research into mindfulness practices, and explicates crucial methodological issues for interpreting results from investigations of mindfulness.  The authors draw on their diverse areas of expertise to review the present state of mindfulness research, comprehensively summarizing what we do and do not know, while providing a prescriptive agenda for contemplative science, with a particular focus on assessment, mindfulness training, possible adverse effects, and intersection with brain imaging. They aim to inform interested scientists, the media, and the public, to minimize harm, curb poor research practices, and staunch the flow of misinformation about the benefits, costs, and future prospects of mindfulness meditation.

 

The full article is available to Rotherham NHS Staff on request

 

Towards an Objective Measure of Mindfulness: Replicating and Extending the Features of the Breath-Counting Task

Wong, K.F., et al. | Towards an Objective Measure of Mindfulness: Replicating and Extending the Features of the Breath- Counting Task | Mindfulness | (2018)|https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0880-1

The authors of this journal article propose using a standardized objective measure of mindfulness to enable robust comparison of results across laboratories, facilitating the comparison  of  intervention methods. They suggest the breath counting task (BCT) as a potential instrument to make comparable results from across the field.

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Abstract 

Despite calls for objective measures of mindfulness to be adopted, such practices have not yet become established. Recently, a BCT was proposed as a reliable and valid candidate for such an instrument. In this study, the researchers show that the psychometric properties of the BCT are reproducible in a sample of 127 Asian undergraduates. Specifically, accuracy on the BCT was associated with everyday lapses and sustained attention, and weakly associated with subjectively measured mindfulness. BCT metrics also showed good test-retest reliability.

Extending the use of the paradigm, the study also found that two different types of task errors—miscounts and resets—were correlated with different aspects of cognition. Miscounts, or errors made without awareness, were associated with attentional lapses, whereas resets, or self-caught errors, were associated with mind-wandering. The BCT may be a suitable candidate for the standardized measurement of mindfulness that could be used in addition to mindfulness questionnaires.

Full article available at Springer