People Select Mindfulness Training Techniques Based Upon Their Personal Characteristics

People Select Mindfulness Training Techniques Based Upon Their Personal Characteristics

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Meditation is a simple strategy that can help obtain better health and a happier life. It takes time to master, as does any other skill. If a person sticks with it and is willing to experiment with the different methods, they are more likely to discover a meditation style that suits them.” – Medical News Today

 

Meditation training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. As a result, meditation training has been called the third wave of therapies. One problem with understanding meditation effects is that there are, a wide variety of meditation techniques and it is not known which work best for affecting different psychological areas.

 

Four types of meditation are the most commonly used practices for research purposes. In body scan meditation, the individual focuses on the feelings and sensations of specific parts of the body, systematically moving attention from one area to another. Loving kindness meditation is designed to develop kindness and compassion to oneself and others. The individual systematically pictures different individuals from self, to close friends, to enemies and wishes them happiness, well-being, safety, peace, and ease of well-being. In focused attention meditation, the individual practices paying attention to a single meditation object, learns to filter out distracting stimuli, including thoughts, and learns to stay focused on the present moment, filtering out thoughts centered around the past or future. On the other hand, in open monitoring meditation, the individual opens up awareness to everything that’s being experienced regardless of its origin. These include bodily sensations, external stimuli, and even thoughts. The meditator just observes these stimuli and lets them arise, and fall away without paying them any further attention.

 

There is little understanding as to why an individual chooses one meditation technique over another. In today’s Research News article “Predicting Individual Preferences in Mindfulness Techniques Using Personality Traits.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01163/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1365539_69_Psycho_20200630_arts_A),  Tang and Braver examine the characteristics of individuals who choose either body scan meditationloving kindness meditationfocused attention meditation, or open monitoring meditation.

 

They recruited adults online who did not practice mindfulness or yoga and presented them with 5 daily recorded sessions. In the first 45-minute session the participants completed measures of mindfulness, big 5 personality traits, self-compassion, interpersonal reactivity, perceived stress, sensory processing sensitivity, and attentional control and absorption. They were also provided an introduction to meditation techniques with descriptions of all 4 techniques. On subsequent days they were directed by recorded instructions to practice for 15-20 minutes either body scan meditationloving kindness meditationfocused attention meditation, or open monitoring meditation. The order of the 4 practices was randomized for each participant. After each session they were asked questions regarding their content to ensure that they performed the practices. After completing all sessions, the participants were asked to rank them according to their preferences.

 

They found that all of the meditation techniques were about equally distributed in the preferences of the participants. There were no significant predictors of preferences for focused attention meditation or body scan meditation, but there were significant predictors of preferences for loving kindness meditation and open monitoring meditation. Female participants and participants who were high in empathy were significantly more likely to prefer loving kindness meditation. Participants who were high in the mindfulness facets of non-judging and non-reacting were significantly more likely to prefer open monitoring meditation.

 

These results make sense. Empathetic people, particularly women, are more sensitive to the feelings of others and so they would find meditating on those feelings, loving kindness meditation, more attractive. Open monitoring meditation. involves simply observing whatever is transpiring without judgement and reaction. So, it makes sense that people who were high in in the mindfulness facets of non-judging and non-reacting would find this form of meditation more attractive.

 

So, people select mindfulness training techniques based upon their personal characteristics.

 

“In the end, the best meditation technique and the one that will help you gain the most positive benefits is one you can stick to.” – Elizabeth Scott

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Tang R and Braver TS (2020) Predicting Individual Preferences in Mindfulness Techniques Using Personality Traits. Front. Psychol. 11:1163. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01163

 

The growing popularity of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) has prompted exciting scientific research investigating their beneficial effects on well-being and health. Most mindfulness programs are provided as multi-faceted packages encompassing a set of different mindfulness techniques, each with distinct focus and mechanisms. However, this approach overlooks potential individual differences, which may arise in response to practicing various mindfulness techniques. The present study investigated preferences for four prototypical mindfulness techniques [focused attention (FA), open monitoring (OM), loving-kindness (LK), and body scan (BS)] and identified factors that may contribute to individual differences in these preferences. Participants without prior mindfulness experiences were exposed to each technique through audio-guided instructions and were asked to rank their preferences at the end of all practices. Results indicated that preferences for loving-kindness were predicted by empathy, and that females tended to prefer loving-kindness more than males. Conversely, preferences for open monitoring were predicted by nonreactivity and nonjudgment of present moment experiences. Additionally, higher state mindfulness was detected for individuals’ preferred technique relative to other alternatives. These findings suggest that individuals tend to prefer techniques compatible with their personalities, as the predictor variables encompass trait capacities specifically relevant to practicing these techniques. Together, our results suggest the possibility that assessing individual difference and then tailoring MBIs to individual needs could be a useful way to improve intervention effectiveness and subsequent outcomes.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01163/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1365539_69_Psycho_20200630_arts_A

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Better Ability to Negotiate

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Better Ability to Negotiate

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness training increases empathy . . . enabling us to better appreciate the standpoint of the other parties to the negotiation. It makes it easier to reach a compromise and allows us to feel more connected with those we’re negotiating with – thus creating a sense of affiliation.” – Mindfulness Works

 

Negotiations are important not only in business but also in conflict resolution and mindfulness can help. It is important in negotiations to be sensitive to the nuances of behaviors. By being mindful the negotiator becomes more attentive and empathetic, making it easier to read the nonverbal cues from the other person. These cues are important for understanding their emotional reactions to each stage of the negotiations and can thereby assist the negotiator in understanding the needs of the other and thereby refining offers and counteroffers. Being attuned to another makes responses better aligned with what is needed for a successful negotiation.

 

Another way that mindfulness can be of help in negotiations is through improved emotion regulation. Mindfulness is associated with a heightened ability to recognize and manage one’s own emotions. In a negotiation it is easy to react to emotions and as a result respond inappropriately or ignore the most logical negotiating step. Mindfulness has also been shown to improve problem solving and creativity. A negotiation can be viewed as a problem-solving task to identify the optimum strategy to produce the desired outcome. Also, by applying greater creativity to the problem the negotiator can devise novel solutions, optimizing outcomes.

 

In today’s Research News article “Variables Associated With Negotiation Effectiveness: The Role of Mindfulness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01214/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1356251_69_Psycho_20200618_arts_A), Pérez-Yus and colleagues recruited adult non-meditators and meditators with a daily practice of at least 6 months in duration. They completed questionnaires measuring negotiation effectiveness, emotional intelligence, mindfulness, personality, motivation, negotiation style, and their meditation practice.

 

They found that the higher the level of negotiation effectiveness the higher the level of mindfulness, emotional intelligence, achievement motivation, extraversion, openness, and conscientiousness, the personality traits of extraversion, openness and conscientiousness, and the negotiation styles of integrating, dominating, and compromising, and the lower the levels of neuroticism. In comparison to non-meditators, the meditators had significantly greater levels of emotional intelligence clarity, mindfulness, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness, a greater tendency to acquire an integrating style in the negotiation, and a greater effectiveness of the negotiation and lower levels of neuroticism.

 

This study is correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. To establish causation, future research should examine the ability of mindfulness training to improve negotiation effectiveness. Nevertheless, the results suggest that meditation practice and mindfulness are associated with better negotiation effectiveness. Meditators are better negotiators. This is associated with emotional intelligence, and positive personality traits. Meditators had higher levels of integrating style of negotiations. In this style the negotiator is more attuned to the needs of everyone involved in the negotiation. So, meditators are better able to adjust the negotiation to satisfy everyone’s needs.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with better negotiation ability.

 

The results suggest that when a negotiation was more effective, mindfulness was a causal condition.” – Jamil Awaida

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Pérez-Yus MC, Ayllón-Negrillo E, Delsignore G, Magallón-Botaya R, Aguilar-Latorre A and Oliván Blázquez B (2020) Variables Associated With Negotiation Effectiveness: The Role of Mindfulness. Front. Psychol. 11:1214. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01214

 

Negotiation is the main mean of conflict resolution. Despite its capital importance, little is known about influencing variables or effective interventions. Mindfulness has shown to improve subjects’ performance in different settings but until now, no study has shown its impact in negotiation. The aim of this study is to analyze which variables are associated with effectiveness and to determine if meditators are more effective in negotiation. A cross-sectional descriptive study was carried out. The study variables were: socio-demographic variables, negotiation effectiveness (Negotiation Effectiveness Questionnaire), mindfulness (Five Facets of Mindfulness Questionnaire), emotional intelligence (Trait Meta-Mood Scale Questionnaire), personality (NEO-FFI personality inventory), motivation (McClelland Questionnaire), and negotiation style (Rahim Organizational Conflict Inventory-II). A correlational study and a multivariate model were developed. Negotiation effectiveness was associated with age, mindfulness, emotional intelligence, extraversion, openness, conscientiousness, achievement motivation, integrating, dominating, and compromising negotiation styles and inversely correlated toward neuroticism. The effectiveness of the negotiation is explained by the variables clarity, age, conscientiousness, dominating, and compromising style. Meditators were found to be more effective than non-meditators.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01214/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1356251_69_Psycho_20200618_arts_A

 

Being Mindfully Non-Judgmental is Associated with Greater Happiness

Being Mindfully Non-Judgmental is Associated with Greater Happiness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Start taking notice of these everyday moments, and bask in their glow for a beat or two. The more easily you can identify even the simplest of joys in life, the more of them you’ll discover, everywhere.” – Kelle Walsh

 

Meditation leads to concentration, concentration leads to understanding, and understanding leads to happiness” – This wonderful quote from the modern day sage Thich Nhat Hahn is a beautiful pithy description of the benefits of mindfulness practice. Mindfulness allows us to view our experience and not judge it, not put labels on it, not make assumptions about it, not relate it to past experiences, and not project it into the future. Rather mindfulness lets us experience everything around and within us exactly as it is arising and falling away from moment to moment.

 

A variety of forms of mindfulness training have been shown to increase psychological well-being and happiness. So, it would be expected that yoga practice would similarly increase these positive states. It is not known, however, if the relationship of mindfulness with happiness moderated by the personality of the individual.

 

In today’s Research News article “Personality and nonjudging make you happier: Contribution of the Five-Factor Model, mindfulness facets and a mindfulness intervention to subjective well-being.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6999907/), Ortet and colleagues recruited two samples, college students and healthy adults from the community. A subsample of the community participants received a once a week for 6-weeks, 2-hour, training in mindfulness and metacognition including knowing how to differentiate between the story attached to experience and the actual present moment one. The participants completed the Subjective Happiness Questionnaire, the Big Five Personality inventory measuring five broad domains of personality: emotional stability, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness, and the five facets of mindfulness including observing, describing, acting with awareness, nonjudging of inner experience, and nonreactivity to inner experience.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness, particularly the nonjudging facet, the higher the levels of subjective well-being, and all of the 5 of the personality traits of extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability. They found that the personality factors that were most strongly associated with subjective well-being were emotional stability and extraversion. When personality factors were taken into account only the mindfulness facet of nonjudging was still positively associated with happiness.

 

These results are correlational and as such must be interpreted with caution. The fact that the individuals’ personality characteristic accounted for most of the mindfulness – happiness relationship underscores problems with causation. The third factor of personality was primarily responsible for the mindfulness – happiness relationship. But previous studies have demonstrated with manipulative studies that mindfulness causes an increase in happiness. So, the results of the present study likely result from a causal connection between the mindfulness facet of nonjudging and happiness.

 

The findings suggest that there are three factors that are particularly important for happiness. Being outgoing is associated with happiness indicating the importance of being engaged socially in being happy. Being emotionally stable is also associated with happiness indicating the importance of having consistent patterns of behavior for being happy. Finally, not judging inner experience but rather simply accepting it as it is, is associated with happiness. This suggests that stopping looking at inner experience as good or bad, deserved or undeserved, or painful or not is important for individual happiness. Allowing inner experience to simply occur with acceptance helps to promote happiness.

 

So, being mindfully non-judgmental is associated with greater happiness.

 

we’re happiest when we are mindful of the moment, and we’re least happy when the mind is wandering.” – Melli Obrien

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Ortet, G., Pinazo, D., Walker, D., Gallego, S., Mezquita, L., & Ibáñez, M. I. (2020). Personality and nonjudging make you happier: Contribution of the Five-Factor Model, mindfulness facets and a mindfulness intervention to subjective well-being. PloS one, 15(2), e0228655. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0228655

 

Abstract

Mindful individuals are able to acknowledge mind wandering and live in the present moment in a nonjudgmental way. Previous studies have found that both mind wandering and mindfulness are associated with subjective well-being. However, the main predictor of happiness is personality; more specifically, happier people are emotionally stable and extraverted. The present study aimed to explore the contribution of the five factors of personality, dispositional mindfulness facets and a mindfulness intervention to happiness. A sample of 372 university students was assessed with the NEO-Five Factor Inventory, and another sample of 217 community adults answered the Big Five Personality Trait Short Questionnaire. Both samples, 589 participants in all, completed the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire and the Subjective Happiness Scale. Furthermore, 55 participants from the general population sample took a 6-week training course in meditation and developing mindfulness. The regression analyses showed that emotional stability and extraversion traits were the strongest predictors of subjective well-being. Nonetheless, the nonjudging facet, which is nonevaluative/acceptance awareness of thoughts and feelings, still remained a significant predictor of happiness when personality was accounted for. Finally, mindfulness training did not increase subjective well-being. Being nonjudgmental of one’s inner thoughts, feelings and sensations contributes to happiness even when personality is taken into account. Accordingly, it seems reasonable that mindfulness training that intends to improve subjective well-being should focus on noticing thoughts without judging them.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6999907/

 

Spirituality is Associated with Better Psychological Well-Being but also Cognitive Distortions

Spirituality is Associated with Better Psychological Well-Being but also Cognitive Distortions

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

No causal link has been established, but higher levels of spirituality have been linked to increased compassion, strengthened relationships, and improved self-esteem.” – Psychology Today

 

Spirituality is defined as “one’s personal affirmation of and relationship to a higher power or to the sacred. There have been a number of studies of the influence of spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health. Hence, it makes sense to study the relationships of spirituality with the individual’s characteristics to better understand how spirituality might influence psychological well-being.

 

In today’s Research News article “Spirituality, dimensional autism, and schizotypal traits: The search for meaning.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6407781/), Crespi and colleagues recruited undergraduate students and had them complete questionnaires measuring spirituality including subscales measuring belief in God, search for meaning, mindfulness, and security, and also autism traits including social skills, communication, attention to detail, attention switching, and imagination subscales, and also schizotypal traits including constricted affect, social anxiety, magical thinking, unusual perceptions, ideas of reference, eccentric behavior, and odd speech.

 

They found that the higher the total levels of spirituality the lower the levels of autism traits and the higher the levels of positive schizotypal traits. Of the spirituality subscales they found that the higher the belief in God the higher the levels of positive schizotypal traits, including magical thinking and unusual perceptions. Of the spirituality subscales they found that the higher the search for meaning the lower the levels of autism traits and the higher the levels of positive schizotypal traits, including magical thinking and unusual perceptions. Of the spirituality subscales they found that the higher the mindfulness the lower the levels of autism traits.

 

It should be kept in mind that the results are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. The findings suggest that spirituality, especially search for meaning and mindfulness, is associated with less autism traits suggesting healthier personalities. But they also suggest that spirituality, especially belief in God and search for meaning, is associated with greater positive schizotypal traits, particularly with magical thinking and unusual perceptions. These findings suggest that belief in God and search for meaning are associated with distorted cognitive processes.

 

In total, the findings suggest that spirituality is associated with some strengths in the personality but also with cognitive distortions. It is possible that adherence to particular religions (religiosity) may be the reason for the opposing findings. Indeed, this idea is supported by the fact that belief in God was associated with the cognitive distortions. Unfortunately, the present study did not measure religiosity. Hopefully, future research will include measurement of religiosity.

 

So, spirituality is associated with better psychological well-being but also cognitive distortions.

 

There’s a lot of research linking health and more contentment with life, and having a regular spiritual practice. I personally can’t imagine getting through each day without connecting with my spiritual self, especially when life feels overwhelming or when I’m feeling a bit lost.” – Cara Howell

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available at the Contemplative Studies Blog http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/

They are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Crespi, B., Dinsdale, N., Read, S., & Hurd, P. (2019). Spirituality, dimensional autism, and schizotypal traits: The search for meaning. PloS one, 14(3), e0213456. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0213456

 

Abstract

The relationships of spirituality with human social cognition, as exemplified in autism spectrum and schizophrenia spectrum cognitive variation, remain largely unstudied. We quantified non-clinical levels of autism spectrum and schizotypal spectrum traits (using the Autism Quotient and the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire-Brief Revised) and dimensions of spirituality (using the Hardt Spirituality Questionnaire) in a large sample of undergraduate students. We tested in particular the hypothesis, based on the diametrical model of autism and psychosis, that autism should be negatively associated, and positive schizotypal traits should be positively associated, with spirituality. Our primary findings were threefold. First, in support of the diametric model, total Spirituality score was significantly negatively correlated with total Autism Quotient score, and significantly positively correlated with Positive Schizotypal traits (the Schizotypal Personality Cognitive-Perceptual subscale), as predicted. Second, these associations were driven mainly by opposite patterns regarding the Search for Meaning Spirituality subscale, which was the only subscale that was significantly negatively associated with autism, and significantly positively associated with Positive Schizotypal traits. Third, Belief in God was positively correlated with Positive Schizotypal traits, but was uncorrelated with autism traits. The opposite findings for Search for Meaning can be interpreted in the contexts of well-supported cognitive models for understanding autism in terms of weak central coherence, and understanding Positive Schizotypal traits in terms of enhanced salience.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6407781/

 

Spirituality is associated with Character Strength, Well-Being, and Prosociality in Adolescents

Spirituality is associated with Character Strength, Well-Being, and Prosociality in Adolescents

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Given that adolescents are at the crossroads of life and face many issues and challenges that are unique, uncertain and value-conflict, they need to critically reflect on practical interests and examine broad issues on religiously tethered and untethered spirituality in their lives.” – Charlene Tan

 

Spirituality is defined as “one’s personal affirmation of and relationship to a higher power or to the sacred.” Spirituality has been promulgated as a solution to the challenges of life both in a transcendent sense and in a practical sense. The transcendent claims are untestable with the scientific method. But the practical claims are amenable to scientific analysis. There have been a number of studies of the influence of spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health.

 

Adolescence is a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. It is during this time that higher levels of thinking, sometimes called executive function, develops. But adolescence can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required. Indeed, up to a quarter of adolescents suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, and an even larger proportion struggle with subclinical symptoms. It makes sense, then, to investigate the influence of spirituality on the ability of youths to navigate this difficult time and develop positive qualities and better mental health.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Longitudinal Study of Spirituality, Character Strengths, Subjective Well-Being, and Prosociality in Middle School Adolescents.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6400865/), Kor and colleagues recruited adolescents (aged 13 to 17 years) from middle schools in Israel. They were measured at three points over 14 months for optimism, prosociality, spirituality, religious practices, personal devotion, spiritual transcendence, positive and negative emotions, satisfaction with life, and 24 character strengths consisting of curiosity, love of learning, judgment, creativity, perspective, bravery, perseverance, honesty, zest, love, kindness, social intelligence, teamwork, fairness, leadership, forgiveness, humility, prudence, self-regulation, appreciation of beauty, gratitude, hope, humor, and spirituality.

 

They found that spirituality was relatively stable over time and was moderately associated with interpersonal character strengths. High levels of spirituality were significantly associated with high levels of life satisfaction, positive emotions, and prosociality at all three measurement times. Hence, spirituality was associated with the character strength and well-being of the adolescents.

 

These results are correlational and as such caution must be exercised in reaching causal conclusions. But the study suggests that being spiritual is associated with positive characters in the adolescents and greater well-being and attentiveness to the needs of others (prosociality). This further suggests that being spiritual may help adolescents navigate the complex and difficult terrain of adolescence. It remains to be seen if promoting spirituality may produce improvements in adolescent character and well-being.

 

So, spirituality is associated with character strength, well-being, and prosociality in adolescents.

 

Adolescent well-being has received extensive attention, with ample evidence of the positive role of religion and spirituality in youth development.” – Chris Boyatzis

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Kor, A., Pirutinsky, S., Mikulincer, M., Shoshani, A., & Miller, L. (2019). A Longitudinal Study of Spirituality, Character Strengths, Subjective Well-Being, and Prosociality in Middle School Adolescents. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 377. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00377

 

Abstract

Using data from 1,352 middle-school Israeli adolescents, the current study examines the interface of spirituality and character strengths and its longitudinal contribution to subjective well-being and prosociality. Participants were approached three times over a 14-months period and completed measures of character strengths, spirituality, subjective well-being (positive emotions, life satisfaction), and prosociality. Findings revealed a fourth-factor structure of character strengths that included the typical tripartite classification of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and intellectual strengths together with spirituality emerging as a statistically autonomous factor. Spirituality was stable over time and contributed to higher subjective well-being and prosociality both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Discussion focuses on spirituality as a fundamental character strength and an important aspect of positive development.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6400865/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Stable and Flexible Personalities

Mindfulness is Associated with Stable and Flexible Personalities

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness meditation, may help shape a person’s personality traits and promote a healthier self-concept.” – April McDowell

 

Personality characteristics are thought to be relatively permanent traits that form an individual’s distinctive character. Current psychological research and theorization on personality has suggested that there are five basic personality characteristics. The so called “Big 5” are Extraversion, Agreeableness, Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, and Emotional Stability. The enduring trait of mindfulness has a positive relationship with all of the “Big 5” characteristics.

 

Recently, these characteristics have been organized into two overarching metatraits; stability and flexibility. The relationship of trait mindfulness to these two metatraits has not been explored.

In today’s Research News article “The Mindful Personality II: Exploring the Metatraits from a Cybernetic Perspective.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5979271/), Hanley and colleagues examine the relationship of the enduring characteristic of mindfulness with the stability and flexibility metatraits. The researchers recruited adult participants online and had them complete measures of the Big 5 Personality Traits, mindfulness, and psychological well-being. From the Big 5 they extracted measures of the metatraits stability and flexibility.

 

They found, as have others, that the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of each of the Big 5 personality traits. Using structural modelling they found that mindfulness was positively associated with both metatraits of stability and flexibility and these, in turn, were positively associated with psychological well-being. In other words, the higher the levels of dispositional mindfulness, the higher the levels of stability and flexibility, the better the psychological health of the individual. This was also true for all of the five facets of mindfulness; observing, describing, acting with awareness, non-reactivity, and non-judging.

 

This study is correlational and causation cannot be concluded. But these results are in line with previous findings of the positive relationship of mindfulness with the Big 5 personality traits. The findings extend this positive relationship to the two stability and flexibility, the metatraits derived from the Big 5 traits. They suggest that mindfulness is associated with stable and flexible personalities. Mindful individuals do not overreact to distractions, interference, unexpected events and at the same time are more open and able to respond differently and creatively to situations. Hence, mindful people have personalities better able to deal with the ups and downs and twists and turns of life.

 

Overall, the findings . . . expand upon previous mindfulness-related research by demonstrating a strong relationship between mindfulness and enhanced level of some personality characteristics including openness, theory of mind, suggestibility and pro-social behaviour.” – Hossein Kaviani

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Hanley, A. W., Baker, A. K., & Garland, E. L. (2018). The Mindful Personality II: Exploring the Metatraits from a Cybernetic Perspective. Mindfulness, 9(3), 972–979. doi:10.1007/s12671-017-0836-5

 

Abstract

Relationships between dispositional mindfulness and the personality metatraits, stability and plasticity, remain unexplored despite continued efforts to more accurately characterize associations between dispositional mindfulness and personality. The metatraits are theorized to constitute basic requirements for biological survival and their expression is believed to be a strong determinant of well-being. As such, this study used path analysis to explore associations between dispositional mindfulness, the metatraits and psychological well-being in a sample of 403 American adults. Results indicate that dispositional mindfulness is principally associated with stability, or the capacity to sustain currently operative schemas and goals. Results further suggest a positive relationship between dispositional mindfulness and plasticity, or the tendency to flexibly adapt to changing circumstances. A more granular investigation of these associations demonstrated that the facets of dispositional mindfulness are differentially related with the metatraits. Ultimately, the metatraits were found to fully mediate the relationship between dispositional mindfulness and psychological well-being.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5979271/

 

Personality Modulates the Effectiveness and Continued Use of Mindfulness Training

Personality Modulates the Effectiveness and Continued Use of Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is a formal eight-week program with a daylong intensive. This program is in over 250 hospitals around the country and many more around the world supporting people with stress, anxiety, depressionchronic pain, alleviating stress related to medical conditions and much more.” – Will Baum

 

Personality characteristics are thought to be relatively permanent traits that form an individual’s distinctive character. Current psychological research and theorization on personality has suggested that there are five basic personality characteristics. The so called “Big 5” are Extraversion, Agreeableness, Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, and Neuroticism. Extraversion involves engagement with the external world, particularly other people. Agreeableness involves trust and helpfulness and a positive temperament. Openness to Experience is intellectual curiosity and is associated with creativity and a preference for novelty and variety. Conscientiousness involves planning, organization, dependability and self-discipline. Finally, Neuroticism involves moodiness, negative emotions, and a tendency to perceive even minor things as threatening or impossible. It is thought that most individual personalities can be captured by these five characteristics.

 

Measuring personality traits is only useful if it can predict the future behavior of the individual. Engaging in mindfulness training has been shown to have a large number of beneficial effects on the psychological, emotional, and physical health of the individual and is helpful in the treatment of mental and physical illness. It would be useful to be able to predict who would be most likely to participate fully and thereby benefit most from mindfulness training. It is possible that personality traits are good predictors of successful participation. So, it would be important to look to see if people high in some of these “Big 5” traits are more likely to engage in the program and continue practice even after the end of the formal program.

 

In today’s Research News article “Personality Predicts Utilization of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction During and Post-Intervention in a Community Sample of Older Adults “.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4860670/ ), Barkan and colleagues recruited elderly adults over the age of 60 years. They received a standard 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program that met once a week for 2 hours and near the end of the program for a 7-hour intensive retreat. They were also encouraged to practice at home during training and to continue practice after the end of the formal training. MBSR contains meditation, body scan, and yoga training. The participants were measured prior to training for “Big 5” personality traits, perceived stress, and cognitive functioning. They maintained logs of their engagement in the MBSR sessions and activities throughout the program and 6 months after the end of the program.

 

Barkan and colleagues found that attendance at the MBSR training sessions was high at 94%. Further, they found that during the MBSR intervention, average weekly at home participation varied from 2.19 days/week for yoga to 3.56 days/week for body scanning. Importantly, they found that participants high in the “Big 5” personality trait of openness participated more frequently at home during the 8-week instruction period in meditation and body scanning and during the 6 months after in yoga, meditation and body scanning practices. Those participants who were high in agreeableness participated more frequently at home during the instruction period in meditation. None of the other three “Big 5” personality traits predicted participation rates.

 

Employing a sophisticated regression analysis to the data, they found that the combination of openness and agreeableness predicted both participation during and following the end of formal training and participation during training predicted participation in the following 6 months. Hence, openness and agreeableness were associated with higher participation after training both directly and because they promoted participation during training that, in turn, was associated with increased later participation.

 

It is interested that the personality characteristics of the participant were associated with their rates of participation in MBSR both during and after training. This suggests that participants high in openness to experience would be most likely to participate in and benefit from the practice. The “Big 5” personality trait of openness to experience is associated with creativity and a preference for novelty and variety. Certainly, participation in MBSR would be novel for this elderly group. So, it is not surprising that openness to experience predicted participation.

 

“Do you have neurotic tendencies? You might give mindfulness a try. The practice has been shown to help quell the voice of the “obnoxious roommate” in your head. One of the “Big Five” personality traits, neuroticism is characterized by negative affect, rumination on the past and worry about the future, moodiness and loneliness. Practicing mindfulness may be a powerful way for people to detach from common characteristics of neuroticism, including obsessive negative thoughts and worries, and challenges regulating one’s emotions and behavior.” – Carolyn Gregoire

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Barkan, T., Hoerger, M., Gallegos, A. M., Turiano, N. A., Duberstein, P. R., & Moynihan, J. A. (2016). Personality Predicts Utilization of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction During and Post-Intervention in a Community Sample of Older Adults. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 22(5), 390–395. http://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2015.0177

 

Abstract

Objectives: Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a promising intervention for older adults seeking to improve quality of life. More research is needed, however, to determine who is most willing to use the four techniques taught in the program (yoga, sitting meditation, informal meditation, and body scanning). This study evaluated the relationship between the Big Five personality dimensions (neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, conscientiousness, and agreeableness) and use of MBSR techniques both during the intervention and at a 6-month follow-up. The hypothesis was that those with higher levels of openness and agreeableness would be more likely to use the techniques.

Methods: Participants were a community sample of 100 older adults who received an 8-week manualized MBSR intervention. Personality was assessed at baseline by using the 60-item NEO Five-Factor Inventory. Use of MBSR techniques was assessed through weekly practice logs during the intervention and a 6-month follow-up survey. Regression analyses were used to examine the association between each personality dimension and each indicator of MBSR use both during and after the intervention.

Results: As hypothesized, openness and agreeableness predicted greater use of MBSR both during and after the intervention, while controlling for demographic differences in age, educational level, and sex. Openness was related to use of a variety of MBSR techniques during and after the intervention, while agreeableness was related to use of meditation techniques during the intervention. Mediation analysis suggested that personality explained postintervention MBSR use, both directly and by fostering initial uptake of MBSR during treatment.

Conclusions: Personality dimensions accounted for individual differences in the use of MBSR techniques during and 6 months after the intervention. Future studies should consider how mental health practitioners would use these findings to target and tailor MBSR interventions to appeal to broader segments of the population.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4860670/

Mindfulness Training Benefits Neurotic Individuals the Most

Mindfulness Training Benefits Neurotic Individuals the Most

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Do you have neurotic tendencies? You might give mindfulness a try. The practice has been shown to help quell the voice of the “obnoxious roommate” in your head. One of the “Big Five” personality traits, neuroticism is characterized by negative affect, rumination on the past and worry about the future, moodiness and loneliness. Practicing mindfulness may be a powerful way for people to detach from common characteristics of neuroticism, including obsessive negative thoughts and worries, and challenges regulating one’s emotions and behavior.” – Carolyn Gregoire

 

We know that people differ in how they interact with the environment and other people. We call these differences personality. Personality characteristics are thought to be relatively permanent traits that form an individual’s distinctive character. Different personalities predict different behaviors and different responses to the environment. This suggests that different personality types might respond differently to mindfulness training.

 

Current psychological research and theorization on personality has suggested that there are five basic personality characteristics. The so called “Big 5” are Extraversion, Agreeableness, Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, and Neuroticism. Extraversion involves engagement with the external world, particularly other people. Agreeableness involves trust and helpfulness and a positive temperament. Openness to Experience is intellectual curiosity and is associated with creativity and a preference for novelty and variety. Conscientiousness involves planning, organization, dependability and self-discipline. Finally, Neuroticism involves moodiness, negative emotions, and a tendency to perceive even minor things as threatening or impossible. It is thought that most individual personalities can be captured by these five characteristics.

 

It has been shown that people high in mindfulness are also high in the “Big 5” traits of Conscientiousness, and Neuroticism.  It is possible that people high in these traits are more susceptible to the effects of mindfulness training. In today’s Research News article “For Whom Does Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Work? Moderating Effects of Personality.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5506177/, Nyklíček, I., & Irrmischer examine whether the effectiveness of mindfulness training is affected by the individual’s personality. They recruited adults and provided them with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. MBSR consists of meditation, yoga and body scan and training occurs over 8 weeks in 2.5-hour weekly sessions with daily homework assignments. Before training their personality was measured and before and after training and 3-months later, they were measured for anxiety and depression.

 

They found that as has been previously demonstrated MBSR resulted in substantial significant reductions in anxiety and depression after training and these mood states continued to improve and were even lower 3 months later. They then tested for mediation effects to determine if personality characteristics affected the MBSR reductions in anxiety and depression. They found that the personality characteristic of neuroticism accentuated the effect such that the higher the levels of neuroticism the greater the reductions in anxiety and depression produced by MBSR. This mediation effect, however, was in part due to the fact that high neuroticism was related to higher depression and anxiety. When they controlled for the levels of depression and anxiety present when the study began, the mediation effect for depression was no longer significant while neuroticism continued to mediate the effect of MBSR on anxiety.

 

So, they found that MBSR training produces a long-lasting reduction in anxiety and depression. The effect of MBSR on depression occurs equally regardless of personality characteristics. On the other hand, MBSR training reduces anxiety to a greater extent in people high in neuroticism. By focusing attention more on the present moment, MBSR training reduces the past orientation that energizes depression and the future orientation that fuels anxiety. It appears to have its effect on anxiety magnified in highly neurotic people. Neuroticism involves a tendency to perceive even minor things as threatening. Focusing on the present moment interrupts seeing future threat and thereby may make the neuroticism less impactful.

 

So, mindfulness training benefits neurotic individuals the most.

 

“By the posture, by the action,
By eating, seeing, and so on,
By the kind of states occurring,
May temperament be recognized.” – Path of Purification

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Nyklíček, I., & Irrmischer, M. (2017). For Whom Does Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Work? Moderating Effects of Personality. Mindfulness, 8(4), 1106–1116. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0687-0

 

Abstract

The aim of the present study was to examine potentially moderating effects of personality characteristics regarding changes in anxious and depressed mood associated with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), controlling for socio-demographic factors. Meditation-naïve participants from the general population self-presenting with psychological stress complaints (n = 167 participants, 70% women, mean age 45.8 ± 9.3 years) were assessed in a longitudinal investigation of change in mood before and after the intervention and at a 3-month follow-up. Participants initially scoring high on neuroticism showed stronger decreases in both anxious and depressed mood (both p < 0.001). However, when controlled for baseline mood, only the time by neuroticism interaction effect on anxiety remained significant (p = 0.001), reflecting a smaller decrease in anxiety between pre- and post-intervention but a larger decrease in anxiety between post-intervention and follow-up in those with higher baseline neuroticism scores. Most personality factors did not show moderating effects, when controlled for baseline mood. Only neuroticism showed to be associated with delayed benefit. Results are discussed in the context of findings from similar research using more traditional cognitive-behavioral interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5506177/

What are the Characteristics of the Mindful Personality

What are the Characteristics of the Mindful Personality

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Scientific research has shown that there are things you can do to change your personality. First, changing a large number of habits is basically the same as changing your personality, but there’s a new method that has become very popular in psychology because it works: Meditation.” – Antonio Centeno

 

Personality characteristics are thought to be relatively permanent traits that form an individual’s distinctive character. Current psychological research and theorization on personality has suggested that there are five basic personality characteristics. The so called “Big 5” are Extraversion, Agreeableness, Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, and Neuroticism. Extraversion involves engagement with the external world, particularly other people. Agreeableness involves trust and helpfulness and a positive temperament. Openness to Experience is intellectual curiosity and is associated with creativity and a preference for novelty and variety. Conscientiousness involves planning, organization, dependability and self-discipline. Finally, Neuroticism involves moodiness, negative emotions, and a tendency to perceive even minor things as threatening or impossible. It is thought that most individual personalities can be captured by these five characteristics.

 

Mindfulness is subject to change from moment, but, recently it has been established that there is also an enduring trait of mindfulness with some people inherently more mindful than others. It is not clear whether this is incorporated in the “Big 5” or is a separate characteristic. In today’s Research News article “The Mindful Personality: a Meta-analysis from a Cybernetic Perspective.” (See summary below). Hanley & Garland summarize and interpret the published research literature on the relationship of mindfulness and the “Big 5” personality characteristics. They found 37 relevant published studies that included measures of mindfulness and the “Big 5” personality characteristics to include in the meta-analysis.

 

They report that the published research indicates that the enduring trait of mindfulness has a positive relationship with the “Big 5” characteristics of Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, and Agreeableness, and a negative relationship with Neuroticism. By far the strongest relationships seen were between mindfulness and Conscientiousness and Neuroticism and the weakest between mindfulness and Extraversion and Openness to Experience. This indicates that the higher the level of enduring mindfulness in the individual the greater the conscientiousness and the lower the neuroticism. These results suggest that the mindful personality is one with high levels of Conscientiousness and Agreeableness and low levels of Neuroticism.

 

The literature summarized here suggests that mindful people are self-disciplined, emotionally stable, and positive. Although this study did not look at the effects of mindfulness training, it has been previously shown that mindfulness training produces more stable and positive emotions, improved concentration and attention, greater cooperativeness, and better mental health. So, it appears that the emotional stability and self-discipline of mindful people can be produced with mindfulness training. This may explain why mindfulness is so beneficial for the physical and mental health of the individual. It appears from the research that mindfulness contributes very positively to our overall mental health and well-being.

 

“mindfulness can reduce feelings of anger and depression among people disposed to neuroticism. Other studies by Robinson and colleagues found that while negative feelings tend to lower self-control because they reduce mindfulness, practicing mindfulness can actually increase self-control” – Carolyn Gregoire

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Hanley, A.W. & Garland, E.L. The Mindful Personality: a Meta-analysis from a Cybernetic Perspective. Mindfulness (2017). doi:10.1007/s12671-017-0736-8

 

Abstract

Dispositional mindfulness (DM), or the tendency to attend to present moment experience, may have important implications for the structure of human personality. However, relationships between DM and the Big Five Model of Personality (BF) have not been definitively established. Therefore, the purpose of this meta-analysis was to extend previous investigations of the relationship between DM and the BF, utilizing a larger sample of studies, attending to relational inconsistencies potentially associated with alternative methods of operationalizing DM, conducting the first meta-analysis of the DM subdomains in relation to the BF, and situating the results in a cybernetic model. Results indicate that neuroticism evidenced the strongest, negative relationship with DM and conscientiousness evidenced the strongest, positive relationship with DM, suggesting the mindful personality may be characterized principally by emotional stability and conscientious self-regulation—potentially reflective of an inclination towards the personality metatrait stability. Measurement differences were also observed, with the mindful personality arrived at through the FFMQ differing to some extent from the mindful personality emerging from the MAAS. Broadly, the mindful personality associated with the FFMQ appears to reflect greater personality complexity, with the FFMQ evidencing associations with all five personality factors while the MAAS appears primarily linked with only three personality factors (neuroticism, conscientiousness, and agreeableness). Examination of the relationships between the BF and DM at the facet level also suggests unique patterns of association between the DM facets and each of the personality factors.

 

Improve Personality and Well-being with a Meditation Retreat

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Improve Personality and Well-being with a Meditation Retreat

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Even if you’re terrified, even if you have no interest in being a monk and you’re not an extremist by nature, I know that sitting in silence for 10 days will blow your mind.” – MeiMei Fox

 

Retreat can be a powerful experience. But, in some ways, is like being on vacation. Everything is taken care of, beds made, towels and linens provided, all meals prepared, and time is dictated by a detailed schedule of meditations, talks, question and answer periods, and reflective time. All the individual has to do is show up, meditate, relax, contemplate and listen. The retreatants are terribly spoiled! That seeming ease, however, is deceptive. Retreat is actually quite difficult and challenging. It can be very tiring as it can run from early in the morning till late at night every day. It can also be physically challenging as engaging in sitting meditation repeatedly over the day is guaranteed to produce many aches and pains in the legs, back, and neck. But the real challenges are psychological, emotional, and spiritual. Retreat can be a real test.

 

Retreat isn’t all relaxation and fun. Far from it. The darkness can descend. During silent retreat, deep emotional issues can emerge and may even overwhelm the individual. Many participants will spontaneously burst out in tears. Others may become overwhelmed with fear and anxiety and break out in cold sweats, and still others are sleepless and tormented. How can this be, that something so seemingly peaceful as silent retreat can be so emotionally wrenching? The secret is that the situation removes the minds ability to hide and distract.

 

Humans have done a tremendous job of providing distractions for the mind including books, movies, magazines, music, television, sports, amusement parks, surfing the internet, tweeting, texting, etc. Any time troubling thoughts or memories of traumatic experiences begin to emerge in everyday life, the subject can easily be changed by engaging in a distraction. So, the issues never have to truly be confronted. But, in silent retreat there is no escape. Difficult issues emerge and there is no place to hide. They must be confronted and experienced. For some people this may be the first time in their entire life that they’ve had to directly face themselves and their darkest thoughts. It’s no wonder that retreat can be so wrenching.

 

With all these difficulties, why would anyone want to put themselves through such an ordeal and go on a meditation retreat? People go because retreat has many profound and sometimes life altering benefits. The benefits of retreat were investigated in today’s Research News article “Psychological Effects of a 1-Month Meditation Retreat on Experienced Meditators.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1469065896450665/?type=3&theater

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:

http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01935/full?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Psychology-w51-2016

Montero-Marin and colleagues recruited experienced meditators who participated in a 1-month Vipassana meditation retreat, with 8-9 hours of meditation and 1-2 hours of teaching each day, and compared them to a control group of experienced meditators matched on gender, age, ethnicity, educational, and type of meditation practice. They were measured before and after the retreat for non-attachment, decentering, mindfulness, loving kindness, compassion, joy, and acceptance toward both the self and others, positive and negative affect, satisfaction with life, temperament, and character.

 

They found that following the retreat participants, compared to controls, showed increased non-attachment, observing, mindfulness, positive-affect, balance-affect, and cooperativeness; and decreased describing, negative-others, reward-dependence and self-directedness. Employing a sophisticated statistical technique, they were able to show that non-attachment had a mediating role in decentring, acting aware, non-reactivity, negative-affect, balance-affect and self-directedness; and a moderating role in describing and positive others, with both mediating and moderating effects on satisfaction with life. Hence, attending a 1-month retreat produced improvements in non-attachment, which, in turn, produced improvements in mindfulness, positive emotions, temperament and character.

 

These are important results demonstrating the ability of participation in retreat to powerfully affect an individual beyond what is accomplished by long-term experience meditating. Concentrated practice over an extended period during retreat appears to magnify the effects of meditation, producing even greater positive benefits to the individual. Hence, even though retreat can be difficult, physically and emotionally, it is clear that its benefits, for many, far exceed its costs. This isn’t even considering the powerful spiritual experiences that can occur during retreat. This might account for the popularity of retreat and why it has been seen as an essential component of practice over hundreds of years.

 

So, improve personality and well-being with a meditation retreat.

 

“The retreat helped me realize that I’m full of desire, of longings for raw experience, and unbelievably controlling of how my life is lived. It sounds simple, but one week of silence may give you a hint, maybe more reliably than almost anything else, of who you are.”Tim Wu

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts

 

Study Summary

Montero-Marin J, Puebla-Guedea M, Herrera-Mercadal P, Cebolla A, Soler J, Demarzo M, Vazquez C, Rodríguez-Bornaetxea F and García-Campayo J (2016) Psychological Effects of a 1-Month Meditation Retreat on Experienced Meditators: The Role of Non-attachment. Front. Psychol. 7:1935. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01935

 

Background: There are few studies devoted to assessing the impact of meditation-intensive retreats on the well-being, positive psychology, and personality of experienced meditators. We aimed to assess whether a 1-month Vipassana retreat: (a) would increase mindfulness and well-being; (b) would increase prosocial personality traits; and (c) whether psychological changes would be mediated and/or moderated by non-attachment.

Method: A controlled, non-randomized, pre-post-intervention trial was used. The intervention group was a convenience sample (n = 19) of experienced meditators who participated in a 1-month Vipassana meditation retreat. The control group (n = 19) comprised matched experienced meditators who did not take part in the retreat. During the retreat, the mean duration of daily practice was 8–9 h, the diet was vegetarian and silence was compulsory. The Experiences Questionnaire (EQ), Non-attachment Scale (NAS), Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS), Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS), Temperament Character Inventory Revised (TCI-R-67), Five Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), Self-Other Four Immeasurables (SOFI) and the MINDSENS Composite Index were administered. ANCOVAs and linear regression models were used to assess pre-post changes and mediation/moderation effects.

Results: Compared to controls, retreatants showed increases in non-attachment, observing, MINDSENS, positive-affect, balance-affect, and cooperativeness; and decreases in describing, negative-others, reward-dependence and self-directedness. Non-attachment had a mediating role in decentring, acting aware, non-reactivity, negative-affect, balance-affect and self-directedness; and a moderating role in describing and positive others, with both mediating and moderating effects on satisfaction with life.

Conclusions: A 1-month Vipassana meditation retreat seems to yield improvements in mindfulness, well-being, and personality, even in experienced meditators. Non-attachment might facilitate psychological improvements of meditation, making it possible to overcome possible ceiling effects ascribed to non-intensive practices.

http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01935/full?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Psychology-w51-2016