Improve Balanced Time Perspective with Mindfulness

Improve Balanced Time Perspective with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“It is how we think about the future that determines whether the outcome is beneficial. You can think about what you want and how to make it happen, or you can think about what you don’t want and worry about how to prevent it from happening. The first way increases your chances of bringing positive emotions and experiences into your life, while the second causes you to experience negative emotions about things that may never happen; further, it decreases the amount of time and energy you have for creating positive experiences.” – Jannice Vilhauer

 

Mindfulness stresses present moment awareness, minimizing focus on past memories and

future planning. But, to effectively navigate the environment it is necessary to remember past experiences and project future consequences of behavior. So, there is a need to be balanced such that the amount of attention focused on the past, present, and future is balanced. This has been termed as balanced time perspective. It is possible that mindfulness helps balance time perspective or that it might even overly emphasize the present moment to the detriment of balance. The relationship of mindfulness to this balanced time perspective has not been previously investigated.

 

In today’s Research News article “Self-Compassion and Subjective Well-Being Mediate the Impact of Mindfulness on Balanced Time Perspective in Chinese College Students.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6395405/), Ge and colleagues recruited college students and measured them for mindfulness, self-compassion, subjective well-being, balanced time perspective, and time perspective including subscales measuring past negative, past positive, present fatalistic, present hedonistic, and future.

 

They found that mindfulness was positively related to balanced time perspective directly with the higher the levels of mindfulness the better the balance in time perspective. They also observed that mindfulness was positively related to balanced time perspective indirectly through self-compassion and subjective well-being such that high levels of mindfulness was associated with higher levels of self-compassion and subjective well-being which, in turn, were associated with higher balanced time perspective.

 

These results are interesting and for the first time demonstrate a positive relationship of mindfulness to balanced time perspective. Since a balanced time perspective may be seen as an adaptive mix of past, present, and future perspectives, it is possible that this is one of the reasons that mindfulness has such positive effects on mental health and well-being. So, mindfulness may be beneficial not just by increasing present moment awareness but also by producing appropriate allocation of attention to the past or the future where appropriate. It remains for future research to examine these possibilities.

 

So, improve balanced time perspective with mindfulness.

 

“while a mindfulness exercise that shifts attention to internal events extends one’s experience of time, a mindfulness exercise that shifts attention to an external event could potentially make time feel like it’s passing more quickly.” – Emily Nauman

 

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

 

Ge, J., Wu, J., Li, K., & Zheng, Y. (2019). Self-Compassion and Subjective Well-Being Mediate the Impact of Mindfulness on Balanced Time Perspective in Chinese College Students. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 367. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00367

 

Abstract

Balanced time perspective is associated with optimal social functioning and provides psychological benefits in times of stress. Previous studies have found that mindfulness is positively associated with balanced time perspective and might promote it. However, the mechanism through which mindfulness affects balanced time perspective remains unexplored. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the mediating role of self-compassion and subjective well-being in the relationship between mindfulness and balanced time perspective. A total of 754 Chinese college students, aged 17–27 years, completed the Chinese versions of the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire, Self-Compassion Scale, Subjective Well-Being Scale, and Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory. There were significant positive correlations between mindfulness, self-compassion, subjective well-being, and balanced time perspective. Structural equation modeling indicated that in addition to the direct influence of mindfulness on balanced time perspective, self-compassion and subjective well-being played a partial mediating role. On the basis of these findings, we conclude that mindfulness has an important positive influence on balanced time perspective, and highlights the crucial role of the self-compassion in cultivating a balanced time perspective. Limitations of the present study are also discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6395405/

 

Meditation Practice Amplifies Awareness of the Cause of an Event

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Meditation Practice Amplifies Awareness of the Cause of an Event

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“What is an illusion is when you are looking but not seeing completely, listening but also daydreaming. To walk around half perceiving and half in a daydream, this is to walk around in an illusion and in a dream. What is worse is when the dreams of the mind cloud perception.” –  Brian Miles

 

Meditation, by training and improving attention to everything that occurs, is thought to produce a greater awareness of cause and effect. This is particularly evident in recognizing when an event was caused by one’s own volitional actions. One way to measure this is called “Intentional binding.” It refers to the subjectively reported time compression that occurs between an intentional action and its outcome when compared to the timing of an action alone and of an event that does not depend upon an action” (Haggard, Clark and Kalogeras 2002). In other words, when an event is perceived to have been produced intentionally, the time between the cause and effect is experienced as shorter than if there was no intention involved.

 

It would be predicted, then, that if experienced meditators had better attentional ability that they should show greater “Intentional binding” than non-meditators; they should estimate less time between a cause and an effect when they are the initiator of the event than when they are not.. In today’s Research News article “Illusory Temporal Binding in Meditators.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1478243438866244/?type=3&theater

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

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12671-016-0583-z/fulltext.html

Lush and colleagues examine this prediction. They recruited experienced meditators with on average 15 years of experience and a group of age and gender matched non-meditators. The participants either initiated the presentation of a tone by pressing a button which produced the tone a quarter of a second later or simply observed the tone presented by the computer. After a delay the participants move a clock hand to the time that they experienced the tone occurring. The difference between the actual time and the perceived time of the tone was measured. “Intentional binding” was measured by the difference between the errors for the intentional and the non-intentional conditions.

 

They found that meditators errors were significantly greater in estimating the time of occurrence of the tone as earlier when they initiated the tone than when they didn’t. This suggests greater “Intentional binding” for the meditators than the matched non-meditators. Although this is a fairly indirect way of measuring the individual’s ability to recognize the cause of an event, it suggests that meditation improves the individual’s ability to recognize intention. This, in turn, suggests that meditation training makes an individual more aware of agency, that is what caused and event to occur.

 

These results further document the improvements in attentional ability produced by meditation practice. In this case the attention to the cause of events occurring in their experience. Meditation practice appears to alter our mental processing of experience heightening our attention to and awareness of what is occurring around us. Since most modern people are constantly distracted and rarely in contact with what is actually happening around them in the present moment, meditation practice would appear to be an antidote to the modern disease of inattention to the present.

 

Whether you’re interested in mindfulness or cognitive neuroscience, perception is at the heart of your work with others.  Helping people become aware of their perceptions assists them in counterbalancing a tendency to become awash with their affect.“ – Megan Van Meter

 

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 Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Lush, P., Parkinson, J. & Dienes, Z. Illusory Temporal Binding in Meditators.  Mindfulness (2016) 7: 1416. doi:10.1007/s12671-016-0583-z

 

Abstract

We investigate conditions in which more accurate metacognition may lead to greater susceptibility to illusion and thus conditions under which mindfulness meditation may lead to less accurate perceptions. Specifically, greater awareness of intentions may lead to an illusory compression of time between a voluntary action and its outcome (“intentional binding”). Here, we report that experienced Buddhist mindfulness meditators rather than non-meditators display a greater illusory shift of the timing of an outcome toward an intentional action. Mindfulness meditation involves awareness of causal connections between different mental states, including intentions. We argue that this supports improvements in metacognition targeted at motor intentions. Changes in metacognitive ability may result in an earlier and less veridical experience of the timing of action outcomes either through increased access to sensorimotor pre-representations of an action outcome or by affording greater precision to action timing judgements. Furthermore, as intentional binding is an implicit measure of the sense of agency; these results also provide evidence that mindfulness meditators experience a stronger sense of agency.

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12671-016-0583-z/fulltext.html