Permanent Impermanence



It is a very human tendency when a pleasant state of affairs is attained that we strive to maintain it. But, much to our chagrin and frustration, try as we may, it never lasts. The new car we loved so much loses its’ luster, the fun party must end and everyone go home, the infatuation and excitement of new love fades, good health is interrupted with illness, our happiness at winning at a game of chance is short lived, the new exciting job becomes drudgery, etc.


But, the other side of the coin is also true. We try to get rid of those states that we find unsatisfactory, painful, or intolerable, but in this case impermanence works in our favor and these unpleasant things also fade away. Unfortunately, we don’t give much credit to impermanence here; instead we focus on the frustration produced by the elimination of the pleasant things we want to keep.


The truth is that impermanence is permanent. Nothing can or will ever stay the same. Constant change is the rule of nature. If we try to prevent change we’re effectively trying to prevent the tide from rolling in and out, the fall from turning to winter and then to spring, or the flowers from budding, blooming, and decaying. The human condition is one of continuous unending change. If we strive to stop it we will inevitably be unhappy and frustrated.


Our words and concepts help to trap us in a belief that there is permanence in the world. When we use the word apple we tend to see it as a fixed and permanent entity rather than something that is in a process of continuous dynamic change, from seed, to seedling, to tree, to bud, to green apple, to ripe apple, to decaying apple, to seed. The same goes for a good friend whom we name and see as a permanent entity, whereas this individual like the apple is just at a single point in their continuous changing lives. Everything is impermanent and ever changing. To see anything as otherwise is a delusion.


In fact, the permanence that we think we want is not all that it’s cracked up to be. When everything stays the same we get very bored. In other words we really don’t like permanence. The learning that we relish is itself a form of impermanence altering what we know and believe. Without that form of impermanence we would never be able to improve or adapt. In fact happiness itself is a change in state, without impermanence we could not have either happiness or sadness. We certainly would not like permanent sadness or panic. We certainly wouldn’t enjoy having to watch the same movie over and over and over again, or for that matter hearing the same note continuously.


So, we should be thankful for impermanence. It is responsible for what we label the spice of life. It’s what allows us to adapt and grow. It’s what keeps us interested in life and the environment and people that surround us. It’s what makes a rainbow wondrous. It’s what makes music and art beautiful. It is actually even responsible for keeping us healthy by constantly replacing worn out cells, eliminating dying or diseased tissues, or eliminating an invasive virus. Change is, in fact, a very good thing.


We should actually revel in impermanence. Not only stop trying to counteract it or even just accept it, but rather to be ecstatic about it. We can observe with awe the wonder of the ever present evolution of all experiences and things. We can enjoy the forever changing symphony of feeling and sensations we experience. We can rest peacefully in the knowledge that tomorrow will be a new adventure, completely different from today.


We can truly enjoy the good feelings we experience and focus on them knowing that they won’t last. We can be elated that we’re having this wonderful experience and not ignore how good it is in the futile attempt to maintain it. Better yet, we can know that the things that are not to our liking will also change and look forward to better experiences. Impermanence is permanent and also wonderful when accepted. Don’t fight it, join it.


So, mindfully experience every delicious impermanent moment. It will never be repeated or happen again. So, treat as the one time treasure that it is.


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


Losing the Center



For most people the self is the center of their universe. It is seen as the center of all experiences, as the initiator of all actions, and as the center of what they believe it means to be human. We are a very self-centered species. This has been useful from an evolutionary standpoint as it has fueled self-preservation and the desire to better the self. This has led to constructive and adaptive behaviors that have furthered the well-being of the individual and the species.


But, the idea of a self, of a center, also has its dark side. Problems with the self-image or a weak self-concept can produce suffering and maladaptive behavior. It can also lead to selfishness. It even leads us to miss how interconnected we are to other people, the earth itself, and the entire universe for that matter. This has led to a lack of appreciation of the environment which has resulted in devastating environmental degradation.


One of the many problems with the self, the center, is that it can exacerbate rumination which fuels depression and anxiety. Rumination is a repetitive thought process usually involving some negative life event or situation from the past or repeated worry about some potential negative event in the future. Rumination is a characteristic of anxiety and depression which focuses on past issues and future potential problems. In rumination, the individual is normally at the center, with all the repetitive thoughts revolving around the self.


Mindfulness training has been shown to decrease rumination and depression (see and reduce worry, depression and anxiety (see One hypothesis for mindfulness’ effectiveness is that it reduces the individual’s tendency to see the self as the center of everything. It may be producing a decentering such that events are no longer seen as personal. Occurrences then can be seen as just things happening that do not necessarily either involve or reflect upon the self.

In today’s Research News article “A shift in perspective: Decentering through mindful attention to imagined stressful events”

Lebois and colleagues investigate whether mindfulness leads to decentering as evidenced by brain activity. They taught non-meditators a strategy for dealing with stressful events, mindful attention, which involved simply viewing events as fleeting experiences in the mind. They compared neural activity when imagining a stressful event between mindful attention and the normal self-centered process termed immersion. In general they found that immersion resulted in increased neural activity while imaging the stressful event, while mindful attention decreased neural activity. In other words, when the self was removed from the stressful event the nervous system became more relaxed, while when the self was the center of the stressful event the nervous system reacted more vigorously.


The systems in the brain that were activated differed between the mindful attention and the immersion conditions. In comparison to immersion, during mindful attention there was greater activation of brain areas that have been associated with changing ones perspective (Angular Gyrus), decision making and attentional control (Inferior prefrontal cortex), augmented inhibitory control (medial prefrontal cortex), and visual processing (inferior and middle occipital gyrus). In comparison to mindful attention, during immersion there was greater activation of brain areas involved when integrating visceral states, including the subgenual cingulate cortex, ventral anterior cingulate cortex, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex/medial orbitofrontal cortex. These areas are associated with monitoring and processing reward, attending to feelings, and labeling stimuli as self-relevant. Thus, immersion appeared to engage stronger self, bodily, and affective responses than did mindful attention, consistent with engaging oneself in events physically, becoming immersed in them, and experiencing them as subjectively real.


These results suggest that mindful attention produced a shift in perspective that disengaged the sense of self from events, decentering. As a consequence, imagined events could be experienced as transitory mental states occurring in the present moment. These results further support the hypothesis that mindfulness reduces worry and rumination by removing the self from the evaluation of events. Hence, mindfulness’ effectiveness for anxiety and depression may be due in part to the removal of the self from one’s perspective on events, leading to a blunted impact of worry and rumination, leading to reduced anxiety and depression.


So, practice mindfulness and decenter.


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies



Respond Better to Therapy with Mindfulness


Never be ashamed of what you feel. You have the right to feel any emotion that you want, and to do what makes you happy. That’s my life motto. – Demi Lovato
A large proportion of psychological problems involve difficulties with emotions. These include depression, anxiety disorders, phobias, bipolar disorder, etc. Much of psychotherapy is devoted to treating these disorders. So, it is important to constantly work to improve treatment methodology for better treatment outcomes. Mindfulness has been shown to be effective in improving the regulation of emotions. (see and So, it would be expected that mindfulness would be a positive influence on the outcomes of psychotherapy.


Mindfulness is both a state and as a trait. We can be particularly mindful at a specific moment in time or we can be in general mindful most of the time. A person, high in trait mindfulness would simply be more likely to have state mindfulness at any particular time. People who are high in trait mindfulness tend to pay attention to their emotions more and be very aware of their emotions and internal sensations accompanying them. But they tend to experience these emotions at more moderate and manageable intensities, have a much lower tendency to judge the emotions as good or bad, and be better able to respond appropriately to the emotions. So, mindful individuals have superior emotion regulation. This should allow them to be better able to deal with emotions in therapy and have better therapeutic outcomes.


In a previous post we learned that mindfulness improves the performance of therapists by improving the therapeutic alliance with the client.This alliance, however, involves two people, the therapist and the client. It would be interesting to know if the client’s level of mindfulness was also important in psychotherapy. Would more mindful clients respond better to therapy and have improved outcomes?


In today’s Research News article “Does Patients’ Pretreatment Trait-Mindfulness Predict the Success of Cognitive Psychotherapy for Emotion Regulation?”

Cousin and Page investigate the relationship between the clients’ levels of trait mindfulness and the success of group therapy for emotional issues. They treated clients with a variety of psychological disorders, and measured their improvements in emotion regulation over the 20 weeks of group therapy. They found that high trait mindfulness was associated with greater improvements in emotion regulation than for participants with low trait mindfulness.


These results strongly suggest that the client’s level of mindfulness is as important as the therapists in promoting positive outcomes in psychotherapy. They also strongly suggest that clients’ who are high in mindfulness are better able to improve regulation of their emotions in therapy. These are important findings as they suggest that mindfulness training may be an important way to improve the effectiveness of psychotherapy.


So, be mindful and respond better to therapy.


“To balance and control your emotions is one of the most important things in life. Positive emotions enhance your life. Negative emotions sabotage your life.”– Dr T.P.Chia
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


Yoga Improves Stress Responses and Mood

“Yoga has a sly, clever way of short circuiting the mental patterns that cause anxiety.” – Baxter Bell


Depression and anxiety are great scourges on humankind. They affect millions of people worldwide decreasing productivity and increasing misery. The exact etiology of these disorders is unknown. But, modern research is slowly unraveling the mystery. One promising line of inquiry is investigating the linkage of depression and anxiety with the physiological responses to stress including stress hormone responses and the inflammatory response. Depression has been long known to be associated with increased stress hormone activity and increased inflammatory response. This raises the question as to what role the stress response plays in the development of depression.


The most common treatment for depression is antidepressant drugs. They are effective for some people and are also known to reduce the stress response and inflammation. But, they are not effective for everyone and they can have some unpleasant side effects. So, alternative treatment for depression and anxiety that are safe, effective and with few side effects are needed.


Yoga practice has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression (see and to reduce stress and anxiety (see Yoga has also been shown to reduce inflammation (see and and immune system balance (see So, it would seem that the practice of yoga is potentially an alternative to antidepressant drug treatment for depression.


In today’s Research News article “A systematic review of randomised control trials on the effects of yoga on stress measures and mood

Pascoe and colleagues review 24 randomized controlled trials investigating the effectiveness of yoga practice for depression and anxiety and their linkages to the stress and inflammatory responses. They found that the published literature provided evidence that yoga practice reduces depression and anxiety and the stress and inflammatory responses.


In particular, Pascoe and colleagues report that the evidence suggests that yoga practice reduces anxiety and depression and at the same time reduces the nervous systems responses to stress as indicated by reductions in heart rate and blood pressure and by reductions in the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. There was also reported to be a decrease in cytokine levels suggesting a decrease in the inflammatory response. Hence, yoga practice appears to be effective for anxiety and depression and reduces the associated stress and inflammatory responses.


Since, changes in depression and anxiety occurred at the same time as changes in stress and inflammatory responses, it strengthens the case of a causal link between the two. More research is need to further investigate this promising linkage.


So, yoga practice is a safe and effective treatment for anxiety and depression while reducing stress and inflammation.


“The yoga mat is a good place to turn when talk therapy and antidepressants aren’t enough.” – Amy Weintraub


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

Staying on the Wagon with Mindfulness

“It’s Easy to Quit Smoking. I’ve Done It a Thousand Times” – Mark Twain


“…there is a saying used in twelve-step programs and in most treatment centers that “Relapse is part of recovery.” It’s another dangerous slogan that is based on a myth, and it only gives people permission to relapse because they think that when they do, they are on the road to recovery.”  ― Chris Prentiss


Drug and alcohol addictions are very difficult to kick and if successful about half the time the individual will relapse. “The chronic nature of the disease means that relapsing to drug abuse at some point is not only possible, but likely.” – National Institute on Drug Abuse. Relapse does not mean treatment has failed. Rather, lapsing back to drug use indicates that treatment needs to be reinstated or adjusted or that another treatment tried. Successful drug abuse treatment requires changing deeply imbedded behaviors particularly in response to emotions and stress. Hence, treatment must include therapy to replace maladaptive behaviors with adaptive ones and build mechanisms to effectively regulate emotions and responses to stress.


Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) has been developed specifically to prevent relapse after successful recovery from substance abuse. It has been shown to be superior to 12-step programs in preventing addiction relapse (see MBRP combines meditation with a cognitive therapy based relapse prevention program. The program prepares the individual to deal with high risk situations, contexts and people that have been associated with drug use in the past. So, when they encounter these people or situations in the future they will be better able to refrain from repeating their drug use behaviors. The program also works to develop self-efficacy, helping the individual understand that they have the ability to control their urges and cravings. The addition of meditation appears to strengthen emotion regulation and responses to stress resulting in improved effectiveness and duration of relapse prevention.


In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention: History, Mechanisms of Action, and Effects”

Penberthy and colleagues review the published research on MBRP effectiveness in relapse prevention and conclude that MBRP is effective in preventing substance abuse relapse. They point out, however, that there is a lack of long-term follow-up (over 6 months) to establish whether the program works over the long haul.


An important aspect of mindfulness training in relapse prevention is the improvement in emotion regulation that the training produces (see The individual is better able to sense, feel, and understand the emotions they’re experiencing, the intensity of the emotions are maintained at manageable levels, and the individual can respond more adaptively. Intense emotions are often triggers for relapse. So, the mindfulness training provides the individual the means to understand and cope with the emotions in other ways than substance use.


The improved emotion regulation assists the individual in dealing with what is called the “violation effect.” This occurs when a brief lapse in recovery is followed by powerful negative emotions that amplify the lapse into a full relapse. The development of emotion regulation skills and non-judgmental awareness of emotions is essential to withstanding the negative consequences of a lapse thereby preventing it from escalating.


Meditation training is also been shown to improve the psychological and physiological responses to stress (see Substance use is often triggered by highly stressful situations and the individual uses the drugs to help cope with the stress. By developing a different means of dealing effectively with stress meditation training helps the individual to continue abstinence in the face of difficult and stressful situations.


So, although more research is needed especially investigating long-term effectiveness, Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention appears to be an effective treatment program for assisting the recovered drug or alcohol abuser from relapsing.


“Recovery is a process. It’s decision by decision, step by step, gain by gain, day by day, month by month, and year after year. Trudge Forward!” – DBT-CBT Workbook


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


Aging the Brain Healthily with Mindfulness

Aging the Brain Healthily with Mindfulness


“He who is of a calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age, but to him who is of an opposite disposition, youth and age are equally a burden.” – Plato (427-346 B.C.)


If we are lucky enough to survive long enough we’ll all have an opportunity to experience the aging process. It is a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body. It cannot be avoided. But, there is evidence that it can be slowed. Contemplative practices such as meditation, yoga, and tai chi or qigong have all been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging (see links below).


Using modern neuroimaging techniques, scientists have been able to view the changes that occur in the nervous system with aging. In addition, they have been able to investigate various techniques that might slow the process of neurodegeneration that accompanies normal aging. They have found that contemplative practices of meditation and yoga restrain the loss of neural tissue with aging. The brains of practitioners degenerate less than non-practitioners.


The hippocampus is a large subcortical structure that has been shown to decrease in size and connectivity with aging. It also has been found that long-term meditators are somewhat protected from this deterioration. A part of the hippocampus known as the subiculum is of particular interest because it decreases in size with aging and is associated with memory and spatial ability, both of which decline with aging. In addition, the subiculum appears to be larger in long-term meditators. But it has yet to be seen if the age related deterioration of the subiculum is spared with meditation.


In today’s Research News article “Reduced age-related degeneration of the hippocampal subiculum in long-term meditators”

Kurth and colleagues investigate this question by looking at the size of the subiculum in meditators and non-meditators ranging in age from 24 to 77 years. They found that the non-meditators showed the expected decrease in size of the subiculum with aging. But there was no significant decline in the subiculum size on the left side with aging with the meditators.


Hence, the findings of Kurth and colleagues suggest that meditation practice protects an important part of the brain from deteriorating with age. This is interesting and important and could reflect the mechanism by which meditation decreases the aging individual’s loss of memory and spatial ability.


Meditation is known to decrease the physiological and psychological responses to stress. In addition, stress including childhood trauma is known to produce a reduction in the size of the subiculum on the left side. It follows then the neuroprotective effects of meditation on the age related deterioration of the left subiculum may result from meditations known ability to reduce stress. Further research will be required to test this idea. Regardless, the results clearly demonstrate that meditation can result in less deterioration with aging of an important part of the brain.


So, meditate to reduce brain loss with aging.


“There are no drugs that will make you immune to stress or to pain, or that will by themselves magically solve your life’s problems or promote healing. It will take conscious effort on your part to move in a direction of healing, inner peace, and well-being.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


Mindfulness practices are known to increase the activity, size, and connectivity of neural structures (see and and

Yoga practice has been shown to decrease age related brain deterioration. ( See


Meditation improves sleep in aging

Mindfulness improves emotions in aging

Qigong improves responses to stress in aging

Yoga practice improves the symptoms of arthritis

Yoga practice can reduce indicators of cellular aging

Yoga decreases musculoskeletal deterioration in aging

Tai Chi reduces inflammation and insomnia in aging and




Looking for What’s Looking


“Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in Eternal awareness or Pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.”  ― Voltaire


Introspection is looking inside and viewing our own mental processes. In essence it’s the individual mind looking at and investigating itself. This is an intentional process of thought and analysis, with the mind, memory, and cognitive processes actively engaged. When engaged in introspection the mind is asked to monitor itself, watch the processes of thought, images, and feelings in order to better understand the self.


This is in contrast to contemplative practices which for the most part attempt to reduce thought and mental activity and quiet the mind. This is a process of attempting to disengage the mind, to reduce active thought and internal speech, and to lose the self. Both contemplative practices and introspection look deeply within but differ greatly in how they’re experiencing the internal state.


In contemplative practices there’s an attempt to observe experience while disengaging the mind. This then raises the issue that if the mind is disengaged then what is observing experience? If it’s not the mind, then what is? It is sometimes termed awareness, but that only labels it and doesn’t help us to grasp any better what it actually is.


There’s an internal presence or spirit that seems to be aware of experience. It’s easy to miss as it’s always there and always has been there. So, it’s easy to take it for granted and ignore it. But, when engaged in contemplative practice its presence is revealed by the removal of the mental process that normally obscure it. We seem to become aware of awareness itself. But, how? How does a watcher watch a watcher? We feel its presence but how does presence reveal itself?


In a sense when engaged in deep contemplative practice we appear to be trying to engage the same thing that’s perceiving experience at perceiving itself. We’re attempting to look with what is looking. It’s like trying to turn the eyeball around to look at itself or trying to have the ear hear itself.


Experience itself reveals the experiencer. We see things rising up and falling away constantly changing. But, you can’t see change when you’re the thing that is changing. The earth moves through the universe, changing position constantly with respect of other celestial bodies. But, we are unaware of its movement since we’re moving with it. To see the earth moving we need to be standing on a different platform. Similarly, in order to experience that experience is changing we need to be on a different platform. That different platform for our ongoing ever changing experience is the presence, the spirit, the awareness.


Like not seeing the movement of the moving earth that we’re on it, we can’t see the platform of awareness that we are on. It is where we’re seeing from and so can’t be seen. As a result, it seems a complete mystery. But, we know it’s there because we are aware of experiences. Like becoming aware of the earths movements by seeing other celestial bodies seeming to be moving, we can become aware of awareness itself by viewing the ever changing experiences that it is aware of.


When we look deeply at our experiences they appear to be rising and falling away from nothing into nothing. A sound arises from nothing. A sight arises from darkness. An odor arises from emptiness. This is why many seers use the expression that it’s a void, that awareness is a void with infinite potential; a potential to have anything appear or disappear. Could it be that it only seems that way because we can’t see what’s seeing, after all to the ear, the ear is invisible and to the eye, the eye is invisible.


Once we have experienced what’s experiencing and we accept the mystery of it, we can experience awe at the miracle of being, at the amazing gift of our presence, and at our truest deepest nature.


So, be aware of the awareness and revel in its mystery.


“Truth is not something outside to be discovered, it is something inside to be realized.” ― Osho


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

Improve Diabetes Psychological Well-Being with Mindfulness


I am a type-2 diabetic, and they took me off medication simply because I ate right and exercised. Diabetes is not like a cancer, where you go in for chemo and radiation. You can change a lot through a basic changing of habits. – Sherri Shepherd


It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States have diabetes and the numbers are growing. Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. In addition, diabetes is heavily associated with other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, and circulatory problems leading to amputations. As a result, diabetes doubles the risk of death of any cause compared to individuals of the same age without diabetes.


Depression affects people with diabetes more often than people without it — up to 15 percent compared with 6.7 percent in the general population. When depression occurs along with a chronic illness like diabetes, the symptoms tend to be more severe. Compounding the problem further, the symptoms can become worse as depression can lead to missing medication doses, overeating, or skipping exercise. This may mean poorer blood glucose control, which, in turn, means more long-term health complications.


So, in treating diabetes it is important to treat not only the physical problem but also the psychological problems such as depression. Mindfulness training, especially Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) has been demonstrated to be effective in treating depression (see and


In today’s Research News article “Individual Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for People with Diabetes: a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial”

Schroevers and colleagues examined whether an individualized version of MBCT might be effective for depression in people with diabetes. In comparison to diabetic patients on a waiting list, MBCT resulted in clinically significant reductions in depressive symptoms and diabetes related psychological distress and increases in the levels of acting with awareness and attention regulation. These improvements were still present three months after completing the program.


These are impressive results and suggest that MBCT is an effective treatment for the psychological issues that frequently accompany diabetes. MBCT may be effective due to its emphasis on the present moment in mindfulness. Depression is often rooted in the past and the individual ruminates about the misery of the past. By shifting focus to the present moment, mindfulness can move the individual from being preoccupied with a troubling past to being focused  on addressing the manageable problems in the present. Indeed, Schroevers and colleagues demonstrated that MBCT produces an increase in acting with awareness. The individual then is more aware of what they’re doing. For the depressed diabetic individual this can help in the recognition of how he/she is acting in response to the depression or the diabetes. This allows them to reprogram their responses to be more appropriate to the circumstances of the present rather than responding to the depression itself.


Mindfulness also stresses non-judgmental awareness of the present. There is a decreased tendency to be constantly judging what is happening and instead just accept it as what is. This reduces worrying. Indeed, mindfulness practice has been shown to reduce worry (see Since worry involves concerns about future occurrences to some extent based upon past experiences, the more one can focus on the present the less opportunity there is for worries to arise. Mindfulness training also trains the individual to accept the worry, experience it, and then move on. This reduces the impact of the worry and prevents the development of worrying about worrying.


Another possibility is mindfulness’ ability to increase emotion regulation. That is mindfulness assists the individual in recognizing emotions as they arise and not over respond to them. It doesn’t prevent emotions. It simply allows the individual to better deal with them when they do arise. So when depression occurs the individual can recognize it, accept it, and then let it go and not respond to it. This liberates the individual to find new ways of responding to the environment and other people.


So, be mindful and improve psychological well-being with diabetes.


Life is not over because you have diabetes. Make the most of what you have, be grateful.” – Dale Evans


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


Improve Well-Being and Performance at Work with Mindfulness


“In light of the mind’s tendency to wander, we view mindfulness (in the workplace and elsewhere) as a remarkable feat: situating the mind in present moment time despite psychological pressures to the contrary. In performing this mental feat in a dynamic work environment, individuals attend to a number of stimuli and events and, as a result, perform effectively.” – Erik Dane


We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. How we spend that time is immensely important for our overall well-being, including our psychological and physical health. Indeed the work environment has even become an important part of our social lives, with friendships and leisure time activities often attached to the work environment. But, more than half of employees in the U.S. are unhappy at work and worldwide nearly 2/3 of workers are unhappy.


Workers indicate that interest in their work is the number one thing that makes them happy with work and the people with whom they work is the second. One way to accentuate interest in work is through mindfulness. Indeed, it has been demonstrated that meditation practice is associated with improved job performance, job satisfaction, and work engagement (see In addition, mindfulness has been shown to improve workplace mental health (see Hence, further exploration of the relationship of mindfulness to work satisfaction is warranted.


In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness at Work: Antecedents and Consequences of Employee Awareness and Absent-mindedness”

Reb and colleagues surveyed 231 workers and their supervisors in Singapore measuring their levels of mindfulness and work satisfaction and performance. They found that the more mindfully aware the employee was the higher the employees well-being, including higher levels of job satisfaction, need satisfaction, task performance, and work above expectations, and the lower the levels of emotional exhaustion and performance deviance.


These are interesting and potentially important findings that mindful awareness is significantly positively associated with greater employee well-being and superior job performance. Mindful workers not only feel better, they also perform better. It should be kept in mind that this study looked at existing levels of mindfulness and existing levels of well-being and performance and consequently does not demonstrate which is cause and which is effect or whether some other factor is responsible for the relationship. A study is needed where the effects of active mindfulness training on well-being and performance are assessed in the workplace.


Since mindfulness is known to be associated with improvements in attention and present moment awareness it would appear obvious that this would produce better job performance. In addition, mindfulness is known to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. This would help in dealing with the difficulties encountered in everyday work. Finally, mindfulness has been shown to improve emotion regulation. This would allow a worker to clearly feel their emotional reactions to situations at work and to be able to appropriately and constructively respond to the emotions.


So, improve well-being and productivity at work with mindfulness.


“Toxic emotions disrupt the workplace, and mindfulness increases your awareness of these destructive patterns, helping you recognize them before they run rampant. It’s a way of reprogramming your mind to think in healthier, less stressful, ways.” – Drew Hansen


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


Differentiate Self and Emotions with Mindfulness

If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” – Daniel Goleman
As we grow and develop throughout our lifetime we need to develop a sense of self that is independent and separate from other people. This is particularly evident in social contexts where individuals and the group pressure the individual to conform or model other people. Self-differentiation involves a process of developing a strong and independent self that can immerse in a group or identify with others if that’s appropriate but which can stake out an independent path, take different stands, and develop a unique individuality.


An aspect of this differentiation is developing independence in emotional expression, allowing emotions to be felt and expressed that are representative of the true feelings of the individual regardless of the social context. These are emotional expressions that are completely aligned with the differentiated individual and are expressions of the true self. Alexithymia is the term used in psychology to describe individuals who suffer great difficulty in emotional expression. This can result in isolation as the individual may avoid close interpersonal relationships.


These processes of self-differentiation are not limited to childhood or adolescence but go on throughout the lifetime. For healthy development the individual must differentiate both in terms of personality but also emotionally. Mindfulness promotes the comprehension of the interdependence of all things, how each individual is connected to everyone else and to other organisms and the environment. But, this does not mean that individuality cannot be developed. Rather the development of full individuality requires understanding the interdependence and interconnections among people and things. This suggests that mindfulness would promote the development of self and emotional differentiation.


In today’s Research News article “Examining Mindfulness and Its Relation to Self-Differentiation and Alexithymia”

Teixeira and Pereira investigated the relationship between mindfulness and self-differentiation and alexithymia in undergraduate college students. They found that high mindfulness was associated with high levels of awareness and acceptance of the present moment. In addition they found that high mindfulness was associated with high self-differentiation, including differentiation of self and others, and low levels of alexithymia including difficulty in identifying and describing feelings.


Hence, Teixeira and Pereira’s study indicates that mindfulness is associated with the development of individuality of self and emotional expression. It is well established that mindfulness promotes emotion regulation (see and which improves the individual’s ability to feel emotions yet keep their intensity at manageable levels and respond appropriately to them. But, these results indicate that in addition to improved emotion regulation mindfulness improves the ability to express them regardless of social demands, to be free to express what is being felt and be close to other people.


Mindfulness then appears to be associated with the full development of an individual self that is unique and distinct from others. It is interesting and important that mindfulness is positively associated with this very high level of individual human development. It further suggests that mindfulness is useful in developing independence throughout the lifetime both in terms of the self and in the expression of emotions.


So, be mindful and differentiate self and emotions.


“Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment. We also gain immediate access to our own powerful inner resources for insight, transformation, and healing.” –  Jon Kabat-Zinn


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies