16th May 2010 |
The Evidence for Mindfulness and….Just About Everything
One of my main interests is in mindfulness and its application in the workplace and beyond. The main reason for that is that mindfulness – much to my surprise – has had a huge effect on me as a person. Since then, and particularly since studying ACT, I have learned that mindfulness is broadly applicable to a great number of situations and problems.
I will use this post to maintain a list of all the best evidence about the use of mindfulness.
- Mindfulness helps prevent depression relapse (source: Teasdale, Segal, Williams, Ridgeway, Soulsby (2000). “Prevention of relapse/recurrence in major depression by mindfulness-based cognitive therapy”.
- Mindfulness has been shown to be effective in stress reduction. (reference: Shapiro, Schwartz, Bonner (1998). “Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on medical and premedical students” . There is a nice meta analysis here by Grossmana, Niemannb, Schmidtc, Walach (2003).
- Mindfulness is also used in sport. For those interested I recommend The Psychology of Enhancing Human performance.
- Mindfulness is useful in leadership – the literature is extensive in ACT but evidence is now growing that mindfulness alone can improve leadership. (Source: Ashridge).
- Mindfulness underpins general psychological health. Trait mindfulness and meditation practice correlate with psychological well-being.
- It is applicable to pain management. If you are of a scientific bent, I recommend the papers and presentations of Lance McCracken. There is plenty of research also by Kabat-Zinn (reference: Kabat-Zinn, Lipworth, Burney, Sellers (1987). “Four-year follow-up of a meditation program for the self-regulation of chronic pain: treatment outcome and compliance. If you’d prefer to read a novel I recommend Tim Parks.
- Finally, mindfulness is central to creativity. it is the ability to be with the present moment as it is, that enables problems to be addressed in an unvarnished way, and the ability to be with our fears of looking stupid if we fail that is critical to the problem solving process. (See Bond and Bunce 2001)
- Improved quality of life for cancer patients.
- Rachel Collis has written a great little post on Mindful Eating which I urge you to read. This study by Baer et al (2004) add empirical evidence.
- Finally, there has been some suggestion that mindfulness slows the ageing process. This one needs replication, but the more I use mindfulness, and understand the possible scientific mechanisms by which it has its effect (thanks, Hayes, Wilson & Strohsahl), the more I am convinced it will.
Clearly, mindfulness is much more than a passing fad. It is an Eastern idea gaining clinical acceptance. I believe mindfulness is a way of making peace with our internal struggles so that we can begin to address what’s happening externally. It is an ancient antidote to a modern condition. In the age of distraction, the time for mindfulness has truly arrived.