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Why Do People Practice Mindfulness? An Investigation into Reasons for Practicing Mindfulness Meditation

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Mindfulness meditation leads to a range of positive outcomes, yet little is known about the motivation behind choosing to practice meditation. This research investigated reasons for commencing and continuing mindfulness meditation. In both qualitative and quantitative analyses, the most frequently cited reason for commencing and continuing meditation practice was to alleviate emotional distress and enhance emotion regulation. A substantial proportion of participants also reported continuing meditation to enhance well-being, though very few commenced or continued meditation practice for spiritual or religious reasons. In brief, the overwhelming majority of participants in the present study reported practicing mindfulness to alleviate emotional distress. Further research is needed to examine reasons for meditation across more diverse samples, and whether reasons for meditation differentially predict outcome.
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ORIGINAL PAPER
Why Do People Practice Mindfulness? An Investigation
into Reasons for Practicing Mindfulness Meditation
Christopher A. Pepping
1
&Benjamin Walters
2
&Penelope J. Davis
2
&
Analise ODonovan
2,3
#Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016
Abstract Mindfulness meditation leads to a range of positive
outcomes, yet little is known about the motivation behind
choosing to practice meditation. This research investigated
reasons for commencing and continuing mindfulness medita-
tion. In both qualitative and quantitative analyses, the most
frequently cited reason for commencing and continuing med-
itation practice was to alleviate emotional distress and enhance
emotion regulation. A substantial proportion of participants
also reported continuing meditation to enhance well-being,
though very few commenced or continued meditation practice
for spiritual or religious reasons. In brief, the overwhelming
majority of participants in the present study reported practic-
ing mindfulness to alleviate emotional distress. Further re-
search is needed to examine reasons for meditation across
more diverse samples, and whether reasons for meditation
differentially predict outcome.
Keywords Mindfulness .Meditation .Reasons for
meditation .Meditation practice
Introduction
Mindfulness is commonly defined as the process of Bpaying
attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present mo-
ment, non-judgmentally^(Kabat-Zinn 1994,p.4).
Mindfulness meditation, therefore, involves the intentional
self-regulation of attention to present moment experience,
coupled with a non-judgmental and accepting stance toward
whatever may arise (Baer 2003; Kabat-Zinn 1990; Kabat-
Zinn 1994). Although there are other forms of meditation,
including concentrative meditation and guided meditation,
here we focus exclusively on mindfulness meditation.
Much evidence indicates that mindfulness meditation leads
to a range of positive outcomes (Keng et al. 2011), yet little is
known about the reasons individuals choose to practice mind-
fulness meditation. Most of the empirical literature has exam-
ined mindfulness meditation in clinical interventions (Keng et
al. 2011), whereas little research has examined mindfulness
for its original goal, namely personal growth and self-
liberation (Shapiro 1994). According to Shapiro (1992,
1994), there are three goals or reasons for meditation: self-
regulation, self-liberation, and self-exploration. Self-
regulation refers to the motivation to reduce stress and pain
and enhance well-being, whereas self-exploration refers to the
use of meditation to increase self-awareness and self-under-
standing. Finally, self-liberation refers to the practice of mind-
fulness meditation for spirituality reasons or personal growth
(Shapiro 1992; Shapiro 1994).
Shapiro (1992) examined goals and expectations for prac-
ticing meditation in a group of 27 meditators who had signed
up for an intensive Vipassana meditation retreat. Ten partici-
pants (37 %) reported self-regulation as their motivation, nine
(33.3 %) identified self-liberation, six (22.2 %) identified self-
exploration as their primary motivation, and two were classi-
fied as identifying otherreasons. Interestingly, reasons for
*Christopher A. Pepping
c.pepping@latrobe.edu.au
1
School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University,
Melbourne, VIC, Australia
2
School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University,
Brisbane, Australia
3
Menzies Health Institute, Queensland, Australia
Mindfulness
DOI 10.1007/s12671-016-0490-3
practicing meditation shifted somewhat from self-regulation,
to self-exploration, to self-liberation as meditation experience
increased, with experienced meditators more likely to identify
self-liberation as their motivation.
Carmody et al. (2009)alsoexaminedreasonsforengaging
in mindfulness meditation practice in a sample of 309 partic-
ipants attending a mindfulness-based stress reduction program
for stress-related difficulties. Based on the research of Shapiro
(1992), participants were asked to rate the importance of two
reasons pertaining to self-regulation, two reasons pertaining to
self-exploration, and two reasons pertaining to self-liberation.
The maximum score for each type of intention was 10. Results
revealed high levels of intention for self-regulation (9.34),
self-exploration (8.35), and self-liberation (8.26).
Furthermore, intentions were largely unrelated to outcome
measures of psychological distress, a finding difficult to inter-
pret easily because of the low variability of the intention
ratings.
In brief, much evidence reveals mindfulness meditation
enhances a wide range of positive outcomes, yet little is
known about the reasons people choose to practice medita-
tion. There is good reason to predict there may be a range of
reasons individuals choose to practice meditation. However,
the only two empirical studies to investigate this have relied
on either very small samples of highly experienced meditators
in intensive retreats (Shapiro 1992) or samples characterized
by stress-related illness (Carmody et al. 2009). It is therefore
important to examine reasons for practicing meditation in larg-
er samples not characterized only by individuals experiencing
stress-related concerns.
The aim of the present research was to identify reasons
people choose to commence mindfulness meditation practice,
and reasons for continuing to practice, in two phases: (a) a
qualitative analysis of open-ended responses pertaining to rea-
sons for commencing and continuing meditation practice, and
(b) a quantitative analysis of reasons for commencing and
continuing meditation practice. The use of qualitative analysis
was appropriate as an initial step. Thematic analysis explores,
identifies, and analyzes themes from qualitative data, indepen-
dent of theory, or preconceived hypotheses (Braun and Clarke
2006). We therefore asked participants open-ended questions
relating to their reasons for engaging in mindfulness medita-
tion, followed by quantitative questions. No specific hypoth-
eses were developed as the goal was to identify themes relat-
ing to reasons for engaging in meditation.
Method
Participants
Participants were 190 adults attending a large urban university
(149 female, 41 male) ranging in age from 17 to 53
(M= 21.34, SD=5.76) who had practiced mindfulness medi-
tation. Of these, 71 participants (57 female, 14 male) ranging
in age from 17 to 41 (M= 21.45, SD = 4.94) reported having a
current mindfulness meditation practice. Most current medita-
tors (n =58) practiced at least weekly, with the remainder prac-
ticing less than once per week. Thirty-three participants had
practiced meditation for less than 1 year, 29 for between 1 and
5 years, and 9 for over 5 years. The remaining 119 (92 female,
27 male) participants, ranging in age from 17 to 53
(M= 21.27, SD = 6.22), reported having practiced mindfulness
meditation previously, but no longer practiced. There were no
significant differences in age or gender breakdown between
those with a current mindfulness practice and those with prior
meditation experience. Participants were undergraduate psy-
chology students participating for 1 h experimental credit.
Procedure
Participants were recruited through an online advertisement
on the university research participation website, where the
inclusion requirement of having experience in mindfulness
meditation was explained. Participants were informed the re-
search was designed to assess reasons for engaging in mind-
fulness meditation.
Measures
Participants completed an online questionnaire. After
providing demographic information, participants
responded to two open-ended questions that were subse-
quently coded for the qualitative analysis. The first
question was asked to all participants (n= 190): BWhy
did you first choose to start practicing mindfulness med-
itation? What were your reasons?^The second question
was asked only to those participants who reported hav-
ing a current mindfulness meditation practice: BWhat are
your reasons for continuing to practice mindfulness
meditation?^
Participants were next asked to respond to a series of ques-
tions about their reasons for meditation. All participants
responded to the following question: BWhy did you start prac-
ticing mindfulness meditation?^and were asked to rate how
important were each of the following reasons: relaxation; re-
duce anxiety; feel calmer; improve interpersonal relationships;
reduce/manage physical pain; regulate my emotions (manage
emotions more effectively); manage difficult thoughts; in-
crease concentration and attention; spiritual or religious rea-
sons; and I wanted to learn more about mindfulness/I was
curious about mindfulness meditation. Initially participants
were asked to respond to these on a 7-point scale, ranging
from not important to very important. We subsequently col-
lapsed responses into three discrete groups: Blittle to no
importance^,Bmoderate importance^,andBmajor
Mindfulness
importance^for ease of interpretation. Scores of 1 reflected no
importance, and scores of 23 reflected little importance. Very
few participants rated potential reasons at these levels, thus we
collapsed these three scores to reflect the category of Blittle to
no importance^.Scoresof45 were coded as Bmoderate
importance^, and scores of 67 were coded as Bmajor
importance.^
Participants with a current practice also responded to
the following question: BWhy do you continue to prac-
tice mindfulness meditation?^by rating the importance
of each of the following reasons: relaxation; reduce anx-
iety; feel calmer; improve interpersonal relationships; re-
duce / manage physical pain; regulate my emotions
(manage emotions more effectively); manage difficult
thoughts; increase concentration and attention; spiritual
or religious reasons; and I continue to learn about my-
self through mindfulness. These were scored using the
same method described above. Importantly, these ques-
tions were asked after the open-ended qualitative ques-
tions so as to not influence responses to the open-ended
questions.
Data Analyses
For the qualitative component, an inductive thematic
analysis was used to code and analyze qualitative re-
sponses (Braun and Clarke 2006;2013;Richardsand
Morse 2007). Responses were coded at multiple themes
when a single response tapped multiple concepts. For
the quantitative component, the frequency with which
participants endorsed particular reasons for commencing
and continuing meditation practicewereexamined,andt
tests were performed to examine differences between
groups based on meditation experience.
Results
Qualitative Analyses
A detailed description of this analysis can be obtained from
the first author. The major findings are presented here.
Analysis of the reasons for commencing mindfulness medita-
tion practice revealed four themes:
(i) Reduction of negative experiences. Most responses
(94.74 %) referred to beginning mindfulness meditation
to cope with or reduce negative experiences, especially
negative emotional experiences involving stress, anxiety,
panic, and depression.
(ii) Well-being. Many respondents (31.05 %) referred to the
use of mindfulness meditation as a tool for enhancing
aspects of their lives, such as increased happiness,
greater self-awareness, improved performance, and
greater alertness and concentration. Importantly, re-
sponses at this theme were associated with the use of
mindfulness to attain a desired, positive state or outcome
rather than to reduce a negative state or outcome.
(iii) Introduction by an external source. Beginning mindful-
ness meditation on the recommendation of another per-
son was given as an important reason by a substantial
minority of participants (28.42 %).
(iv) Religion/spirituality. A small number of participants
(6.32 %) mentioned beginning meditation for spiritual
or religious reasons. All those who named a religion
referred to Buddhism.
Analysis of reasons for continuing mindfulness meditation
practice also revealed four themes:
(i) Reduction of negative experiences. Most respondents
(95.77 %) commented that continuing mindfulness med-
itation practice was helpful in reducing negative experi-
ences and managing such things as anger, anxiety, stress,
and tension headaches.
(ii) Well-being. Many (74.65 %) reported that continued
practice was associated with greater happiness and im-
proved psychological health and life satisfaction.
(iii) Perception of effectiveness. Some (18.31 %) mentioned
that they continued meditating because it was useful or
beneficial, without specifying particular benefits (e.g.,
BI have found it very helpful^).
(iv) Religion/spirituality. A small number (4.23 %) reported
continued practice for religious and spiritual reasons.
Quantitative Results
Ratings of the importance of various reasons for beginning
and continuing mindfulness meditation are presented in
Figs. 1and 2. As can be seen, the four top reasons for both
beginning and continuing mindfulness meditation practice
were to feel calmer, relaxation, to reduce anxiety, and to reg-
ulate emotions more effectively. In contrast, very few partici-
pants reported commencing or continuing mindfulness medi-
tation for spiritual or religious reasons.
Next, we compared current meditators who have practiced
for less than 1 year (n= 33) with current meditators who have
practiced for more than 1 year (n=36) across each of the 10
reasons. A series of independent samples ttests were per-
formed with alpha set at p< 0.005 to account for multiple tests.
Results revealed less experienced meditators were more likely
to have commenced (t(67) = 3.54, p= 0.001) and continued (t
(67) = 3.21, p= 0.002) mindfulness meditation practice to re-
duce physical pain compared their more experienced counter-
parts. No other significant differences emerged.
Mindfulness
Discussion
The results of the present research revealed marked similarity
in the reasons for both beginning and continuing the practice
of mindfulness meditation, a similarity evident in both the
qualitative and quantitative data. The vast majority of partic-
ipants began practicing mindfulness meditation to reduce neg-
ative emotional experiences, to manage their emotions more
effectively, and to feel calmer, and these same factors were
responsible for the continued practice of mindfulness
meditation.
Another major reason for practicing mindfulness medita-
tion was to enhance well-being, including happiness, self-
awareness, alertness, and concentration. Interestingly, sub-
stantially more participants reported well-being as a key rea-
son for continuing mindfulness practice than for commencing
mindfulness practice, perhaps indicating that as individuals
gain greater experience, they become more aware of the
benefits of mindfulness to also increase health and well-being.
This is consistent with Shapiros(1992) research that as med-
itation experience increased, participants moved from engag-
ing in mindfulness for self-regulation purposes towards self-
exploration and self-liberation purposes (e.g., for personal
growth, self-understanding, liberation, or spirituality).
Similarly, in the quantitative analyses, meditators with less
experience (less than 12 months) were more likely to practice
mindfulness to reduce physical pain compared to those with
more meditation experience. This finding is certainly consis-
tent with the idea that as experience increases, meditators
move more towards self-exploration and self-liberation.
However, it is important to note that this was the only signif-
icant difference between these two groups, and future research
is needed to replicate this finding to ensure it is indeed a
reliable pattern.
Very few participants in the present sample reported prac-
ticing mindfulness for its original purpose; namely spiritual or
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
160
180
200
Major Importance
Moderate Importance
Little-No Importance
Fig. 1 Reasons for Commencing
Mindfulness Practice (N=190).
Reasons are presented in order of
importance (proportion indicating
major importance or moderate
importance)
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
Major Importance
Moderate Importance
Little-No Importance
Fig. 2 Reasons for Continuing to
Practice Mindfulness (N=71)
Reasons are presented in order of
importance (proportion indicating
major importance or moderate
importance)
Mindfulness
religious reasons. Given that this research was conducted in a
large university in a western country, perhaps the specific
population may influence results. Most of the Western litera-
ture on mindfulness has focused on the use of mindfulness in
the context of therapy, rather than for spiritual purposes.
Perhaps different reasons for practicing mindfulness medita-
tion would emerge in other cultures, and in samples with
greater mindfulness meditation experience.
As previously mentioned, there was marked similarity in
the findings from the qualitative and quantitative data.
Interestingly, however, in the quantitative analysis many re-
ported they continue to practice mindfulness because they
continue to learn about themselves, and because it has bene-
ficial effects on relationships. These were not identified as
themes within the qualitative analysis, which may indicate
that these two reasons were not particularly salient when
asked to specify reasons in general. Nonetheless, when asked
explicitly about these reasons, more than half of participants
endorsed learning about themselves and improved relation-
ships as reasons for continuing.
Because the aim of the qualitative component of was to
assess and analyze themes, consistent with thematic analysis
(Braun and Clarke 2013), we did not use Shapiros(1992)
work to inform our coding of responses. However, our results
are remarkably similar, and the key themes emerging from the
qualitative and quantitative analyses support Shapirosstruc-
ture of intentions for meditation practice described earlier.
Most engaged in mindfulness for self-regulation.
Specifically, themes relating to reducing negative experiences,
and enhancing well-being, are consistent with the self-
regulation intention defined by Shapiro (1992,1994). The
themes pertaining to increased self-awareness, clarity, and
learning about oneself, are consistent with Shapirosself-
exploration intention. Fewer participants engaged in mindful-
ness meditation for these reasons. Finally, the theme relating
to spiritual or religious reasons clearly corresponds to
Shapiros self-liberation intention. However, in the present
research, very few reported engaging in mindfulness for self-
liberation reasons. The present sample was a sample of young
adults likely to be relatively new to the practice of mindful-
ness. It seems possible that as they continue to practice mind-
fulness, their reasons for doing so may shift toward self-liber-
ation. However, this remains to be investigated empirically.
Limitations and Future Directions
There are several limitations to acknowledge. First, partici-
pants were asked to retrospectively recall reasons for com-
mencing meditation. The retrospective reports of reasons for
commencing mindfulness and current reports of reasons for
continuing mindfulness were generally very similar, which
may reflect the influence of current perceptions. However,
there were also some clear distinctions which are suggestive
of validity of responses. The only way in which reasons for
commencing mindfulness practice can be definitively deter-
mined is to assess these reasons prior to the commencement of
mindfulness practice, and future research should address this
question.
Reasons for meditation specified in the quantitative
component were not exhaustive, and some may choose
to engage in meditation for other reasons. However, the
inclusion of open-ended qualitative questions meant that
any additional information was captured in the qualita-
tive component. We asked the open-ended qualitative
questions prior to presenting the list of ten reasons for
engaging in meditation to prevent these researcher-
derived reasons from influencing open-ended responses.
Nonetheless, the possibility remains that participant re-
sponses to such open-ended questions may influence
responding to the list of questions as participants may
be motivated to remain consistent. Further, participants
were not asked whether their reasons for practicing
mindfulness meditation referred to formal mindfulness
retreats, accessing mindfulness teachers, or to private
meditation. Future research should consider reasons for
practicing meditation across a range of contexts.
The sample was a fairly homogenous group of young
adults in a Western country, and results cannot be assumed
to generalize to other groups of meditators. Similarly, females
were overrepresented, and results should be interpreted with
this in mind. Future research is needed to examine reasons for
meditation across broader, more representative samples.
Nonetheless, the present research provides important informa-
tion pertaining to reasons for meditation in meditators in a
Wester n co un try.
Future research is needed to examine the trajectory of en-
gagement in mindfulness meditation longitudinally to exam-
ine intentions more accurately, and to assess potential change
in intentions as meditation experience increases over time.
Perhaps the most critical question that remains to be ad-
dressed, however, is whether reasons for practicing mindful-
ness meditation influence the outcome of such practices. It
seems possible that mindfulness meditators who commence
meditation practice for self-regulation reasons might benefit
differently than those practicing for self-regulation or self-
liberation reasons. Shapiro and colleagues (2006) argue that
intentions are critically important as they remind an individual
of their reasons for practicing meditation, though to date there
is limited evidence to support this proposition (Shapiro 1992).
If reasons for practicing meditation do indeed influence out-
come, this would suggest that assessing reasons for meditation
at the beginning of mindfulness-based interventions may be
important. In brief, further research is needed to examine rea-
sons for mindfulness meditation longitudinally across repre-
sentative samples, and whether the intention behind practicing
meditation influences outcome.
Mindfulness
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Mindfulness
... The reasons can range from stress reduction, through health-focused 1 The sense of self refers to both conceptual and experiential perception of self. clinical reasons, such as reducing anxiety symptoms or chronic pain, skill-enhancement for improved academic or workplace performance to self-exploration and better self-understanding (Shapiro, 1992;Pepping et al., 2016;Sparby and Ott, 2018). ...
... An early study suggested that reasons for meditation practice can change with longer-term practice, progressing from self-enhancement to self-exploration and then self-understanding (Shapiro, 1992). There have been repeated calls for the reasons behind mindfulness practice to be examined empirically (Harrington and Dunne, 2015;Pepping et al., 2016) since they may modulate practice outcomes (Davidson and Kaszniak, 2015;Dorjee, 2016). Here we propose the INT axis as part of the Mindfulness Map to capture intentions that may closely interact with reasons for mindfulness practice but denote a particular experiential perspective with which we approach a mindfulness practice. ...
... While the proposed framework has a potential to facilitate more fine-grained distinctions of mindfulness practices, the Mindfulness Map is not intended as a complete framework; rather, it is an initial starting point to open up further discussions about the proposed axes and the MGs and INTs included in the Map. It is possible that the Mindfulness Map needs to be further expanded by additional axes, such as an axis capturing the variety of reasons for engaging in mindfulness practice (Shapiro, 1992;Pepping et al., 2016;Sparby and Ott, 2018). Indeed, it is likely that reasons for mindfulness practice interact with INTs and modulate the resulting EUs further. ...
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... In a recent examination of people's reasons for practicing mindfulness meditation, very few participants reported commencing or continuing meditation practice for spiritual or religious reasons (Pepping et al. 2016). Therefore, the increases in spirituality that arise from secular MBPs may be a latent or less explicit benefit. ...
... Therefore, the increases in spirituality that arise from secular MBPs may be a latent or less explicit benefit. This may be due to the Western context of many of the MBPs in this review, in which the spiritual components of MBPs are not stressed, which perhaps facilitates the exploration of spirituality in an unthreatening way (Mackenzie et al. 2007;Pepping et al. 2016). Thus, participants may become more "spiritual" because of secular MBPs without necessarily explicitly wanting to or openly identifying as such. ...
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... In other words, their initial level of resilience allowed them to cope with the adversity encountered during the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic without being affected over the long term. Meditation is often used to regulate emotions or promote mental health, also in the case of disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety, stress) (Cramer et al., 2016;Pepping et al., 2016;Upchurch and Johnson, 2019). According to Connor and Davidson's theory, the disruption in the state of biopsychospiritual homeostasis engendered by COVID-19 pandemic seems to have allowed mindfulness practitioners to grow and improve their resilience. ...
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This study looks at the effects of the combined practice of mindful meditation and aromatherapy on the wellbeing of MCAST ICS lecturers, potentially providing resources that can help them deal with various stressors. Each practice is supported with literature underlining its effects towards a holistic wellbeing. The researcher uses a qualitative narrative inquiry approach to draw meaning and understanding out of the participants’ experiences. Three MCAST ICS lecturers participated in this study. Their background in health care enables them to relate better with the benefits of mindful meditation and aromatherapy. The research design of this study consists of four stages; a pre-session held with the three participants, weekly mindful meditation sessions for six weeks, individual interviews with each participant, followed by a focus group. Three of the six sessions included aromatherapy and a mindful journal was kept throughout the sessions. The analysis format could either develop as an analysis of narrative or narrative of analysis. In this study both formats were used, however, due to the word count limit only the analysis of narrative is seen. The researcher elicited whole segments from the individual transcripts to develop various themes. To examine the data for the emergent themes the researcher chose to use thematic narrative analysis as it focuses on the ‘told’ (Riessman 2008). In this case the ‘told’ is what helped identify the common patterns found across the narratives. As themes started to emerge, whenever possible the researcher used the MAXQDA software to facilitate the process. Mindful meditation was found to lead to a series of events that enhance self-awareness, thus enhancing holistic wellbeing and positively effecting the individual’s approach towards work and family. This can be achieved because mindful meditation has the potential to enhance one’s social skills, soft skills, and emotional intelligence. Furthermore, combining aromatherapy with mindful meditation was found to positively enhance one’s experience. However, it was not the only decisive factor since the ambience was also an influencer.
... This potential limitation applies to the majority of research on mindfulness inductions (e.g., Hafenbrack & Vohs, 2018) and interventions and does not account for the differential effects of meditation on goal and anagram motivation in the present research. Nonetheless, as mindfulness becomes increasingly popular among the general public, researchers should be cognizant of the fact that participants may arrive at the lab with increased meditation experience, greater preconceived notions about the benefits of mindfulness, and various motives for engaging in mindfulness exercises (Pepping, Walters, Davis, & O'Donovan, 2016). Attempting to control for these variables may become increasingly important (Heppner & Shirk, 2018). ...
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Recent research suggests that mindfulness meditation may impair motivation towards traditional laboratory tasks. The present research explored the effects of meditation on motivation towards personal goals and an anagram task. In Study 1 (n = 200), participants in the mindfulness condition reported greater goal motivation than those in a comparison podcast condition (due to a decrease in the podcast condition); this difference remained 10 minutes later. Exploratory analyses revealed no differences between conditions in post‐manipulation anagram motivation. In Study 2 (n = 120), participants in the mindfulness condition reported greater goal motivation than those in the podcast condition; this difference remained 20 minutes later. There were no differences between conditions in anagram motivation. Furthermore, goal motivation increased from before to after meditating, whereas anagram motivation remained the same. These findings oppose the notion that meditation impairs motivation and instead suggest that meditation may offer motivational benefits for personal goal pursuit. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
... This potential limitation applies to the majority of research on mindfulness inductions (e.g., Hafenbrack & Vohs, 2018) and interventions and does not account for the differential effects of meditation on goal and anagram motivation in the present research. Nonetheless, as mindfulness becomes increasingly popular among the general public, researchers should be cognizant of the fact that participants may arrive at the lab with increased meditation experience, greater preconceived notions about the benefits of mindfulness, and various motives for engaging in mindfulness exercises (Pepping, Walters, Davis, & O'Donovan, 2016). Attempting to control for these variables may become increasingly important (Heppner & Shirk, 2018). ...
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Recent research suggests that mindfulness meditation may impair motivation towards traditional laboratory tasks. The present research explored the effects of meditation on motivation towards personal goals and an anagram task. In Study 1 (n = 200), participants in the mindfulness condition reported greater goal motivation than those in a comparison podcast condition (due to a decrease in the podcast condition); this difference remained 10 minutes later. Exploratory analyses revealed no differences between conditions in post-manipulation anagram motivation. In Study 2 (n = 120), participants in the mindfulness condition reported greater goal motivation than those in the podcast condition; this difference remained 20 minutes later. There were no differences between conditions in anagram motivation. Furthermore, goal motivation increased from before to after meditating, whereas anagram motivation remained the same. These findings oppose the notion that meditation impairs motivation and instead suggest that meditation may offer motivational benefits for personal goal pursuit.
... A possible explanation for lower ratings for themes in the "transcendence" module is that they did not match the interests of participants. A previous study investigated the reasons for practicing mindfulness meditation and found that 94.74% of people mentioned a reduction in negative experiences, while only 6.32% of people mentioned spirituality (Pepping et al., 2016). Thus, the participants in the current study may have low interest in the spiritual themes included in the "transcendence" module. ...
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Objectives Second-generation mindfulness-based interventions (SG-MBIs) have emphasized the cultivation of ethics. However, some ethics and values that are emphasized in SG-MBIs are criticized by Confucianism, one of the most influential traditions in China. The current study developed a new SG-MBI called mindfulness-based positive psychology (MBPP) that emphasized value clarification and integrated Confucian values. The acceptability and effects of this intervention were evaluated among Chinese people in mainland China.MethodsA total of 138 healthy Chinese adults from universities and communities were randomly assigned to the MBPP or waitlist condition. Consistent with the “relief,” “promotion,” and “transcendence” modules in MBPP, variables representing negative symptoms (depression, anxiety, and stress), positive traits (gratitude and appreciative joy), and spirituality (meaning of life) were measured before and after the 6-week intervention and 3 months after the intervention. The amount of meditation practice and ratings for MBPP and different themes were also measured.ResultsCompared to the waitlist condition, MBPP significantly reduced anxiety and stress with low to medium effect sizes but not other measures. The amount of meditation practice during the intervention was significantly associated with changes in appreciative joy and gratitude. Participants rated the MBPP and themes highly, and themes in the “transcendence” module received significantly lower ratings than other themes.ConclusionsMBPP is a feasible and promising SG-MBI for promoting mental health among Chinese. Future studies should further evaluate the acceptability and effects of the new components of SG-MBIs and develop suitable measurements for those idealistic mentalities proposed by Buddhism and other traditions.
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Interventions based on training in mindfulness skills are becoming increasingly popular. Mindfulness involves intentionally bringing one's attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, and is often taught through a variety of meditation exercises. This review summarizes conceptual approaches to mind-fulness and empirical research on the utility of mindfulness-based interventions. Meta-analytic techniques were incorporated to facilitate quantification of findings and comparison across studies. Although the current empirical literature includes many methodological flaws, findings suggest that mindfulness-based interventions may be helpful in the treatment of several disorders. Methodologically sound investigations are recommended in order to clarify the utility of these interventions.
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Within the past few decades, there has been a surge of interest in the investigation of mindfulness as a psychological construct and as a form of clinical intervention. This article reviews the empirical literature on the effects of mindfulness on psychological health. We begin with a discussion of the construct of mindfulness, differences between Buddhist and Western psychological conceptualizations of mindfulness, and how mindfulness has been integrated into Western medicine and psychology, before reviewing three areas of empirical research: cross-sectional, correlational research on the associations between mindfulness and various indicators of psychological health; intervention research on the effects of mindfulness-oriented interventions on psychological health; and laboratory-based, experimental research on the immediate effects of mindfulness inductions on emotional and behavioral functioning. We conclude that mindfulness brings about various positive psychological effects, including increased subjective well-being, reduced psychological symptoms and emotional reactivity, and improved behavioral regulation. The review ends with a discussion on mechanisms of change of mindfulness interventions and suggested directions for future research.
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