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


Abstract and Figures

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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Why Do People Practice Mindfulness? An Investigation
into Reasons for Practicing Mindfulness Meditation
Christopher A. Pepping
&Benjamin Walters
&Penelope J. Davis
Analise ODonovan
#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
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
School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University,
Melbourne, VIC, Australia
School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University,
Brisbane, Australia
Menzies Health Institute, Queensland, Australia
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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Introduction Mindfulness interventions are effective in improving mood, reducing stress, and increasing quality of life. New developments in technology bring important channels to deliver mindfulness interventions that can increase accessibility, such as the Internet, computerised interventions, mobile apps and recently, virtual reality (VR). The aim of the present study is to enhance our current understanding of the use of VR in mindfulness, namely we examined in a pilot randomised trial the efficacy of an immersive VR-based mindfulness approach compared to an active control (computerised-based mindfulness meditation) on improving mood. A secondary objective was to examine whether VR use resulted in simulator sickness which could affect user engagement. Methods Forty-seven (Mage = 29.22 years) healthy participants were randomly assigned to the experimental or control group. Results A mixed 2X3 ANOVA showed a significant Time effect. Namely, negative emotions were reduced in both groups, with non-significant differences between groups. For positive emotions, on the other hand, our results showed no significant impact. Simulator sickness in VR was not present, according to t-test, making VR a safe delivery method. Discussion Future research should investigate VR dosage and combine VR with other interventions (e.g., blended with face-to-face mindfulness interventions, with Internet-delivered interventions).
... Another important issue was the motivation to participate: While couples indicated that they wanted to improve their relationship, the primary focus was on reducing individual distress, which is also consistent with previous findings (Pepping et al., 2016). Previous couple research shows that women rather than men desire change within their relationships (Heyman et al., 2009). ...
Background: Studies have shown that depression and interpersonal relationships are interdependently connected and that including the intimate partner in treatment for depression has beneficial effects. Given evidence that compassion is both an interpersonal quality and a sufficient treatment target, the goal of this study was to examine the effects of a compassion-based, contemplative treatment for couples employing a multi-method approach for evaluation. Methods: In a pre-post-follow-up design, n = 53 different-sex couples including women with current depression were randomly assigned to a 10-week-long CBCT®-fC (Cognitively-Based Compassion Training/intervention for couples) or treatment-as-usual (TAU) condition. Multi-level linear regression models and post-hoc contrasts were calculated to determine changes in depressive symptoms, mindfulness and self-compassion, interpersonal functioning and neuroendocrine markers collected during a partnership appreciation task (PAT) in the laboratory before and after CBCT-fC treatment. Results: While CBCT-fC led to a comparable decrease of depressive symptoms as TAU, the training specifically increased self-compassion and mindfulness versus TAU. Interestingly, interpersonal functioning did not improve, which was also reflected in participants' preferred self-focus in-between-session practices, instead of practices with interpersonal focus. There were no group-specific changes in psychobiological stress-marker reactivity. Conclusions: CBCT-fC was effective in decreasing current depressive symptomatology and increasing mindfulness, and self-compassion. Especially the motivation to participate, such as improving interpersonal functioning, should be addressed and intrinsic motives of the partners to be involved. In highly burdened individuals, self-regulation may need to be improved before co-regulation can be addressed, which would requiring longer treatments. Facilitating factors for engaging in the practice between-sessions seem meaningful.
... Definitions and conceptions of mindfulness vary considerably (Hitchcock et al., 2016;Lester et al., 2018). Research suggests peoples' reasons for starting mindfulness meditation and continuing the practice can be very heterogeneous (Pepping et al., 2016;Sedlmeier & Theumer, 2020)-ranging from the means to deal with psychological and physical problems (stress, anxiety, panic, and depression), to a tool for the enrichment of one's life or spiritual growth. Studies on meditation in general also suggest that peoples' motivations can change with increased practice (Jiwani et al., 2022;Schmidt, 2013;Sedlmeier & Theumer, 2020;Shapiro, 1992) and that increased practice and socialisation into meditation groups can also lead to changes in self-concept, language, and worldviews (Rahmani, 2022). ...
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Objectives The beliefs and expectations people bring into mindfulness practice can affect the measurement outcomes of interventions. The aim of this mixed-method study was to examine the key beliefs in the powers of mindfulness—understood as non-judgmental awareness of the present moment—to transform the individual and the society, and to develop and validate the Belief in the Powers of Mindfulness Scale (BPMS). Method In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with mindfulness meditators (n = 32), including follow-up interviews (n = 22). Qualitative data were analysed through a thematic narrative approach. Participants (n = 458) completed a questionnaire that included the new scale. Results Participants’ key beliefs were thematically analysed in three transformation themes: interpersonal relationships and compassion, peace and violence, and the inner world—themes were encapsulated in the BPMS. Ideas presented in each theme were undergirded by a host of ideologies, epistemic claims, and metaphysical assumptions about the nature of mind, self, and reality—which are predicated by broader cultural trends such as expressive individualism, perennial philosophy, and New Age sentiments and ideals. The BPMS showed strong internal consistency and convergent validity, and individuals who were older and more spiritual practised mindfulness more often and for longer, and self-reported greater mindfulness skills, and scored higher on the BPMS. Conclusions Findings illustrate the persisting importance of attending to people’s beliefs and expectations in mindfulness interventions and further the call for a contextual approach that accounts for cultural factors. The newly developed BPMS may assist with the measuring of peoples’ beliefs and expectations.
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Background: Meditation apps have the potential to increase access to evidence-based strategies to promote mental health. However, it is currently unclear how meditation apps are situated within the broader landscape of meditation practice and what factors may influence engagement with them. Objective: This study aimed to clarify the prevalence and correlates of meditation app use in a population-based sample of individuals with lifetime exposure to meditation in the United States. In addition, we sought to identify the concerns and desired features of meditation apps among those with lifetime exposure to meditation. Methods: A total of 953 participants completed an initial screening survey. Of these 953 participants, 434 (45.5%) reported lifetime exposure to meditation and completed a follow-up survey (434/470, 92.3% response rate) assessing their meditation app use, anxiety, depression, loneliness, initial motivation for meditation, and concerns about and desired features of meditation apps. Results: Almost half (434/953, 45.5%) of the participants who completed the screening survey reported lifetime exposure to meditation. Among those with lifetime exposure to meditation (ie, meditators), more than half (255/434, 58.8%) had used meditation apps at least once in their lives, and 21.7% (94/434) used meditation apps weekly or daily (ie, active users). Younger age, higher anxiety, and a mental health motivation for practicing meditation were associated with lifetime exposure to meditation apps. Among meditators, those with lifetime exposure to meditation apps were more likely to report concerns about apps, including concerns regarding the cost and effectiveness of apps, time required for use, technical issues with apps, and app user-friendliness. Meditators who used meditation apps weekly or daily (ie, active users) were younger, less likely to be men and non-Latinx White individuals and have lower income, and more likely to have an initial spiritual motivation for meditation. Active users reported more concerns regarding usability and technical problems and were less likely to report disinterest in apps. Headspace and Calm were the most frequently used apps. Tips and reminders for practice, encouragement of “mini” practices, and mental health content were the most desired features. Participants were less interested in social features (eg, the ability to communicate with other users or teachers). Conclusions: Meditation apps are commonly used by meditators in the United States, with a higher use among certain demographic groups. Future studies may increase user engagement in meditation apps by addressing concerns (eg, cost and effectiveness) and incorporating desired features (eg, tips and reminders for practice).
... Kabat-Zinn [7] linked the intervention with socialcognitive models of self-regulation such as Bandura [8], and with mind-body systemic theories about mindfulness enhancing homeostasis [9]. Managing stress and emotion is the main motivator for participation in mindfulness-based programmes [10]. ...
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This article examines the practice of combining explorations of regulated and dysregulated states through the Workable Ranges Model (WRM) with the skills and qualities taught in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). MBSR was designed to help participants to self-regulate stress. Didactic teaching about stress reactivity is part of the curriculum and may contribute to positive outcomes. A practice-based embodied methodology utilised mindful inquiry in research methods. Seven graduates of MBSR courses that included the WRM became conceptual encounter research partners. Following a re-presentation of the WRM, data were gathered through a diagrammatic diary exercise, post-meditation inquiry and a group discussion. Reflexive thematic analysis identified an overarching theme that the WRM was a dynamic map for exploring stability and stress. Two non-hierarchical themes articulated interrelated self-reflective activities associated with using the WRM as a map. Mapping involved charting regulated and dysregulated embodied experience. Meeting was the embodied application to mindfulness practice. Modulating states through intentional orienting to and resourcing mindful self-regulation and self-care grew out of the mapping and meeting practices. The WRM provided a form and set of words to name mind-body states, and to develop and apply insights about them. The WRM was used to shape new meanings about the relationship between mindfulness and regulated and dysregulated experience. This is theorised through its connection with embodied metaphors. The combination of the WRM and mindfulness worked to frame and progress mindful self-regulation. The WRM may be a valuable resource for mindfulness teachers to support self-regulation and mental health.
Objectives There is evidence to suggest that only 2-4 weeks of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) can already alleviate emotional stress. The current studies sought to examine whether experiential avoidance mediated the effects of MBIs on emotional distress during an early stage of the intervention. Methods: Chinese participants with high emotional distress were recruited. Study 1 included 324 participants, randomly assigned to an online MBI (N = 171) or a control group (N = 153). Experiential avoidance and general emotional distress were measured at baseline and after the 3rd week of the intervention. Study 2 included 158 participants, randomly assigned to an online MBI (N = 79) or a control group (N = 79). Experiential avoidance and emotional distress were measured at baseline and weekly in the first three weeks. Results: Compared to the control group, experiential avoidance and emotional distress were significantly improved in the MBI group during the first three weeks of the intervention (Cohen's d = 0.22-0.63). Moreover, changes in experiential avoidance mediated the effects of MBI on emotional distress in the early stage in both contemporary and lagged mediation models. Discussion: Experiential avoidance is an important mediator during the early-stage of MBIs for alleviating emotional distress.
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This conceptual analysis contributes to extending the transformative potential of mindfulness for consumers and society by creating a mindfulness matrix that uncovers new linkages across previously siloed mindfulness literatures and by arguing that next‐generation mindfulness research and practice should draw on underexplored synergies between these. The paper makes three key contributions: First, it illustrates how a shift in understanding mainstream mindfulness from a predominate focus on the Self may create new opportunities for individual and collective wellbeing. Second, its mindfulness matrix offers an integrative mapping of relevant literatures to different motivations for engaging in mindfulness, suggesting opportunities for integration between diverse schools of thought. Finally, it argues that to broaden the scope of mindfulness to generate wisdom and transformative capacity in one and all, we need a stronger emphasis on understanding mindfulness as prosocial engagement. This offers new opportunities for research and interventions that promote consumer, organizational, and societal wellbeing.
Objective: We synthesized the effects of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) on psychological outcomes in college and university students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Method: Ten electronic databases were searched from inception to December 2021. We reviewed studies with college and university students receiving MBIs with psychological outcomes. We only reviewed studies written in English. A random-effects model was used to compute the effect size. Results: Overall, MBIs showed a significantly moderate improvement in anxiety (g = 0.612, 95% CI: 0.288-0.936, I2 = 77%); depression (g = 0.372, 95% CI: 0.032-0.713, I2 = 72%); and mindfulness (g = 0.392, 95% CI:0.102-0.695, I2 = 64%) compared with control groups, while these interventions had a small effect in reducing stress, but not a significant one (g = 0.295, 95% CI: -0.088 to 0.676, I2 = 77%) compared with control groups. Conclusion: MBIs significantly improved psychological outcomes among college and university students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Clinicians and health providers should consider using MBIs as alternative complementary treatment for improving and preventing anxiety and depression in college and university students during COVID-19. Clinical relevance: The use of MBIs for college and university students is an effective method to decrease anxiety, depressive symptoms, and increase mindfulness. MBIs would become a very useful means of alternative complementary treatment in mental health and clinical psychiatry.
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Objectives Despite the well-documented psychological benefits of meditation practice, limited research has examined factors associated with meditation practice persistence. Like other health behaviors (e.g., exercise), non-persistence may undermine the effectiveness of meditation.Method We examined rates and correlates of meditation persistence using a population-based sample (n = 953) in the USA. Persistence was operationalized in two ways: number of lifetime practice sessions (i.e., lifetime persistence) and current practice frequency (i.e., current persistence). Consistent with the National Health Interview Survey, we defined meditation as mindfulness meditation, mantra meditation, and spiritual meditation. We examined factors related to the Reasoned Action Approach (RAA), a theory that has been used to explain adherence to health behaviors.ResultsAlmost half of the sample (49.3%) indicated lifetime exposure to meditation and a third (35.0%) indicated practice in the past year. Factors positively associated with persistence (lifetime and/or current) included having spoken with a meditation teacher, higher perceived effectiveness of meditation, higher meditation-positive subjective norms, lower perceived barriers, higher conscientiousness, higher well-being growth mindset, and retreat experience. Factors negatively associated with persistence included first exposure through various forms of technology and having a mental health motivation for practice. First exposure through a smartphone app and first exposure through friends and family were not associated with lifetime or current persistence. Findings were unchanged after controlling for demographics and applying a false discovery rate p-value adjustment.Conclusions These findings provide insights into factors that may promote persistence with meditation, which can guide the delivery of meditation training.PreregistrationThis study was preregistered at the Open Science Framework (
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Thematic analysis is a poorly demarcated, rarely acknowledged, yet widely used qualitative analytic method within psychology. In this paper, we argue that it offers an accessible and theoretically flexible approach to analysing qualitative data. We outline what thematic analysis is, locating it in relation to other qualitative analytic methods that search for themes or patterns, and in relation to different epistemological and ontological positions. We then provide clear guidelines to those wanting to start thematic analysis, or conduct it in a more deliberate and rigorous way, and consider potential pitfalls in conducting thematic analysis. Finally, we outline the disadvantages and advantages of thematic analysis. We conclude by advocating thematic analysis as a useful and flexible method for qualitative research in and beyond psychology.
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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.
Studies have primarily examined meditation's effects as a self regulation strategy for stress management. Fewer studies have examined its utility as a self exploration strategy for enhancing psychological health in psychotherapy and behavior change. And, few studies have examined meditation's effect regarding its original religious purpose as a self liberation strategy to enhance spiritual growth and wisdom, and cultivate compassionate service. This article examines the reasons underlying this differential proportion of studies on each of the above variables and details the merits and limitations of research that attempted to remove the religious and philosophical context of meditation in order to focus on its content. The article then examines why it has been necessary to reintroduce the context of meditation as a variable, whether that context be stress management, psychotherapy, or a religious perspective. Finally, based on the mentalist and cognitive revolution, this article asks: "Is God always a confounding variable in meditation research?" If the only research tool a person has is a hammer, then all questions begin to look like the head of an undriven nail. -Abraham Maslow When a pickpocket meets a saint, all he sees are pockets. Anonymous
Tested 5 hypotheses related to the goals, religious orientation, and cognitions of long-term meditation with 27 students (mean age 35.6 yrs) of meditation who had signed up for a 2-wk or 3-mo meditation retreat. Ss completed the Motivation, Expectation, Adherence instrument (D. H. Shapiro, 1980) at baseline and 1 and 6 mo after the retreat. Results show that reasons for continuing meditation shifted overall along a continuum of self-regulation, self-exploration, and self-liberation as a function of time; that effects equaled or exceeded goals for the majority of Ss; and that the effects meditators received from the practice were significantly related to what they wanted. Length of practice was associated with religious orientation and with the nature of cognitions when the S did not practice. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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.
S. L. Shapiro and colleagues (2006) have described a testable theory of the mechanisms of mindfulness and how it affects positive change. They describe a model in which mindfulness training leads to a fundamental change in relationship to experience (reperceiving), which leads to changes in self-regulation, values clarification, cognitive and behavioral flexibility, and exposure. These four variables, in turn, result in salutogenic outcomes. Analyses of responses from participants in a mindfulness-based stress-reduction program did not support the mediating effect of changes in reperceiving on the relationship of mindfulness with those four variables. However, when mindfulness and reperceiving scores were combined, partial support was found for the mediating effect of the four variables on measures of psychological distress. Issues arising in attempts to test the proposed theory are discussed, including the description of the model variables and the challenges to their assessment.
Readme First for a User’s Guide to Qualitative Methods Thousand Oaks Calif
  • L Richards
  • J Morse
Wherever you go, there you are: Mindfulness meditation in everyday life
  • J Kabat-Zinn
Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you go, there you are: Mindfulness meditation in everyday life. New York: Hyperion.