April Mindfulness and Workplace Wellness Research Round-Up

BL00 - Mindfulness and Workplace Wellness Research Round-Up

By The Mindful Leader Team

This month, we examine the potential of online mindfulness interventions for improving mental health in university students as well as its promise in reducing distress in those with chronic tinnitus. Then, we shift to an exploration of integrating relational mindfulness practices in the online classroom before looking at the impact of mindfulness apps on different psychological behaviors. Lastly, we review Metzinger’s latest book on consciousness. We have summarized the main ideas and key takeaways below with links to the full articles and sources.

Examining Mental Health Benefits of a Brief Online Mindfulness Intervention: A Randomised Controlled Trial

A new study published in Springer Link suggests that even a brief online mindfulness intervention can aid in reducing depression, rumination, and trait anxiety among university students. The study involved 486 participants, with roughly half engaging in daily mindfulness meditation for 28 days (including during class each week), while the others participated in regular class activities without any mindfulness practice. Baseline mindfulness levels of participants were determined at the start of the study. Then, after the 28 days, the researchers measured levels of depression, rumination, and trait anxiety. Despite the short duration of the mindfulness intervention, those who engaged in mindfulness practice had significantly lower levels of depression, rumination, and trait anxiety compared to the students who did engage in mindfulness. Notably, higher baseline mindfulness levels predicted better intervention outcomes, meaning that those who were already more mindful by nature were more likely to receive a greater benefit from the mindfulness intervention. Since this study was limited to university students, future studies are needed to determine if other age groups and demographics benefit similarly from brief online mindfulness intervention.

Key Points:

  • These findings suggest that brief online mindfulness programs (even just 28 days long) can effectively alleviate mental health challenges in university settings, reducing depression, rumination, and trait anxiety.
  • Brief online mindfulness intervention seems to have a greater impact on individuals who are already more mindful.

Read the full article on Springer

An eight-week online mindfulness-based intervention for tinnitus: Accessibility, adherence, and rates of clinically meaningful success

A forthcoming study led by James Jackson and Chloe Woolmer of Leeds Trinity University investigates the effectiveness and accessibility of an eight-week online mindfulness-based intervention for individuals with tinnitus. In the study, 105 participants with chronic tinnitus were divided into two groups: an intervention group that received the online mindfulness-based intervention and a waiting list control group. The intervention consisted of weekly online body scan meditations. Compared to the control group, the online mindfulness-based intervention led to clinically meaningful reductions in tinnitus distress for 30% of participants, as well as significant increases in trait mindfulness and a reduction in negative tinnitus cognitions. However, no changes were observed in positive cognitions. The authors also discuss challenges related to adherence rates and suggest further investigation into combining mindfulness interventions with other treatments for tinnitus.

Key Points:

  • The eight-week online mindfulness-based intervention led to clinically meaningful reductions in tinnitus distress for 30% of participants. 
  • The study highlights the potential of online mindfulness-based interventions as effective and accessible self-help tools for individuals with tinnitus.
  • However, the authors also suggest exploring using mindfulness interventions in conjunction with other treatments for tinnitus to maximize clinical benefit.

Read the full article from Leeds Trinity University.

Bridging the Distance: Relational Mindfulness Practices for Connection and Compassion in Online Education

In this article, Natalie Gruber explores the application of relational mindfulness practices in online education to foster connection and compassion among students and instructors. She highlights the challenges posed by online education, such as physical separation and limited opportunities for interpersonal interaction, which can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnection. To address these issues, she suggests incorporating relational mindfulness practices into online education to help promote a sense of connection and compassion within the virtual learning environment. The article also discusses various relational mindfulness practices that can be integrated into online education, including mindful listening, mindful speaking, and mindful collaboration. Gruber emphasizes the importance of cultivating awareness, presence, and empathy in online interactions to create a supportive and inclusive learning environment, which she believes mindfulness practices can help achieve.

Key Points:

  • Relational mindfulness practices, such as mindful listening and speaking, offer valuable tools for fostering connection and compassion in the online education environment, countering feelings of isolation and disconnection among students and instructors.
  • Integrating relational mindfulness practices into online education can cultivate awareness, presence, and empathy in virtual interactions, creating a supportive and inclusive learning environment.

Read the full article from Arizona State University

The impact of mindfulness apps on psychological processes of change: a systematic review

Mindfulness smartphone apps can enhance the therapeutic benefits of mindfulness based interventions, particularly for various psychological conditions. In this systematic literature review, the research team compiled and analyzed data from 28 randomized controlled trials from the past thirty years (1993-2023) to identify greater trends and patterns regarding the impact of mindfulness-based smartphone apps on various psychological behaviors. Mindfulness apps tended to have a positive impact on repetitive negative thinking, attention regulation, and decentering/defusion, yet results were a bit more mixed in other domains like awareness, nonreactivity, non-judgment, positive affect, and acceptance. Additionally, gender differences may contribute to app effectiveness as studies with more female participants  tended to consistently report more positive effects for the mindfulness app group. 

Key Points:

  • Overall, while mindfulness apps show promise in improving psychological processes related to mindfulness practice, more research is needed to clarify their effectiveness and address existing challenges.
  • Mindfulness apps most consistently improve repetitive negative thinking, attention regulation, and decentering/defusion.

Read the full article on Nature

The Elephant and the Blind: The Experience of Pure Consciousness: Philosophy, Science, and 500+ Experiential Reports

Thomas Metzinger’s new book, published by The MIT Press, offers a comprehensive exploration of the nature of consciousness from multiple perspectives. It combines philosophical inquiry, scientific analysis, and a rich collection of personal experiences to delve into the concept of “pure consciousness”. The title alludes to the ancient parable of the blind men and the elephant, which is used to illustrate the idea that our understanding of reality, and specifically consciousness, is limited by our subjective experiences and the methodologies we use to study it. The book begins by delving into the historical and contemporary philosophical approaches to consciousness, including dualism, physicalism, panpsychism, and others. Then, it transitions into the scientific study of consciousness, covering the latest research in neuroscience, psychology, and cognitive science as they apply to the study of consciousness. Finally, Metzinger looks at over 500 personal accounts of experiences with what is described as “pure consciousness” drawn from a wide range of individuals, cultures, and contexts. A powerful conclusion to the book, this last section aims to provide a more holistic understanding of consciousness by incorporating subjective experiences that often defy conventional scientific explanation.

Key Points:

  • The book underscores the complexity and multifaceted nature of consciousness, illustrating that no single perspective—whether it be philosophical, scientific, or based on personal experience—can fully encapsulate its entirety. 
  • Metzinger suggests that our grasp of consciousness is inherently limited by our perceptual and cognitive filters.
  • Overall, his book aims to highlight the importance of interdisciplinary approaches in the study of consciousness.

Find the full book at MIT Press.


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