Is Mindfulness Useful? – Jan ’16 Updates

Here are my top picks from the January ’16 issue of the Mindfulness Research Monthly newsletter, a publication of the American Mindfulness Research Association (AMRA). Several articles describe how mindfulness interventions affect student stress and teacher burnout. Another article that might interest those who would like to teach meditation recommends ‘best practices’ for conducting mindfulness programs in public schools.

This research aimed to examine the predicting effects of mindfulness, self-efficacy, and social support on psychological well-being among undergraduate students at a university in the Philippines. Mindfulness, self-efficacy, support from family, support from friends, and support from significant others were significant predictors of psychological well-being.

A literature search resulted in 57 studies on the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation in reducing stress and anxiety in college students. Overall, mindfulness meditation showed promise in reducing stress and anxiety in college students, but a number of differences were revealed in how mindfulness interventions were delivered.

Researchers evaluated an adapted mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program to ameliorate the negative effects of stress and trauma among low-income, minority, middle school public school students. 300 fifth- to eighth-grade students were assigned to either an MBSR or Healthy Topics (HT) program. While both groups were comparable at baseline, postprogram, MBSR students had significantly lower levels of somatization, depression, negative affect, negative coping, rumination, self-hostility, and posttraumatic symptom severity than HT students.

Is teacher burnout correlated with mindfulness? Multiple studies were undertaken to develop and validate a self-report measure of the Mindfulness in Teaching Scale. One study suggested the presence of two distinct factors measuring teacher intrapersonal mindfulness and teacher interpersonal mindfulness. A separate study showed that, over a 6-month period, interpersonal mindfulness predicted scores on teacher burnout (emotional exhaustion, depersonalization) and instructional efficacy in working with students (social-emotional and behavior management) whereas intrapersonal mindfulness failed to predict burnout or efficacy.

Stressors place educators at risk of job-related stress and burnout. This study describes a mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) for school personnel called Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE). Results suggest this intervention holds promise in getting participants to shift their emotional reactivity and approach to students using a three-pronged mindfulness-based approach: (1) present-centered awareness of emotions, (2) emotional reappraisal of situations, and (3) use of metaphors introduced through the CARE program.

Questions are frequently asked about the religious basis of mindfulness-based programs and whether such programs are appropriate in a public school setting. This article investigates these questions and offers recommendations for best practices in public educational settings