Mindfulness-based Training and Mindfulness Meditation - Literature Review Sample

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1551 words
Wesleyan University
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Literature review
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According to Moore (2008), the idea of mindfulness originates from eastern spiritual traditions and refers to a kind of attentional control developed via meditative practices. On the other hand, Davis and Hayes (2011) and Lykins and Baer (2009) define mindfulness as a psychological state of awareness, as a practice that fosters this awareness, a way of processing information, and a characterological attribute. For this paper, mindfulness is defined as a moment-to-moment awareness of ones experience without judgment. In particular, Moore (2008) calls it paying attention to the present moment non-judgmentally. Consequently, mindfulness is viewed as a state instead of an attribute, and although it might be nurtured by certain practices such as meditation, it is not equivalent to them. Mindfulness depicts similarities to other psychotherapy-related constructs such as mentalization, which is the developmental procedure of understanding ones and others behavior regarding individuals thoughts, desires, and feelings (Davis & Hayes, 2011).

The ability to be compassionate towards others is a key in psychotherapeutic work. However, continuous work with people in mental distress typically leads to symptoms of psychological distress in clinicians, which may cause burnout (Poulin, Mackenzie, Soloway, & Karayolas, 2008). These symptoms also contribute substantial financial costs to companies due to declined work performance and increased absenteeism, turnover, and occupational injuries. Notably, therapists and human service professionals not in their right state of minds cannot deliver on their duties. Therefore, there has been increasing interest in the utilization of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) to minimize stress and raise self-compassion and self-care in human service professionals. Therefore, Boellinghaus, Jones, and Hutton (2012) focus their research on loving-kindness meditation (LKM), a Buddhist meditation commonly practices in the context of mindfulness. Notably, this practice can cultivate kindness, an attitude of unconditional love, and compassion for oneself and others.

Literature Review

Review of previous studies shows numerous benefits of mindfulness-based training and mindfulness meditation to psychotherapists, human services professional, psychologists, and counselors. In particular, Davis and Hayes (2011) perform empirical meta-analyses of previous research and identify that mindfulness practices give psychotherapists a way to affect positively elements of therapy that account for the successful treatment of patients. The authors provide a synthesis of the empirically supported benefits of mindfulness. Davis and Hayes (2011) categorize these benefits into three dimensions, namely, affective, interpersonal, and empathy. Siegel (2007) supports the notion by stating that being mindful and aware of the present moment without grasping onto judgment improves immune function, boosts a sense of equanimity and clarity, and increases empathy and relational satisfaction. Greeson (2009) adds that mindfulness cannot only reduce stress and stress-related medical symptoms but can also promote positive emotions and quality of life.

Greeson (2009) studies 52 exemplars of empirical and theoretical work representing a cross-section of study that spanned four domains, namely, the mind, the brain, the body, and behavior. He established that cultivating greater attention, awareness, and acceptance through meditation practice is linked to lower levels of psychological distress such anxiety, anger, worry, and depression. In particular, Greeson (2009) notes that more time spent on formal meditation practices such as yoga and sitting meditation during an 8-week intervention increased mindfulness, which, in turn, resulted in reduced psychological distress and enhanced mental well-being. According to Davis and Hayes (2011), there is evidence that mindfulness aids individuals to develop effective emotion regulation in the brain. In particular, mindfulness meditation enhances metacognitive awareness, reduces rumination through disengagement from perseverative cognitive activities, and promotes attentional capacities via gains in working memory, which in turn contribute to effective emotional regulation strategies. Greeson (2009) adds mindfulness meditation training reduces distress by reducing rumination, a cognitive process linked to depression and other mood disorders. Regarding this, Siegel (2007) performs a meta-analysis on previous research to establish how the process of creating an awareness of the current moment that is filled with curiosity, openness, acceptance, and love towards the ongoing experience enhances the functioning of the body, mind, and relationships.

Additionally, the authors establish that mindfulness meditation decreases reactivity and increases cognitive flexibility. Mainly, mindfulness meditators develop the skill of self-observation that neurologically disengages automatic pathways developed from previous learning and enables present moment input to be integrated in a new way. According to Siegel (2007), mindfulness practice helps one to create a state of mindfulness awareness intentionally, which enables one to differentiate previously inseparable streams in the flow of information in mind. Notably, such ability may aid in objectifying the mind, which facilitates the discrimination between present-focused experience on images, thoughts, sensation, and feelings. This distinction helps one to disengage from the influence of prior learning and create new ways by which the minds energy and data can be regulated.

Additionally, Davis and Hayes (2011) argue that mindfulness leads to interpersonal benefits in psychotherapists. Notably, given that the therapeutic relationship is emotionally intimate and inherently interpersonal, therapists trait mindfulness may help their ability to foster and sustain successful relationships with clients. Moreover, as Siegel notes, when therapists attain new skills of self-observation through mindfulness practice, it becomes possible to alienate automatically coupled pathways and free the mind from prior learning. Greeson (2009) supports this by stating that regular mindfulness training and short meditation practices can affect areas of the brain that regulate attention, emotion, and awareness, which gives an individual the ability to focus on the present moment. Notably, mindfulness meditation helps therapists to maintain constant attention to clients. Furthermore, mindfulness training leads to greater meaning and peace in a therapists life and enhances relationships with customers. Additionally, therapists through mindfulness-based training and mindfulness meditation develop adaptive responses to stress, which free them from suffering and attain greater health and well-being.

To study this topic further, Moore (2008) conducted a preliminary investigation on clinical psychologists on the effect of mindfulness-based training and mindfulness meditation on the development of mindfulness skills. The study was also aimed at providing participants with a beneficial experience that they could use as a foundation for future personal and professional applications of mindfulness. Notably, participants registered having developed and increased propensity towards acting with awareness and non-judgmental acceptance. Additionally, Moore (2008) identified potential personal and professional benefits that resulted from the research. These benefits included a heightened understanding of mindfulness aspects and the understanding that these skills needed the practice to develop. Similarly, the clinical psychologists understood the difficulties that they might experience while developing these skills and the personal insights that might be revealed by doing so. Consequently, the clinical psychologists gained an increased understanding of the experience, which clients undergoing such a program might experience. Moreover, the process increased their self-awareness and provided them with a skill necessary while coping with stress.

Similarly, Boellinghaus, Jones, and Hutton (2012) conducted a systematic review of past literature concerning the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions and loving-kindness mindfulness in increasing self-compassion and other-focused concern in healthcare professionals. Evidently, these responses support clinicians, therapists, and human service professionals to cultivate self-compassion and other-focused concern. Similarly, the interventions help strengthen the therapists relationships with clients, minimize their chances of empathetic distress, fatigue, and burnout, which assist them to maintain their well being. Consequently, Boellinghaus, Jones, and Hutton (2012) recommend that it would be helpful to increase and expand the introduction of these interventions into healthcare professionals training courses and work-based settings. Similarly, they recommend for more robust and large-scale study to establish if self-compassion and other-focused concern act as mediators between mindfulness-based interventions and loving-kindness mindfulness and client and human service professionals outcomes.

When utilized in practical interventions, regular activities, for instance, mindfulness meditation and yoga have been used to cultivate mindfulness attention. While using these approaches, attention is focused on here-and-now experiences in the body, mind, and environment, which embracement of these experiences for as long as they remain in awareness. Nevertheless, Poulin et al., (2008) point out that mindfulness is not simply a quick fix for a stressful situation. Instead, it involves learning that steers one towards renewable and sustainable health and well-being through deeper experiential comprehension of the interplay between the mind, body, and emotion. Therefore, mindfulness training benefits human service professionals lives and help them to impart this education to their clients. Therefore, learning to live in mindfulness awareness can bring many benefits for individuals working in therapeutic practice. Moreover, this intensely present, nonjudgmental awareness can heighten ones ability to sit with and comprehend emotions and situations. Additionally, it allows one to respond to situations with careful thought and consideration, instead of with reactivity. Thus, Lykins and Baer (2009) assert that mindfulness is increasingly recognized as an essential phenomenon in both the clinical and empirical situations. Moreover, mindfulness meditation is believed to generate the tendency to observe and label present-moment experiences nonjudgmentally and nonreactive, which leads to enhanced psychological functioning.

Therefore, O'Donovan and May (2007) conducted a study that focused majorly on practicing psychologists, counselors and social workers in public and private practice. In particular, their study aimed to investigate the relationships between mindfulness, well-being, burnout, and job satisfaction of therapists. Notably, O'Donovan and May (2007) assert that well-being, burnout and job satisfaction are variables relevant to therapists effectiveness. From the studys findings indicated that individuals who scored higher on both mindfulness measures also recorded feeling more satisfied with their lives, experienced more frequent positive emotions and less negative emotions than participants with lower scores on these measures. Consequently, O'Donovan and May (2007) identified that mindfulness affects ones experiences of well-being through being attuned to what is occurring internally and externally in the present moment. Increase awareness and attention to the present moment allows for greater enrichment...

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