Paper on The Prevalence of Mindfulness and its Role in Psychology

The Prevalence of Mindfulness and its Role in Psychology

Depression and anxiety disorders are prevalent in the modern society, raising concerns for maintaining good mental health. Mindfulness has been promoted as a solution for daily stress, depression, and anxiety. The practice has gained prominence in psychology and other fields like education because it encourages awareness, which allows an individual to notice various emotions including negative perceptions and anxieties and respond to them promptly before they become entrenching. Mindfulness has also been advocated due to its capacity to induce an open attitude that enables one to accept every situation and positively work towards the solution. The South African College of Applied Psychology (SACAP) reviews empirical studies that have demonstrated the role of mindfulness in psychology.

Before analyzing the empirical studies, it is important to look at the definition and the features of the art of mindfulness. Kabat-Zinn, who first coined the term “mindfulness”, states that mindfulness is the act of paying attention in the present moment on purpose (SACAP, 2019). The first feature of mindfulness, according to Kabat-Zinn, is “paying attention”. The scholar emphasizes that there are different degrees of attention – focused and steady or scattered and unstable. The second component is “on purpose”. Since mindfulness is purposeful, the attention directed to something will be focused and steady. The last element of mindfulness is “in the present moment”. The art of mindfulness does not involve ruminating over bad past events or fears about the future (SACAP, 2018). It cultivates the skill of awareness and appreciation of the present moment.

A series of scientific studies have demonstrated the benefits of mindfulness for the body and mind. The skill has been shown to reduce stress, depression, anxiety, emotional reactivity, fatigue, and irritability (SACAP, 2018). In psychology, significantly, mindfulness is known to reduce rumination, which is “compulsive thinking with negative effect” (SACAP, 2018). This is due to mindfulness’ unique ability to regulate emotions, improve concentration, and enhance cognitive ability. SACAP reviews four studies that demonstrated the role of mindfulness in psychology. A study conducted at the Ohio State University reported that office workers who engaged in mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques for twenty minutes daily showed an 11% drop in perceived stress (SACAP, 2018).

The second study, published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, revealed that eight weeks of Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) boosted the immunity system of prostate and breast cancer patients and relieved symptoms of stress. Another study published in the Journal of Counseling and Development demonstrated that 15 weeks of MBSR enhanced physical and emotional wellbeing. The last study published in Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice showed that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy resulted in a lower probability of repetition for individuals with at least three bouts of depression (SACAP, 2018). These studies illustrate the significance of mindfulness in psychology.

The South African College of Applied Psychology (SACAP) reviewed the empirical support for the role of mindfulness in psychology. The findings revealed that mindfulness decreases stress, boosts the immunity system, reduces depression, and enhances physical and emotional wellbeing, as well as improves relationships. The analysis has encouraged me to incorporate mindfulness therapy in my practice due to its holistic nature of healing the mind and the body. I would encourage meditation among my clients, which is the key practice of mindfulness. Since meditation can be a challenging technique for beginners, I would use yoga to teach my clients the art of mindfulness.

 

References

SACAP. (2018, March 6). The rise of mindfulness, and its role in psychology. SACAP. Retrieved from https://www.sacap.edu.za/blog/psychology/mindfulness/