Background: There is a lot of scientific evidence to support the use of mindfulness practice to help people deal with stress. However, it is not clear which parts of mindfulness practice have the greatest effects. Is it the educational talk? Is it actually doing regular seated practice or does it depend on how often you apply the techniques to real-life situations? (Practice in daily life).
Method: The researchers used a high-quality method called a randomised controlled trial to try and answer these questions. As it happened, they found a unique group of people in a company that was about to face something stressful (i.e. organisational restructuring).
That was a good way to test the effectiveness of mindfulness practice. The researchers identified 60 workers at the company and measured their stress levels over 3 days before the trial started and then re-evaluated them at the end. All 60 workers were asked to attend a workshop about stress and mindfulness. They were then randomly allocated to 1 of 2 groups. In the first group, the participants were required to engage in a regular practice based on listening to an audio recording and they were also asked to apply their techniques to daily life situations. The second group was asked not to engage in any form of regular practice or daily life practice.
Results: The researchers found that the group who practised with the audio recordings and in daily life had coped very well with the structural reorganisation. Their stress levels stayed the same. The group that did not engage in regular mindfulness practice had higher stress levels after the organisational restructuring. The researchers also discovered two interesting facts. Firstly those who did more practise were better at dealing with stress than those that did less. Secondly the daily life practice was particularly useful for helping people deal with stress. This element is not usually assessed in mindfulness research.
Conclusions : This paper is unique in assessing mindfulness practice during a stressful event. It also helped to highlight the different components of mindfulness practice and how they increased benefits.
Scientific Summary : Abstract
Objectives Mindfulness practice is thought to underlie the therapeutic effects of mindfulness interventions. Yet, more research is needed to evaluate mindfulness practice effects and identify effective practice types. The present study examined the effects of two types of mindfulness practice (audio guided and daily life mindfulness practice) on measures of stress and coping in a workplace sample.
Methods Employees from a digital marketing firm under going stressful organizational restructuring (nfinal=60;aged21–57; 95.0% white; 66.7% women) were randomly assigned to a high- (1-day seminar plus 6-week practice) or low-dose (1-day seminar) mindfulness training program. Participants completed 3 days of ecological momentary assessments of stress/cop- ing pre- and post interventions. Audio-guided mindfulness practice was assessed by the number of audio-guided practice sessions completed during the intervention period; daily life mindfulness practice was indexed by how often participants reported applying mindfulness to daily activities during the intervention period.
Results Across the full sample, more frequent daily life mindfulness practice buffered against pre- to post-intervention increases in stress ratings (β = −.18, p = .002), stressor frequency (β = − .32, p < .001), and stressor intensity (β = − .27, p = .003), and decreases in successful coping (β = .25, p = .005). Comparable (but weaker) results were observed for audio- guided mindfulness practice (stress ratings: β = − .15, p = .013; stressor frequency: β = − .27, p < .001; stressor intensity: β = − .22, p = .015; successful coping: β = .17, p = .066).
Conclusions Much of the mindfulness meditation RCT literature to date has not measured or reported guided or daily life practices, and this work suggests that measuring both may be important for understanding the stress buffering effects of mindfulness meditation training.
Summary by Puveendran Arullendran
LINK TO SPRINGER ARTICLE: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12671-021-01718-1