Research: RAHL and COLLEAGUES

Listed in Issue 265

Abstract

RAHL and COLLEAGUES, 1. Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University evaluated competing accounts for how mindfulness training reduces mind wandering.

Background

Mindfulness meditation programs, which train individuals to monitor their present-moment experience in an open or accepting way, have been shown to reduce mind wandering on standardized tasks in several studies.

Methodology

The authors tested two competing accounts for how mindfulness training reduces mind wandering, evaluating whether the attention-monitoring component of mindfulness training alone reduces mind wandering or whether the acceptance training component is necessary for reducing mind wandering. Healthy young adults (N = 147) were randomized to either a 3-day brief mindfulness training condition incorporating instruction in both attention monitoring and acceptance, a mindfulness training condition incorporating attention monitoring instruction only, a relaxation training condition, or an active reading-control condition. Participants completed measures of dispositional mindfulness and treatment expectancies before the training session on Day 1 and then completed a 6-min Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART) measuring mind wandering after the training session on Day 3.

Results

Acceptance training was important for reducing mind wandering, such that the attention-monitoring plus acceptance mindfulness training condition had the lowest mind wandering relative to the other conditions, including significantly lower mind wandering than the attention-monitoring only mindfulness training condition. In one of the first experimental mindfulness training dismantling studies to-date, the authors showed that training in acceptance is a critical driver of mindfulness-training reductions in mind wandering.

Conclusion

This effect suggests that acceptance skills may facilitate emotion regulation on boring and frustrating sustained attention tasks that foster mind wandering, such as the SART. (PsycINFO Database Record.

References

Rahl HA1, Lindsay EK1, Pacilio LE1, Brown KW, Creswell JD1. Brief mindfulness meditation training reduces mind wandering: The critical role of acceptance. Emotion. 17(2):224-230. Mar 2017. doi: 10.1037/emo0000250. Epub Nov 7 2016.

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