Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Mindfulness based techniques have increasingly been incorporated into psychotherapeutic interventions in recent decades. However, there has been little understanding of the active ingredients of mindfulness such as styles of mindfulness, mindfulness traits, spiritual commitment to mindfulness practice, and mechanisms of mindfulness practices related to beneficial outcomes.
We defined mindfulness as styles of practice based on traditional Buddhist perspectives and distinguished between Formal and Informal mindfulness engagement. Formal practice is believed to develop the ̳concentration‘ domain verses Informal mindfulness engagement to develop the ̳wisdom‘ domain in Buddhism.
This study investigated the relationships between mindfulness constructs and indices associated with healthier emotion regulation, such as heart rate variability, general health, and life satisfaction. We also examined Attention Control and emotion regulation tendencies (Suppression and Reappraisal) as potential mediators of links between mindfulness constructs and indices of healthier emotion regulation.
Participants were recruited at the Won Buddhist Temple, Won Institute, Philadelphia Buddhist Association, and Shambala Center in Philadelphia. The Mindfulness Engagement Inventory, Spiritual Commitment Inventory (revised from Religious Commitment Inventory, Worthington et al., 2003), and Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ; Baer, Smith, Hopkins, Krietemeyer, & Toney, 2006) were administered to assess the mindfulness construct.
The Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (Gross & John, 2003) for emotion regulation tendency and Emotion Word, and Color Word Stroop tasks for Attention Control were used. We also measured heart rate variability,self-reported general health, and life satisfaction as outcome data of adaptable emotion regulation.
The results of the study indicate that Formal mindfulness engagement is linked to Attention Control for reverend practitioners, but not for novice practitioners. Secondly, Formal and Informal mindfulness engagement were directly and indirectly linked to heart rate variability. Contrary to expectations, Formal mindfulness engagement was negatively linked with heart rate variability and positively linked with Suppression tendency. Informal mindfulness engagement was positively linked with heart rate variability and negatively linked with Suppression tendency. Further analysis revealed that Suppression emotion regulation tendency mediated links between mindfulness engagement and heart rate variability. Thirdly, although there is a negative relationship between Formal mindfulness engagement and heart rate variability, Formal practice positively predicts life satisfaction. Finally, mindfulness traits and spiritual commitment variables were not significantly linked with heart rate variability or Attention Control. However, mindfulness trait assessed by FFMQ was positively linked with life satisfaction and general health and negatively correlated with Suppression. The interpretations of the results are discussed.
Kim, Heejin. “The Relationships Among Styles of Mindfulness Engagement, Components of Emotion Regulation, and Heart Rate Variability.” PhD diss., Bryn Mawr College, 2011.