Category: Treatment - Mindfulness
Mindfulness training has been assimilated into cognitive behavioral therapies, leading to efficacious mindfulness-based treatments for diverse behavioral and physical health problems, such as anxiety, depression, pain, and chronic medical conditions. Mindfulness meditation (MM) is one common technique used as an initial teaching in personal contemplative practices and behaviorally oriented psychosocial interventions. Practice of mindfulness-based techniques such as MM appears to be efficacious and effective for many forms of human suffering, and is associated with increased mindfulness which is, in turn, associated with positive outcomes for patients. However, mindfulness researchers have not provided a comprehensive model of mindfulness that specifies causative mechanisms that account for good outcomes (e.g., improved quality of life [QOL] and reduced symptomology) that often follow such interventions. Psychological flexibility, a process-oriented model of human functioning, may be such a model. Ample evidence suggests that mindfulness and several processes encompassed by the psychological flexibility model (e.g., acceptance, cognitive defusion, valued action) are related to positive behavioral outcomes. In addition, mindfulness appears related to most, if not all, psychological flexibility processes. Thus, psychological flexibility may provide a unified behavioral model that may explain the relation between MM and good outcomes.
The present research predicted that acceptance, defusion, and valued action, assessed daily, would partially mediate the daily relations between mindfulness and QOL and anxiety symptom outcomes in an anxious sample (N = 115) who participated in a 16-day MBSR-inspired MM study. Assessments (Pre, Post, and 14 daily) included psychological flexibility processes, QOL, and anxiety symptoms. Responses to self-reported daily assessments (N = 1456, M = 8.23) were examined using multilevel model analyses, wherein days were nested within persons. Results indicated that defusion, acceptance, valued action, and mindfulness were each associated with high QOL and low anxiety symptoms at the day level, all ps < .001. Acceptance and valued action significantly mediated the average effect of mindfulness on daily QOL. All psychological flexibility processes partially mediated the average daily relation of mindfulness and anxiety symptoms. Acceptance appears to be the most important mediator assessed herein of the daily effects of mindfulness on anxiety symptoms, though valued action was a numerically stronger mediator between mindfulness and QOL. Results will be discussed in terms of developing diverse yet effective mindfulness-based exercises that contain components necessary to produce desired behavioral changes across a range of populations.