What we know so far about the effects of mindfulness
According to the Oxford Mindfulness Centre research shows that practising mindfulness has many benefits. They say:
“We have strong evidence that mindfulness-based programmes reduce anxiety, depression, and stress and help people cope with illness and pain (Khoury et al., 2013). Some studies show that the practice of mindfulness increases positive moods and cultivates compassion for self and others (Eberth & Sedlmeier, 2012; Khoury, Sharma, Rush, & Fournier, 2015). It may also improve some forms of attention and memory (Chiesa, Calati, & Serretti, 2011) and there is also preliminary evidence that practising mindfulness through an 8-week course has measurable effects on the brain (Tang, Holzel, & Posner, 2015).”
Research into workplace mindfulness is still in its infancy, but it is clear that many of the general skills and benefits to be gained from mindfulness practice are likely to match the needs of a healthy workplace:
Mindfulness helps to regulate behaviour and emotions, which could improve our communication and relationships with others
Mindfulness helps us to have a wider perspective on stress and problems
Many people find that mindfulness helps them to improve their work-life balance and be more aware of their overall wellbeing, for example by taking care of their eating and sleeping habits
People say that mindfulness helps them to think straight and have a clear head. So practising mindfulness can also improve our working memory
Mindfulness helps focus attention and helps us be more aware of the distractions that pull us away from where we want our minds to be
If you’re interested in discovering more about the science of mindfulness, here is a short reading list you may wish to explore.
‘Attention is a fundamental skill. Yet research suggests people are thinking about something other than what they are doing for almost half of their waking hours’ (Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010).
Mrazek, M. D., Franklin, M. S., Phillips, D. T., Baird, B., & Schooler, J. W. (2013). Mindfulness training improves working memory capacity and GRE performance while reducing mind wandering. Psychological Science, 24(5), 776–781.
Lomas, T., Medina Alcaraz, J. C., Ivtzan, I., Eiroa-Orosa, F., & Rupprecht, S. (2016). Mindfulness in the workplace: A systematic review of the empirical literature. Manuscript Submitted for Publication.
Killingsworth, M. A., & Gilbert, D. T. (2010). A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science, 330(6006), 932. http://doi.org/10.1126/science.1192439
Professor and Director, Willem Kuyken of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre shares his views on mindfulness
It’s a natural capacity that we all have. Every human being has got a capacity for mindfulness, but it’s also something that can be trained,” he says. “It has a number of different elements: one is attention and attention control. Can we hold attention in a particular way? Can we inhibit things we don’t want to attend to?” Watch his video below to find out more…
Professor Mark Williams of The Oxford Mindfulness Centre at Oxford University examines the neuroscience of mindfulness
“We live in a world filled with material wealth, live longer and healthier lives, and yet anxiety, stress, unhappiness, and depression have never been more common. What are the driving forces behind these interlinked global epidemics?” A question he discusses in the video below, which is part of short series of videos he has produced on MBCT mindfulness.