Mindfulness meditation increases well-being in adolescent boys

Sep 01, 2010
Mindfulness meditation increases well-being in adolescent boys

'Mindfulness', the process of learning to become more aware of our ongoing experiences, increases well-being in adolescent boys, a new study reports.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge analyzed 155 boys from two independent UK schools, Tonbridge and Hampton, before and after a four-week crash course in mindfulness. After the trial period, the 14 and 15 year-old boys were found to have increased well-being, defined as the combination of feeling good (including positive emotions such as happiness, contentment, interest and affection) and functioning well.

Professor Felicia Huppert of the Well-being Institute at the University of Cambridge said: "More and more we are realising the importance of supporting the overall mental health of children. Our study demonstrates that this type of training improves well-being in adolescents and that the more they practice, the greater the benefits. Importantly, many of the students genuinely enjoyed the exercises and said they intended to continue them - a good sign that many children would be receptive to this type of intervention.

"Another significant aspect of this study is that who suffered from higher levels of were the ones who benefitted most from the training."

For the experiment, students in six classes were trained in mindful awareness - mindfulness. Mindfulness is a 'way of paying attention. It means consciously bringing awareness to our experience, in the present moment, without making about it'*. Students in the five control classes attended their normal religious studies lessons.

The training consisted of four 40 minute classes, one per week, which presented the principles and practice of mindfulness. The classes covered the concepts of awareness and acceptance, and taught the schoolboys such things as how to practice bodily awareness by noticing where they were in contact with their chairs or the floor, paying attention to their breathing, and noticing all the sensations involved in walking.

The students were also asked to practice outside the classroom and were encouraged to listen to a CD or mp3 file for eight minutes a day. These exercises are intended to improve concentration and reduce stress.

All participants completed a short series of online questionnaires before and after the mindfulness project. The questionnaires measured the effect of the training on changes in mindful awareness, resilience (the ability to modify responses to changing situations) and psychological well-being.

The researchers found that although it was a short programme, the students who participated in the mindfulness training had increased levels of well-being which were proportional to the amount of time the students spent practicing their new skills.

Professor Huppert continued: "We believe that the effects of mindfulness training can enhance well-being in a number of ways. If you practice being in the present, you can increase positive feelings by savouring pleasurable on-going experiences. Additionally, calming the mind and observing experiences with curiosity and acceptance not only reduces stress but helps with attention control and emotion regulation - skills which are valuable both inside and outside the classroom."

The success of this initial study has recently led to the creation of an exciting 8 week curriculum for schools in both the state and private sectors. This new curriculum, which includes games and video clips, should have even greater benefits.

Explore further: Boys will be boys? Yes, neuroscience now shows

More information: For further information, see mindfulnessinschools.org

*As described in the Mental Health Foundation Report 'Be Mindful' 2010

The paper 'A controlled trial of mindfulness training in schools; the importance of practice for an impact on well-being' is published in the latest edition of The Journal of Positive Psychology.

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teledyn
1.5 / 5 (4) Sep 01, 2010
maybe it is just me, but I do not see any difference between what Dr Huppert is asking of the boys and what any earnest and engaged music teacher would ask in seeking their attention to the whole-body experience of musicianship. at best, the difference is that musical training would give the boys a by-product skill they could use.
bobertjmurphy
4.9 / 5 (8) Sep 01, 2010
I'm a thoroughgoing materialist and skeptic, but I find mindfulness practices are incredibly useful.

Humans frequently fret about the future, chew over bad things in the past, or worry about things that could be happening somewhere else. But in modern Western society, most of the moments of most peoples' lives are actually quite reasonable or even pleasant - we just don't pay attention to them. So we develop a negative mindset, are stressed out, and snap at our loved ones, friends, co-workers, and so on.

Mindfulness practices help us to pay attention to the moment we're in, not some moment we're not in. It's amazing how doing this makes one cheerful and improves work and social relationships!

Incidentally, there are numerous papers in respected, peer-reviewed scientific journals attesting to the value of mindfulness practices.
freethinking
1 / 5 (9) Sep 01, 2010
Sounds a bit cultish. If it is new age mumbo jumbo, as long as it has nothing to do with christianity everything goes.
knikiy
5 / 5 (7) Sep 01, 2010
Sounds a bit cultish. If it is new age mumbo jumbo, as long as it has nothing to do with christianity everything goes.


I wonder why it is that suggesting humans develop their attention and attempt to become more conscious seems to be such a threatening idea to some? In this particular instance, I don't believe there was any alignment with any type of religious practice mentioned or implied.
Gerben_Mulder
3 / 5 (2) Sep 02, 2010
Thinking about nothing is taboo for a lot of people, while it puts you back into the right perspective from where priority originates, real happyness is found in acceptance, if you find that you dont have to mindless search for your next high anymore, a world opes up to you where you leave short sighted association and start to think more deeply about things and you can become anyone you wish to be.
questioner
2 / 5 (2) Sep 02, 2010
watch the google tech talks on this, it shows its more to do with buddism then christianity, and erm how can being more mindfull be not good in anyway?
erm also it kinda cant be taught u gota learn it dont u, mindfullness is basically seeing the moments information, but as a human ur still gona judge! but yeh it works i have adhd and anxiety and its helped me just be well being essentially "happier" all the time .. i dont need a test just need the one sentence that i mentioned, see the moment ffor the information it is, the light the love will flow from that,
remember what monks do .. sit there and go into their mind and be mindfull.. it all comes from east culture definatly not our western culture thus why it is getting to my uni lecturers after iv practiced it loool! but then u r not being mindfullness at all if u see a religion as a matter, if its truth u see it doesnt matter where it is associated with
JamesThomas
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 02, 2010
The three Abrahamic religions, control their converts by filling their minds with scriptures and dreams of future reward. The last thing they want is for them to be silently open to the beauty and wonder of the present moment of existence. They can't control you then....so mindfulness must be from Satan.
hagureinu
5 / 5 (1) Sep 05, 2010
Mindfulness practices help us to pay attention to the moment we're in, not some moment we're not in. It's amazing how doing this makes one cheerful and improves work and social relationships!

that's a good point, but the question is why our minds tend to slip into all these painful and negative memories/experiences. i'm pretty sure there are reasons for that.
bottomlesssoul
not rated yet Sep 06, 2010
Mindfulness is the cornerstone of emotional regulation. It's about understanding our emotions in a calm and peaceful manner. And it's healthy for everyone to practice and unhealthy for anyone to obsess over.

Take too serious and you're about as socially functional as a monk. Don't practice it and you remain ignorant of you're own emotional states. Not realizing what your internal motivation is for pushing the button can be pretty serious for other people, not just the button pusher. And being a monk is just plain selfish for everyone else.
bottomlesssoul
not rated yet Sep 06, 2010
@hagureinu
that's a good point, but the question is why our minds tend to slip into all these painful and negative memories/experiences. i'm pretty sure there are reasons for that.
There are and they are called genetics, behavior and environment.
hagureinu
not rated yet Sep 06, 2010
There are and they are called genetics, behavior and environment.

i'm talking about reasons behind these things. there should be some adaptive role in such mechanisms important for survival.
dains
not rated yet Sep 06, 2010
There are and they are called genetics, behavior and environment.

i'm talking about reasons behind these things. there should be some adaptive role in such mechanisms important for survival.

I believe that our emotions are a tool of the survival mechanisms of our brains. Our civilization has insulated us from the natural environment for which the mechanisms evolved, but those mechanisms still exists and operate below the level of consciousness. They're always using emotions to drive our behavior towards more rewarding feelings, as those are the only "perceptions" the mechanisms have. And our civilization doesn't create a lot of rewarding feelings in most peoples' work or school environments. So the mechanisms try to increase the emotional pressure to get the "reward" feelings that tell them we're successfully surviving.
Re the article, awareness training probably counteracts that effect by calming the emotions and reassuring those mechanisms with feelings of security.
hagureinu
not rated yet Sep 06, 2010
2 dains:
well, i agree in general, though i wouldn't be so dramatic about civilization insulting our feelings. civilization is just a changing and evolving environment to which we're trying to adjust. besides, i'm not sure that our civilization is becoming less secure. i'm just saying that all these negative feelings is probably something that makes us more adaptated.