Mindfulness: “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.”

A University of Cambridge study discovered that persons who participate in mindfulness classes voluntarily reduce their anxiety and depression symptoms for at least 6 months after finishing the workshops. These workshops frequently incorporate aspects of meditation, body awareness, and modern psychology with the intention to help increase wellbeing and mental / emotional resilience while reducing stress. The researchers examined a variety of group-led and teacher-led mindfulness-based programmes (MBPs) that were conducted in person and in community settings specifically. Dr Julieta Galante, the lead researcher on the project explains that “In our previous work it was still not clear whether these mindfulness courses could promote mental health across different community settings. This study is the highest quality confirmation so far that the in-person mindfulness courses typically offered in the community do actually work for the average person.”

Information was gathered from 2,371 adults in order to gauge the effectiveness of MBPs. About half of that pool had been randomly allocated to join a program lasting eight weeks long, with each session lasting one to two and a half hours long once per week. The rest of the participants did not attend these classes. The study discovered that MBPs reduced people’ anxiety moderately, with 13% more participants benefiting than those who did not attend an MBP. It’s important to note that throughout the study, age, gender, educational level, and aversion toward mindfulness had no influence on the effectiveness of MBPs.

Of the data pool mentioned earlier, the researchers collected comprehensive and anonymous information from 13 studies that came from eight different nations. The median age was 34, and 71% of those who took part were female. “We’ve confirmed that if adults choose to do a mindfulness course in person, with a teacher and offered in a group setting, this will, on average, be beneficial in terms of helping to reduce their psychological distress which will improve their mental health. However, we are not saying that it should be done by every single person; research shows that it just doesn’t work for some people.” Galante notes. “We’re also not saying you should absolutely choose a mindfulness class instead of something else you might benefit from, for example a football club — we have no evidence that mindfulness is better than other feel-good practices but if you’re not doing anything, these types of mindfulness courses are certainly among the options that can be helpful.”

The National Institute for Health Research supported this study.

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Journal Reference:

  1. Julieta Galante, Claire Friedrich, Napaporn Aeamla-Or, Marieke Arts-de Jong, Bruce Barrett, Susan M. Bögels, Jan K. Buitelaar, Mary M. Checovich, Michael S. Christopher, Richard J. Davidson, Antonia Errazuriz, Simon B. Goldberg, Corina U. Greven, Matthew J. Hirshberg, Shu-Ling Huang, Matthew Hunsinger, Yoon-Suk Hwang, Peter B. Jones, Oleg N. Medvedev, Melissa A. Rosenkranz, Melanie P. J. Schellekens, Nienke M. Siebelink, Nirbhay N. Singh, Anne E. M. Speckens, Feng-Cheng Tang, Lianne Tomfohr-Madsen, Tim Dalgleish, Peter B. Jones, Ian R. White. Systematic review and individual participant data meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials assessing mindfulness-based programs for mental health promotion. Nature Mental Health, 2023; 1 (7): 462 DOI: 10.1038/s44220-023-00081-5
  2. University of Cambridge. “In-person mindfulness courses help improve mental health for at least six months.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 July 2023. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/07/230710113911.htm>.