Mindfulness

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 154–166

Mechanisms of Mindfulness: A Buddhist Psychological Model

  • Andrea D. Grabovac
  • Mark A. Lau
  • Brandilyn R. Willett
Original Paper

Abstract

Several models have explored the possible change mechanisms underlying mindfulness-based interventions from the perspectives of multiple disciplines, including cognitive science, affective neuroscience, clinical psychiatry, and psychology. Together, these models highlight the complexity of the change process underlying these interventions. However, no one model appears to be sufficiently comprehensive in describing the mechanistic details of this change process. In an attempt to address this gap, we propose a psychological model derived from Buddhist contemplative traditions. We use the proposed Buddhist psychological model to describe what occurs during mindfulness practice and identify specific mechanisms through which mindfulness and attention regulation practices may result in symptom reduction as well as improvements in well-being. Other explanatory models of mindfulness interventions are summarized and evaluated in the context of this model. We conclude that the comprehensive and detailed nature of the proposed model offers several advantages for understanding how mindfulness-based interventions exert their clinical benefits and that it is amenable to research investigation.

Keywords

Mindfulness Meditation Psychological model Buddhism Insight 

References

  1. Baer, R. A. (2009). Self-focused attention and mechanisms of change in mindfulness-based treatment. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 38(S1), 15–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bishop, S. R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S., Carlson, L., Anderson, N. D., Carmody, J., et al. (2004). Mindfulness: A proposed operational definition. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11, 230–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Carmody, J. (2009). Evolving conceptions of mindfulness in clinical settings. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 23, 270–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Carmody, J., Baer, R. A., Lykins, E. L. B., & Olendzki, N. (2009). An empirical study of the mechanisms of mindfulness in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 65, 613–626.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Coffey, K. A., Hartman, M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2010). Deconstructing mindfulness and constructing mental health: Understanding mindfulness and its mechanisms of action. Mindfulness, 1, 235–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Corcoran, K. M., & Segal, Z. V. (2008). Metacognition in depressive and anxiety disorders: Current directions. International Journal of Cognitive Therapy, 1, 33–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Davidson, R. J. (2010). Empirical explorations of mindfulness: Conceptual and methodological conundrums. Emotion, 10, 8–11.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Deyo, M., Wilson, K. A., Ong, J., & Koopman, C. (2009). Mindfulness and rumination: Does mindfulness training lead to reductions in the ruminative thinking associated with depression? Explore, 5, 265–271.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dorjee, D. (2010). Kinds and dimensions of mindfulness: Why it is important to distinguish them. Mindfulness, 1, 152–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Flavell, J. H. (1976). Metacognitive aspects of problem solving. In L. B. Resnick (Ed.), The nature of intelligence (pp. 231–236). New Jersey: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  11. Fletcher, L., & Hayes, S. C. (2005). Relational frame theory, acceptance and commitment therapy, and a functional analytic definition of mindfulness. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 23, 315–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fletcher, L. B., Shoendoerf, B., & Hayes, S. C. (2010). Searching for mindfulness in the brain: A process-oriented approach to examining the neural correlates of mindfulness. Mindfulness, 1, 41–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fresco, D. M., Segal, Z. V., Buis, T., & Kennedy, S. (2007). Relationship of past treatment decentering and cognitive reactivity to relapse in major depression. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 75, 447–455.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Garland, E., Gaylord, S., & Park, J. (2009). The role of mindfulness in positive reappraisal. Explore, 5, 37–44.Google Scholar
  15. Grossman, P. (2010). Mindfulness for psychologists: Paying kind attention to the perceptible. Mindfulness, 1, 87–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lutz, A., Slagter, H. A., Dunne, J. D., & Davidson, R. J. (2008). Attention regulation and monitoring in meditation. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 12, 163–169.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Manna, A., Raffone, A., Perrucci, M. G., Nardo, D., Ferretty, A., Tartaro, A., et al. (2010). Neural correlates of focused attention and cognitive monitoring in meditation. Brain Research Bulletin, 82(1–2), 46–56.Google Scholar
  18. Mendis, N. K. G. (2006). The Abhidhamma in practice. Retrieved 29 October 2010 from http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/mendis/wheel322.html.
  19. Mikulas, W. (2011). Mindfulness: Significant common confusions. Mindfulness, 2, 1–7. doi:10.1007/s12671-010-0036-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mahasi Sayadaw (2006). The progress of insight: A modern treatise on Buddhist Satipathana meditation. Retrieved 16 November 2010 from http://www.dharmaweb.org/index.php/The_Progress_of_Insight_by_Venerable_Mahasi_Sayadaw.
  21. Narada Maha Thera. (1987). A manual of Abhidhamma. Malaysia: Buddhist Missionary Society.Google Scholar
  22. Nyanaponika Thera (2010). Seeing things as they are. Access to Insight. Retrieved 16 December from http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/seeingthings.html.
  23. Pa Auk Sayadaw (2000). Knowing and seeing. Buddha Dharma Education Association, Inc. Retrieved 16 November 2010 from www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/know-see.pdf.
  24. Segal, Z. V., Williams, M. G., & Teasdale, J. D. (2002). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression: A new approach to preventing relapse. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  25. Shapiro, S. L., Carlson, L. E., Astin, J. A., & Freedman, B. (2006). Mechanisms of mindfulness. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 62, 373–386.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Smith, G. T., Lykins, E., Button, D., Krietemeyer, J., Sauer, S., Walsh, E., et al. (2008). Construct validity of the five facet mindfulness questionnaire in meditating and nonmeditating samples. Assessment, 15, 329–342.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Snyder, S., & Rasmussen, T. (2009). Practicing the Jhanas: Traditional concentration meditation as presented by the Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw. Boston: Shambhala.Google Scholar
  28. Teasdale, J. D., Moore, R. G., Hayhurst, H., Pope, M., Williams, S., & Segal, Z. V. (2002). Metacognitive awareness and prevention of relapse in depression: Empirical evidence. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70, 275–287.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Teasdale, J. D., Segal, Z. V., & Williams, J. M. G. (1995). How does cognitive therapy prevent depressive relapse and why should attentional control (mindfulness) training help? Behaviour Research and Therapy, 33, 25–39.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1997). The healing power of the precepts. Retrieved 29 October 2010 from http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/precepts.html.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea D. Grabovac
    • 1
  • Mark A. Lau
    • 2
  • Brandilyn R. Willett
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.BC Mental Health and Addiction Services, Department of PsychiatryUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

Personalised recommendations