Skip to main content

Doing and Being: Mindfulness, Health, and Quiet Ego Characteristics Among Buddhist Practitioners

Abstract

We examined the relationship between meditation experience, psychological mindfulness, quiet ego characteristics, and self-reported physical health in a diverse sample of adults with a range of Buddhist experience (N = 117) gathered from a web-based survey administered to Buddhist practitioners around the world between August 1, 2007 and January 31, 2008. Practicing meditation on a regular basis and greater experience with Buddhism was related to higher psychological mindfulness scores. Psychological mindfulness was correlated with a latent variable called “quiet ego characteristics” that reflected measures based on Bauer and Wayment’s (Transcending self-interest: psychological explorations of the quiet ego. American Psychological Association, Washington, DC, pp 7–19, 2008) conceptual and multidimensional definition of a “quiet ego”: wisdom, altruism, sense of interdependence with all living things, need for structure (reversed), anger/verbal aggression (reversed), and negative affectivity (reversed). In turn, quiet ego characteristics were positively related to self-reported health. Our findings provide continuing support for the key role psychological mindfulness may play in psychological and physical well-being.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  1. Anderson, J. W., Liu, C., & Kryscio, R. J. (2008). Blood pressure response to transcendental meditation: A meta-analysis. American Journal of Hypertension, 10, 1224–1230. doi:10.1038/ajh.2007.65.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Baer, R. A. (2003). Mindfulness training as a clinical intervention: A conceptual and empirical review. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10, 125–143.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Baer, R. A., Smith, G. T., & Allen, K. B. (2004). Assessment of mindfulness by self-report: The Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills. Assessment, 11, 191–206.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Barger, S. D. (2006). Do psychological characteristics explain socioeconomic stratification of self-rated health? Journal of Health Psychology, 11, 21–35.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Barnes, S., et al. (2007). The role of mindfulness in romantic relationship satisfaction and response to relationship stress. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 33(4), 482–500.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Bauer, J. J., & Wayment, H. A. (2008). The psychology of quieting the ego. In H. A. Wayment & J. J. Bauer (Eds.), Transcending self-interest: Psychological explorations of the quiet ego (pp. 7–19). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  7. Bentler, P. M. (1995). EQS: Structural equations program manual. Los Angeles, CA.: BMDP Statistical Software.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 822–848.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Brown, K. W., Ryan, R. M., & Creswell, J. D. (2007). Mindfulness: Theoretical foundations and evidence for its salutary effects. Psychological Inquiry, 18, 211–237.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Buss, A. H., & Perry, M. (1992). The aggression questionnaire. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 452–459.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Carson, J., et al. (2004). Mindfulness-based relationship enhancement. Behavior Therapy, 35, 471–494.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Davidson, R., et al. (2003). Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65, 564–570.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Denollet, J. (2005). DS14: Standard assessment of negative affectivity, social inhibition, and type D personality. Psychosomatic Medicine, 67(1), 89–97.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Diamond, E. L. (1982). The role of anger and hostility in essential hypertension and coronary heart disease. Psychological Bulletin, 92, 410–433.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Grossman, P., Niemann, L., Schmidt, S., & Walach, H. (2004). Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits: A meta-analysis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 57, 35–43.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Hooper, D., Coughlan, J., & Mullen, M. R. (2008). Structural equation modelling: Guidelines for determining model fit. Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods, 6, 53–60.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Hutcherson, C., et al. (2008). Loving-kindness meditation increases social connectedness. Emotion, 8(5), 720–724.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Idler, E. L., & Benyamini, Y. (1997). Self-rated health and mortality: A review of twenty-sever community studies. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 38, 21–37.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Kline, R. B. (1998). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Lazar, S., et al. (2005). Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness. NeuroReport, 16(17), 1893–1897.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Leary, M. R., Tipsord, J., & Tate, E. B. (2008). Allo-inclusive identity: Incorporating the natural and social worlds into one’s sense of self. In H. Wayment & J. Bauer (Eds.), Transcending self-interest: Psychological explorations of the quiet ego (pp. 137–148). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  22. Lee, J., et al. (2008). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for children: Results of a pilot study. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 22(1), 15–28.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Lutz, A., et al. (2008). Regulation of the neural circuitry of emotion by compassion meditation: Effects of meditative expertise. PLoS One, 3(3), 1–10.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. McIntosh, W. D. (1997). East meets West: Parallels between Zen Buddhism and social psychology. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 7, 37–52.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Neuberg, S. L., & Newsom, J. T. (1993). Personal need for structure: Individual differences in the desire for simple structure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 113–131.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Newcomb, M. D. (1994). Drug use and intimate relationships among women and men: Separating specific from general effects in prospective data using SEM. Journal of Clinical and Counseling Psychology, 62, 463–476.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Orzech, K. M., Shapiro, S. L., Brown, K. W., & McKay, M. (2009). Intensive mindfulness training-related changes in cognitive and emotional experience. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 212–222.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Rushton, J. P., Chrisjohn, R. D., & Fekken, G. C. (1981). The altruistic personality and the self-report altruism scale. Personality and Individual Differences, 50, 1192–1198.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Semple, R., Reid, E., & Miller, L. (2005). Treating anxiety with mindfulness: An open trial of mindfulness training for anxious children. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 19(4), 379–392.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Singh, N., et al. (2006). Mindful parenting decreases aggression, noncompliance, and self-injury in children with autism. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 14(3), 169–177.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Singh, N., et al. (2007a). Mindful parenting decreases aggression and increases social behavior in children with developmental disabilities. Behavior Modification, 31(6), 749–771.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Singh, N., et al. (2007b). Adolescents with conduct disorder can be mindful of their aggressive behavior. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 15(1), 56–63.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Sullivan, B. M., Wiist, B., & Wayment, H. (2010). The Buddhist health study: Meditation on love and compassion as features of religious practice. CrossCurrents, 60(2), 185–207.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Tang, Y., et al. (2007). Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104, 17152–17156.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Teasdale, J., et al. (2000). Prevention of relapse/recurrence in major depression by mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. Journal of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, 68(4), 615–623.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Thompson, M. M., Naccarato, M. E., & Parker, K. E. (1989). Assessing Cognitive Need: The Development of the Personal Need for Structure and the Personal fear of Invalidity Scales. Paper presented at the Annual meeting of the Canadian Psychological Association, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

  37. Thompson, B. L., & Waltz, J. (2007). Everyday mindfulness and mindfulness meditation: Overlapping constructs or not? Personality and Individual Differences, 43, 1875–1885.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Walsh, R., & Shapiro, S. (2006). A meeting of meditative disciplines and Western psychology: A mutually enriching dialogue. American Psychologist, 61, 227–239.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Wayment, H. A., & Bauer, J. J. (Eds.). (2008). Transcending self-interest: Psychological explorations of the quiet ego. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Wiist, W. H., Sullivan, D. M., & Wayment, H. A. (2010). Buddhists’ religious and health practices. Journal of Religion and Health. doi:10.1007/s10943-010-9348-5.

  41. Wiist, W. H., Sullivan, B. M., Wayment, H. A., & Warren, M. (2008). A Web-based survey of the relationship between Buddhist religious practices, health, and psychological characteristics: Research methods and preliminary results. Journal of Religion and Health. doi:10.1007/s10943-008-9228-4.

  42. Zylowksa, L., et al. (2008). Mindfulness meditation training in adolescents and adults with ADHD: A feasibility study. Journal of Attention Disorders, 11(6), 737–746.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Heidi A. Wayment.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Wayment, H.A., Wiist, B., Sullivan, B.M. et al. Doing and Being: Mindfulness, Health, and Quiet Ego Characteristics Among Buddhist Practitioners. J Happiness Stud 12, 575–589 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-010-9218-6

Download citation

Keywords

  • Mindfulness
  • Quiet ego
  • Health
  • Well-being
  • Meditation
  • Buddhism