- On February 22, 2020
- Compassion, Empathy, Mindfulness, Mindfulness Meditation, Mindfulness Technology
While the practice of mindfulness has grown wildly popular, there are those who believe mindfulness and its claimed benefits have been over-hyped. These detractors question how mindfulness meditation influences health and charge there remains much unclarity about what exactly mindfulness does to the human brain or to what extent it helps people suffering from physical and mental challenges (Lieberman, 2018). If we boil this all down to the basics, we need to first explore if mindfulness is even related to the field of psychology. This writing spells out some findings that align mindfulness’s foundations with human psychology.
These authors also reference the three research constructs related to mindfulness, with two of the three constructs being “a mental trait” and a “state of mind” (p. 102).
As psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behavior (“What is psychology?,” n.d.), and mindfulness is related to both our minds and our behavior, then mindfulness and psychology appear to be, at minimum, intertwined.
Moreover, mindfulness has also been recognized as a means for improving self-awareness, self-determination, competence, and relatedness (Brown & Ryan, 2004), all of which are not only factors related to human well-being (Ryan & Deci, 2000) but notably, the cognitive mind as well.
Another question to address while we’re on this topic: Do mindfulness and empathy have any correlation?
Academically speaking, researchers have established that increases in mindfulness increase empathy and vice versa (Gregory and Rutledge, 2016, p. 123). Empathic concern and perspective taking have been shown to have the closest correlations to mindfulness (p.123).
The mindfulness practice of focusing on “the here and now” and mindfulness meditation require the ability to go within yourself, motivated by the desire to find or create inner-peace and improving self-awareness.
Such desires or intentions come from a place of self-care motivated from self-compassion self-love, with each of these “self-centric” intentions requiring one to have empathy with oneself.
Self-compassion has been shown to mediate the relationship between mindfulness and aspects of empathy and is a critical component in the ability to take on the perspectives of others (p. 123).
In terms of media and online technologies, they can both distract us (if we let them) as well as help us nurture our mindfulness.
A cursory search on Google for “mindfulness technologies” serves us millions of results with various mindfulness apps and other such-related technologies, a topic I’ve covered in some detail here. So the intention of creating technologies to help us discover, nurture, and practice mindfulness do appear to be readily available.
Moreover, a quick search on Twitter for #mindfulnesstech serves us several tweets interestingly highlight non-app related mindfulness technology links including:
- Wearable Sensors Highly Accurate at Diagnosing Children with Anxiety, Depression
- The features, apps and exercises designed to keep you calm
- The New Wave Of Mindfulness Tech: Meditation VR
Interestingly, however, the #mindfulnesstech hashtag is hardly popular; the first tweet to use this hashtag is dated 2014 and since then, this hashtag has only been used 15 times.
It appears folks are using #mindfulness more generically but those hashtagged conversations have little to do with mindfulness technology. This leaves me to believe there is plenty of room for expanded discussions in the mindfulness technology conversational space.
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Media Psychologist & Strategist
Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2004). Fostering healthy self-regulation from within and without: a self-determination theory perspective. In P.A. Linkly & S. Joseph (Eds.), Positive psychology in practice (pp. 105-124). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Gregory, E., & Rutledge, P. B. (2016). Exploring positive psychology. Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling. Greenwood. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107415324.004.
Lieberman, B. (n.d.). Mindfulness may have been over-hyped. BBC – Homepage. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20180502-does-mindfulness-really-improve-our-health.
Lopez, S.J. & Snyder, C.R. (Eds.) (2009). Oxford library of psychology. Oxford handbook of positive psychology (2nd ed.) Oxford University Press.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55,66-78.
What is psychology? (n.d.). The Ohio state university department of psychology. Retrieved from https://psychology.osu.edu/about/what-psychology.