Short-Term Mindfulness Practices Less Beneficial for Mood


There is an abundance of literature on the benefits of mindfulness-based therapy approaches. Research has shown that mindfulness practices can help clients relieve stress, anxiety, and depression. People who practice mindfulness also experience fewer mood fluctuations. Mindfulness is designed to help individuals acknowledge and accept their emotions and reactions in a non-judgmental way. Rather than seeing themselves as the emotion, clients learn how to see the emotions as separate from themselves, as transient events that do not define who they are. Despite the large body of research showing the many psychological and physical health benefits of mindfulness, few studies have looked at how brief mindfulness might affect a person’s mood. To this end, Catherine N. M. Ortner of the Department of Psychology at Thompson Rivers University in Canada recently led a study assessing the outcome of a brief mindfulness session compared to two other sessions.

Ortner recruited a group of participants and asked them to write about a particular event that caused conflict for them. They then reported on their mood states and anger levels, prior to being entered into a mindfulness condition, a neutral condition, or a distraction condition. The sessions lasted 10 minutes, after which the participants then wrote about the event again and once more reported the effects on their moods. Ortner discovered that although there were some minimal differences in the outcomes, the mindfulness participants did not have significant improvements relative to the other groups.

While the participants in the distraction group scored higher on decentering than the other two groups, all three groups of participants saw decreases in negative mood and anger. The only real difference found in the mindfulness group was that curiosity scores on the mindfulness scale did predict decreases in anger and negative mood. This could be due to the open, accepting approach taught in mindfulness that perhaps increases curiosity. However, Ortner noted that this result was only found in some of the participants in the mindfulness group, not all of them. “Future work should explore the relation between dispositional mindfulness and response to both brief mindfulness manipulations and longer interventions,” Ortner said.

Ortner, C. N. M., and Zelazo, P. D. (2012). Responsiveness to a mindfulness manipulation predicts affect regarding an anger-provoking situation. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science / Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0029664

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  • Mindfulness Meditation Sydney December 19th, 2012 at 4:47 PM #1

    I believe Mindfulness Meditation begins to display positive changes in a person very early in the learning process.

  • OSCAR December 19th, 2012 at 5:02 PM #2

    Meditation is a kind of mindfulness technique and it certainly helps! It has really changed me for the better and I can vouch for its credibility.

    Maybe it is the way your mind is tuned. If you practice mindfulness or meditation for long enough your mind is tuned to it and you can reap its full benefits. being exposed to it only for a short time does not have the intended effects. it takes time to be absorbed in your mind and hence the results seem to be pretty accurate to me!

  • Lynn Louise Wonders, LPC, RPT-S, E-RYT December 20th, 2012 at 7:16 AM #3

    Mindfulness practice is not a light switch for sudden relief. Mindfulness is a practice, a discipline, a process. That said, I have had many clients experience what they describe as “miraculous” difference in the way they feel in only ten minutes after a guided mindfulness relaxation exercise led by me in my office. That relief can not be expected to be sustained, however, without regular practice. Why our profession would contribute to the tendency for people to be looking for the short cut or the quick fix is baffling to me. Change in experience comes with change in behavior, in thought and in experiential orientation which takes time, practice and commitment.

  • FLORA December 20th, 2012 at 12:27 PM #4

    @Lynn:Thank you for clarifying that. SO many people want only quick fixes and they are so used to popping the pill that they expect everything else to work that way too.

    I find mindfulness full of rewards if practiced right and for long enough. it has helped me in many ways and I would definitely recommend it to anyone.Anyone not looking for a quick fix that is.

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