We explored whether baseline individual differences in mindfulness related to changes in mindfulness and emotional outcomes, following a mindfulness-based intervention (MBI).
Self-reported and behavioral mindfulness, as measured with a breath counting tool, and self-reported emotional outcomes were assessed in fifty community participants, previous to being randomly allocated to a group MBI (or to a waiting list control condition). At post-intervention, participants initially allocated in the control condition started group MBI training and a 3-month follow-up was available for the full sample.
MBI increased self-reported and behavioral mindfulness both from pre- to post-intervention (p < .001, d ranging from 1.16 to 2.11) and from pre-intervention to follow-up (p < .001, d ranging from 0.97 to − 1.87), as well as reduced distress and perseverative thinking, and increased well-being (p < .001, d ranging from 2.16 to 2.22 and from 2.12 to 2.43, from pre- to post-intervention and to follow-up, respectively). Lower baseline mindfulness was associated with higher increase in mindfulness indexes following MBI (p < .001), while baseline mindfulness measures did not predict emotional outcomes neither at post-intervention nor at follow-up. Higher baseline psychological distress and perseverative thinking and lower psychological well-being were related, respectively, to greater reductions in emotional symptoms and a higher increase in well-being.
Although participants with lower baseline mindfulness showed greater increase in mindfulness than their higher counterparts, the more the emotional symptoms and the lower the well-being at pre-intervention, the more benefit could be gained from an MBI irrespective of baseline mindfulness.