The study tested the Unified Flexibility and Mindfulness (UFM) model which organizes the dimensions of mindfulness and psychological flexibility into a multistage, process-oriented framework linking mindfulness to global functioning.
A sample of 2742 online respondents (68% female, 81% Caucasian, Mage = 42 years old) completed the FFMQ, the MAAS, the Multidimensional Psychological Flexibility Inventory (MPFI), the Patient Health Questionnaire depression scale (PHQ-9), and Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS) within an online survey.
Path analyses run in random sample halves, across genders, across age groups, and across levels of current meditation converged to support the UFM model, suggesting that mindful lenses (e.g., describing feelings, observing sensations, attentive awareness) predicted mindfully flexible immediate responses to uncomfortable thoughts and feelings (e.g., acceptance, non-reactivity, non-judgment), which predicted life-enriching mindful behaviors (e.g., maintaining contact with values, taking steps toward deeper goals), which predicted greater life satisfaction. The components of the UFM model also identified differences in mindfulness between meditators and non-meditators—specific to those regularly practicing Buddhist-informed meditation. To facilitate future studies, IRT analyses selected items for two new mindfulness subscales that, when added to the MPFI, created the 70-item and 28-item UFM scales which demonstrated measurement invariance across gender, age, and meditation groups.
The findings provide a conceptual framework offering researchers with an integrative, process-focused method of linking mindfulness to well-being. Underscoring the potential clinical implications, a hypothetical example is given of using the UFM scale to track clinically meaningful change for a client in therapy.