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22-03-2018 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 6/2018 Open Access

Mindfulness 6/2018

Explaining Variations in Mindfulness Levels in Daily Life

Mindfulness > Uitgave 6/2018
Han Suelmann, André Brouwers, Evelien Snippe


Despite the apparent benefits of being mindful, people are often not very mindful. There seem to be forces that drive people toward as well as away from mindfulness. These forces are conceptualised in terms of competition for scarce attentional resources. To explore these forces and to test this framework, an experience sampling study was performed among people with an explicit intention to be mindful and an ongoing practice to examine concurrent associations between state mindfulness and daily life experiences that may affect it. Participants (N = 29, 1012 observations) filled out questions on momentary experiences at semi-random intervals, five times a day, over a period of 7 to 10 days. Predictors of within-person variations in awareness of Present Moment Experience (PME) and non-reactivity to PME were examined using multilevel analyses. Participants were more aware of PME when they had an activated intention to be mindful and when they felt good, and not very busy or hurried, and were not involved in social interaction. They were more reactive to PME when they experienced unpleasant affect, and when they were hurried or tired. An activated intention to be mindful was also associated with an increased tendency to analyse PME. Experiencing threat was associated with increased reactivity, but not with decreased awareness. Our study generally supports the idea that competition for attention can be a fruitful framework to describe mechanisms behind being or not being mindful.

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