Wednesday, June 6, 2012

MINDFULNESS AND TEENAGERS’ BRAINS


It was that great American joke thief Milton Berle who---so he says---said, 'It's hard for a teenager to concede that someday he'll be as stupid as his father.' Teenagers---we all have stories and jokes to tell at their expense ... and our own.

This is no joke. It is well-known that the brains of teenagers are still ‘developing’---that is, still undergoing a period of active construction.

It is becomingly increasingly clear that teenagers who practise mindfulness benefit from increased self-control, healthier relationships, and improved overall well-being. That should not come as a surprise.

Psychologists at the University of Wollongong and George Mason University in Washington DC studied mindfulness in 776 Grade 10 students over a one-year period. The results of their research were published in the Journal of Adolescence.

The study revealed that ‘acting with awareness’ (engaging fully in one’s current activity with undivided attention), emotional awareness, and experiential acceptance where all linked to prosocial tendencies and uniquely predicted increases in well-being across the year. Observing experience (noticing, observing, and attending to a variety of stimuli) was correlated with positive and negative aspects of personality and did not predict changes in wellbeing.

The study provides support for the importance of awareness and acceptance in the development of well-being in adolescence. The cross-sectional component of the study suggests that ‘awareness and acceptance are correlated with all dimensions of well-being, and with the general tendency to experience fewer negative states (or neuroticism).’ The study also found that awareness and acceptance preceded decreases in sadness, fear, and hostility, and increases in positive affect. That finding suggests that awareness and acceptance play a causal role in well-being.

NOTE. This post sets out a simple form of mindfulness sitting meditation.


Resource: Ciarrochi J, Kashdan T B, Leeson P, Heaven P, & Jordan C. ‘On being aware and accepting: A one-year longitudinal study into adolescent well-being.’ Journal of Adolescence xxx (2010) 1–9.





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