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A DICHOTOMY BETWEEN MINDFULNESS AND FLOW Dr Nash Popovic University of East London, UK

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Presentation on theme: "A DICHOTOMY BETWEEN MINDFULNESS AND FLOW Dr Nash Popovic University of East London, UK"— Presentation transcript:

1 A DICHOTOMY BETWEEN MINDFULNESS AND FLOW Dr Nash Popovic University of East London, UK


3 What is mindfulness? A receptive attention to, and awareness of, present events and experience. (Brown & Ryan, 2003) Bishop et al (2004) 2 components: a)Self-regulation of attention so that it is maintained on immediate experience; b)Orientation towards ones experience characterised by curiosity, openness and acceptance. Capacity to be aware of internal and external events as phenomena rather than conceptual objects Similar to Phenomenological Reduction (Husserl)

4 Characteristics of Mindfulness clear awareness of inner and outer world non-conceptual, non-discriminatory awareness (no prioritising) direct perception (thoughts become objects to be noticed just like sights and sounds) dis-identification (observer and participant) present-oriented consciousness

5 The mystery of awareness Awareness is different from any other conscious or unconscious mental process. A meta-consciousness, being conscious of consciousness itself (Eysenck, 2009) Non-conceptual Outside time Mindfulness – a disentanglement of awareness and mental processes.

6 What is good about mindfulness (Brown & Ryan, 2003) Dispositional Mindfulness correlated with: Remain significant when other factors controlled. POSITIVELY: Clarity of experience (.45 to.50) Self-actualisation (.43) Self-esteem (.39 to.50) Vitality (.35 to.46) Positive affect (.30 to.39) Life Satisfaction (.26 to.37) Mood repair (.25 to.37) Optimism (.27 to.34) Attention to feelings (.13 to.19) NEGATIVELY: Neuroticism (-.56) Depression (-.41 to -.42) Anxiety (-.40) Negative affect (-.39 to -.43) Rumination (-.29 to -.39)

7 What mindfulness may not be good for Concentration (implies restriction of attention to a single object and withdrawal of other inputs) Being selective with information Goal pursuit Making judgements and assessments

8 References Baer, R. (2003). Mindfulness training as a clinical intervention: A conceptual and Empirical Review. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10, Baer, R., Smith, G. & Allen, K. (2004). Assessment of Mindfulness by self-report: The Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills. Assessment, 11, **Baer, R., Smith, G., Hopkins, J., Krietemeyer, J. & Toney, L. (2006). Using self- report assessment methods to explore facets of mindfulness. Assessment, 13 (1), Bishop, S. (2002). What do we really know about Mindfulness-based stress reduction? Psychosomatic Medicine, 64, Bishop, S., Lau, M., Shapiro, S., Carlson, L. et al (2004). Mindfulness: A proposed operational definition. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11, Brown, K. & Ryan, R. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in Psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, ***Brown, K., Ryan, R. & Creswell, J. (2007). Mindfulness: Theoretical foundations and evidnce for its salutary effects. Psychological Inquiry, 18 (4), 211 – 237 (see also some of the commentaries and the authors response). Buchheld, N., Grossman, P. & Walach, H. (2001). Measuring mindfulness in Insight Meditation (Vipassana) and meditation-based psychotherapy. Journal for Meditation and Meditation Research, 1, 11 – 34 (see newer paper by Walach et al (2006) – Measuring Mindfulness – the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory in Personality and Individual Differences, 40, 1543 – 1555).

9 Davidson, R., Kabat-Zinn, J., Schumacher, J. et al (2003). Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65, Grossman, P., Niemann, L., Schmidt, S. & Walach, H. (2004). Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits: A meta-analysis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 57, Kabat-Zinn, J., Wheeler, E., Light, T., Skillings, A. et al (1998). Influence of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction intervention on rates of skin clearing in patients with moderate to severe psoriasis undergoing phototherapy (UVB) and Photochemotherapy (PUVA). Psychosomatic Medicine, 60, Kristeller, J. L. & Hallett, C. B. An exploratory study of a meditation-based intervention for binge eating disorder. Journal of Health Psychology, 4, Shapiro, S., Astin, J., Bishop, S. & Cordova, M. (2005). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for health care professionals: Results from a randomised trial. International Journal of Stress Management, 12, Shapiro, S., Carlson, L., Astin, J. & Freedman, B. (2006). Mechanisms of mindfulness. Journal of Clinical Psychology, Shapiro, S., Schwatrz, G. & Bonner, G. (1998). Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on medical and pre-medical students. Journal of Behavioural Medicine, 21, Speca, M., Carlson, L., Goodey, E. & Angen, M. (2000). A randomized, wait-list controlled trial: The effect of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction program on mood and symptoms of stress in cancer outpatients. Psychosomatic Medicine, 62, Tacon, A., Caldera, Y. & Ronaghan, C. (2004). Mindfulness-based stress reduction in women with breast cancer. Families, Systems & Health, 22, Tacon, A., McComb, J., Caldera, Y & Randolph, P. (2003). Mindfulness meditation, anxiety reduction and heart disease. Family and Community Health, 26,


11 Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi One of the founders of Positive Psychology – the science of optimal human functioning

12 Experience of flow My mind isnt wandering. I am totally involved in what I am doing and I am not thinking of anything else. My body feels good... the world seems to be cut off from me... I am less aware of myself and my problems. My concentration is like breathing... I never think of it.. I am quite oblivious to my surroundings after I really get doing in this activity. I think that the phone could ring, and the doorbell could ring or the house burn down or something like that. When I start, I really do shut out the world. Once I stop I can let it back again. I am so involved in what I am doing... I dont see myself as separate from what I am doing.

13 Characteristics of flow Complete concentration An effortless control over your actions Action and one who act merge No sense of self (or self-consciousness) No sense of time Being absorbed (rather than absorbing) Youre no longer a participant observer, only a participant.

14 Conditions of the flow experience There are clear goals every step of the way There is immediate feedback on the progress. For example, in a competition you know exactly how well you are doing, i.e. whether you are winning or losing. There is a balance between challenges and skills

15 The original Flow Model

16 Challenges to this view Can we get into flow when we are washing dishes (a low challenge)? Can we get into flow when we daydream, watch a movie, or read (low skills)? Another researcher of flow Antonella Delle Fave thinks yes!

17 What's good about flow? It feels good It enhances achievement It improves your capacities and skills It enhances ones self-esteem and contributes to well- being

18 Is flow always good? How about gambling and other activity addictions? Flow is amoral It can make you forget the larger perspective (e.g. a meeting) It can make you feel overconfident

19 What do mindfulness and flow have in common? They both relate to activity They both relate to our awareness They belong to the same species They both have potential to contribute to well-being They both have limitations on their own

20 Why dichotomy? MINDFULNESS: Broad awareness Awareness of self and time Low skill and challenge Observed participant FLOW: Focused awareness Not being aware of self and time High skill and challenge Participatory observer They seem to be on the opposite side of the spectrum:


22 MINDFULNESS FLOW The question: can we be in flow and mindful at the same time? IF NO MINDFULNESS FLOW IF YES

23 Contact: Nash Popovic

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