We know a lot about mindfulness. Research has shown that this most popular of interventions leads to calm, diminishes rumination, eases physiological stress responses, improves working memory, increases focus at work and school, decreases emotional reactivity, improves relationships, bolsters the immune system - and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Another recent study looked at how mindfulness impacts participants' moods. And the findings were, perhaps unsurprisingly, remarkable.
The authors of the study, which was published a few months ago in the journalMindfulness, wanted to answer a simple question: Does mindfulness help regulate implicit emotional responses?
In other words, we know already that people report explicit changes in mood. But what about those harder-to-access, difficult-to-measure realms of implicit affects.
To answer the question, the investigators made people sad. Then they had them perform a mindfulness, distraction, or rumination exercise.
And what happened? As you might expect, negative affect among those assigned to the mindfulness group significantly improved. The other groups, not so much.
Those in the mindfulness group also displayed greater congruence between their implicit and explicit moods. In other words, they not only felt bet better, they also knew how they felt.
Finally, those who were generally more mindful (i.e. trait mindfulness) experienced less implicit negative affect.
So what does this tell us?
It means that mindfulness helps you know and improve your mood. And it means that all the work you're putting into sitting still every day, watching thoughts, feelings, sights, sounds, physical sensations, and all the rest is really worth it.
So keep up the good work. Stay mindful.