Can Mindfulness Be Too Much of a Good Thing? The Value of a Middle Way

Author: Britton W
Affiliation: Alpert Medical School at Brown University, 171 Meeting St, Providence RI 02912
Conference/Journal: Current Opinion in Psychology
Date published: 2019 Aug
Other: Special Notes: and ResearchGate , Word Count: 173

Previous research has found that very few, if any, psychological or physiological processes are universally beneficial. Instead, positive phenomena tend to follow a non-monotonic or inverted U-shaped trajectory where their typically positive effects eventually turn negative. This review investigates mindfulness-related processes for signs of non-monotonicity. A number of mindfulness-related processes—including, mindful attention (observing awareness, interoception), mindfulness qualities, mindful emotion regulation (prefrontal control, decentering, exposure, acceptance), and meditation practice—show signs of non-monotonicity, boundary conditions, or negative effects under certain conditions. A research agenda that investigates the possibility of mindfulness as non-monotonic may be able to provide an explanatory framework for the mix of positive, null, and negative effects that could maximize the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions.

• Few psychological or physiological processes are universally beneficial.

• Most positive phenomena reach inflection points where their effects turn negative.

• Mindfulness is unlikely to be an exception to the inverted U-shape curved principle.

• Some mindfulness-related processes have negative effects under certain conditions.

• Research that includes the full range of possible effects would improve the efficacy of mindfulness.