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Mindfulness Training Improves Well Being in Teen Boys

by Shadra Bruce on September 7, 2010

Cambridge University researchers have discovered an application of positive psychology that vastly improves teen boys’ level of self-esteem and sense of well-being. Called mindfulness training, the researchers worked with 155 volunteer participants – 14 and 15 year old boys who spent four weeks learning mindfulness techniques.

Professor Felicia Huppert, who led the study on behalf of the Well-being Institute at the University of Cambridge, said, “More and more we are realizing the importance of supporting the overall mental health of children. Our study demonstrates that this type of training improves well-being in adolescents and that the more they practice, the greater the benefits. Importantly, many of the students genuinely enjoyed the exercises and said they intended to continue them — a good sign that many children would be receptive to this type of intervention. Another significant aspect of this study is that adolescents who suffered from higher levels of anxiety were the ones who benefitted most from the training.”

The mindfulness training taught the boys to become more self-aware, with a special focus on helping the boys be more aware of their bodies, their breathing, and other sensations. The participants were asked to practice mindfulness in and out of the classroom and were provided with listening exercises to improve their concentration.

Huppert said, “We believe that the effects of mindfulness training can enhance well-being in a number of ways. If you practice being in the present, you can increase positive feelings by savoring pleasurable on-going experiences. Additionally, calming the mind and observing experiences with curiosity and acceptance not only reduces stress but helps with attention control and emotion regulation — skills which are valuable both inside and outside the classroom.”  Because the study met with such success, schools are adopting mindfulness curriculum that will last 8 weeks and be available to both public and private school children.

Shadra Bruce is a contributing writer for Mental Health News

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