Mindfulness as practice: A network analysis of FMI data

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Smith JH
van Ommen C
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John Wiley and Sons Inc on behalf of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
Mindfulness research implicitly conceives of mindfulness as an identifiable real ‘thing’ that exists beyond what is directly observed. Recently, a new methodology has been developed which allows mindfulness to be modelled as a complex system or network at the level of self-report. In these models, items become a network's nodes, and the statistical relations between them, edges. Interpreted causally, nodes are thought to increasingly influence each other via their edges, such that they become increasingly correlated. This study hypothesises that at a cross-sectional level, this may result in differences in overall network connectivity (density) between practitioners and non-practitioners. Mindfulness networks were estimated for practitioners and non-practitioners using the Friedberg Mindfulness Inventory (FMI). A total of 371 regular mindfulness practitioners and 283 non-practitioners (including 59 irregular practitioners) were recruited online from Amazon Mechanical Turk. Comparisons of practitioners’ and non-practitioners’ networks indicated that network density did not significantly differ, whereas evidence was found in support of a significant difference in network structure. An exploratory analysis revealed substantive group differences in how items (practices) were connected. In particular, the practice of Acceptance appeared more central to the practitioners’ network relative to the non-practitioners' network, indicating Acceptance may be particularly useful for engagement in mindfulness practices. The study supports investigating mindfulness as a complex network at the level of self-report, with implications for how the development of mindfulness is conceptualised. The lack of difference in network density indicates that research is needed to examine network dynamics in the context of regular mindfulness practice.
CAUL read and publish agreement 2022
Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 2021, 21 (4), pp. 899 - 909