Are Our Patients Getting Mindfulness Wrong?

Medscape Staff

November 10, 2021

The general public may be misinterpreting mindfulness and missing out on its benefits, according to a new study.

What to know:

  • The practice of mindfulness has gained in popularity in recent years and has been shown to effectively reduce stress and help alleviate related health disorders.

  • Mindfulness involves two steps for mitigating stressful situations: awareness and acceptance. However, popular understanding of mindfulness might be getting a key part wrong.

  • Researchers from the University of Waterloo, in Waterloo, Canada, conducted a study of how laypeople interpret mindfulness and apply it in their daily lives.

  • The results, published in Clinical Psychology Review, showed that although most people understood the first step ― being aware of the stressor ― they often misunderstood the second step. They took "acceptance" to mean not engaging with problems, although it's engaging with problems that provides relief from stress.

  • Practicing mindfulness in regard to other people's perspectives is critical right now, according to study author Igor Grossmann, PhD, who says that doing so can help generate discussion and connection in otherwise divisive discourses, such as on social media.

This is a summary of the article, "Despite Understanding the Concept of Mindfulness, People Are Applying It Incorrectly, Research Finds," published by the University of Waterloo on November 8. The full article can be found on

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