Mind­ful­ness just puts men in a bad mood

Irish Daily Mail - - News - By Kate Pick­les

IT is ex­tolled as the per­fect rem­edy for stress and is very fash­ion­able with celebri­ties in­clud­ing Emma Wat­son and An­gelina Jolie.

But while mind­ful­ness can help women find in­ner calm, sci­en­tists have dis­cov­ered it can ac­tu­ally put men in a worse mood.

The form of med­i­ta­tion – where sub­jects con­cen­trate on their breath­ing and sus­pend judg­ment and crit­i­cism – ap­peals to women on an emo­tional level.

How­ever, the pe­ri­ods of quiet re­flec­tion make men feel slightly worse than be­fore they started, ac­cord­ing to re­searchers at Brown Univer­sity in the US.

They fol­lowed 36 fe­male and 41 male stu­dents on a 12-week course on mind­ful­ness, in­clud­ing three one-hour med­i­ta­tion ses­sions. In th­ese, they spent 30 min­utes prac­tis­ing med­i­ta­tion from Bud­dhist tra­di­tions, fol­lowed by a ten-minute re­flec­tion pe­riod and a ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion.

By the end of the course, the av­er­age stu­dent had taken part in more than 41 hours of med­i­ta­tion. Par­tic­i­pants were then judged on their mood us­ing a spe­cially cal­cu­lated point score. While women’s moods were found to im­prove by an av­er­age of 11.6 points, it had the op­po­site ef­fect on men.

Dr Wil­loughby Brit­ton, from Brown Univer­sity, said she was sur­prised by the re­sults but be­lieved it was associated with how men and women tra­di­tion­ally deal with their emo­tions. ‘The mech­a­nisms are highly spec­u­la­tive at this point, but stereo­typ­i­cally, women ru­mi­nate and men dis­tract,’ she said. ‘So for peo­ple that tend to be will­ing to con­front or turn to­ward the dif­fi­cult, mind­ful­ness is made for im­prov­ing that.

‘For peo­ple who have been largely turn­ing their at­ten­tion away from the dif­fi­cult, to sud­denly bring all their at­ten­tion to their dif­fi­cul­ties can be some­what counter-pro­duc­tive.

‘While fac­ing one’s dif­fi­cul­ties and feel­ing one’s emo­tions may seem to be uni­ver­sally ben­e­fi­cial, it does not take into ac­count that there may be dif­fer­ent cul­tural ex­pec­ta­tions for men and women around emo­tion­al­ity.’

In re­cent years, mind­ful­ness has be­come the trendy way to im­prove well­be­ing.

Dr Brit­ton said the find­ings, pub­lished in the jour­nal Fron­tiers In Psy­chol­ogy, could be used to fur­ther treat women, who are more vul­ner­a­ble to cer­tain men­tal health is­sues.

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