How and Why Mindfulness Aids in Self-Control

Researcher Rimma Teper’s work looks into why and how practicing mindfulness can help regulate our emotions. Her interview with Emily Nauman over at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center gives some scientific backing to what many mindfulness practitioners have found through experience.

Rimma’s explains:

"The link between mindfulness and improved emotion regulation is certainly not a new one. What our model does is examine the nature of this relationship and helps to understand how mindfulness may improve emotion regulation.

There is often a misconception that mindfulness simply leads to less emotionality, or that mindful people experience less emotion.

Our model proposes that this is not the case. Specifically, we suggest that mindfulness leads to improvements in emotion regulation not by eliminating or reducing emotional experience, but rather through a present-moment awareness and acceptance of emotional experience. This sort of attentive and open stance towards one’s own emotions and thoughts allows the individual to still experience emotion, but also to detect emotions early on and stop them from spiraling out of control." 

In my own practice, it’s that “attentive and open stance” towards my emotions that helps shrink them down from the giant monster in my head to something more manageable. Instead of running in mental circles to avoid feeling something unpleasant, I can see the emotion for what it is and go from there. 

You can read the entire interview here: How Does Mindfulness Improve Self-Control?