Mindfulness and Experiential Avoidance

Image representing Electronic Arts as depicted...Image via CrunchBaseIn general, we might say that mindfulness is a process of "turning toward rather than away."  In our last study group, our mindfulness experience demonstrated how complex that process actually is.  Sustaining mindfulness over a period of time inevitably involves "decisions" (on a fully conscious or a less-than-conscious basis) about how attention is allocated.  It was obvious to us that those decisions were sometimes made for what we might call "defensive" reasons.  Or, to put it less pejoratively, affect regulation needs contributed to our decisions about how to guide our attention.  Sometimes, this is clearly in the service of sustaining mindfulness (if we get too caught up in an emotion, we will probably lose our mindfulness). At the other end of the spectrum, some experiences are avoided because they are felt to be dangerous and destabilizing to the psyche, and this "turning away" can have very negative consequences. Within the mindfulness-based psychotherapies, Experiential Avoidance (EA) is often discussed as an element of psychopathology that can be mitigated with mindfulness practice.

To guide our discussion on this topic (November 21st), I'm posting two papers for you to download and study.  Chawla (2007) is a review of the research on experiential avoidance.  The other paper is a compendium of measures used in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy research, and it begins with a section about the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire that will be relevant to our discussion.

I think it will be interesting to use this research to illuminate our in-the-moment mindfulness experiences.  Enjoy your reading!

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Anonymous said...

What does this have to do with Electronic Arts, the video game company and the logo you have placed next to your post?

Roger Thomson, Ph.D. said...

Experiential Avoidance is often abbreviated as "EA". Apologies to Electronic Arts.