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Mindfulness shown to reduce paranoia in 7 days

A new study found that practicing mindfulness can lower feelings of paranoia.

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  • Psychologists find that a week of mindfulness meditation can reduce feelings of paranoia.
  • The studies also pinpoint feelings of non-judgment to correlate with paranoid thoughts.
  • The study was initiated to help lower paranoia in students.

As we hunker down, with the coronavirus-related news getting progressively worse, both on the medical and economic fronts, it's hard to avoid getting uneasy if not downright paranoid. One thing that can help deal with the emotional toll – mindfulness meditation, which has been shown to reduce paranoid feelings in a new study.

The psychologists from the University of London were motivated to conduct this investigation to help lower paranoia in students, 30 to 40% of whom exhibit it, based on past research. Paranoia was defined by the scientists as "the belief that another person is, or is planning, to intentionally cause one harm—be that physical, social or psychological." Studies linked this sense among the students with isolation, feelings of powerlessness and depression.

Mindfulness, in particular, was of interest fo the scientists as its has been a key component in new cognitive-behavioral therapies for the treatment of paranoia. The authors of the study looked at mindfulness as "moment-to-moment awareness, cultivated by paying attention in a specific way, in the present moment, as non-reactively, non-judgementally, and open-heartedly as possible".

One reason for the success of mindfulness in remedying this psychological condition of paranoia is that it encourages responding to internal experiences without becoming judgmental. Via the course of three studies, with two being based on questionnaires and one experimental, the scientists looked at whether a person's levels of non-judgmental thinking is linked to their levels of paranoia and if engagement in mindfulness can affect having paranoid thoughts.

From the two questionnaire studies involving 410 and 84 people (mostly white female psychology students), the researchers concluded that a person with greater levels of non-judgement would be predicted to exhibit lower levels of paranoia.

"The current findings provide further evidence of the specific role of non-judgement in experiences of nonclinical paranoia," wrote the researchers. "Furthermore, these are the first empirical data to show that high levels of non-judgement may buffer the impact of trait paranoia on daily experiences of state paranoia.

Mind fitness: How meditation boosts your focus, resilience and brain

The last study showed in the sample of 68 people that practicing mindfulness meditation could lower the amount of paranoid thoughts. This was true even after a short period like a week. As reported by PsyPost, participants of the study were put through one prerecorded guided mindfulness lesson per day, engaging in a quick body scan, breathing mindfully and practicing choiceness awareness.

Check out the study"Mindfulness and Paranoia: A Cross-Sectional, Longitudinal and Experimental Analysis," authored by Jessica Kingston, Francesca Lassman, Carla Matias and Lyn Ellett, published in the journal Mindfulness.

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