Free
Poster Session
Issue Date: July 2015
Published Online: July 01, 2015
Updated: April 30, 2020
The Feeling of Mindfulness: How Sensory Processing Styles Influence Mindful Awareness of Daily Experiences
Author Affiliations
  • University of Missouri
Article Information
Sensory Integration and Processing / Basic Research
Poster Session   |   July 01, 2015
The Feeling of Mindfulness: How Sensory Processing Styles Influence Mindful Awareness of Daily Experiences
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911505208. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.69S1-PO7095
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911505208. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.69S1-PO7095
Abstract

Date Presented 4/18/2015

Occupational therapy concepts of sensory processing provide a unique addition to the body of work exploring the neuroscience basis of mindfulness. In this study, low registration and sensory sensitive processing styles were associated with reduced mindfulness in a healthy adult sample.

SIGNIFICANCE: In this study, I highlight the importance of involving occupational therapists in the mindfulness-based interventions widely used in mental health settings. By identifying the role of sensory styles in mindful awareness of daily experiences, this study suggests that occupational therapy’s unique knowledge of sensory processing can improve mindfulness outcomes. In this basic research, I integrate concepts from occupational therapy into current neuroscience understandings of mindfulness, suggesting an expanded role for occupational therapy practitioners in this area.
INNOVATION: This study is the first to examine how occupational therapy concepts of sensory processing may relate to mindfulness in a broad cross-section of healthy adults. It adds to the body of theoretical work highlighting the role of mindfulness in occupational engagement by using empirical measures to assess mindful awareness in daily life. Drawing on well-validated measures of sensory processing provides a unique way of examining how the neuroscience concepts of bodily awareness relate to mindfulness.
APPROACH: In this study, I examine the relationship between sensory processing styles and mindfulness. I hypothesized that sensory processing styles characterized by decreased bodily awareness (i.e., low registration) will be related to mindfulness in daily experiences.
Mindfulness is a state of conscious awareness that affects occupational engagement. Techniques to increase mindfulness improve quality of life in healthy individuals and those experiencing chronic physical and mental health conditions. Mindfulness is thought to improve psychological health through the mechanisms of attentional control and bodily awareness. Information on sensory processing provides a unique way of examining how differences in bodily awareness affect mindfulness of daily experiences.
METHOD: I utilized a survey design to explore sensory processing styles and mindfulness in a cross-section of healthy adults.
Research activities occurred in an occupational therapy laboratory on the campus of a large university located in the Midwest. One hundred and fifty health adults were recruited from community samples to participate in this study. Participants completed the Mindful Attention and Awareness Scale (MAAS), Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale (CAMS), and Adolescent and Adult Sensory Profile (AASP) in a single session. Pearson’s correlations were used to examine the relationship between measures of mindfulness and sensory processing styles.
RESULTS: Low registration and sensory sensitive processing styles were significantly negatively correlated with mindfulness scores on the MAAS. No statistically significant relationships emerged between sensory processing styles and scores on the CAMS.
CONCLUSION: Individuals with sensory processing styles characterized by passive self-regulation strategies were less mindful in daily life. This suggests that reduced awareness of sensory information affects the ability to mindfully engage with the environment. Interventions designed to increase mindfulness should include sensory activities that are best addressed by occupational therapists. The primary limitation of this study involves examining a healthy adult population with no history of mindfulness training.