Over the past few years, we’ve seen the rise of many mindfulness communities around the world, with notable mindful communities in Toronto, Houston, New Orleans and other cities, and some specialising in communities for blacks and women.
New scientific research reveals big benefits of mindfulness community intervention for stress, anxiety, and depression, and especially for university students.
It’s no surprise, but we are currently in the midst of a mental health crisis, made worse by the current pandemic. This has led to a rise in stress, anxiety and depression. And many of the sources of help that people turn to are currently unavailable—it’s not possible to workout at the gym, for instance, or to go for a drink with friends (in many cities).
Many students, and others, have turned to mindfulness and meditation to help with stress and anxiety [here our guides to using meditation for stress, and meditations for anxiety.]. However, many people are unable to find meditation teachers in their vicinity, and some prefer a more social approach.
Enter mindful communities—groups of people who have decided to be mindful in their approach to life and in their communication with other people.
What Is A Mindful Community?
A mindful community is simply a group of people who have decided collectively to approach life mindfully [READ: Getting started with mindfulness.]
There are workplace mindful communities, local communities, and online ones. And if you’re interested in starting your own mindful community, I recommend reading Mindful Magazines guide.
Numerous large corporations like Google have started mindfulness communities at work. However, they don’t have to be limited to the office. You can start a local mindfulness community anywhere; all you need is a group of likeminded people who want to live mindfully together.
During this time when many people are feeling lonely and isolated, and when anxiety is on the rise, a mindful community can be a valuable aid.
There are numerous benefits of a mindful community. It helps with social connection, can aid relaxation, make us feel emotionally supported, and, according to research by a large Canadian university, it can also help with stress, anxiety and depression.
Research on the effects of a mindful community for stress, anxiety and depression
A large Canadian university created a virtual mindfulness community (MVC) web-programed and researched the effects it has on mental health.
The virtual mindful community program included CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), online videos, discussion forums, and video conferencing. The program was created specifically to help reduce anxiety, depression, and stress in students (Read: Mindfulness & Meditation for Students).
The researchers used an eight-week mindful-community intervention in a randomized controlled trial (RCT) with 159 undergraduate university students at a large Canadian university (32 were males, 125 female, and the average age was 22.55 years). Results were measured via an online survey.
The researchers state that the virtual mindfulness community “significantly reduced depression and other symptoms but, interestingly, not stress).
It’s interesting that the intervention had no discernable effect on stress, especially given the significant scientific evidence that mindfulness helps alleviate stress. Unfortunately, the research team has not commented on why this might be the case.