Mindfulness mitigates fears of dying

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

WASHINGTON - Being mindful, which means being open, receptive and attentive to whatever is unfolding in the present moment, can mitigate the fear of dying, new research shows.

George Mason University psychology professor Todd Kashdan wanted to find out if mindful people had different attitudes about dying, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reports.

“Like little kids who nearly suffocate under blanket protection to fend off the monster in the closet,” says Kashdan, “the first thing we try to do is purge any death-related thoughts or feelings from our mind,” according to a university statement.

“On the fringes of this conscious awareness, we try another attempt to ward off death anxiety. We violently defend beliefs and practices that provide a sense of stability and meaning in our lives,” Kashdan adds.

He wondered what might prevent these defensive, intolerant reactions from occurring. He and his colleagues looked at what might happen when mindfulness and the terror of death collide.

Less mindful people showed an intense dislike for foreigners for example mentioning what’s wrong with the US, greater prejudice against black managers, and other things.

They sought harsher penalties for social transgressions such as prostitution, marital infidelities, and drug use by physicians that led to surgical accidents.

Conversely, mindful people showed a lack of defensiveness towards people that didn’t share their worldview.

Mindful people were diplomatic and tolerant regardless of whether they were prompted to think about their slow, systematic decline toward obliteration.

Filed under: Society

will not be displayed