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Mindfulness, Non-attachment, Well-being, and Self-Actualisation In Athletes (Part 1)

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

Based on the paper - Mindfulness and Nonattachment‑To‑Self in Athletes: Can Letting Go Build Well‑being and Self‑actualisation?

Mindfulness and nonattachment-to-self (NTS) are two psychological constructs that have gained considerable attention in recent years due to their positive impact on well-being and self-actualisation. While the relationship between mindfulness and general (NTS) has been well-established in various populations, its influence on athlete well-being remains relatively unexplored. This blog post aims to examine the roles of mindfulness and (NTS) in athlete well-being and self-actualisation, drawing on existing literature and theoretical frameworks.

Mindfulness and Nonattachment-to-self:

The relationship between mindfulness and nonattachment-to-self is supported by the mediational model, suggesting that mindfulness leads to general non-attachment to self, which, in turn, contributes to positive outcomes related to well-being (Ho et al., 2022). This relationship aligns with the self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (S-ART) framework proposed by Vago and Silbersweig (2012). According to this framework, self-awareness (mindfulness) precedes self-regulation and self-transcendence (non-attachment). Verhaeghen (2019) further confirmed this sequence by demonstrating that awareness predicts regulation and transcendence, which, in turn, predict well-being.

Mindfulness and Well-being:

While research on mindfulness in sports has primarily focused on performance outcomes, there is growing recognition of its significance for well-being (Noetel et al., 2019). Well-being encompasses emotional, psychological, and social aspects of an individual's life, including positive emotions, purpose, and connection with others (Lamers et al., 2010). In sporting populations, mindfulness has been associated with increased well-being and reduced stress (Shannon et al., 2020; Zhang et al., 2017, 2021). Similarly, in general populations, mindfulness and mindfulness-based interventions have consistently shown a positive association with well-being (Mesmer-Magnus et al., 2017; van Agteren et al., 2021).

Non-attachment to self and Well-being:

General non-attachment self has also been linked to increased subjective well-being and flourishing in athletes (Zhang et al., 2021). In broader populations, non-attachment to self has been associated with greater psychological well-being (Whitehead et al., 2018, 2021), life satisfaction, positive affect, and overall psychological well-being (Sahdra et al., 2010; Wang et al., 2016; Whitehead et al., 2019). Multiple studies have indicated that nonattachment-to-self mediates the relationship between mindfulness and increased well-being, further supporting the importance of non-attachment in promoting well-being (Ho et al., 2022; Zhang et al., 2021).

Mindfulness, Nonattachment-to-self, and Self-Actualisation:

Self-actualisation, the realisation of one's potential, has received less attention in the context of sport. Self-actualisation involves a shift from egoic fixation to a deep sense of interconnectedness, appreciation for life, and purpose in one's pursuits (Kaufman, 2018; Maslow, 1950). Maslow's hierarchy of human needs suggests that self-actualisation can be achieved when basic needs are fulfilled, allowing individuals to focus on personal growth and fulfillment. Recent studies have found positive associations between mindfulness, (NTS), and self-actualisation in general populations (Beitel et al., 2014; Brown & Ryan, 2003; Whitehead et al., 2020). This suggests that the ability to let go of egoic attachments and cultivate mindfulness may enhance an athlete's focus, well-being, and self-actualisation.

A Buddhist Perspective:

Considering the reciprocal relationships theorised among mindfulness, nonattachment-to-self, and other Buddhist constructs (Grossman & Van Dam, 2011), it is valuable to explore these constructs within a larger Buddhist framework. Taking a holistic perspective towards mindfulness and nonattachment-to-self, rather than viewing them as isolated components, can deepen our understanding of how athletes can cultivate these qualities for their benefit.

The paper aimed to shed light on the relationship between mindfulness, nonattachment-to-self, well-being, and self-actualisation in athletes. Drawing on existing literature and theoretical frameworks, the researchers highlighted the positive associations between mindfulness, nonattachment-to-self, and well-being in both sporting and general populations. They also emphasised the potential role of nonattachment-to-self in mediating the relationship between mindfulness and well-being. Furthermore, they discussed how self-actualisation can be enhanced through mindfulness and non-attachment-to-self, enabling athletes to focus on personal growth and fulfillment.

By exploring the intertwined nature of mindfulness, nonattachment-to-self, well-being, and self-actualisation, this post encourages a holistic approach to cultivating these qualities among athletes. Understanding the synergistic relationship between mindfulness and nonattachment-to-self can provide valuable insights into promoting athlete well-being and facilitating their journey towards self-actualisation.

Lewis, K. J., Walton, C. C., Slemp, G. R., & Osborne, M. S. (2022). Mindfulness and Nonattachment-To-Self in Athletes: Can Letting Go Build Well-being and Self-actualization?. Mindfulness, 13(11), 2738-2750.

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