Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Mindfulness connections with anxiety and scientistic evaluation

Finally I finished my final thesis! It included Langer’s concept of mindfulness I find especially interesting. One is mindful if pay attention to information, actively constructing new categories and meanings for it. Mindfulness means to be open.

Okay, I won’t repeat all the stuff about the concept. Author did it nicely in 1992 in journal Consciousness and Cognition: Matters of Mind: Mindfulness/Mindlessness in Perspective and the net is full of articles. Here I am going only to say what my project was about and where mindfulness was in it. I will describe how I used Langer's Mindfulness Scale (LMS) and then summarize general results.

My paper summary

My final thesis was designed to explore phenomenon called “right thumb’s civilization”. That is a metaphor for tendency to prefer solutions, that are “fast”, “easy” and “clear”. One does not have to wait for results nor put much effort and thinking a lot, when use remote controls and other modern appliances. Since those devices are operated with right thumb, the metaphor is as it is.

On seminar that I attedned the variable was discused. People came up with idea that mindlessness in modern environment leads to “right thumb’s mindset”. One taught that technology gives control over everyday life situations, without thinking wants such full control in fields such as interpersonal contacts. It could be said: he or she is not aware of context.

Our supervisor told us that Ms Ph. D. Ellen J. Langer researches pehnomena that included lack of awareness of circumstances. Each of us wanted to know if there is a real negative correlation between our variable and mindfulness. The statistical relationship between results gained in our questionnaire and LMS. I took the challenge.

Although I was interested in one more thing about “right thumb’s civilization”. On seminar I heard that it could be connected to anxiety. My colleagues said that some authors (Beck, Bauman, Eriksen) point out, that human kind is more and more threatened by technology it created. So there should be a little correlation. I was intrigued with this problem and going to solve it. I added State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) to my project. It measures a temporary “state anxiety” and the general “trait anxiety”.

An attempt to adapt LMS questionnaire

After Ms Ph. D. Ellen J. Langer gave me permission I prepared three independent translations. My colleagues from seminar, who know her theory, helped me to chose the most suitable sentences. On 24.10.2008 I asked some 4th-year English students to take part in research. Eight resigned when they saw English items, so twelve people lasted. First they filled original version, and just then Polish one. (The a table with all results is available on request.)

For six items there is no significant correlation between the original phrase and the translation. So the whole was not good enough to be an adaptation. Two other people (not involved at first) prepared backtranslation. I hoped it would help to improve those six items, but it did not.

Meanwhile I learnt from that Ms Ph.D Bogusława Błoch was working on LMS too. Immediately I wrote to her and described my situation. We agreed to consider working together on the Polish adaptation. I send her my results and was waiting for her answer. Then I called. Several times. No reply till present.

The questionnaire based on LMS

My friends comforted me and the supervisor asked “what next?”. Consoled I looked at LMS translation quality research results from different perspective. Half of Polish items have medium value of Pearson coefficient for correlation between them and the scale. Some have large. This fact means, that it could work. And if the questionnaire based on LMS had good reliability, it would be sufficient for my final thesis purpose.

I did the research from 06 to 09.04.2009. 64 people took part in it. The sample was consisted of: 37 men, 17 women, 30 did not tell their sex; age mean was 32, with s=9, the youngest person was 19 years old, eldest 60.

Three more people’s answers I did not take to the sample. They replied only to one of each three-item groups, so later I resigned from breaks between lines. Instead I use highlight to guide sight.

The questionnaire based on LMS estimated internal consistency (Kuder-Richardson Formula 20) was rtt=0,828. Then I checked the item – scale correlation statistical significances. All but one were p=0,01 or lower. The eleventh did not correlate at all. I threw it out. Adding modification of appearance I gained the 20 items questionnaire based on LMS.

My paper general results

For my main research I took new sample consisted of 101 people. 29 men, 58 women and 14 persons that did not tell their sex. Age mean was 31 with s=13. Below you could see the frequencies.

More mindfulness, less anxiety

There was not any significant correlation between “right thumb’s mindset’s” questionnaire and its scales and anxiety nor mindfulness. Though the questionnaire based on LMS correlated negatively with STAI’s state anxiety r=-0,339; p=0,001 and trait anxiety r=-0,296; p=0,003 (showed on the scatter plot below; "refleksyjność" is mindfulness and "lęk-cecha" trait anxiety).

Those small values of Pearson coefficient resembles Ms Ph.D Małgorzata Kossowska’s results between need for closure and neurotism, r=0,25, p<0,01. The author comments that lack of interest in new information and experiences is a defence against changes. Stable and fixed knowledge helps to cope with anxiety of self-depreciation. If one is not sure about her or his intelectual capabilities, he or she prefears being given “clear” interpretation or instruction (wants to stay mindless). In such description I see a variant of self-handicapping.

I also agree with Brown and Ryan who say that neurotic person is so much occupied with her worries that is not able to think about things around her or him. Could one be released from her or his anxiety? I have no doubt it is possible if one trains her or his awareness toward context (Ms Ph.D. Langer have mentioned, it is exercisable in her 1989 book). People did it e.g. within cognitive therapy or practice I provide: life coaching.

Scientistic Evaluation, mindfulness and genders’ languages

The right thumb’s mindset questionnaire has a scale Scientistic Evaluation. It measures how much one is keen to put value from a perspective gained from natural science. Person with high results uses categories recognized in natural science in her or his everyday life. One may share scientists’ assumptions like e.g. science is the only justifiable access to the truth (arts or philosophy are not).

In my research among women there was significant, negative correlation between Scientistic Evaluation and mindfulness (r=-0,275, p=0,027). There is not such relationship, in any direction, among men. The p-value for this difference significance (z test) is p=0,041. I see here a role of genders’ languages as intervening variable.

Some say that a language of physical and biological sciences is masculine. So scientism is a masculine belief. When man considers this philosophy, it is natural for him. But woman has to think in “foreign language” which demands additional effort. If she tends to be mindless, she may even do not see the differenc between scientific and scientistic. Menawhile mindfull woman has additional stimuli (“foreign language”) while considering if science is the only way of describing all reality. I think gender’s languag is the source of tendency among woman that is not observed among men. Of course this statement needs further, empirical research.


Citation details for all information above: Cetnar, E. (2009). Mentalność prawego kciuka, a refleksyjność i lęk jako cecha – powiązania i zależności. Unpublished final thesis, University of Silesia (Dept. of Pedagogy and Psychology)

Kossowska, M. (2005). Umysł niezmienny... Poznawcze mechanizmy sztywności. Kraków: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego

Langer, E. (1989). Mindfulness. United States of America: Da Capo Press

Brown, K. W., Ryan, R.M. (2003). The Benefits of Being Present: Mindfulness and Its Role in Psychological Well-Being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 4, 822 – 848

E.g. Mulac, A., Lundell, T., Bradac J. (1986) Linguistic Contributors to the Gender-Linked Language Effect. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, Vol. 5, No. 2, 81-101

E.g. Collini, S. (1993). Introduction to The two cultures. In Snow, C. P. The two culturess

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Eye contact and overall balance are foundation of capoeira game

Eye contact and overall balance really make a difference. There was a time when I had already been able to perform all Mestre Bimba's Sequences, known basic techniques and still didn’t play well. Accidentally I attended classes where I was taught what I need. Here I share “secrets” with you.

At one group I was told “look at your opponent”. I have understood it is important, because I must see a guy I fight with to attack and to avoid his or her attacks. Though when game became faster I immediately lost eye contact.

Fortunately I get to teacher Fantasma classes where big pressure is put on the matter. They not only remind each other to look at opponent but also actually exercise it. I played moving-near-floor game which objective was to get behind opponents back. It is rather slow and to succeed one needs feints and eye contact.

Other example is cartwheels along gym. At East London they do it in pairs slow, low but looking at a partner. Just do the closed cartwheel instead of open. See difference on an illustration below. Left is aú fechado, right aú aberto. If you learn to do the first maintaining eye contact you will keep looking on your opponent performing higher version.

open and closed or low and high cartwheel (au)
Twice a week for a month I train with Fantasma’s group and when I back to Sao Bento Grande de Regional I was amazed. My new habit to keep sight on opponent at all times lasted. I can see what is going on! What to do if at your group at home is not any opportunity to getting used to look at opponent? Do same as I. Now when I exercise in rows I chose a point on a wall (a socket, a column or mate’s back) and keep my eyes on it constantly.

One more thing, “eye contact” in this case means that you keep your sight on whole opponent. It could be fixed on his or her clavicles but whole body should be in your field of view. Look directly without fear but do not literally in the eye. If you focused on face you cannot see what opponent’s arms and legs do and he or she may confused you with facial expression.

Another thing I still hear is “balance”, “balance” and “balance more!”. Finally two weeks ago I attended a training that put some light on this topic. Keeping balance is not about moving around parts of body, like turn a back from armada trajectory or take a pelvis from centerline of bencao. It is not about being in motion, including changing feet’s position before each attack. It’s about all those details at once.

I knew before I need to move each part of my body in time so the goal - movement flow would be achieve. Though I have never before thought seriously about arms. I keep my grade in strictly structured manner to prevent myself from being kicked and did not think that I can afford to “swim” with my hands because it is hard to be kicked when whole body moves. Talks in locker-room after training reveled that some other girl suffered the same.

Here is a description of exercise that helped us to discover it. Professor Sem Memoria introduced it and make useful comments that some of them I quote here. At first you start from ginga of course. Take a swing and strike a side as if you want to slap somebody's face. It is called galopante. Movement done correctly shift your body weight forward foot and take your pelvis from the central axis. It is convenient during game to put a torso slant – not only on side and not only leaned forward.

Galopante and balance
Then palm tuck like a snake under imaginary opponent’s leg. Let your hand guide whole body. Elbow would bend and torso slide down (under kick). During practice you can strike the air with your fingertips end of this part. Last part is back to ginga. Smoothly put your forward leg and hand back.

I have not mentioned that a part of body is moving but you feel that it should? It is high probably that you are right. Remember balance is about all staff at once. I scribed those words to show you that here is something worth to seek. I cannot tell yet what and how exactly because I discovered the topic of balança recently and am still learning.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Vingativa, timing is everything

Although vingativa [VIN-ga-CHEE-va] is take-down move, it is not so obvious who will finally use her or his leverage to topple whom. This situation provides both opponents opportunity to perform a trick. Here I describe only three.

vingativa diagram
Let's start from base how to do it. The diagram above is an illustration to the description. Twist your body as to queixada kick and step slightly to an oponent, shift body's weight onto the forward and throw your leg behind opponent's back leg. It is important to do it as wide as it.

vingativa diagram
Immediately, vertically bring your torso close to opponent's body. That slipping move should be perform balancing on bended knees, your hips ought to go forward then up. Remember to guard your head at all times. That is vingativa.

vingativa diagram
What you intent to do is topple the other player. You need to do two things in nice coordination. One is pressing opponent's knees with leg you have put behind her or him and second - pressing her or his chest with your hand to push her or him out of balance. Keep your guard all the times!

vingativa diagram
The other player may spot what is going to happen and escape you. She or he may rise back leg and place it behind you and in the same jump do a wide semi circle move with second leg to gain a distance. Hard luck! Turn round fast and play on.

After your attempt to topple a good player with vingativa you may be taken down. Beware! Your oponent may place his or her front leg slightly back and spin placing so-far-front leg under your back knee. Also when turning put hand on your chest. Pressing both - your knee and chest, the opponent topple you.

That is fun about capoeira - nobody knows what will happen.