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Abstract Objective: This study examined whether mindfulness increased through participation in movement-based courses and whether changes in self-regulatory self-efficacy, mood, and perceived stress mediated the relationship between increased mindfulness and better sleep. Participants: 166 college students enrolled in the 2007–2008 academic year in 15 week classes in Pilates, Taiji quan, or GYROKINESIS. Methods: At beginning, middle, and end of the semester, participants completed measures of mindfulness, self-regulatory self-efficacy, mood, perceived stress, and sleep quality. Results: Total mindfulness scores and mindfulness subscales increased overall. Greater changes in mindfulness were directly related to better sleep quality at the end of the semester after adjusting for sleep disturbance at the beginning. Tiredness, Negative Arousal, Relaxation, and Perceived Stress mediated the effect of increased mindfulness on improved sleep. Conclusions: Movement-based courses can increase mindfulness. Increased mindfulness accounts for changes in mood and perceived stress, which explain, in part, improved sleep quality.

The specific aim of this course is development of a university dance curriculum that will link post-modern dance with Tai Chi as it is understood and practiced by the masters of the discipline in China – both as a practice (i.e., as a set of physical movements known as “Tai Chi Chuan”) and as a spiritual discipline (i.e., “Tai Chi”) worthy of scholarly study. A central hypothesis of this course is that the teaching of Tai Chi Chuan in this country – both in academic and experiential contexts – has generally missed the essence of the actual Chinese discipline by concentrating more on the specific physical steps than on the deeper mental and spiritual principles from which it derives. A major goal of the course is to restore to the curriculum those important principles of employing certain meditation techniques that have not been taught here. The course will apply two central principles of Tai Chi in the context of dance: first, the goal of awareness, or softness, which is simply movement based on stillness; and second, the goal of relational physics, or the intention and orientation of the individual to the whole.