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The aim of this qualitative study was to investigate the subjective experiences of 29 university students who participated in an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program for academic evaluation anxiety. Participants who self-referred to the Student Counseling Service underwent individual semi-structured interviews about how they experienced the personal relevance and practical usefulness of taking the MBSR program. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed through a team-based explorative-reflective thematic approach based on a hermeneutic-phenomenological epistemology. Five salient patterns of meaning (themes) were found: (1) finding an inner source of calm, (2) sharing a human struggle, (3) staying focused in learning situations, (4) moving from fear to curiosity in academic learning, and (5) feeling more self-acceptance when facing difficult situations. We contextualize these findings in relation to existing research, discuss our own process of reflexivity, highlight important limitations of this study, and suggest possible implications for future research.

The aim of this qualitative study was to investigate the subjective experiences of 29 university students who participated in an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program for academic evaluation anxiety. Participants who self-referred to the Student Counseling Service underwent individual semi-structured interviews about how they experienced the personal relevance and practical usefulness of taking the MBSR program. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed through a team-based explorative-reflective thematic approach based on a hermeneutic-phenomenological epistemology. Five salient patterns of meaning (themes) were found: (1) finding an inner source of calm, (2) sharing a human struggle, (3) staying focused in learning situations, (4) moving from fear to curiosity in academic learning, and (5) feeling more self-acceptance when facing difficult situations. We contextualize these findings in relation to existing research, discuss our own process of reflexivity, highlight important limitations of this study, and suggest possible implications for future research.

Why do more mindful individuals tend to be less depressed? We hypothesized (1) that mindfulness is associated with depressive symptoms both via the path of lower levels of rumination and higher levels of self-compassion and (2) that the path via self-compassion would explain variance beyond that which could be explained by rumination. Undergraduate students (N = 277) completed the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire, the Rumination subscale of the Rumination-Reflection Questionnaire, the Self-Compassion Scale, and the depression subscale of the symptom checklist-90 revised (SCL-90-R-dep). Results showed that mindfulness was associated with depressive symptoms both via the pathway of lower levels of rumination and via the pathway of higher levels of self-compassion. Both pathways were found to predict unique variance in depressive symptoms beyond that which could be explained by the other pathway. This suggests that one needs to consider the influence of mindfulness on both rumination and on self-compassion in order to fully understand why mindful individuals tend to be less depressed.