Mindfulness as a Characteristic

In the last ten years of mindfulness research, there has been a growing recognition that mindfulness has both feature and state characteristics. A phenotype is a permanent biological or psychological feature that can be caused but does not continue over time; a state is a transient biological or psychological feature that can be induced but does not persist over time. While eye color is a genetic trait, wearing colored contact lenses alters the condition of your eyes.

People's self-reports of mindfulness vary widely, even though they have had little to no organized meditation experience. Is it genetically predetermined that any of us will become nuns, contemplatives, or other mindfulness “experts”? While research into mindfulness as a trait is still in its early stages, preliminary studies indicate that variations represent biological variation and are likely determined in part by our genetic blueprints. 

For example, David Creswell, a psychologist at Carnegie Mellon, and his colleagues found that individuals with different levels of trait mindfulness have different levels of brain activity correlated with emotion regulation (the more mindful, the better). Others have discovered similar links between mindfulness and attention control (the more attentive you are, or the more hours you practise mindfulness, the better your attention regulation). 

These results suggest that mindfulness can indicate variations in self-regulation as a whole, a characteristic that varies across the population and has genetic causes.

You may also want to read more about Mindfulness Meditation here.