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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 89  |  Page : 165--173

Using mindfulness to reduce the health effects of community reaction to aircraft noise

University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, Queensland, Australia

Correspondence Address:
Andrew J Hede
University of the Sunshine Coast, PO Box 231, Woody Point, Qld 4019
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/nah.NAH_106_16

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Aim: This paper investigates whether mindfulness-based interventions might ameliorate the detrimental health effects of aircraft noise on residential communities. Review: Numerous empirical studies over the past 50 years have demonstrated the increasing negative impact of aircraft noise on residents worldwide. However, extensive database searches have revealed no published studies on psychological interventions that reduce residents’ reactivity to environmental noise. By contrast, there has been extensive research over several decades confirming the effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction training in lowering people’s stress from work and life. Considering that stress is a major component of aircraft noise reaction, it would seem worth assessing whether mindfulness-based interventions might be effective in reducing the health effects of aircraft noise. It appears that no existing conceptualization of mindfulness specifically accounts for noise as a stressor. Conceptual Analysis: A new conceptual model is presented here which explains how mindfulness can reduce noise reactivity. Two types of mindfulness are distinguished: an active form (meta-mindfulness) and a passive form (supra-mindfulness). It is posited that meta-mindfulness can facilitate “cognitive defusion” which research has confirmed as enabling people to disconnect from their own dysfunctional thoughts. In the case of aircraft noise, negative thinking associated with residents’ reactive experiences can exacerbate the health effects they suffer. The present model further proposes that supra-mindfulness can enable an individual to disengage their own sense of identity from the often overwhelming negative thoughts which can define their existence when they are consumed by extreme noise annoyance. Conclusion: The mindfulness processes of defusion and disidentification are postulated to be the key efficacy mechanisms potentially responsible for reducing reactivity to aircraft noise. This approach can be evaluated by extending previous research on the health benefits of mindfulness training.


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