Infant sensitivity, attachment, and predicting behavior problems: Implications for Mindfulness Practice.
An interesting study examining infant sensitivity to the environment can provide a deeper understanding of the value of the Child’s mind. The study by Conradt, Measlee, and Ablow, looks at ways to identify which babies might develop behavior problems, when raised in impoverished homes.
The infants in the study were monitored for their responsiveness to stimuli in their environment, by measuring their heart rate. Babies with higher heart rates were more sensitive to the environment.
Babies were evaluated again as 17 month old toddlers for behavior problems such as aggression and anxiety. They were also assessed for the level of secure attachment to their mothers.
The interesting results of the study showed the infants with greater sensitivity to the environment had far greater behavior problems if their relationship with their mother was insecure. Conversely, the sensitive children with secure attachment to Mom did far better than any of the other groups, (they had far fewer behavior problems) including children living in less stressful, more affluent environments.
How do we integrate this with our understanding of mindfulness and Buddhist psychology?
You might see the infants with greater sensitivity as naturally inclined to be responsive and open to the environment. This sounds very much like the attitude of the Child’s Mind! Yet those sensitive individuals can be overwhelmed by their own openness without the comfort of the compassionate relationship (as in the secure attachment with Mom).
When we provide compassion to ourselves, in our internal world, we are far better equipped to respond, in productive ways to our environment! So mindfulness opens the door to experience, and compassion offers us the safety to respond with an open mind, body, and spirit!
May this information benefit you, those you love, and all sentient beings, everywhere.
© Ellen M. Adelman PhD 2013, all rights reserved.
Mind Body Intelligence tm is a trademark of Ellen M. Adelman PhD and the Sage Healing Institute.