Improve Well-Being During Covid-19 Lockdown with Yoga and Meditation

Improve Well-Being During Covid-19 Lockdown with Yoga and Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Practicing mindfulness and meditation may help you manage stress and high blood pressure, sleep better, feel more balanced and connected, and even lower your risk of heart disease.” American Heart Association

 

The Covid-19 pandemic has challenged the mental and physical health of the population. It has created intense stress both for frontline workers but also for people simply isolating at home. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve health and well-being in healthy individuals and those with medical and psychiatric conditions, Similarly, yoga practice has been shown to improve health and well-being in healthy individuals and those with medical and psychiatric conditions.  Meditation practice is known to decrease the psychological and physical responses to stress. Similarly, yoga practice has been shown to decrease the psychological and physical responses to stress. So, mindfulness and yoga practices may be helpful in coping with the mental and physical challenges resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown.

 

In today’s Research News article “A cross–sectional study of mental wellbeing with practice of yoga and meditation during Covid-19 pandemic.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8144767/ ) Priyanka and colleagues recruited adults over the internet during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown and had them complete a questionnaire measuring yoga practice, meditation practice, mental well-being, change in eating and sleeping, and the effects of the lockdown on mental health. The participants were separated into 4 groups, yoga only (18%), meditation only (21%), meditation plus yoga (35%), and no yoga or meditation.

 

They found that normal well-being scores were present in 66% of participants who practiced both yoga and meditation, 62% of those practicing meditation only, 60% of those practicing yoga only and 50.6% of people who practiced none. They also found that the greater the number of years practicing and the more frequent the practice the greater the proportion of participants with normal well-being scores.  A similar association of yoga and meditation practices was found with the change in eating, sleeping pattern, and family relations.

 

These results are correlational and as such caution must be exercised in concluding causation. But it has been previously shown that contemplative practices improve well-being, sleep, eating, and family relations. So, it is likely that the present results are due to yoga and meditation producing these benefits. The results, then, suggest that practicing yoga and meditation help to maintain mental well-being during a stressful pandemic lockdown and practicing both produces optimum benefits. They also suggest that the greater the frequency of practice and years practicing the greater the benefits. This suggests that practicing yoga and meditation help to relieve stress during difficult times, improving overall well-being.

 

So, improve well-being during Covid-19 lockdown with yoga and meditation.

 

mindfulness meditation is related to improved mental health across a variety of disorders, including different anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, and chronic pain symptom reduction.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Priyanka, & Rasania, S. K. (2021). A cross–sectional study of mental wellbeing with practice of yoga and meditation during COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of family medicine and primary care, 10(4), 1576–1581. https://doi.org/10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_2367_20

 

Abstract

Background:

COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in increased mental health issues. Yoga and meditation can help in alleviating mental stress and improving psychological wellbeing.

Methods:

It was a community-based online cross-sectional study involving adult general population. Data collection was done by using a Google form link that was circulated via online platforms. The data were analyzed using Microsoft Excel and SPSS version 22. Qualitative data were expressed in proportions or percentages and quantitative data were expressed in mean and standard deviation. Chi-square test was used to check the association of various factors and mental wellbeing.

Results:

A total of 649 (58.4%) subjects had normal mental wellbeing score, whereas 279 (25.1%) were found to be at risk of developing psychological distress and 184 (16.5%) were at risk of depression. A significantly larger proportion of subjects with normal mental wellbeing was found with the practice of both yoga and meditation (66.2%), followed by practice of only meditation (62.1%), only yoga (59.9%), and none of them (50.6%). A similar association of yoga and meditation practices was found with the change in eating, sleeping patterns, and family relations. The frequency of practice was positively associated with a higher level of mental wellbeing in the case of both yoga as well as meditation, with daily practice having the highest wellbeing scores.

Conclusion:

The practice of yoga and meditation, preferably both of them, is associated with higher level of mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8144767/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Better Perinatal Mental Health Among Uncertainty Produced by Covid-19

Mindfulness is Associated with Better Perinatal Mental Health Among Uncertainty Produced by Covid-19

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

use of a mindfulness-based meditation app may benefit patients who are navigating the stressors of being pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic.” –  Orli K. Florsheim, MD

 

The period of pregnancy is a time of intense physiological and psychological change. Anxiety, depression, and fear are quite common during pregnancy. More than 20 percent of pregnant women have an anxiety disorder, depressive symptoms, or both during pregnancy. The psychological health of pregnant women has consequences for fetal development, birthing, and consequently, child outcomes. Depression during pregnancy is associated with premature delivery and low birth weight.

 

In addition, immediately after birth it is common for the mother to experience mood swings including what has been termed “baby blues,” a sadness that may last for as much as a couple of weeks. But some women experience a more intense and long-lasting negative mood called postpartum depression. This occurs usually 4-6 weeks after birth in about 15% of births; about 600,000 women in the U.S. every year. For 50% of the women the depression lasts for about a year while about 30% are still depressed 3 years later.

 

Hence, it is clear that there is a need for methods to treat depression, and anxiety during the perinatal period. Since the fetus can be negatively impacted by drugs, it would be preferable to find a treatment that did not require drugs. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve anxiety and depression normally and to relieve maternal anxiety and depression during pregnancy and to relieve postpartum depression.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the mental and physical health of the population. It has created intense stress for everyone including women during the perinatal period. Mindfulness is known to decrease the psychological and physical responses to stress and to improve well-being during the perinatal period. So, mindfulness training may be helpful in coping with the mental and physical challenges during the perinatal period resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Indirect Effect of Parental Intolerance of Uncertainty on Perinatal Mental Health via Mindfulness During COVID-19.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8171361/ ) Sbrilli and colleagues recruited pregnant women or women who had given birth in the last 6 months during the Covid-19 pandemic. They were measured for Intolerance of uncertainty, mindfulness, and psychological symptoms, including anxiety, depression, and somatization.

 

They performed a path analysis and found that in these perinatal women intolerance of uncertainty was associated with psychological symptoms, especially anxiety and depression, directly and also indirectly by being associated with lower mindfulness which was, in turn, associated with greater psychological symptoms. The mindfulness facets that were significant in the indirect path were acting with awareness, non-reactivity, and describing.

 

The present study is correlational and as such caution must be exercised in reaching causal conclusions. But mindfulness has been shown in prior research to produce reductions in anxiety and depression. So, reduced mindfulness in the present study was probably the cause of the increased psychological symptoms. What’s new here is the finding that intolerance of uncertainty is directly and through mindfulness indirectly associated with increased psychological symptoms in perinatal women.

 

Intolerance of uncertainty is a fear of the unknown. During Covid-19 this fear is greatly amplified and the present results suggest that this results in greater anxiety and depression in these women. But since mindfulness is an intermediary it is possible that improvements in mindfulness, perhaps through training, could intervene to block the effects of intolerance of uncertainty on psychological symptoms. This is supported by the findings that mindfulness during Covid-19 improves psychological well-being.

 

Anxiety and depression during pregnancy can affect the birth and condition of the newborn. In addition, after birth they can affect post-partum depression. So, improving mindfulness is important during the perinatal period to improve the health and well-being of the infant and the mother. This becomes more important during the pandemic where uncertainty can exacerbate anxiety and depression.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with better perinatal mental health among uncertainty produced by Covid-19.

 

The strength of mediation habits may play a role in pregnant women’s mental health during COVID-19. Stronger meditation habits may prevent increases in stress despite increased worry related to getting infected by COVID-19 and may reduce symptoms of depression and PTSD.” – Jennifer Huberty

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are a also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Sbrilli, M. D., Haigler, K., & Laurent, H. K. (2021). The Indirect Effect of Parental Intolerance of Uncertainty on Perinatal Mental Health via Mindfulness During COVID-19. Mindfulness, 1–10. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-021-01657-x

 

Abstract

Objectives

The COVID-19 pandemic is associated with mental health difficulties, especially during pregnancy and early postpartum. Intolerance of uncertainty (IU) and reduced capacity for mindfulness—a protective factor for child-bearers—may be particularly relevant factors driving mental health problems given the unpredictable nature of the pandemic. The current study aims to shed light on modifiable paths to perinatal psychological distress by testing whether there is an indirect effect of IU on psychological symptoms through a perceived reduction in mindfulness during the pandemic.

Methods

Pregnant individuals (67%, n = 133) and new mothers within 6 months postpartum (33%, n = 66) participated in a cross-sectional online survey assessing IU, current and retrospective pre-pandemic mindfulness (FFMQ), and psychological symptoms (anxiety, depression, somatization; BSI). Perceived change in mindfulness was captured by including retrospective mindfulness as a covariate in the PROCESS macro used for analyses.

Results

Tests of the direct association between mindfulness, IU, and psychological symptoms showed significant effects of IU (b = 0.46, SE = 0.064; p < .001) and perceived decrease in mindfulness during the pandemic (b =  − 0.72, SE = 0.08, p < .001) on psychological symptoms (R2 = .21–.34; F[2, 197] = 51.13–52.81, p < .001). The indirect effect of IU on symptoms via perceived decrease in mindfulness during the pandemic (b = 0.13, SE = 0.043, 95%CI [.060, .226]) was significant (R2 = .41, F[3, 195] = 45.08, p < .001).

Conclusions

Results suggest that mothers who are less able to tolerate uncertainty experience more psychological symptoms, in part due to perceived reduction in mindfulness during the pandemic. Future research should examine whether IU is a screening risk marker and target for mindfulness-based interventions to improve maternal well-being and family outcomes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8171361/

 

Forest Walking and Forest Qigong Improve Cognitive Function in the Elderly

Forest Walking and Forest Qigong Improve Cognitive Function in the Elderly

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“forest bathing has received increasing attention due to its health-promoting effects, including enhancing immune functions and decreasing blood pressure in hypertension patients, as well as stress relief effects.” – Genxiang Mao,

 

Modern living is stressful, perhaps, in part because it has divorced us from the natural world that our species was immersed in throughout its evolutionary history. Modern environments may be damaging to our health and well-being simply because the species did not evolve to cope with them. This suggests that returning to nature, at least occasionally, may be beneficial. Indeed, researchers are beginning to study nature walks or what the Japanese call “Forest Bathing” and their effects on our mental and physical health.

 

Mindfulness practices have been found routinely to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress and improve mood. People have long reported that walking in nature elevates their mood. It appears intuitively obvious that if mindfulness training occurred in a beautiful natural place, it would greatly improve the effectiveness of mindfulness practice. In fact, being in nature has been shown to improve psychological health.

 

Qigong has been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevity. Qigong training is designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. Qigong  practice has been found to be effective for an array of physical and psychological issues. Qigong has been shown to help the elderly improve attentionbalance, reducing fallsarthritiscognitive functionmemory, and reduce age related deterioration of the brain. So, it makes sense to further study the ability of Qigong training particularly when practiced in nature to improve well-being in the elderly.

 

In today’s Research News article “Psycho-Electrophysiological Benefits of Forest Therapies Focused on Qigong and Walking with Elderly Individuals.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7999348/ ) Yi and colleagues recruited healthy elderly (65 years of age and older) participants and assigned them to one of 3 conditions; no-treatment control, forest walking, or forest Qigong. The forest programs were 2 hours per session twice per week for 6 weeks and included warm-up exercises, stretching, physio-cognitive play, and cool-down along with 50 minutes of either forest walking, or forest Qigong. They were measured before and after training for cognitive impairment, depression, and quality of life. They also had the electroencephalogram (EEG) and electrocardiogram (EKG) recorded. Bioimpedance was used to determine body composition and nutritional metabolism.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment control condition, the forest qigong group had a significant decrease in depression while the forest walking group had a significant decrease in cognitive impairment and increase in quality of life. In the EEG, the forest walking group had significant increases in Alpha and Beta rhythm power and a significant decrease in low frequency heart rate variability after training while the control and forest qigong groups did not. In addition, the forest qigong group had a significant increase in the upper body bioimpedance phase angle while the forest walking group had a significant increase in the lower body bioimpedance phase angle.

 

Bioimpedance phase angle is an indicator of the metabolic nutrition of the muscles. So, the practice of qigong in the forest appears to increase the metabolic nutritional status of the upper body while walking in the forest appears to increase the metabolic nutritional status of the lower body. This is not surprising as qigong involves frequent arm movements while walking involves more leg movements. Low frequency heart rate variability is an indicator of sympathetic nervous system activity and its decrease in the forest walking group suggests that walking in the forest is physiologically relaxing, reducing activating sympathetic activity. Finally, EEG power is indicative of brain information processing and its increase with forest walking is indicative of an increase in information (cognitive) processing.

 

These findings are interesting and suggest that walking in the forest and qigong in the forest have different effects on elderly individuals. Where forest qigong appears to be superior for decreasing depression and upper body metabolism, forest walking appears to improve cognitive ability, lower body metabolism, and physiological relaxation. Hence qigong in the forest is superior for emotional health while walking in the forest is superior for cognitive health. This suggests that the combination of qigong and walking in the forest may produce better well-being for elderly individual.

 

So, forest walking and forest qigong improve cognitive function in the elderly.

 

Forest bathing, also known as forest therapy or shinrin-yoku in Japanese, is an evidence-based practice of connecting to nature as a way to heal.” – Credible Mind

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Yi, J., Kim, S. G., Khil, T., Shin, M., You, J. H., Jeon, S., Park, G. H., Jeong, A. Y., Lim, Y., Kim, K., Kim, J., Kang, B., Lee, J., Park, J. H., Ku, B., Choi, J., Cha, W., Lee, H. J., Shin, C., Shin, W., … Kim, J. U. (2021). Psycho-Electrophysiological Benefits of Forest Therapies Focused on Qigong and Walking with Elderly Individuals. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(6), 3004. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18063004

 

Abstract

We developed two distinct forest therapy programs (FTPs) and compared their effects on dementia prevention and related health problems for older adults. One was focused on Qigong practice in the forest (QP) and the other involved active walking in the forest (WP). Both FTPs consisted of twelve 2-h sessions over six weeks and were conducted in an urban forest. We obtained data from 25, 18, and 26 participants aged 65 years or above for the QP, WP, and control groups, respectively. Neuropsychological scores via cognition (MoCA), geriatric depression (GDS) and quality of life (EQ-5D), and electrophysiological variables (electroencephalography, bioimpedance, and heart rate variability) were measured. We analyzed the intervention effects with a generalized linear model. Compared to the control group, the WP group showed benefits in terms of neurocognition (increases in the MoCA score, and alpha and beta band power values in the electroencephalogram), sympathetic nervous activity, and bioimpedance in the lower body. On the other hand, the QP group showed alleviated depression and an increased bioimpedance phase angle in the upper body. In conclusion, both active walking and Qigong in the forest were shown to have distinctive neuropsychological and electrophysiological benefits, and both had beneficial effects in terms of preventing dementia and relieving related health problems for elderly individuals.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7999348/

 

Improve Somatic Symptom Disorder with Mindfulness

Improve Somatic Symptom Disorder with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Somatic symptom disorder . . . symptoms cannot be explained by general medical conditions and significantly affect one’s functioning.” – S. Actas

 

According to the American Psychological Association “Somatic symptom disorder involves a person having a significant focus on physical symptoms, such as pain, weakness or shortness of breath, that results in major distress and/or problems functioning. The individual has excessive thoughts, feelings and behaviors relating to the physical symptoms.” Somatic Symptom Disorder occurs in about 5% to 7% of the population, effect people of all ages and is more common in women. It is associated with poor health, problems functioning in daily life, including physical disability, problems with relationships, problems at work or unemployment, other mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression and personality disorders, increased suicide risk related to depression, and financial problems due to excessive health care visits. Obviously, this produces major suffering in the patients. But little is known of the causes or treatment of Somatic Symptom Disorder.

 

Somatic Symptom Disorder is frequently treated with antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs with limited success. It often co-occurs with anxiety and depression. Since, mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in treating anxiety, depression, and somatization, it makes sense to investigate the effectiveness of mindfulness-based therapies for the treatment of Somatic Symptom Disorder.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program on Psychological Symptoms, Quality of Life, and Symptom Severity in Patients with Somatic Symptom Disorder.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8095256/ ) Zargar and colleagues recruited patients with Somatic Symptom Disorder who were on continuing treatment with the antidepressant drug, venlafaxine, and randomly assigned them to either 8 weeks of once a week treatment for 2 hours of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or no further treatment. They were measured before and after treatment for Somatic Symptom Disorder symptom severity, including anxiety, depression, and stress, health-related quality of life, and patient health.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control group, the group that received Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) had significantly lower levels of Somatic Symptom Disorder symptom severity, including significantly lower levels of anxiety, depression, and stress and significant reductions in physical symptoms and increases in physical health. Hence, MBSR treatment significantly improved not only the psychological symptoms but also the physical symptoms of Somatic Symptom Disorder.

 

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a mindfulness training program that includes training and practice in meditation, body scan, and yoga and includes group discussion. The results demonstrate that MBSR is an effective treatment in addition to antidepressant drugs for Somatic Symptom Disorder. But since there wasn’t any follow-up data obtained it is not known how lasting is the symptom relief. It will be interesting in the future to examine if MBSR is effective as a stand-alone treatment and if its effects persist after the cessation of treatment.

 

So, improve Somatic Symptom Disorder with mindfulness.

 

mindfulness-based cognitive therapy that can be useful in the treatment of somatic disorders.” – Recovery Village

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Zargar, F., Rahafrouz, L., & Tarrahi, M. J. (2021). Effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program on Psychological Symptoms, Quality of Life, and Symptom Severity in Patients with Somatic Symptom Disorder. Advanced biomedical research, 10, 9. https://doi.org/10.4103/abr.abr_111_19

 

Abstract

Background:

Patients with somatic symptom disorder (SSD) had a poor quality of life and suffered from depression, anxiety, and stress. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a psychological treatment with remarkable effects on several psychological disorders. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of the MBSR program on psychological symptoms, quality of life, and symptom severity in patients with SSD.

Materials and Methods:

The patients with SSD were randomly divided into two groups of receiving venlafaxine alone and venlafaxine with an 8-week MBSR program. Depression, anxiety, and stress with their severities were assessed along with the quality of life, the number of physical symptoms and their severities, as well as SSD severity before and after the intervention. Subsequently, the results were compared between the two groups.

Results:

This study included 37 patients with SSD who referred to Shariati Psychosomatic Clinic, Isfahan, Iran, with a mean age of 37.08 ± 8.26 years. It should be noted that 37.8% of the participants were male. The intervention group obtained significantly lower scores in depression, anxiety, stress, and their severities, compared to the control group. Moreover, the number of physical symptoms, their severity, and the severity of SSD were significantly decreased more in the intervention group rather than the controls.

Conclusion:

The MBSR accompanied by prescribing venlafaxine can significantly reduce the severity of SSD, as well as the number and severity of physical symptoms. Moreover, it can reduce depression, anxiety, stress, and their severity. The MBSR can be used as complementary medicine for the treatment of patients with SSD.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8095256/

 

Mindfulness Improves Thinking in Children and Youths with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Mindfulness Improves Thinking in Children and Youths with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“studies indicate that people with ADHD can meditate successfully, and that meditation may have benefits for some of the behaviors associated with ADHD.” – Corey Whelan

 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is most commonly found in children, but for about half it persists into adulthood. It’s estimated that about 5% of the adult population has ADHD. Hence, this is a very large problem that can produce inattention, impulsivity, hyperactivity, and emotional issues, and reduce quality of life. The most common treatment is drugs, like methylphenidate, Ritalin, which helps reducing symptoms in about 30% of the people with ADHD. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of the drugs appears to be markedly reduced after the first year. In addition, the drugs often have troublesome side effects, can be addictive, and can readily be abused. So, drugs, at present, do not appear to be a good solution, only affecting some, only for a short time, and with unwanted side effects.

 

There are indications that mindfulness practices may be an effective treatment for ADHD. It makes sense that it should be, as the skills and abilities strengthened by mindfulness practices training are identical to those that are defective in ADHD,  attentionimpulse controlexecutive functionemotion control, and mood improvement. In addition, unlike drugs, they are relatively safe interventions that have minimal troublesome side effects.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Differential Impact of Acute Exercise and Mindfulness Meditation on Executive Functioning and Psycho-Emotional Well-Being in Children and Youth With ADHD.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.660845/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1665889_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20210623_arts_A ) Bigelow and colleagues recruited children aged 10-14 years who were diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). They completed 3 sessions in random order of 10 minutes of either aerobic cycling, mindfulness meditation, or magazine reading. They were measured before and after each session and 10 minutes later for inhibitory control, short-term memory, task switching, mood, and self-efficacy.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the magazine reading control condition only mindfulness meditation produced an increase in inhibitory control, short-term memory, and task switching. The improvement in inhibitory control and short-term memory were still present 10 minutes later. On the other hand, in comparison to baseline and the magazine reading control condition only aerobic exercise produced an improvement in mood and self-efficacy.

 

These results suggest that brief mindfulness meditation produces short-term improvements in executive function (thinking) in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) while aerobic exercise produces mood improvements in these children. These are acute effects of brief interventions and do not demonstrate lasting effects. But previous research has shown that mindfulness training produces lasting improvements in ADHD and executive function and that yoga practice, a form of exercise and mindfulness practice also produces lasting improvements in ADHD and executive function.

 

Hence, it appears that mindfulness training and exercise are both beneficial for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) but they appear to affect different types of ADHD symptoms with mindfulness meditation improving executive function and exercise improving emotions. This suggests that a combined program or meditation and exercise may be particularly beneficial for children with ADHD. It remains for future research to examine this intriguing possibility.

 

So, mindfulness improves thinking in children and youths with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

 

 

Medication and therapy are good ways to manage your ADHD symptoms. But they’re not your only options. Research now shows that mindfulness meditation — where you actively observe your moment-to-moment thoughts and feelings- — may also be a good way to calm your mind and improve your focus.” – WebMD

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Bigelow H, Gottlieb MD, Ogrodnik M, Graham JD and Fenesi B (2021) The Differential Impact of Acute Exercise and Mindfulness Meditation on Executive Functioning and Psycho-Emotional Well-Being in Children and Youth With ADHD. Front. Psychol. 12:660845. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.660845

 

This study investigated how acute exercise and mindfulness meditation impacts executive functioning and psycho-emotional well-being in 16 children and youth with ADHD aged 10–14 (male = 11; White = 80%). Participants completed three interventions: 10 min of exercise, 10 min of mindfulness meditation, and 10 min of reading (control). Before and after each intervention, executive functioning (inhibitory control, working memory, task-switching) and psycho-emotional well-being (mood, self-efficacy) were assessed. Mindfulness meditation increased performance on all executive functioning tasks whereas the other interventions did not (d = 0.55–0.86). Exercise enhanced positive mood and self-efficacy whereas the other interventions did not (d = 0.22–0.35). This work provides preliminary evidence for how acute exercise and mindfulness meditation can support differential aspects of executive and psycho-emotional functioning among children and youth with ADHD.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.660845/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1665889_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20210623_arts_A

 

The Setting of Psychedelic Administration Affects the Obtained Psychological Benefits

The Setting of Psychedelic Administration Affects the Obtained Psychological Benefits

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

If you choose to take psychedelics, it is strongly recommended to have a sitter,” Gael said. “Ideally, this person is familiar with the psychedelic state and is someone you can trust to be a responsible, calm grounded presence.” – Sara Gael

 

Psychedelic substances such as peyote, mescaline, LSD, Bufotoxin, ayahuasca and psilocybin have been used almost since the beginning of recorded history to alter consciousness and produce spiritually meaningful experiences. Psychedelics produce effects that are similar to those that are reported in spiritual awakenings, a positive mood, with renewed energy and enthusiasm. It is easy to see why people find these experiences so pleasant and eye opening. They often report that the experiences changed them forever. Even though the effects of psychedelic substances have been experienced and reported on for centuries, only very recently have these effects come under rigorous scientific scrutiny. The setting in which psychedelic drugs are taken in the real world varies widely and there is little research on the effects of these settings on the experiences and their effects.

 

In today’s Research News article “Psychedelic Communitas: Intersubjective Experience During Psychedelic Group Sessions Predicts Enduring Changes in Psychological Wellbeing and Social Connectedness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8114773/ Kettner and colleagues recruited online adults who intended to attend a retreat where psychedelic drugs were used. They had them complete questionnaires at 5 time points; 2 weeks before and 3 hours before the retreat, the day after the psychedelic experience, after the retreat, and 4 weeks later. They were measured for experience details, preparedness, mental well-being, social connectedness, depression, anxiety, openness toward people, trait absorption, subjective psychedelic experiences, and retreat experiences. They used factor analysis to identify a combination of 8 questionnaire items that comprised a measure of communitas (experience of intense togetherness and shared humanity),

 

Psilocybin (80%) and ayahuasca (16%) were the drugs most frequently used at the retreats. They found that 4-weeks after the retreat social connectedness, well-being, and interpersonal tolerance, were significantly higher and anxiety and depression were significantly lower than at baseline. They also found that the higher the level of communitas the higher the levels of social connectedness and well-being. Using path analysis they found that overall communitas was associated with psychological well-being and social connectedness at follow-up and the overall communitas was associated with the communitas during the experience, trait absorption, rapport with the therapist, social support during the experience, and the level of self-disclosure.

 

This study was naturalistic in that it measured individuals who were engaged in naturally occurring psychedelic retreats. This provided varied retreat conditions in real world settings. This is distinct from laboratory research with psychedelics which provide for highly controlled circumstances. The results demonstrate very positive effects of psychedelic experiences even in varied environments like they have been shown to do in the laboratory.

 

The results suggest that the social conditions and setting surrounding psychedelic experiences affect the effects of the experiences on the mental and social well-being of the participants. In other words, the ability of psychedelics to produce positive effects on the participants does not happen in a vacuum. For optimum effectiveness there needs to be optimum social support conditions. Regardless, psychedelic experiences appear to promote social and psychological health.

 

So, the setting of psychedelic administration affects the obtained psychological benefits.

 

The science of how to use drug responsibly and effectively should be made accessible by educating the public on the principles of set and setting, a shared body of knowledge on the do’s and don’ts of responsible and effective drug use in a world where drug harms cannot be nullified but can doubtlessly be minimized.” – Ido Hartogsohn

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Kettner, H., Rosas, F. E., Timmermann, C., Kärtner, L., Carhart-Harris, R. L., & Roseman, L. (2021). Psychedelic Communitas: Intersubjective Experience During Psychedelic Group Sessions Predicts Enduring Changes in Psychological Wellbeing and Social Connectedness. Frontiers in pharmacology, 12, 623985. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2021.623985

 

Abstract

Background: Recent years have seen a resurgence of research on the potential of psychedelic substances to treat addictive and mood disorders. Historically and contemporarily, psychedelic studies have emphasized the importance of contextual elements (‘set and setting’) in modulating acute drug effects, and ultimately, influencing long-term outcomes. Nevertheless, current small-scale clinical and laboratory studies have tended to bypass a ubiquitous contextual feature of naturalistic psychedelic use: its social dimension. This study introduces and psychometrically validates an adapted Communitas Scale, assessing acute relational experiences of perceived togetherness and shared humanity, in order to investigate psychosocial mechanisms pertinent to psychedelic ceremonies and retreats.

Methods: In this observational, web-based survey study, participants (N = 886) were measured across five successive time-points: 2 weeks before, hours before, and the day after a psychedelic ceremony; as well as the day after, and 4 weeks after leaving the ceremony location. Demographics, psychological traits and state variables were assessed pre-ceremony, in addition to changes in psychological wellbeing and social connectedness from before to after the retreat, as primary outcomes. Using correlational and multiple regression (path) analyses, predictive relationships between psychosocial ‘set and setting’ variables, communitas, and long-term outcomes were explored.

Results: The adapted Communitas Scale demonstrated substantial internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.92) and construct validity in comparison with validated measures of intra-subjective (visual, mystical, challenging experiences questionnaires) and inter-subjective (perceived emotional synchrony, identity fusion) experiences. Furthermore, communitas during ceremony was significantly correlated with increases in psychological wellbeing (r = 0.22), social connectedness (r = 0.25), and other salient mental health outcomes. Path analyses revealed that the effect of ceremony-communitas on long-term outcomes was fully mediated by communitas experienced in reference to the retreat overall, and that the extent of personal sharing or ‘self-disclosure’ contributed to this process. A positive relationship between participants and facilitators, and the perceived impact of emotional support, facilitated the emergence of communitas.

Conclusion: Highlighting the importance of intersubjective experience, rapport, and emotional support for long-term outcomes of psychedelic use, this first quantitative examination of psychosocial factors in guided psychedelic settings is a significant step toward evidence-based benefit-maximization guidelines for collective psychedelic use.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8114773/

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) Plus Loving-Kindness Mediation is highly Effective in Depressed Patients

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) Plus Loving-Kindness Mediation is highly Effective in Depressed Patients

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“MBCT can provide a viable relapse prevention intervention for people with a history of recurrent depression.” – Catherine Crane

 

Clinically diagnosed depression is the most common mental illness, affecting over 6% of the population. Major depression can be quite debilitating. Depression can be difficult to treat and is usually treated with anti-depressive medication. But, of patients treated initially with drugs, only about a third attained remission of the depression. After repeated and varied treatments including drugs, therapy, exercise etc. only about two thirds of patients attained remission. But drugs often have troubling side effects and can lose effectiveness over time. In addition, many patients who achieve remission have relapses and recurrences of the depression. Even after remission some symptoms of depression may still be present (residual symptoms). So, it is important that other treatments be identified that can relieve the suffering.

 

Mindfulness training is an alternative treatment for depression. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and its recurrence and even in the cases where drugs failMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was specifically developed to treat depression. MBCT involves mindfulness training, containing sitting, walking and body scan meditations, and cognitive therapy that attempts to teach patients to distinguish between thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and behaviors, and to recognize irrational thinking styles and how they affect behavior. MBCT has been found to be effective in treating depression.

 

Loving Kindness Meditation (LKM) is designed to develop kindness and compassion to oneself and others. The individual systematically pictures different individuals from self, to close friends, to enemies and wishes them happiness, well-being, safety, peace, and ease of well-being. Although LKM has been practiced for centuries, it has received very little scientific research attention. But it may be effective in counteracting the effects of stress and self-criticism. It is not known how effective the combination of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Loving Kindness Meditation might be in treating depression.

 

In today’s Research News article “A study on the effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and loving-kindness mediation on depression, rumination, mindfulness level and quality of life in depressed patients.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8205847/ ) Wang and colleagues recruited adult patients with depression and randomly assigned them to receive either regular care or to receive 1 hour once per day for 1 week Loving Kindness Meditation followed by 8 weeks, once per week of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) also with Loving Kindness Meditation practice. Regular care consisted of “basic knowledge of depression, common drugs, possible adverse drug reactions, and prevention of adverse reactions . . . Face-to-face communication with patients was conducted regularly to understand their thoughts, evaluate the depression degrees of patients, so as to provide psychological support for depressed patients, and care for patients in daily life.” They were measured at baseline and at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks for mindfulness, depression, rumination, quality of life, self-acceptance, and sense of stigma.

 

They found that both groups significantly decreased in depression, sense of stigma, and rumination and increased in mindfulness, self-acceptance and quality of life over the 8 weeks. But the intervention group improved significantly more than the control group on all measures.

 

Previous research has shown that mindfulness training produces significant decreases in depression and rumination and increases in self-acceptance and quality of life. What is new here is that they found that the combination of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Loving Kindness Meditation was significantly more effective than the conventional psychological intervention. This is important but must be followed up to see if the improvements in the patients with depression are sustained over longer periods of time.

 

So, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) plus Loving-Kindness Mediation is highly effective in depressed patients.

 

MBCT leads to a decrease in depressive symptoms, reduction in depression relapse rate and improvement in terms of mindfulness.” – Zulkiflu ArgunguMusa

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Wang, Y., Fu, C., Liu, Y., Li, D., Wang, C., Sun, R., & Song, Y. (2021). A study on the effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and loving-kindness mediation on depression, rumination, mindfulness level and quality of life in depressed patients. American journal of translational research, 13(5), 4666–4675.

 

Abstract

Objective: To analyze the effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) plus loving-kindness mediation (LKM) in depressed patients. Methods: A total of 125 depressed patients diagnosed in the Department of Psychiatry of our hospital were selected as the research subjects and were randomly divided into a control group (n=62) and an observation group (n=63). The control group was treated with conventional psychological intervention, while the observation group was treated with MBCT plus LKM. The therapeutic outcomes were compared between the two groups. Results: At 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks after intervention, the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD) scores and the scores for introspection and deliberation, forced thinking, rumination of symptoms, treatment, ability and social relationships in the observation group were lower than those in the control group, while Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) scores and the scores for psychology, environment, physiology, social relations, self-acceptance, and self-evaluation in the observation group were higher than those in the control group (P < 0.05). Conclusion: MBCT plus LKM can effectively improve depression, rumination, mindfulness level, quality of life, the sense of stigma and degree of self-acceptance in depressed patients.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8205847/

 

Improve Major Depression with Yoga

Improve Major Depression with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Kriya yoga may be an effective, low-cost, non-drug approach to help patients who do not respond to antidepressants.” – Anup Sharma

 

Depression affects over 6% of the population. Depression can be difficult to treat. It is usually treated with antidepressant medication. But, of patients treated initially with drugs only about a third attained remission of the depression. After repeated and varied treatments including drugs, therapy, exercise etc. only about two thirds of patients attained remission. But drugs often have troubling side effects and can lose effectiveness over time. Being depressed and not responding to treatment or relapsing is a terribly difficult situation. The patients are suffering and nothing appears to work to relieve their intense depression. Suicide becomes a real possibility. So, it is imperative that other treatments be identified that can relieve the suffering.

 

Mindfulness training is an alternative treatment for depression. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and its recurrence and even in the cases where drugs fail.  Another effective alternative treatment is exercise. But it is difficult to get depressed people, who lack energy, to engage in regular exercise. Yoga is a contemplative practice that is both a mindfulness practice and an exercise. It has been shown to be effective in the treatment of depression. So, it makes sense to further study the effectiveness of yoga for major depression.

 

In today’s Research News article “Kriya Yoga in Patients with Depressive Disorders: A Pilot Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8079176/) Srivastava and colleagues recruited adult patients with major depressive disorder who were taking psychotropic medications and offered them Kriya yoga therapy. Those who chose not to participate were assigned to the control condition. Kriya yoga consisted of poses, breathing exercises, chanting, mantra repetition, meditation, and relaxation. For the first 2 weeks they were provided daily 45-minute instruction and practice followed by 6 weeks of 20-minute daily home practice. They were measured before training and at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks for depression characteristics and their level of depression.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control condition, the participants who practiced Kriya yoga had significantly greater decreases in depression at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks. All of the participants in the Kriya yoga group achieved remission by 4 weeks while only 24% of the control group did.

 

The results must be interpreted carefully as the participants were not randomly assigned but rather self-selected to practice yoga or not and there was no follow-up after the completion of training to ascertain if the benefits last beyond the training period. Nevertheless, the participants that selected Kriya yoga in addition to psychotropic medication had faster and greater recovery from their major depressive disorder than participants taking psychotropic medications alone. These are encouraging results and should be followed up with a randomized controlled trial with long-term follow-up.

 

So, improve major depression with yoga.

 

A breathing-based meditation practice known as Sudarshan Kriya yoga helped alleviate severe depression in people who did not fully respond to antidepressant treatments.” – Science Daily

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Srivastava, A., Kuppili, P. P., Gupta, T., Nebhinani, N., & Chandani, A. (2021). Kriya Yoga in Patients with Depressive Disorders: A Pilot Study. Journal of neurosciences in rural practice, 12(2), 362–367. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0041-1726618

 

Abstract

Background and Objectives  Despite the easy acceptability and holistic nature of Kriya yoga, there are no studies evaluating the role of Kriya yoga intervention on depression. The objective of the current study was to assess the feasibility and effect of adjunctive Kriya yoga on depression.

Methods  Patients with major depressive disorder who opted for Kriya yoga were recruited into the intervention group (adjunctive Kriya yoga) and those on psychotropic medication alone were enrolled into the control group. The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) measurements were recorded at baseline, end of 2, 4, and 8 weeks.

Results  HDRS scores of the intervention group ( n = 29) were found to be significantly lesser than that of the control group ( n = 52) by the end of 2, 4, and 8 weeks. The remission rate was also significantly greater in the intervention group.

Conclusion  Kriya yoga intervention was found to be feasible, as well as improved the severity of depression.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8079176/

Spirituality is Associated with Fewer Suicide Attempts

Spirituality is Associated with Fewer Suicide Attempts

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“spirituality can engender the perspective that things happen for some reason and serve a greater purpose. This, in turn, deploys our attention toward the potential for a brighter future, which can create a sense of optimism even when one’s situation seems dire.” – David Rosmarin

 

Around 43,000 people take their own lives each year in the US. Someone dies from suicide every 12.3 minutes. Worldwide over 800,000 people die by suicide every year. The problem is far worse than these statistics suggest as it has been estimated that for every completed suicide there were 12 unsuccessful attempts. In other words, about a half a million people in the U.S. attempt suicide each year. Yet compared with other life-threatening conditions there has been scant research on how to identify potential suicide attempters, intervene, and reduce suicidality.

 

Depression and other mood disorders are the number-one risk factor for suicide. More than 90% of people who kill themselves have a mental disorder, whether depression, bipolar disorder or some other diagnosis. So, the best way to prevent suicide may be to treat the underlying cause. For many this means treating depression. Spirituality may help to provide meaning and prevent suicide. But there is scant research on the relationship of spirituality and religiosity and suicide.

 

In today’s Research News article “Factors Related to Suicide Attempts: The Roles of Childhood Abuse and Spirituality.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8044867/ ) Tae and Chae recruited patients with anxiety or depressive disorders and had them complete measures of suicide attempts, anxiety, depression, childhood trauma, spiritual well-being, and social support. 25% of the participants indicated that they had attempted suicide.

 

They found that in comparison to non-suicide attempters, the participants who had attempted suicide had significantly higher levels of anxiety, depression, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, and emotional and physical neglect and significantly lower levels of spirituality and social support. A hierarchal regression revealed that a high level of emotional abuse and a high level of sexual abuse as well as low spirituality predicted suicide attempts. A mediation analysis revealed that childhood emotional, sexual abuse, and low spirituality were all significant direct predictors of suicide attempts and also significant indirect predictors such that abuse and low spirituality were associated with higher levels of depression which, in turn was associated with suicide attempts.

 

These results are correlational. So, no conclusions concerning causation can be reached. But the associations are clear. Depression, childhood emotional and sexual abuse, and low spirituality are all associated with suicide attempts. It is also clear that in addition to being directly associated with suicide attempts, childhood emotional and sexual abuse, and low spirituality also are associated with higher levels of depression which, in turn, is associated with suicide attempts.

 

Childhood emotional and sexual abuse are clearly risk factors for suicide and should be viewed as red flags in evaluating a patient. But these abuses occurred in the past and cannot be changed. Spirituality on the other hand can change. There are many religious and contemplative practices that can improve spirituality. The present results suggest that this may be helpful and lowering depression and preventing suicide. Future research is needed to investigate this idea, that increasing spirituality can decrease suicide risk.

 

So, spirituality is associated with fewer suicide attempts.

 

I personally think spirituality is a part of each of our beings. It has been the difference in my life and has walked me back from the place where I thought suicide was my only option.” – Kelli Evans

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Tae, H., & Chae, J. H. (2021). Factors Related to Suicide Attempts: The Roles of Childhood Abuse and Spirituality. Frontiers in psychiatry, 12, 565358. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.565358

 

Abstract

Objectives: The purpose of this article was to identify independent factors associated with suicide attempts in patients with depression and/or anxiety.

Background and Aims: This study was conducted in order to examine whether risk and protective psychological factors influence the risk of suicide attempts among outpatients with anxiety and/or depressive disorders. In this regard, explanatory models have been reported to detect high-risk groups for suicide attempt. We also examined whether identified factors serve as mediators on suicide attempts.

Materials and Methods: Patients from 18 to 65 years old from an outpatient clinic at Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital were invited to join clinical studies. From September 2010 to November 2017, a total of 737 participants were included in the final sample. The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual Well-being Scale (FACIT-Sp-12), and Functional Social Support Questionnaire (FSSQ) were used to assess psychiatric symptoms. An independent samples t-test, a chi-square test, hierarchical multiple regression analyses, and the Baron and Kenny’s procedures were performed in order to analyze data.

Results: Young age, childhood history of emotional and sexual abuse, depression, and a low level of spirituality were significant independent factors for increased suicide attempts. Depression was reported to mediate the relationship between childhood emotional and sexual abuse, spirituality, and suicide attempts.

Conclusions: Identifying the factors that significantly affect suicidality may be important for establishing effective plans of suicide prevention. Strategic assessments and interventions aimed at decreasing depression and supporting spirituality may be valuable for suicide prevention.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8044867/

 

Relieve Loneliness with Meditation

Relieve Loneliness with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“When we can rest in the middle [of meditation], we begin to have a nonthreatening relationship with loneliness, a relaxing and cooling loneliness that completely turns our usual fearful patterns upside down.” – Pema Chodron

 

Humans are social animals. We are generally happiest when we’re with family and friends. Conversely, being without close social contact makes us miserable. It’s the close relationship that is so important as we can be around people all day at work and still feel deep loneliness. These contacts are frequently superficial and do not satisfy our deepest need. It is sometimes said that we live in “the age of loneliness.” It is estimated that 20% of Americans suffer from persistent loneliness. This even when we are more connected than ever with the internet, text messaging, social media, etc. But these create the kinds of superficial contacts that we think should be satisfying, but are generally not. This has led to the counterintuitive findings that young adults, 18-34, have greater concerns with loneliness than the elderly.

 

The consequences of loneliness are dire. It has been estimated that being socially isolated increases mortality by 14%. This is twice the elevation produced by obesity. Even worse, for people over 60, loneliness increases their risk of death by 45%. When a spouse loses a marital partner there’s a 30% increase in mortality in the 6-months following the death. Hence, loneliness is not only an uncomfortable and unhappy state, but it is also a threat to health and longevity. It is clear that this epidemic of loneliness needs to be addressed.

 

Mindfulness has been found to reduce loneliness. The research is accumulating. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what has been learned. In today’s Research News article “Saini, G. K., Haseeb, S. B., Taghi-Zada, Z., & Ng, J. Y. (2021). The effects of meditation on individuals facing loneliness: a scoping review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8140565/ ) Saini and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies on the effectiveness of meditation as a treatment for loneliness.

 

They identified 13 published randomized controlled trials and report that the studies were relatively small but found that meditation produced a significant reduction in loneliness. How meditation may have its effects on loneliness is not known. Meditation, though has been shown to increase emotion regulation and positive emotions and reduce negative emotions in general and these effects may generalize to loneliness. Also, meditation produces acceptance of experience as it is and this may allow the individual to accept their loneliness and not fight against it. Regardless, it is clear that meditation practice is helpful in treating loneliness.

 

So, relieve loneliness with meditation.

 

By making us feel connected to everyone and everything, meditation cancels out the detrimental mental, emotional, and physical effects of loneliness.” –  Eoc Institute

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Saini, G. K., Haseeb, S. B., Taghi-Zada, Z., & Ng, J. Y. (2021). The effects of meditation on individuals facing loneliness: a scoping review. BMC psychology, 9(1), 88. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40359-021-00585-8

 

Abstract

Background

Meditation is defined as a mind and body practice focused on interactions between the brain, mind, body, and behaviour, containing four key elements: a quiet location with little distractions, a comfortable posture, a focus of attention, and an open attitude. We sought to review the benefits of meditation on the alleviation of loneliness.

Methods

A scoping review was conducted based on Arksey and O’Malley’s five-stage framework. Eligibility criteria included primary studies of any type that investigated the effects of meditation on loneliness. Search strategies were developed and conducted on MEDLINE, EMBASE, AMED, and CINAHL. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, and American Psychological Association websites were also searched. Articles meeting the inclusion criteria were critically reviewed using a descriptive-analytical narrative method.

Results

Thirteen studies met our inclusion criteria and were published between 2012 and 2020 across 10 countries. Eleven studies reported improvements in relation to loneliness. Of the remaining two studies (15%), one mentioned the alleviation of loneliness, but only looked primarily at social closeness in lonely individuals. The other study found a correlation between loneliness and nuclear factor (NF)-κB levels, which was the measured outcome; however, the direct effects of meditation on loneliness were unclear. Three main themes emerged from our analysis, as follows: 1) positive results across all studies, 2) relatively small randomized control trials conducted over the last decade, and 3) lack of diverse demographic information.

Conclusions

While a small number of studies exist at this intersection, given all included studies indicated positive findings, the effects of meditation in alleviating loneliness are promising. Future research should be directed at understanding how meditation mitigates loneliness and how this intervention can impact practice for healthcare professionals.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8140565/