Meditate to Alter the Brain and Overcome Attention and Hyperactivity Problems Resulting from Childhood Neglect

Meditate to Alter the Brain and Overcome Attention and Hyperactivity Problems Resulting from Childhood Neglect

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Without appropriate clinical interventions, individuals exposed to relational trauma in childhood are at greater risk for difficulties in adult relationships and parenting.” At present, there is not much in the way of treatment for individual adults who have experienced childhood maltreatment: this study shows that mindfulness could help change that.” – Emily Nauman

 

Child maltreatment is the abuse and neglect that occurs to children under 18 years of age. It includes all types of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, negligence and commercial or other exploitation, which results in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.” (World Health Organization, 2016)

 

Childhood neglect is traumatic and can leave in its wake symptoms which can haunt the victims for the rest of their lives. These include cognitive impairments such as attentional difficulties, difficulty concentrating, and hyperactivity. Unfortunately, childhood neglect can continue to affect mental and physical health throughout the individual’s life. Fortunately, mindfulness training has been found to help. Indeed, mindfulness has been found to be effective for relieving trauma symptoms even in adults who were maltreated in childhood..

 

In today’s Research News article “Closed-loop digital meditation for neurocognitive and behavioral development in adolescents with childhood neglect.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7235252/) Mishra and colleagues recruited adolescents (aged 10-18 years) who had experienced childhood neglect. They were randomly assigned to either a no-treatment control condition or to receive over the internet 30 sessions over 6 weeks of 30 minutes of either breath following meditation or attention to sensory information video games. They were measured before and after training and one year later for sustained attention, attention with distractors, inattention behaviors, hyperactivity, and academic performance. They also had their brains scanned with Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI).

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment and the attention to sensory information groups, the breath following meditation group after treatment had significant increases in attentional ability, both sustained and with distractors and a significant improvement in academic performance. In addition, the breath following meditation groups had a significant decrease in hyperactivity at the 1-year follow-up. The resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) revealed that the greater the level of childhood neglect experienced by the adolescents the lower the functional connectivity of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex. After treatment only the breath following meditation group had a significant increase in the functional connectivity of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and the greater the increase in connectivity the greater the improvements in sustained attention and hyperactivity.

 

These are interesting and potentially important findings. Childhood neglect appears to result in impairments in the connectivity of a key brain area involved in regulating attention, the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex. This could explain why neglected children have a higher likelihood of developing attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) disorder in adolescents. Importantly, training in breath following meditation appears to some extent reverse the loss of functional connectivity and the attentional and hyperactivity symptoms of the adolescents and result in improved performance in school. Hence, training in breath following meditation may be very helpful in preventing childhood neglect from producing ADHD in adolescents and impairing their academic performance.

 

Another important aspect of the present study was that the treatment was provided over the internet. This greatly increases its availability, convenience, and utility and reduces cost. So, the treatment can be cost effectively scaled up to treat large numbers of adolescents scattered over wide geographic regions. This makes it available to adolescents who are neither near a therapist or can afford therapy.

 

Hence, meditate to alter the brain and overcome attention and hyperactivity problems resulting from childhood neglect.

 

The absence of emotional support in childhood can be as damaging and long-lasting as other traumas. But, because you can’t point to exactly where and when the wounding happened, it can be hard to identify and overcome it.” – Andrea Brandt

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available at the Contemplative Studies Blog http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/

They are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Mishra, J., Sagar, R., Parveen, S., Kumaran, S., Modi, K., Maric, V., Ziegler, D., & Gazzaley, A. (2020). Closed-loop digital meditation for neurocognitive and behavioral development in adolescents with childhood neglect. Translational psychiatry, 10(1), 153. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-020-0820-z

 

Abstract

Adverse childhood experiences are linked to poor attentive behaviors during adolescence, as well as increased risk for mental health disorders in adults. However, no study has yet tested targeted interventions to optimize neurocognitive processes in this population. Here, we investigated closed-loop digital interventions in a double-blind randomized controlled study in adolescents with childhood neglect, and evaluated the outcomes using multimodal assessments of neuroimaging, cognitive, behavioral, and academic evaluations. In the primary neuroimaging results, we demonstrate that a closed-loop digital meditation intervention can strengthen functional connectivity of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) in the cingulo-opercular network, which is critically developing during the adolescent period. Second, this intervention enhanced sustained attention and interference-resolution abilities, and also reduced behavioral hyperactivity at a 1-year follow-up. Superior academic performance was additionally observed in adolescents who underwent the digital meditation intervention. Finally, changes in dACC functional connectivity significantly correlated with improvements in sustained attention, hyperactivity, and academic performance. This first study demonstrates that closed-loop digital meditation practice can facilitate development of important aspects of neurocognition and real-life behaviors in adolescents with early childhood neglect.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7235252/

 

Brief Guided Meditations Improve Empathy

Brief Guided Meditations Improve Empathy

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Empathy is the understanding and sharing of someone else’s feelings. It’s not to be confused with compassion, which is a feeling of concern for others that we feel we need to act on. Empathy goes that step further; by putting yourself in the place of someone else, you are appreciating how they feel, even if they’re experiencing something you’ve never encountered.” – Mindfulness Works

 

Humans are social animals. This is a great asset for the species as the effort of the individual is amplified by cooperation. In primitive times, this cooperation was essential for survival. But in modern times it is also essential, not for survival but rather for making a living and for the happiness of the individual. Mindfulness has been found to increase prosocial emotions such as compassion, and empathy and prosocial behaviors such as altruism.

 

It is not clear, however, exactly how meditation training improves empathy. Is it due to increased mindfulness or perhaps by the suggestion embedded in the measurements to be mindful of others. In today’s Research News article “How does brief guided mindfulness meditation enhance empathic concern in novice meditators?: A pilot test of the suggestion hypothesis vs. the mindfulness hypothesis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7352088/) Miyahara and colleagues performed 2 studies of the effects of meditation on empathy.

 

In study 1 they recruited meditation naïve college students and randomly assigned them to listen to and practice brief (8 minute) recorded guided meditations of either breath following and body scan or compassion meditation. They were measured before and after the meditation for mindfulness, compassionate love, helping intention and empathy. They found that both meditations significantly increased all of the measures with no significant differences between meditation types. Study 2 was very similar to study 1 except there we no recorded guided meditations. They found that there were no significant changes in any of the measures from the first to the second measurement.

 

These results demonstrate that brief mindfulness meditations, regardless of whether they are breath and body meditations or compassion meditation produce increases in empathy and prosocial intentions in college students. The effects were not due to repeated measures. Hence, the suggestions for empathy and prosocial intentions embedded in the measurement instruments were not responsible for the changes, thus eliminating this alternative explanation for the effects. These results, then, suggest that it is improvements in mindfulness that result from brief meditation that are responsible for increased empathy.

 

So, brief guided meditations improve empathy.

 

Mindfulness and empathy are linked through their shared relationship with stress. While mindfulness decreases stress, stress weakens empathy.” – Matthew Brensilver

 

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

 

Miyahara, M., Wilson, R., Pocock, T., Kano, T., & Fukuhara, H. (2020). How does brief guided mindfulness meditation enhance empathic concern in novice meditators?: A pilot test of the suggestion hypothesis vs. the mindfulness hypothesis. Current Psychology (New Brunswick, N.j.), 1–12. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-020-00881-3

 

Abstract

Despite the widespread popularity of mindfulness meditation for its various benefits, the mechanism underlying the meditation process has rarely been explored. Here, we present two preliminary studies designed to test alternative hypotheses: whether the effect of brief guided mindfulness meditation on empathic concern arises from verbal suggestion (suggestion hypothesis) or as a byproduct of an induced mindfulness state (mindfulness hypothesis). Study 1 was a pilot randomized control trial of sitting (breath-and-body) meditation vs. compassion meditation that provided preliminary support for the mindfulness hypothesis. Study 2 was set up to rule out the possibility that the meditation effects observed in Study 1 were the effects of repeated measures. An inactive control group of participants underwent the repeated measures of empathic concern with no meditation in between. The pre-post comparison demonstrated no significant changes in the measures. Thus, the results of two studies supported the mindfulness hypothesis. Limitations of the present study and future research directions are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7352088/

 

Reduce Depression in Vindictive/Self‐Centered Depressed Patients with Mindfulness

Reduce Depression in Vindictive/Self‐Centered Depressed Patients with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

there are a handful of key areas — including depression, chronic pain, and anxiety — in which well-designed, well-run studies have shown benefits for patients engaging in a mindfulness meditation program, with effects similar to other existing treatments.” – Alvin Powell

 

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).

 

Being depressed and not responding to treatment 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 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. Problematic interpersonal styles, such as submissive and hostile styles are characteristics of patients with chronic depression. It is possible that MBCT has differential effectiveness for depression, in patient’s with certain interpersonal problems and not others.

 

In today’s Research News article “Patients’ interpersonal problems as moderators of depression outcomes in a randomized controlled trial comparing mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and a group version of the cognitive-behavioral analysis system of psychotherapy in chronic depression.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7318258/) Probst and colleagues recruited participants with a current, long-term, at least 2 years, major depressive disorder. They all received their treatment as usual. They were randomly assigned to receive either no additional treatment, or to receive 8 weeks, once a week, for 2.5 hours group sessions of either Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), or cognitive behavioral analysis system of psychotherapy (CBASP). They were measured before and after treatment and 6 months later for depression, interpersonal problems including domineering/controlling; vindictive/self‐centered; cold/distant; socially inhibited/avoidant; nonassertive; overly accommodating/exploitable; self‐sacrificing/overly nurturant; and intrusive/needy.

 

They found that both treatments significantly reduced depression levels. But patients who were high in vindictive/self‐centered interpersonal problems benefited more (had a greater reductions in depression) from Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), than from cognitive behavioral analysis system of psychotherapy (CBASP). Conversely, patients who were high in nonassertive interpersonal problems benefited more (had a greater reductions in depression) from cognitive behavioral analysis system of psychotherapy (CBASP) than from MBCT.

 

Vindictive/self‐centered individuals are frequently egocentric and hostile in dealing with others. Mindfulness training has been shown to produce decentering and lower hostility. So, it makes sense that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) would be particularly effective with these patients. On the other hand, nonassertive patients have difficulty expressing their needs to others and cognitive behavioral analysis appears to work better for them.

 

There are a number of different types of therapy for depression. So, the results of the present study are very useful. They suggest that knowing the particular interpersonal problems a patient has can help to select the form of therapy that will be maximally beneficial for them. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) appears to work best for vindictive/self‐centered depressed patients reducing their egocentricity and hostility.

 

So, reduce depression in vindictive/self‐centered depressed patients with mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is a group program that is generally used to delay or prevent recurrence of major depression, but can also ameliorate acute depressive syndromes and symptoms.” – Zindel Segal

 

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

 

Probst, T., Schramm, E., Heidenreich, T., Klein, J. P., & Michalak, J. (2020). Patients’ interpersonal problems as moderators of depression outcomes in a randomized controlled trial comparing mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and a group version of the cognitive-behavioral analysis system of psychotherapy in chronic depression. Journal of clinical psychology, 76(7), 1241–1254. https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.22931

 

Abstract

Objectives

Interpersonal problems were examined as moderators of depression outcomes between mindfulness‐based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and cognitive behavioral analysis system of psychotherapy (CBASP) in patients with chronic depression.

Methods

Patients received treatment‐as‐usual and, in addition, were randomized to 8‐weeks of MBCT (n = 34) or 8‐weeks of CBASP (n = 34). MBCT and CBASP were given in a group format. The Hamilton depression rating scale (HAM‐D) was the primary and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI‐II) the secondary outcome. The subscales of the Inventory of interpersonal problems (IIP‐32) were moderators. Multilevel models were performed.

Results

Higher scores on the “vindictive/self‐centered” subscale were associated with a better outcome in MBCT than in CBASP (HAM‐D: p < .01; BDI‐II: p < .01). Higher scores on the “nonassertive” subscale were associated with a better outcome in CBASP than in MBCT (HAM‐D: p < .01; BDI‐II: p < .01).

Conclusions

If these results can be replicated in larger trials, MBCT should be preferred to CBASP in chronically depressed patients being vindictive/self‐centered, whereas CBASP should be preferred to MBCT in chronically depressed patients being nonassertive.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7318258/

 

Improve Knee Osteoarthritis with Mind-Body Exercises

Improve Knee Osteoarthritis with Mind-Body Exercises

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Baduanjin exercise provided a safe and feasible treatment option for patients with knee OA, as well as offered reductions in pain, stiffness, and disability, which helped improve the patients’ quadriceps strength and aerobic ability.” – Bingchen An

 

Osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative joint disease that is the most common form of arthritis. It produces pain, swelling, and stiffness of the joints. It is the leading cause of disability in the U.S., with about 43% of arthritis sufferers limited in mobility and about a third having limitations that affect their ability to perform their work. Knee osteoarthritis effects 5% of adults over 25 years of age and 12% of those over 65. It is painful and disabling. Its causes are varied including, hereditary, injury including sports injuries, repetitive stress injuries, infection, or from being overweight.

 

There are no cures for knee osteoarthritis. Treatments are primarily symptomatic, including weight loss, exercise, braces, pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, arthroscopic knee surgery, or even knee or hip replacement. Gentle movements of the joints with exercise and physical therapy appear to be helpful in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. This suggests that alternative and mind-body practices that involve gentle knee movements may be useful in for treatment. Indeed, yoga practice has been shown to be effective in treating arthritis and Tai Chi and Qigong have also been shown to reduce the physical symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. Baduanjin is a mind-body training that is very similar to Tai Chi and consists of 8 movements for limbs, body-trunk, and eye movements.  So, it would seem reasonable to explore the effectiveness of Baduanjin practice in treating knee osteoarthritis.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindful Exercise (Baduanjin) as an Adjuvant Treatment for Older Adults (60 Years Old and Over) of Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7312696/) Ye and colleagues recruited adults over the age of 60 years who were diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis and had no experience with mind-body practices. All participants were provided with standard therapy consisting of acupuncture, massage, and moxibustion. They were randomly assigned to either no further treatment or to practice Baduanjin for 40 minutes, 3 times per week for 12 weeks. They were measured before during and after treatment for knee function, and postural control, including the length and perimeter area of center of pressure.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control group, the group that practiced Baduanjin had significantly improved physical knee function and postural control and lower knee stiffness and pain. No adverse events occurred with Baduanjin practice. So, Baduanjin is a safe and effective treatment for knee osteoarthritis in older adults.

 

Some advantages of Baduanjin practice include the facts that it is not strenuous, involves slow gentle movements, and is safe, having no appreciable side effects, it is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion. It can also be practiced without professional supervision and in groups making it inexpensive to deliver and fun to engage in. This makes Baduanjin practice an excellent means to improve the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis in elderly individuals.

 

Baduanjin exercise, a common form of Chinese Qigong exercise that consists of eight movements of low intensity, may have favourable effects for people with knee arthritis.” – Arthritis Digest

 

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

 

Ye, J., Zheng, Q., Zou, L., Yu, Q., Veronese, N., Grabovac, I., Stefanac, S., Tzeng, H. M., & Yu, J. J. (2020). Mindful Exercise (Baduanjin) as an Adjuvant Treatment for Older Adults (60 Years Old and Over) of Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2020, 9869161. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/9869161

 

Abstract

Background

The postural stability is a major factor that helps prevent developing knee osteoarthritis with aging. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of Baduanjin qigong on postural control and physical function in older adults with knee osteoarthritis.

Methods

Fifty-six individuals over 60 years of age with knee osteoarthritis were randomly assigned to either an experimental group (n = 28) or a control group (n = 28). Participants in the experimental group received a 12-week Baduanjin training, while those in the control group did not receive any additional physical exercise during the study period. The postural control was quantified by perimeter and ellipse area of center of pressure movement trajectory. The assessments were conducted three times (baseline, week 8, and week 12).

Results

The perimeter and ellipse area with both open- and closed-eyes conditions and Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) function were significantly improved at week eight in the experimental group (p < 0.005). The ellipse area with open-eyes condition, WOMAC index, and stiffness and physical function domains were significantly decreased after the 12 weeks of Baduanjin training compared to the control group (p < 0.005). Only the perimeter area with both open- and closed-eyes conditions was not statistically significant at week 12 in the intervention group (p > 0.005).

Conclusions

Baduanjin is an effective and adjuvant therapy for older adults with knee osteoarthritis. Regular Baduanjin training can improve postural control and WOMAC function of old individuals with knee osteoarthritis. More advanced techniques and biopsychological measurements are required for further understanding of Baduanjin exercise in this population.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7312696/

 

Yoga Practice Improves Mood and Spirituality Regardless of Physical or Spiritual Instruction

Yoga Practice Improves Mood and Spirituality Regardless of Physical or Spiritual Instruction

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The word yoga means to join or unite, and yogis view this unison in different ways – the unison of body, mind and spirit, uniting all the aspects of yourself, or uniting with a higher power or spiritual force.” – DoYou

 

Yoga developed in India millennia ago as a deep spiritual practice. It developed as a contemplative practice that unified body and mind. Yoga was known to have physical benefits, but the most important benefit was seen to be spiritual development. But as yoga emerged and was practiced in the west it was secularized. This was for good reason, as western society was not ready to accept an ancient eastern spiritual practice.

 

There are many forms of yoga and many practitioners who are focused on the spiritual aspects of yoga. But, to the vast majority of westerner’s yoga is an exercise for physical fitness. It is a means to mold the body to look good, as a health promoting practice, and as a strategy to help lose weight. These are good and reasonable goals. But they have replaced the spiritual development originally promoted by yoga. As Jon Kabat-Zinn has remarked, ‘there is the potential for something priceless to be lost.’

 

It may be speculated that the instructions provided with yoga training may produce different effects on the physical and spiritual benefits. In today’s Research News article “Verbal Cuing Is Not the Path to Enlightenment. Psychological Effects of a 10-Session Hatha Yoga Practice.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01375/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1373328_69_Psycho_20200709_arts_A) Csala and colleagues recruited female college students with no previous experience with yoga and randomly assigned them to receive 10 weekly 1.5 hour training sessions in Hatha yoga designated either as “Sport” yoga or “Spiritual” yoga or to a no treatment control condition. The “Sport” yoga and “Spiritual” yoga  only differed in instructions. The “Sport” yoga group was instructed with an emphasis on the physical aspects of yoga (e.g., correct position, muscles involved). The “Spiritual” yoga group was instructed with an emphasis on the spiritual aspects of yoga (e.g. energetic body and blockages, chakras, meditations etc.). They were measured before and after training for body awareness, mindfulness, positive and negative emotions, and spiritual connections.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment control condition the practice of either “Sport” or “Spiritual” yoga produced significant increases in spiritual connections and significant decreases in negative emotions. Hence, regardless of whether the instructions emphasized the physical or spiritual aspects of yoga practice, the same effects occurred of increased spirituality and mood.

 

Yoga practice has been repeatedly shown in prior research studies to improve mood. So, the observed mood enhancement effects were no surprise. But, the ability of yoga practice to increase spirituality even when the spiritual aspects of yoga were not talked about is surprising. Regardless of instruction Hatha yoga practice produced increased spirituality. This suggests that the western emphasis on the secular aspects of yoga may not interfere with the enhancement of spirituality produced by yoga practice.

 

Perhaps yoga practice makes the individual more aware of the physical limitations of the body and that by itself may put human existence into perspective, amplifying the importance of the non-physical, spiritual, aspects. Yoga practice has for centuries been practiced in the east enhancing spirituality. It is interesting to find that it has the same effects in the west even when there is no instruction on the spiritual side of yoga practice.

 

So, yoga practice improves mood and spirituality regardless of physical or spiritual instruction.

 

“yoga offers much more than just a way to exercise the body. The deeper meaning and gift of yoga is the path it offers into the timeless world of spirit.” – Chopra.com

 

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

 

Csala B, Ferentzi E, Tihanyi BT, Drew R and Köteles F (2020) Verbal Cuing Is Not the Path to Enlightenment. Psychological Effects of a 10-Session Hatha Yoga Practice. Front. Psychol. 11:1375. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01375

 

Verbal instructions provided during yoga classes can differ substantially. Yoga instructors might choose to focus on the physical aspects of yoga (e.g., by emphasizing the characteristics of the poses), or they might take a more spiritual approach (e.g., by mentioning energy flow and chakras). The present study investigated the effects of verbal cues during yoga practice on various psychological measures. Eighty-four female students (22.0 ± 3.80 years) participated in the study. Two groups attended a beginner level hatha yoga course in which physically identical exercise was accompanied by different verbal cues. The so-called “Sport group” (N = 27) received instructions referring primarily to the physical aspects of yoga practice, while the “Spiritual group” (N = 23) was additionally provided with philosophical and spiritual information. A control group (N = 34) did not receive any intervention. Mindfulness, body awareness, spirituality, and affect were assessed 1 week before and after the training. 2 × 3 mixed (time × intervention) ANOVAs did not show an interaction effect for any of the variables. However, when the two yoga groups were merged and compared to the control group, we found that spirituality increased, and negative affect decreased among yoga participants. In conclusion, yoga practice might influence psychological functioning through its physical components, independent of the style of verbal instructions provided.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01375/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1373328_69_Psycho_20200709_arts_A

 

Religion/Spirituality Overall Increases HIV Prevention Behaviors

Religion/Spirituality Overall Increases HIV Prevention Behaviors

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“spirituality plays a critical role in the prognosis of HIV in many patients. The type of spiritual beliefs and practices determines whether spirituality is a protective or risk factor to the progression of HIV.” – Joni Utley

 

More than 35 million people worldwide and 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection. These include a significant number of children and adolescents. In 1996, the advent of the protease inhibitor and the so-called cocktail changed the prognosis for HIV. Since this development a 20-year-old infected with HIV can now expect to live on average to age 69. Even with these treatment advances it is still essential to prevent the transmission of HIV in the first place. There are a number of prevention techniques including drugs, condom use, HIV testing, reducing the number of sexual partners, and reducing intravenous drug use. But, in order for these activities to be effective, the individual must actively engage in them.

 

Spirituality is defined as “one’s personal affirmation of and relationship to a higher power or to the sacred. There have been a number of studies of the influence of spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health. Spirituality and religion, however, have a complex relationship with HIV prevention activities. It can be supportive in encouraging morals, norms, structures and institutions that can positively affect the individual’s behavior. On the other hand, religious strictures regarding sexuality can interfere with HIV prevention by discouraging behaviors such as condom use.

 

A number of research studies have been conducted on the effects of religion/spirituality on HIV prevention behaviors. So, it makes sense to step back and review what has been learned about the effects of religion/spirituality on the prevention of HIV transmission. In today’s Research News article “Religion, faith, and spirituality influences on HIV prevention activities: A scoping review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7297313/) Vigliotti and colleagues review and summarize the published scientific research on the effects of religion/spirituality on HIV prevention. They identified 29 published peer-reviewed research studies.

 

They report that the majority of studies found that attendance at religious services, religiosity/spirituality, and religion were significantly associated with increased use of condoms and increased HIV testing except in the cases where their religious beliefs and values related to sex and sexuality were against it. Hence, the published research supports the contention that for the most part religion/spirituality improves the likelihood that the individual will engage in behaviors that contribute to the prevention of HIV transmission. This is tempered, however, with the facts that some forms of religion/spirituality incorporate norms and values regarding sexuality that tend to interfere with engaging in behaviors that reduce the prevention of HIV transmission.

 

These findings were correlative and as such no conclusions about causation can be reached. It is difficult to perform manipulative studies to determine causation so this correlative evidence may be the best available. In addition, many of the studies employed weak designs that included the possibility of confounding. As a result, care must be taken in reaching conclusions regarding the effects of religion/spirituality on HIV prevention.

 

So, religion/spirituality overall increases HIV prevention behaviors.

 

overcoming spiritual guilt” is a factor in helping HIV-positive people stay healthy, widespread stigma and condemnation may have ushered those people more quickly toward death.” – Emma Green

 

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

 

Vigliotti, V., Taggart, T., Walker, M., Kusmastuti, S., & Ransome, Y. (2020). Religion, faith, and spirituality influences on HIV prevention activities: A scoping review. PloS one, 15(6), e0234720. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0234720

 

Abstract

Introduction

Strategies to increase uptake of next-generation biomedical prevention technologies (e.g., long-acting injectable pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)) can benefit from understanding associations between religion, faith, and spirituality (RFS) and current primary HIV prevention activities (e.g., condoms and oral PrEP) along with the mechanisms which underlie these associations.

Methods

We searched PubMed, Embase, Academic Search Premier, Web of Science, and Sociological Abstracts for empirical articles that investigated and quantified relationships between RFS and primary HIV prevention activities outlined by the United States (U.S.) Department of Health and Human Services: condom use, HIV and STI testing, number of sexual partners, injection drug use treatment, medical male circumcision, and PrEP. We included articles in English language published between 2000 and 2020. We coded and analyzed studies based on a conceptual model. We then developed summary tables to describe the relation between RFS variables and the HIV prevention activities and any underlying mechanisms. We used CiteNetExplorer to analyze citation patterns.

Results

We identified 2881 unique manuscripts and reviewed 29. The earliest eligible study was published in 2001, 41% were from Africa and 48% were from the U.S. RFS measures included attendance at religious services or interventions in religious settings; religious and/or spirituality scales, and measures that represent the influence of religion on behaviors. Twelve studies included multiple RFS measures. Twenty-one studies examined RFS in association with condom use, ten with HIV testing, nine with number of sexual partners, and one with PrEP. Fourteen (48%) documented a positive or protective association between all RFS factors examined and one or more HIV prevention activities. Among studies reporting a positive association, beliefs and values related to sexuality was the most frequently observed mechanism. Among studies reporting negative associations, behavioral norms, social influence, and beliefs and values related to sexuality were observed equally. Studies infrequently cited each other.

Conclusion

More than half of the studies in this review reported a positive/protective association between RFS and HIV prevention activities, with condom use being the most frequently studied, and all having some protective association with HIV testing behaviors. Beliefs and values related to sexuality are possible mechanisms that could underpin RFS-related HIV prevention interventions. More studies are needed on PrEP and spirituality/subjective religiosity.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7297313/

 

Decrease Teacher Stress and Improve Mental Health with a 4-Day Intensive Mindfulness Program

Decrease Teacher Stress and Improve Mental Health with a 4-Day Intensive Mindfulness Program

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

when teachers practice mindfulness, students’ misbehavior and other stressors become like water off a duck’s back, allowing them to stay focused on what teachers really want to do: teach.” – Vickie Zakrzewski

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This often produces burnout; fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, and professional inefficacy. Teachers experience burnout at high rates. Roughly a half a million teachers out of a workforce of three million, leave the profession each year and the rate is almost double in poor schools compared to affluent schools. Indeed, nearly half of new teachers leave in their first five years.

 

Burnout frequently results from emotional exhaustion. This exhaustion not only affects the teachers personally, but also the students, as it produces a loss of enthusiasm, empathy, and compassion. Regardless of the reasons for burnout or its immediate presenting consequences, it is a threat to schools and their students. In fact, it is a threat to the entire educational systems as it contributes to the shortage of teachers. Hence, methods of reducing stress and improving teacher psychological health needs to be studied.

 

Mindfulness techniques are gaining increasing attention for the treatment of the symptoms of stress and burnout. They have been demonstrated to be helpful in reducing the psychological and physiological responses to stress and for treating and preventing burnout in a number of work environments including schools. Teachers, though, have very busy schedules and it is often difficult to find the time for mindfulness training. So, abbreviated programs may be very useful but their efficacy needs to be established.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of a Four-Day Mindfulness Intervention on Teachers’ Stress and Affect: A Pilot Study in Eastern China.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01298/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1373328_69_Psycho_20200709_arts_A) Song and colleagues recruited school teachers online and randomly assigned them to a wait-list or to receive a 4-day mindfulness training. The mindfulness training was based upon the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program (MBSR) that consists of discussion, meditation, yoga and body scan practices. They met for 8 hours per day for 4 days. They were measured before and after training for mindfulness, perceived stress, and positive and negative emotions.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list group, the teachers who received the mindfulness training had significantly higher levels of mindfulness and lower levels of perceived stress and negative emotions. Hence, a short-term, 4-day, mindfulness training is effective in reducing stress and negative emotions in school teachers.

 

The results demonstrate that a short-term intensive training can significantly increase mindfulness. Such a program is valuable in that it can be implemented before the start of a school year when the teachers have the available time to participate. In addition, it produces results that are similar to those observed in previous studies using trainings occurring over longer periods where mindfulness training decreases perceived stress and negative emotions. It will be important in future work to determine the long-term effectiveness of the training and whether it reduces burnout in teachers.

 

So, decrease teacher stress and improve mental health with a 4-day intensive mindfulness program.

 

“mindfulness training for teachers can help them cope better with stress on the job while also making the classroom environment more productive for learning.” – Jill Suttie

 

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

 

Song X, Zheng M, Zhao H, Yang T, Ge X, Li H and Lou T (2020) Effects of a Four-Day Mindfulness Intervention on Teachers’ Stress and Affect: A Pilot Study in Eastern China. Front. Psychol. 11:1298. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01298

 

Stress is becoming increasingly prevalent among teacher groups, and this is problematic for education. Mindfulness training (MT) is a well-supported way to help various populations cope with and reduce stress. In this study, a 4-day intensive MT program that aimed to increase teachers’ emotional health was developed and implemented into the existing post-service education for teachers in eastern China. A total of 161 teachers voluntarily enrolled in the course and were assigned to either the mindfulness group or the waitlist group. Participants completed measures of mindfulness, positive affect, negative affect, and perceived stress before and after the program. The results showed that MT had statistically significant positive effects on mindfulness, negative affect, and stress. The present findings indicate that a 4-day intensive MT program is a promising way to decrease teachers’ stress and improve their emotional health. The practical meaning of the short-term intensive MT program for teachers is discussed. It is easier for teachers to enroll such a short-term training program, as it may have higher acceptance and feasibility than an 8-week training program in some areas.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01298/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1373328_69_Psycho_20200709_arts_A

 

Improve Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Survival in African Americans with Meditation

Improve Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Survival in African Americans with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Twice-a-day Transcendental Meditation helped African Americans with heart disease reduce risk of death, heart attack and stroke. Meditation helped patients lower their blood pressure, stress and anger.” – Science Daily

 

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is an insidious disease because there are no overt symptoms. The individual feels fine. But it can be deadly as more than 360,000 American deaths, roughly 1,000 deaths each day, had high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. In addition, hypertension markedly increases the risk heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.  It is also a very common disorder with about 70 million American adults (29%) having high blood pressure and only about half (52%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control. Hypertension is more prevalent in African American populations with 40% having high blood pressure. African Americans were 20 percent more likely to die from heart disease.

 

High blood pressure, because it doesn’t have any primary symptoms, is usually only diagnosed by direct measurement of blood pressure usually by a health care professional. When hypertension is chronically present over three quarters of patients are treated with antihypertensive drugs. But these medications often have adverse side effects. So, patients feel lousy when taking the drugs, but fine when they’re not. So, compliance is a major issue with many patients not taking the drugs regularly or stopping entirely. Obviously, there is a need for alternative to drug treatments for hypertension.

 

Mindfulness practices have been shown to aid in controlling hypertension. Indeed, meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have also been shown to be helpful for heart health. These practices have also been shown to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress and to be helpful for producing the kinds of lifestyle changes needed to prevent heart disease such as smoking cessation, and weight reduction. They have also been shown to be effective in maintaining cardiovascular health and the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Hence it is reasonable to study the effects of meditation training on cardiovascular health in African Americans.

 

In today’s Research News article “Stress reduction in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease: randomized, controlled trial of transcendental meditation and health education in Blacks. Circulation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7269100/) Schneider and colleagues recruited African American patients with a history of coronary artery disease. They were randomly assigned to receive either health education or Transcendental Meditation. Both interventions consisted of training for 1.5 hours weekly for the first month, biweekly for the next two months, and monthly thereafter along with home practice. They were measured before and after training and every 6 months thereafter for 9 years for mortality, blood pressure, diet, alcohol and tobacco use, physical activity, depression, anger, and hostility.

 

They found that in comparison to the health education group, the participants who practiced meditation had significantly lower all-cause mortality rates (44% vs, 54% respectively) and lower rates of myocardial infarction and stroke over the 9-year follow-up period. They also found that the greater the amount of home practice the lower the mortality rate. In addition, at the 5-year follow-up the meditation group had significantly lower systolic blood pressure, resting heart rate, and anger.

 

These are excellent results that suggest that meditation practice significantly improves survival in African American patients with a history of coronary artery disease. The fact that they were followed for 9 years is remarkable and strengthens the conclusions. Similar to the current results, it has previously been found that mindfulness practices produce significant improvements in cardiovascular function and reduces anger responses. It is not known but it is reasonable to hypothesize that the reduction in blood pressure and heart rate along with anger contributed to the heightened survival.

 

So, improve cardiovascular risk factors and survival in African Americans with meditation.

 

“Meditation can serve many purposes. It can help regulate breathing, reduce stress, and aid some in getting in touch with their inner spiritual selves. When it comes to heart health, meditation can take on another role — a preventative one.” – Tri Cities Medical Center

 

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

 

Schneider, R. H., Grim, C. E., Rainforth, M. V., Kotchen, T., Nidich, S. I., Gaylord-King, C., Salerno, J. W., Kotchen, J. M., & Alexander, C. N. (2012). Stress reduction in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease: randomized, controlled trial of transcendental meditation and health education in Blacks. Circulation. Cardiovascular quality and outcomes, 5(6), 750–758. https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.112.967406

 

Abstract

Background:

African Americans have disproportionate rates of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Psychosocial stress may contribute to this disparity. Previous trials on stress reduction with the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program have reported improvements in CVD risk factors, surrogate endpoints and mortality in African Americans and other populations.

Methods and Results:

This was a randomized controlled trial of 201 African American men and women with coronary heart disease (CHD) who were randomized to the TM program or health education. The primary end point was the composite of all-cause mortality, myocardial infarction, or stroke. Secondary endpoints included the composite of cardiovascular mortality, revascularizations, and cardiovascular hospitalizations; blood pressure (BP); psychosocial stress factors; and lifestyle behaviors. Over an average follow-up of 5.4 years, there was a 48% risk reduction in the primary end point in the TM group (hazard ratio [HR], 0.52; 95% confidence interval[CI], 0.29-0.92)(P =.025). The TM group also showed a 24% risk reduction in the secondary end point (HR, 0.76; 95% CI, 0.51-0.1.13) (P =.17). There were reductions of 4.9 mm Hg in systolic BP (95% CI −8.3 to –1.5 mm Hg) (P =.01) and anger expression (P < .05 for all scales). Adherence was associated with survival.

Conclusion:

A selected mind-body intervention, the Transcendental Meditation program, significantly reduced risk for mortality, myocardial infarction and stroke in CHD patients. These changes were associated with lower BP and psychosocial stress factors. Therefore, this practice may be clinically useful in the secondary prevention of CVD.

What is known

Psychosocial stress is associated with the onset and progression of cardiovascular disease in African Americans and the general population

Stress reduction with the Transcendental Meditation program has previously been shown to reduce cardiovascular risk factors e.g., hypertension, psychological stress, smoking, insulin resistance and myocardial ischemia.

What this article adds

This randomized controlled trial found that adding stress-reducing Transcendental Meditation to usual care in patients with coronary heart disease resulted in a 48% reduction in the risk for cardiovascular clinical events, i.e., mortality, myocardial infarction and stroke over more than five years of follow up.

Potential mechanisms for the observed outcomes differences included lower blood pressure and anger scores. There was evidence for dose-response effect between regularity of meditation practice and longer survival.

A transcendental meditation program may be useful in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7269100/

 

Improve the Quality of Life of Patients Living with HIV with Yoga

Improve the Quality of Life of Patients Living with HIV with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

yoga can have positive impact on mental health for people living with HIV,” – Eugene Dunne

 

More than 35 million people worldwide and 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection. These include a significant number of children and adolescents. In 1996, the advent of the protease inhibitor and the so-called cocktail changed the prognosis for HIV. Since this development a 20-year-old infected with HIV can now expect to live on average to age 69. Hence, living with HIV is a long-term reality for a very large group of people.

 

People living with HIV infection experience a wide array of physical and psychological symptoms which decrease their perceived quality of life. The symptoms include chronic pain, muscle aches, anxiety, depression, weakness, fear/worries, difficulty with concentration, concerns regarding the need to interact with a complex healthcare system, stigma, and the challenge to come to terms with a new identity as someone living with HIV. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve psychological well-being, lower depression and strengthen the immune system of patients with HIV infection. Yoga practice has also been found to be effective in treating HIV.

 

In today’s Research News article “Feasibility and Impact of a Yoga Intervention on Cognition, Physical Function, Physical Activity, and Affective Outcomes among People Living with HIV: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7318828/) Quigley and colleagues recruited patients living with HIV infection who were over the age of 35 years and randomly assigned them to receive 12 weeks of 3 times per week 1-hour Hatha yoga practice or to a no treatment control condition. They were measured before and after the practice period for cognitive ability, HIV-specific cognitive difficulties, balance, physical activity, medication adherence, HIV medical outcomes, quality of life, anxiety, depression, and mental health.

 

They found that the yoga classes were well attended, 82% of all classes and all participants reported satisfaction with the intervention. They also found that the yoga group had a significant improvement in health-related quality of life for cognitive function, and trends toward significance for depression and health -related quality of life for health transitions.

 

This was a small pilot study that did not have an active control condition and was not powered to detect small differences. As such, conclusions must be limited. But the study was successful in establishing that yoga practice for patients living with HIV is feasible and acceptable and appreciated by the participants, and that improvement in quality of life occurred with the yoga practice. These results are promising and thus strongly suggest that a large randomized controlled clinical trial with an active control condition be conducted in the future.

 

So, improve the quality of life of patients living with HIV with yoga

 

“Yoga quiets the mind, improves breathing and circulation, and reduces stress. Daily practice can help support the immune system in conjunction with a comprehensive HIV treatment program.” – Jon Kaiser

 

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

 

Quigley, A., Brouillette, M. J., Gahagan, J., O’Brien, K. K., & MacKay-Lyons, M. (2020). Feasibility and Impact of a Yoga Intervention on Cognition, Physical Function, Physical Activity, and Affective Outcomes among People Living with HIV: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial. Journal of the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care, 19, 2325958220935698. https://doi.org/10.1177/2325958220935698

 

Abstract

The purpose of this pilot randomized controlled trial is to assess the feasibility and impact of a triweekly 12-week yoga intervention among people living with HIV (PLWH). Additional objectives included evaluating cognition, physical function, medication adherence, health-related quality of life (HRQoL), and mental health among yoga participants versus controls using blinded assessors. We recruited 22 medically stable PLWH aged ≥35 years. A priori feasibility criteria were ≥70% yoga session attendance and ≥70% of participants satisfied with the intervention using a postparticipation questionnaire. Two participants withdrew from the yoga group. Mean yoga class attendance was 82%, with 100% satisfaction. Intention-to-treat analyses (yoga n = 11, control n = 11) showed no within- or between-group differences in cognitive and physical function. The yoga group improved over time in HRQoL cognition (P = .047) with trends toward improvements in HRQoL health transition (P =.063) and depression (P = .055). This pilot study provides preliminary evidence of feasibility and benefits of yoga for PLWH.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7318828/

 

Improve the Mental Health of Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Cancer Patients with a Mindfulness App

Improve the Mental Health of Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Cancer Patients with a Mindfulness App

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Results show promise for mindfulness-based interventions to treat common psychological problems such as anxiety, stress, and depression in cancer survivors and to improve overall quality of life.” — Linda E. Carlson

 

Myeloproliferative Neoplasms (MPNs) are blood cancers that occur when the body makes too many white or red blood cells, or platelets” (Cancer Support Community). It typically occurs in older adults and is fairly rare (1-2 cases/100,000 per year) and has a very high survival rate. It produces a variety of psychological and physical symptoms including fatigue, anxiety, depression, pain, and sleep disturbance, reduced physical, social, and cognitive functioning resulting in a reduced quality of life.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health including fatigueanxietydepressionpain, and sleep disturbance, and improves physical, social, and cognitive functioning as well as quality of life in cancer patients. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a trained therapist. This results in costs that many patients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient.

 

As an alternative, Apps for smartphones have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. But the question arises as to the effectiveness of these Apps in relieving the psychological and physical symptoms of cancer and improving their quality of life.

 

In today’s Research News article “Associations Between Global Mental Health and Response to an App-Based Meditation Intervention in Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Patients.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7307391/) Puzia and colleagues recruited patients with Myeloproliferative Neoplasms (MPNs) and randomly assigned them to either receive a pamphlet on MPN symptom management or to practice mindfulness for 4 weeks using the “Calm” App for 10 minutes every day. “Calm meditations are developed using a combination of techniques drawn from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, encouraging users to practice moment-to-moment awareness without judgement and to develop awareness of their thoughts, interpretations, and emotional and physiological responses in order to alter their perception or create new, more balanced thoughts.” They were measured before and after the 4-week treatment period for depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and mental and physical health.

 

They found that the results differed depending upon the participants’ levels of mental health. For those participants who had poor mental health at the beginning of the trial, using the “Calm” App produced significantly lower levels of depression and anxiety. These results replicate the previous findings that mindfulness meditation training produces significant decreases in depression and anxiety in a wide array of healthy and sick individuals. The present findings extend these benefits to patients with Myeloproliferative Neoplasms (MPNs) and appear to have maximum benefits for those who need it the most, the patients with the greatest mental health problems.

 

The findings that the use of an internet App is effective in improving the mental health of patients with MPN is important. These Apps make treatment available to large numbers of patients over widespread geographic areas, conveniently and inexpensively. This greatly expands the ability of mindfulness meditation for the treatment of the patients’ emotional problems.

 

Mindfulness meditation promotes present moment awareness with a non-judging and non-reacting attitude. Depression and anxiety are rooted in the individuals’ processing of past or projected future events and the judging and reacting to them. By focusing on the present moment this processing is interrupted and emphasizes what is actually present in the moment. In addition, not judging or reacting allows for a moderated emotional reaction and greater ability to regulate the emotions. This greatly improves the mental health of the patient.

 

So, improve the mental health of myeloproliferative neoplasm cancer patients with a mindfulness App.

 

“The intent of this practice is to help you begin to see that the traditional things you may consider important in defining your place in the world are often transitory. There’s a more stable and enduring part of your being, and connecting with this possibility through your meditation practice may help soothe the pain of changes to your self-image and identity that cancer triggers.” — Linda E. Carlson

 

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

 

Puzia, M. E., Huberty, J., Eckert, R., Larkey, L., & Mesa, R. (2020). Associations Between Global Mental Health and Response to an App-Based Meditation Intervention in Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Patients. Integrative cancer therapies, 19, 1534735420927780. https://doi.org/10.1177/1534735420927780

 

Abstract

Background: Depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance are common problems that greatly affect quality of life for many myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) patients. App-based mindfulness meditation is a feasible nonpharmacologic approach for managing symptoms. However, previous research has not considered how patients’ overall mental health may influence their responsiveness to these interventions. Objective: The purpose of this study was to conduct an exploratory, secondary analysis of the effects of a smartphone meditation app, Calm, on depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance in MPN patients based on patients’ baseline levels of Global Mental Health (GMH). Methods: Participants (N = 80) were a subset of MPN patients from a larger feasibility study. Patients were enrolled into an intervention (use Calm for 10 minutes daily for 4 weeks) or educational control group. Results: In multilevel models, there were significant 3-way interactions between time, group, and baseline GMH for depression and anxiety symptoms, with participants in the meditation intervention who reported the poorest baseline GMH experiencing the greatest reduction in symptoms over time. For both intervention and control participants, poorer initial GMH was associated with increases in sleep disturbance symptoms over time. Conclusions: Mindfulness meditation apps, such as Calm, may be effective in reducing depression and anxiety symptoms in MPN patients, particularly for those experiencing mental health difficulties. Given the need for accessible tools to self-manage chronic cancer–related symptoms, especially strong negative emotions, these findings warrant larger efficacy studies to determine the effects of app-based meditation for alleviating depression and anxiety in cancer populations.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7307391/