ACT to Improve Psychological Flexibility and Chronic Pain

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


Hence, the ultimate goal of ACT is not to reduce symptoms or pain (although other simultaneous therapies may well be aimed at achieving this). Instead, its goal is to improve functioning by increasing psychological flexibility and the ability to act according to personal values, even in the presence of negative experiences, like pain.” – Painfocus


We all have to deal with pain. It’s inevitable, but hopefully mild and short lived. For many, however, pain is a constant in their lives. Chronic pain affects a wide swath of humanity.  At least 100 million adult Americans have common chronic pain conditions. It affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. Chronic pain accompanies a number of conditions. The most common forms are low back pain, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia.


The most common treatment for chronic pain is drugs. These include over-the-counter analgesics and opioids. But opioids are dangerous and prescription opioid overdoses kill more than 14,000 people annually. Fortunately, there are alternative treatments. Mindfulness and yoga practices have been shown to improve pain. A therapeutic technique that includes mindfulness training called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has been shown to be effective in treating a number of physical and psychological disorders and has been shown to successfully improve acceptance of chronic pain, pain intensity, satisfaction with life, and physical functioning in patients with chronic pain.


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a mindfulness based psychotherapy technique that focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. Additionally, it teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes. At its core, ACT is targeted at increasing psychological flexibility, which is an ability to modify behavior based upon conscious and open contact with thoughts, feelings, and sensory experiences, and in a manner that reflects the individual’s values and goals.


In today’s Research News article “A Comprehensive Examination of Changes in Psychological Flexibility Following Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Chronic Pain.” See:

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:

Scott and colleagues examine the relationship of changes in psychological flexibility to improvements in chronic pain produced by Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). They recruited patients who suffered from chronic pain of various types, with lower back pain the most common (43%). They were treated 4 days per week for four weeks with a group based ACT therapy. Before and after treatment they were measured for pain intensity, pain acceptance, daily functioning, depression, cognitive fusion, decentering, and goal directed activity.


They found that ACT was quite effective in improving chronic pain symptoms. It produced a large significant improvement in depression, moderate improvements in pain intensity, physical and social functioning, and chronic pain acceptance, and small improvements in goal directed activity and decentering. They further found that the processes of psychological flexibility, including chronic pain acceptance, cognitive fusion, and goal directed activity significantly predicted the magnitude of the improvements in the chronic pain symptoms. Hence, it appears that ACT increases psychological flexibility and as a result improves chronic pain.


It is important to identify how a particular therapy has its effects upon the disorder. This allows for improvements in the techniques and maximization of its effects. The fact that psychological flexibility was the key change produced by ACT suggests that future efforts should be to modify ACT to maximize its impact on psychological flexibility.


So, ACT to improve psychological flexibility and chronic pain.


“Mindfulness teaches people with chronic pain to be curious about the intensity of their pain, instead of letting their minds jump into thoughts like “This is awful.” It also teaches individuals to let go of goals and expectations. When you expect something will ease your pain, and it doesn’t or not as much as you’d like, your mind goes into alarm- or solution-mode. You start thinking thoughts like “nothing ever works.” “What we want to do as best as we can is to engage with the pain just as it is.” It’s not about achieving a certain goal – like minimizing pain – but learning to relate to your pain differently.” – Elisha Goldstein


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


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Study Summary

Scott, W., Hann, K. E. J., & McCracken, L. M. (2016). A Comprehensive Examination of Changes in Psychological Flexibility Following Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Chronic Pain. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 46, 139–148.



Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for chronic pain aims to improve patient functioning by fostering greater psychological flexibility. While promising, ACT treatment process research in the context of chronic pain so far has only focused on a few of the processes of psychological flexibility. Therefore, this study aimed to more comprehensively examine changes in processes of psychological flexibility following an ACT-based treatment for chronic pain, and to examine change in these processes in relation to improvements in patient functioning. Individuals with chronic pain attending an interdisciplinary ACT-based rehabilitation program completed measures of pain, functioning, depression, pain acceptance, cognitive fusion, decentering, and committed action at pre- and post-treatment and during a nine-month follow-up. Significant improvements were observed from pre- to post-treatment and pre-treatment to follow-up on each of the treatment outcome and process variables. Regression analyses indicated that change in psychological flexibility processes cumulatively explained 6–27 % of the variance in changes in functioning and depression over both assessment periods, even after controlling for changes in pain intensity. Further research is needed to maximize the effectiveness of ACT for chronic pain, and to determine whether larger improvements in the processes of psychological flexibility under study will produce better patient outcomes, as predicted by the psychological flexibility model.

Relieve Generalized Anxiety with Mindfulness

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“People with anxiety have a problem dealing with distracting thoughts that have too much power. They can’t distinguish between a problem-solving thought and a nagging worry that has no benefit. If you have unproductive worries, you can train yourself to experience those thoughts completely differently. You might think ‘I’m late, I might lose my job if I don’t get there on time, and it will be a disaster!’ Mindfulness teaches you to recognize, ‘Oh, there’s that thought again. I’ve been here before. But it’s just that—a thought, and not a part of my core self.’” – Elizabeth Hoge


Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults, or 18% of the population. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) affects about 3.1% of the U.S. population. GAD involves excessive worry about everyday problems. People with GAD become anxious in anticipation of problems with their finances, health, employment, and relationships. They typically have difficulty calming their concerns, even though they realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants. Physically, GAD sufferers will often show excessive fatigue, irritability, muscle tension or muscle aches, trembling, feeling twitchy, being easily startled, trouble sleeping, sweating, nausea, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome, and headaches.


Anxiety disorders have generally been treated with drugs. It has been estimated that 11% of women in the U.S. are taking anti-anxiety medications. But, there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. Although, psychological therapy can be effective it is costly and only available to a small numbers of sufferers. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments. A characterizing feature of anxiety disorders is that the suffer overly identifies with and personalizes their thoughts. The sufferer has recurring thoughts, such as impending disaster, that they may realize are unreasonable, but are unable to shake. This may indicate that treating the cognitive processes that underlie the anxiety may be an effective treatment.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is targeted at changing unproductive and unreasonable thought patterns and has been shown to be effective for anxiety disorders. Recently, it has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disorders. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) combines elements from CBT and mindfulness training and has also been shown to be effective. These therapies have in common the attempt to decenter thought processes; that is to learn to observe thoughts and feelings as objective events in the mind rather than personally identifying with the thoughts or feelings which is so characteristic of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).


In today’s Research News article “Decentering as a Potential Common Mechanism across Two Therapies for Generalized Anxiety Disorder.” See:

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:

Hayes-Skelton and colleagues recruited adults who had been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and randomly assigned them to receive 16-weeks of either an applied relaxation therapy or an acceptance-based behavioral therapy (ABBT). ABBT is very similar to ACT and contains mindfulness training. They measured anxiety, worry, and decentering before and after treatment and in order to look at the changes occurring during therapy, they also measured anxiety and decentering at weeks 4, 8, and 12 during treatment.


They found that over the 16-weeks of treatment the decentering scores increased significantly by 22% improving approximately 5% every 4 weeks and these increases were significantly related to decreased worry scores. At the same time, the anxiety levels decreased significantly by 89% improving approximately 12% every 4 weeks. In addition, they found that decentering was a leading indicator for changes in anxiety; that is that improvements in decentering preceded improvements in anxiety levels. This is an important indicator of a causal connection. There were no significant differences found between applied relaxation therapy or acceptance-based behavioral therapy (ABBT) in effectiveness for increasing decentering or decreasing anxiety.


These findings are important as they add to the accumulating evidence that treatments that include mindfulness training are effective in treating anxiety disorders. They are especially important as they suggest that the most important effect of treatment is to increase decentering and this, in turn, reduces anxiety. So, the ability to see thoughts as objects of awareness and not something personal may be the most important change to accomplish to improve Generalized Anxiety Disorder. This suggests why Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and mindfulness training are effective as each changes the relationship of the patients with their thoughts, making them less personal.


So, relieve generalized anxiety with mindfulness.


“instead of changing thoughts, mindfulness-based therapies (MBTs) seek to change the relationship between the anxious person and his or her thoughts. In mindfulness-based therapy, the person focuses on the bodily sensations that arise when he or she is anxious. Instead of avoiding or withdrawing from these feelings, he or she remains present and fully experiences the symptoms of anxiety. Instead of avoiding distressing thoughts, he or she opens up to them in an effort to realize and acknowledge that they are not literally true.” – George Hofmann


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


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Study Summary

Hayes-Skelton, S. A., Calloway, A., Roemer, L., & Orsillo, S. M. (2015). Decentering as a Potential Common Mechanism across Two Therapies for Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology,83(2), 395–404.




To examine decentering as a potential mechanism of action across two treatments for generalized anxiety disorder: an acceptance based behavioral therapy (ABBT) and applied relaxation (AR).

Method: Sixty-four individuals who completed at least half of the 16 total sessions of either ABBT or AR (65.6% female, 79.7% identified as White, average age 34.41) completed measures of decentering (Experiences Questionnaire) and of symptoms of anxiety (Depression Anxiety Stress Scale-Stress subscale) at five time points over the course of therapy and a measure of worry (Penn State Worry Questionnaire) at pre and post-treatment.

Results: Initial growth curve models showed that decentering increased significantly over therapy (z = 7.09) and this increase was associated with a decrease in worry symptoms (PSWQ) at post-treatment (z = −8.51). The rate of change did not significantly vary across treatments (Δχ2/Δdf = 0.16/1, p = 0.69). Further, a series of bivariate latent difference score models indicated that the best fitting model was one in which decentering was a leading indicator of change in symptoms (DASS-Stress). Allowing this coupling to vary across treatments did not significantly improve the fit of the model (Δχ2/Δdf = 0.71/1, p = 0.40).

Conclusions: In this sample, results suggest that increased decentering was associated with decreases in anxiety and that changes in decentering appear to precede changes in symptoms within both ABBT and AR, indicating that decentering may be an important common mechanism of action.

Improve the Brain for Better memory in Aging with Yoga


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“Yoga has been shown to reverse the aging process by the positive impact the practice has upon the body. It gives elasticity to your muscles, tones tendons and ligaments, reduces fat and slows weight gain, calms your heart rate, and eases your mind promoting a bodily as well as a spiritual peace.” – Amy Koller


Human life is one of constant change. We revel in our increases in physical and mental capacities during development, but regret their decreases during aging. The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our mental abilities which decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem solving ability. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. Using modern neuroimaging techniques, scientists have been able to view the changes that occur in the nervous system with aging. In addition, they have been able to investigate various techniques that might slow the process of neurodegeneration that accompanies normal aging. They’ve found that mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue. Indeed, the brains of practitioners of meditation and yoga have been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners.


There is some hope for age related cognitive decline, however, as there is evidence that they can be slowed. There are some indications that physical and mental exercise can reduce the rate of cognitive decline and lower the chances of dementia. For example, contemplative practices such as meditation, yoga, and tai chi or qigong have all been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging. Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve cognitive processes while gentle mindful exercises such as Tai Chi and Qigong have been shown to slow age related cognitive decline.


Since the global population of the elderly is increasing at unprecedented rates, it is imperative to investigate methods to slow physical and mental aging and mitigate its effects. It would seem reasonable to hypothesize that yoga practice, which is both a mindfulness practice and a physical exercise, might decrease age related cognitive decline and the associated changes in the nervous system. In today’s Research News article “Changes in Neural Connectivity and Memory Following a Yoga Intervention for Older Adults: A Pilot Study.” See:

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:

Eyre and colleagues recruited elderly, over 55 years of age, and randomly assigned them to either 12-weeks of yoga training or 12-weeks of memory enhancement training. Depression levels, and memory ability were assessed at baseline and at 12-weeks after the interventions. In addition, the participants’ brains were scanned before and after training with Functional Magnetic Imaging (f-MRI) to ascertain the connectivity of various brain systems.


They found that the yoga group had significant improvements in depression and visuospatial memory. But, there were no significant differences between the yoga and memory enhancement training groups. They also investigated the relationships of the memory changes with changes in connectivity within the brain’s Default Mode Network (DMN) and found that the greater the increases in connectivity, the greater the improvements in memory in the elderly. The Default Mode Network (DMN) is known to be involved in memory, in particular in episodic memory retrieval, prospective memory encoding, and autobiographical memory retrieval. So, it makes sense that its connectivity would be increased in parallel to memory enhancements.


These results suggest that both yoga and memory enhancement training improve the interactions (connectivity) between structures of the brain that are involved in memory processing and that this results in improved memory ability in the elderly. It is interesting that yoga increased DMN connectivity in this study as contemplative practices have been shown to decrease the size and activity of the DMN. This suggests that yoga practice either may act differently or that just the memory components of the DMN are enhanced. It will take further research to clarify this.


The present results make it clear that yoga practice helps to slow the cognitive decline that occurs with aging. But, yoga is known to have a myriad of other physical, psychological, and physical benefits. It appears to be an excellent practice to allow for healthy aging. So, improve the brain for better memory in aging with yoga.


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


“It is a known fact that yoga imparts more energy, strength and flexibility.  Some people turn to yoga for a reduction in stress, and then stick with it because it makes them feel, look, and remain young. Unlike traditional exercises, yoga blends moves that enhance circulation, flexibility, balance and strength, along with meditative techniques, including deep breathing. In fact, Yoga serves as a natural face-lift-it cleanes, relaxes, and restores. Yoga reduces signs of ageing considerably.” – Larry Payne


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Study Summary

Eyre, H. A., Acevedo, B., Yang, H., Siddarth, P., Van Dyk, K., Ercoli, L., … Lavretsky, H. (2016). Changes in Neural Connectivity and Memory Following a Yoga Intervention for Older Adults: A Pilot Study. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 52(2), 673–684.



Background: No study has explored the effect of yoga on cognitive decline and resting-state functional connectivity.

Objectives: This study explored the relationship between performance on memory tests and resting-state functional connectivity before and after a yoga intervention versus active control for subjects with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Methods: Participants ( ≥ 55 y) with MCI were randomized to receive a yoga intervention or active “gold-standard” control (i.e., memory enhancement training (MET)) for 12 weeks. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to map correlations between brain networks and memory performance changes over time. Default mode networks (DMN), language and superior parietal networks were chosen as networks of interest to analyze the association with changes in verbal and visuospatial memory performance.

Results: Fourteen yoga and 11 MET participants completed the study. The yoga group demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in depression and visuospatial memory. We observed improved verbal memory performance correlated with increased connectivity between the DMN and frontal medial cortex, pregenual anterior cingulate cortex, right middle frontal cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, and left lateral occipital cortex. Improved verbal memory performance positively correlated with increased connectivity between the language processing network and the left inferior frontal gyrus. Improved visuospatial memory performance correlated inversely with connectivity between the superior parietal network and the medial parietal cortex.

Conclusion: Yoga may be as effective as MET in improving functional connectivity in relation to verbal memory performance. These findings should be confirmed in larger prospective studies.

Keywords: Aging, cognitive decline, memory training, mild cognitive impairment, mind-body, older adults, subjective memory complaints, yoga

Improve Sleep and Resilience with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“Medical professionals are burdened daily with the pain and suffering of patients. Many work long hours, and regularly face stressful situations. This burden does not come without consequence: 60 percent of physicians report having experienced burnout at some point in their careers.” – Emily Nauman


Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations, like healthcare, burnout is all too prevalent. It is estimated that over 45% of healthcare workers experience burnout. Currently, over a third of healthcare workers report that they are looking for a new job. Nearly half plan to look for a new job over the next two years and 80% expressed interest in a new position if they came across the right opportunity.


Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. It not only affects the healthcare providers personally, but also the patients, as it produces a loss of empathy and compassion. Sleep disruption is an important consequence of the stress. “Poor or inadequate sleep can contribute to poor personal health and burnout and adversely affect the quality of care” (Kemper et al. 2016).


Regardless of the reasons for burnout or its immediate presenting consequences, it is a threat to the healthcare providers and their patients. In fact, it is a threat to the entire healthcare system as it contributes to the shortage of doctors and nurses. Hence, preventing existing healthcare workers from burning out has to be a priority. Mindfulness has been demonstrated to be helpful in treating and preventing burnout, increasing resilience, and improving sleep. Another factor that could affect healthcare workers’ responses to stress is self-compassion. By treating oneself with kindness and understanding the effects of stress can be mitigated. So, it makes sense to investigate the relationship of mindfulness and self-compassion to stress symptoms in healthcare workers.


In today’s Research News article “Are Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Associated with Sleep and Resilience in Health Professionals?” See:

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:

Kemper and colleagues do just that. They solicited participation of adult healthcare workers (n = 213) via email which provided a link to a survey that measured demographic characteristics, mindfulness, self-compassion, sleep, resilience, global mental and physical health, and perceived stress. Simple correlation analysis and multiple linear regression analysis were performed upon the survey responses.


They found that the higher the level of mindfulness, self-compassion, resilience, and physical and mental health the lower the level of sleep disturbance and the greater the level of resilience. The greater the level of perceived stress the greater the sleep disturbance and the lower the resilience. Mindfulness and self-compassion were highly related and the higher their levels the greater the levels of physical and mental health and the lower the levels of sleep disturbances and perceived stress.


These findings underscore the significant positive relationships between mindfulness and self-compassion with resilience and with mental and physical health and significant negative relationships with sleep problems and stress. Hence, being more mindful improves the chance that the healthcare worker will be more resilient, healthier, less stressed, and sleep better. Similarly, having greater self-compassion, being kind and understanding toward the self, also improves the chance that the individual will be more resilient, healthier, less stressed, and sleep better. So, mindfulness and self-compassion appear to improve the health and well-being of healthcare workers. But, it should be noted that the study was correlational and did not manipulate mindfulness and self-compassion. So, causal connections cannot be conclusively demonstrated.


So, improve sleep and resilience with mindfulness and self-compassion.


“Mindfulness gives doctors permission to attend to their own health and well-being. But it also allows doctor to help patients by listening more, talking less, and seeing what the patients need.” – Catherine Beach


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


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Study Summary

Kemper, K. J., Mo, X., & Khayat, R. (2015). Are Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Associated with Sleep and Resilience in Health Professionals? Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 21(8), 496–503.



Objectives: To describe the relationship between trainable qualities (mindfulness and self-compassion), with factors conceptually related to burnout and quality of care (sleep and resilience) in young health professionals and trainees.

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Setting: Large Midwestern academic health center.

Participants: 213 clinicians and trainees.

Outcome measures: Sleep and resilience were assessed by using the 8-item PROMIS Sleep scale and the 6-item Brief Resilience Scale. Mindfulness and self-compassion were assessed using the 10-item Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale, Revised and the 12-item Self-Compassion Scale. Health was assessed with Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) Global Health measures, and stress was assessed with the 10-item Perceived Stress Scale. After examination of descriptive statistics and Pearson correlations, multiple regression analyses were done to determine whether mindfulness and self-compassion were associated with better sleep and resilience.

Results: Respondents had an average age of 28 years; 73% were female. Professions included dieticians (11%), nurses (14%), physicians (38%), social workers (24%), and other (12%). Univariate analyses showed normative values for all variables. Sleep disturbances were significantly and most strongly correlated with perceived stress and poorer health, but also with less mindfulness and self-compassion. Resilience was strongly and significantly correlated with less stress and better mental health, more mindfulness, and more self-compassion.

Conclusions: In these young health professionals and trainees, sleep and resilience are correlated with both mindfulness and self-compassion. Prospective studies are needed to determine whether training to increase mindfulness and self-compassion can improve clinicians’ sleep and resilience or whether decreasing sleep disturbances and building resilience improves mindfulness and compassion.


Reduce Stress and Improve Health with Meditation


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“If you have unproductive worries, you can train yourself to experience those thoughts completely differently. You might think ‘I’m late, I might lose my job if I don’t get there on time, and it will be a disaster!’ Mindfulness teaches you to recognize, ‘Oh, there’s that thought again. I’ve been here before. But it’s just that—a thought, and not a part of my core self,’” – Elizabeth. Hoge


We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. How we spend that time is immensely important for our overall well-being, including our psychological and physical health. Indeed, the work environment has even become an important part of our social lives, with friendships and leisure time activities often attached to the work environment. But, more than half of employees in the U.S. and nearly 2/3 worldwide are unhappy at work. This is primarily due to the fact that stress is epidemic in the workplace. A recent Harris poll found that 80 percent of workers feel stressed about one or more things in the workplace. This stress can lead to physical and psychological problems for managers and employees, including fatigue, sleep problems, depression, absenteeism, lower productivity, lower job satisfaction, and personal and professional burnout. Indeed, 46.4% of employees, report having psychological distress.


Mindfulness training of employees is a potential help with work related stress. It has been shown to reduce the psychological and physical reactions to stress overall and particularly in the workplace and to reduce burnout. A problem in implementing mindfulness programs in the workplace is the time required for the training. This makes many managers reticent to try it. So, it is important to develop programs that do not seriously impact on work time. A mindfulness training program that can be delivered quickly in a single session would be optimum. In today’s Research News article “Effect of yoga based techniques on stress and health indices using electro photonic imaging technique in managers.” See:

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:

Kushwah and colleagues investigate the effectiveness of Cyclic Meditation on stress and psychological well-being in managers. Cyclic Meditation is a mixture of meditation practice and yoga postures that are alternated. It can be implemented in a single 35-minute session. They recruited managers and assigned them randomly to either receive a Cyclic Meditation practice or a 35-minute period of supine rest. Assessments of health status and stress were measured with an indirect Electro Photonic Imaging (EPI) technique that was taken before and after the practice.


They found that that the Cyclic Meditation group in comparison to the rest group had a significant, 14.5%, reduction in stress and an 18.5% increase in health status. This is potentially an important finding as the intervention was delivered in a single 35-minute session. This may be highly acceptable for managers in the workplace and make it more likely that they would participate. This would also be a cost-effective strategy that would be acceptable to cost conscious employers.


The findings, however, are very short-term. More research is needed to determine if the single intervention has lasting effects or if the effects can be sustained by repeated, perhaps daily practice. It is impossible to determine if the meditative component or the yoga component of the practice or both in combination were responsible for the effects. Since, both meditation practice and yoga practice have been shown separately to reduce stress, it is likely that both were responsible for the current effects. More research is needed to investigate whether their effects are additive in reducing stress and improving health.


So, reduce stress and improve health with meditation.


“Meditation is a simple technique that, if practiced for as few as 10 minutes each day, can help you control stress, decrease anxiety, improve cardiovascular health, and achieve a greater capacity for relaxation.” – WebMD


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


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Study Summary

Kushwah, K. K., Srinivasan, T. M., Nagendra, H. R., & Ilavarasu, J. V. (2016). Effect of yoga based techniques on stress and health indices using electro photonic imaging technique in managers. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, 7(2), 119–123.


Background: Meditation techniques are known to elicit relaxation response in which moving meditation which combines the practice of yoga postures and guided relaxation is known as Cyclic Meditation reported helpful in reducing the sympathetic arousal and improving health of practitioners.

Objectives: The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of Cyclic Meditation on stress and health indices in managers as measured by Electro Photonic Imaging (EPI) technique.

Materials and methods: EPI technique was used to assess participants before and after 35 min of Cyclic Meditation (CM) and equal duration of Supine Rest (SR) session. A total of sixty six male managers, age ranges from 35 to 60 years (mean ± SD 53.97 ± 5.96) were included in the study. EPI parameters, including Activation Coefficient, Integral Area left and right and Integral Entropy, left and right were taken for statistical analyses.

Results: Cyclic Meditation has produced a highly significant reduction in stress level, whereas this reduction was not found significant within SR group. There was a significant improvement in health index ‘Integral Area’ values in both left and right sides within the CM group while only IA right side showed a significant improvement within the CM group. The integral entropy value right side decreased significantly within the CM group, whereas IE left was found deteriorated within the SR group. Moreover, only IE left side has shown a significant difference between the groups.

Conclusion: The investigations in this study suggest that Cyclic Meditation practice reduces stress and improves psychosomatic health indices more effectively than Supine Rest in managers.


Improve Heart Failure Treatment Adherence with Spirituality


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“Given the mechanism by which we think religion/spirituality influences physical health, i.e., through psychosocial and behavioral pathways, and the strong influence that psychosocial and behavioral factors have on risk of developing cardiovascular disease, there is no medical condition that R/S is more likely to influence than CVD.” – Fernando A. Lucchese


Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack.” – Centers for Disease Control.


A myriad of treatments has been developed for heart disease including a variety of surgical procedures and medications. In addition, lifestyle changes have proved to be effective including quitting smoking, weight reduction, improved diet, physical activity, and reducing stresses. Contemplative practices, such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have also been shown to be helpful for heart health. In addition, mindfulness practices have also been shown to be helpful for producing the kinds of other lifestyle changes needed such as smoking cessation, weight reduction, and stress reduction. Mindfulness has also been shown to be linked to spirituality and

Spirituality and religiosity are known to help with a wide range of physical and psychological problems. So, it would make sense to investigate the relationship of spirituality and religiosity to recovery from heart failure.


In today’s Research News article “Association between Spirituality and Adherence to Management in Outpatients with Heart Failure.” See:

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:

Alvarez and colleagues measured adherence to therapy, quality of life, depression, religiosity and spirituality in adult patients with heart failure. They found that there were significant relationships between spirituality and adherence to pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic therapy, such that the higher the spirituality of the patient the greater the adherence. This was true for all of the spirituality subscales including spiritual connection, meaning of life, awe and wonder, wholeness & integration, spiritual strength, inner peace, hope & optimism and faith and was also true for intrinsic religiosity but not overall religiosity. They also found that the higher the levels of spirituality the higher the quality of life, both overall and disease specific, and the lower the depression.


It should be pointed out that these results are correlational and as such causation cannot be concluded. It could be that the kinds of people who tend to adhere to medical recommendations are also the kinds of people who pursue spirituality. It will take a study where spirituality is manipulated to establish a causal connection.


These findings indicate that spirituality has very positive relationships with adherence and quality of life and negative relationship to depression in heart failure patients. Adherence is particularly significant. One of the biggest challenges in all of medicine is to get patients to actually take the prescribed medications, perform the recommended life style changes, and participate in the prescribed therapy sessions. So, increasing adherence is very important for increasing the likelihood of patients getting the full benefit of their medical recommendations. For heart failure patients this could literally be the difference between life and death. These findings, like many others, point to the importance of spirituality and intrinsic religiosity, but not simple participation in religion, in the health and well-being of the individual.


So, improve heart failure treatment adherence with spirituality.


“the link between improved health and spiritual wellbeing was at least partially explained by the role gratitude plays in spirituality. It seems that a more grateful heart is indeed a more healthy heart. Gratitude journaling is an easy way to support cardiac health.” –  Paul Mills


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


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Study Summary

Alvarez, J. S., Goldraich, L. A., Nunes, A. H., Zandavalli, M. C. B., Zandavalli, R. B., Belli, K. C., … Clausell, N. (2016). Association between Spirituality and Adherence to Management in Outpatients with Heart Failure. Arquivos Brasileiros de Cardiologia, 106(6), 491–501.



Background: Spirituality may influence how patients cope with their illness.

Objectives: We assessed whether spirituality may influence adherence to management of outpatients with heart failure.

Methods: Cross sectional study enrolling consecutive ambulatory heart failure patients in whom adherence to multidisciplinary treatment was evaluated. Patients were assessed for quality of life, depression, religiosity and spirituality utilizing validated questionnaires. Correlations between adherence and psychosocial variables of interest were obtained. Logistic regression models explored independent predictors of adherence.

Results: One hundred and thirty patients (age 60 ± 13 years; 67% male) were interviewed. Adequate adherence score was observed in 38.5% of the patients. Neither depression nor religiosity was correlated to adherence, when assessed separately. Interestingly, spirituality, when assessed by both total score sum (r = 0.26; p = 0.003) and by all specific domains, was positively correlated to adherence. Finally, the combination of spirituality, religiosity and personal beliefs was an independent predictor of adherence when adjusted for demographics, clinical characteristics and psychosocial instruments.

Conclusion: Spirituality, religiosity and personal beliefs were the only variables consistently associated with compliance to medication in a cohort of outpatients with heart failure. Our data suggest that adequately addressing these aspects on patient’s care may lead to an improvement in adherence patterns in the complex heart failure management.


Be a Better Parent with Self-Compassion

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“Parental depression negatively affects fathers’ and mothers’ caregiving, material support, and nurturance, and is associated with poor health and developmental outcomes for children of all ages, including prenatally. Depressed mothers are more likely than non-depressed mothers to have poor parenting skills and to have negative interactions with their children.” – Child Trends


Clinically diagnosed depression is the most common form of  mental illness, affecting over 6% of the population. In general, it involves feelings of sadness, emptiness or hopelessness, irritability or frustration, loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, sleep disturbances, tiredness and lack of energy, anxiety, agitation, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself for things that aren’t your responsibility, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide. Needless to say individuals with depression are miserable.


Depression does not occur in isolation. When an individual in a family is depressed it affects all of the members of the family. When it is a parent, it affects how the child is raised and what he/she experiences during the formative years. This can have long-lasting effects on the child. So, it is important to study how depression affects childrearing and the child and what are the factors that might mitigate or eliminate the effects of parental depression on the child.


A characteristic of western society is that many people don’t seem to like themselves.  The term used to describe this that I prefer is self-dislike. This is often highly associated with depression. Its opposite is self-compassion; being kind and understanding toward yourself in the face of inadequacies or short-comings. So, it would make sense to investigate the relationship of self-compassion with depression and child rearing. In today’s Research News article “Self-Compassion and Parenting in Mothers and Fathers with Depression.” See:

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:

Psychogiou and colleagues do just that. They recruited parents of young children (2-6 years of age) who were also suffering with depression. They measured them for depression, self-compassion, parental emotions, children’s internalizing and externalizing, and parental coping with children’s negative emotions.


They found that for both mothers and fathers, low levels of depression were significantly associated with high levels of self-compassion. Parenting ability was also associated with self-compassion, with mother who were high in self-compassion expressing fewer critical comments and more positive comments toward their children. In addition, parents who were high in self-compassion had fewer distressed reactions to their children’s behavior. High parental self-compassion was also significantly associated with the children having low internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Hence, depressed parents who have high levels of self-compassion are less critical of their children, responded better to their children’s behaviors, and produced less self-blame (internalizing) in their children.


These findings suggest that self-compassion may be to some extent an antidote to depression and to mitigate the effects of that depression on parenting. It would appear that if the parent is kind and understanding toward themselves it reduces their depression level and the kindness and understanding appears to transfer to their children producing more positive and productive parenting behaviors. But, the interpretation of these findings must be tempered as the results are correlational and as such do not demonstrate causation. Future studies should attempt to manipulate self-compassion and determine the effects of increasing it on depression and parenting. Since, mindfulness practices are known to increase self-compassion and improve caregiving and parenting, it would make sense to apply mindfulness training to depressed parents and observe its effects.


So, be a better parent with self-compassion.


“We are all used to working on our self-esteem by asking ourselves, “Am I being a good parent or a bad parent?” The problem is that having high self-esteem is contingent upon experiencing success. If we don’t meet our own standards, we feel terrible about ourselves. Self-compassion, in contrast, is not a way of judging ourselves positively or negatively. It is a way of relating to ourselves kindly and embracing ourselves as we are, flaws and all.” – Kristin Neff


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+


Study Summary

Psychogiou, L., Legge, K., Parry, E., Mann, J., Nath, S., Ford, T., & Kuyken, W. (2016). Self-Compassion and Parenting in Mothers and Fathers with Depression. Mindfulness, 7, 896–908.



Depression in parents impairs parenting and increases the risk of psychopathology among their children. Prevention and intervention could be informed by knowledge of the mechanisms that break the inter-generational transmission of psychopathology and build resilience in both parents and their children. We used data from two independent studies to examine whether higher levels of self-compassion were associated with better parenting and fewer emotional and behavioral problems in children of parents with a history of depression. Study 1 was a pilot trial of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy that included 38 parents with recurrent depression. Study 2 was a longitudinal study that consisted of 160 families, including 50 mothers and 40 fathers who had a history of depression. Families were followed up approximately 16 months after the first assessment (time 2; n = 106 families). In both studies, self-compassion was assessed with the Self-Compassion Scale. Parents reporting higher levels of self-compassion were more likely to attribute the cause of their children’s behavior to external factors, were less critical, and used fewer distressed reactions to cope with their children’s emotions. Parents’ self-compassion was longitudinally associated with children’s internalizing and externalizing problems, but these associations became nonsignificant after controlling for child gender, parent education, and depressive symptoms. Future larger scale and experimental designs need to examine whether interventions intended to increase self-compassion might reduce the use of negative parenting strategies and thereby the inter-generational transmission of psychopathology.


Permanently Improve Brain Dynamics with Meditation Practice

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“The nature of brain vs. mind vs. consciousness is a question that may remain unanswerable but the important thing to remember is to live in awareness of how interconnected each of these aspects of yourself really are. Using these tips, you will grow in self-awareness and strengthen your connections with the deepest parts of your consciousness.” – Operation-Meditation


We spend a tremendous amount of our time with our minds wandering and not on the task or the environment at hand. We daydream, plan for the future, review the past, ruminate on our failures, exalt in our successes. In fact, we spend almost half of our waking hours off task with our mind wandering. You’d think that if we spend so much time doing this it must be enjoyable. But, in fact research has shown that when our mind is wandering we are actually unhappy compared to when we are paying attention to what is at hand.


A system of the brain known as the Default Mode Network (DMN) becomes active during wind wandering and relatively quiet during focused on task behavior. It is involved when we are engaged in internally focused tasks such as recalling deeply personal memories, daydreaming, sleeping, imagining the future and trying to take the perspective of others. The DMN involves neural structures including the medial prefrontal cortex, anterior and posterior cingulate cortices, precuneus, inferior parietal cortex, and lateral temporal cortex. These areas of the DMN are functionally connected, such that they are simultaneously active during mind wandering.


Meditation is known to reduce the size and activity of the Default Mode Network (DMN) through a process known as neuroplasticity where the size and connectivity of neural structures are modified by experience. In today’s Research News article “Temporal Dynamics of the Default Mode Network Characterize Meditation-Induced Alterations in Consciousness.” See:

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:

Panda and colleagues further investigate the effects of meditation on the DMN. They recruited male experienced meditators with over 20 years of daily meditation experience and a matched group of non-meditators. They then simultaneously measured brain activity with both functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (f-MRI) and with electroencephalography (EEG) both while the participants were at rest and during meditation.


They found that the meditators in comparison to the non-meditators had reduced connectivity of the posterior cingulate cortex that was further reduced during meditation. The posterior cingulate cortex is a key structure of the DMN. This suggests that meditation reduces the ability of the DMN to produce mind wandering. They also found increased connectivity in the middle frontal and middle temporal gyri that increased further during meditation. These are both structures associated with focused attention. These effects suggest that meditation experience increases the activity of the attentional system while decreasing the activity of the mind wandering system.


Panda and colleagues analyzed the electroencephalography (EEG) signals recorded simultaneously with the functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (f-MRI) characterizing periods of stable activity over brief periods of time called microstates. They found that meditators had these stable states more often and for longer periods of time both at rest and during meditation. The more years of meditation practice the greater the increased stability in the DMN. With the non-meditators these stable states in the DMN occurred more frequently and for longer periods during meditation. These findings suggest that meditation increases stability of the DMN and extensive meditation experience permanently alters the DMN to be more stable all of the time.


These findings suggest that meditation reduced the activity of the Default Mode Network (DMN) briefly during meditation or permanently with experience with meditation. This further suggests that meditation experience permanently alters the tendency for the mind to wander both during meditation and also at rest. The studies of the alterations of the nervous system with meditation suggest that the changes in the states of consciousness seen with meditation are reflected in changes in the underlying neural systems, producing great focus and less mind wandering.


So, permanently improve brain dynamics with meditation practice.


“we do know that meditation is a tool that can change brain activity to bring it closer to this optimal, high-performance brain wave pattern. Subjective experiences of meditators with this optimal brain wave pattern reveal that they experience bliss in this state.” – Shanida Nataraja


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+


Study Summary

Panda, R., Bharath, R. D., Upadhyay, N., Mangalore, S., Chennu, S., & Rao, S. L. (2016). Temporal Dynamics of the Default Mode Network Characterize Meditation-Induced Alterations in Consciousness. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10, 372.


Current research suggests that human consciousness is associated with complex, synchronous interactions between multiple cortical networks. In particular, the default mode network (DMN) of the resting brain is thought to be altered by changes in consciousness, including the meditative state. However, it remains unclear how meditation alters the fast and ever-changing dynamics of brain activity within this network. Here we addressed this question using simultaneous electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare the spatial extents and temporal dynamics of the DMN during rest and meditation. Using fMRI, we identified key reductions in the posterior cingulate hub of the DMN, along with increases in right frontal and left temporal areas, in experienced meditators during rest and during meditation, in comparison to healthy controls (HCs). We employed the simultaneously recorded EEG data to identify the topographical microstate corresponding to activation of the DMN. Analysis of the temporal dynamics of this microstate revealed that the average duration and frequency of occurrence of DMN microstate was higher in meditators compared to HCs. Both these temporal parameters increased during meditation, reflecting the state effect of meditation. In particular, we found that the alteration in the duration of the DMN microstate when meditators entered the meditative state correlated negatively with their years of meditation experience. This reflected a trait effect of meditation, highlighting its role in producing durable changes in temporal dynamics of the DMN. Taken together, these findings shed new light on short and long-term consequences of meditation practice on this key brain network.

Improve Elderly Cancer Survivors’ Health with Tai Chi


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“A growing body of carefully conducted research is building a compelling case for tai chi as an adjunct to standard medical treatment for the prevention and rehabilitation of many conditions commonly associated with age.” – Peter M. Wayne


Modern medicine has markedly improved the treatments for cancer. But, unfortunately, these treatments themselves can be difficult on the patient and produce great discomfort and suffering. In addition, if the treatment is successful, the cancer survivor is left with a whole different set of challenges. Fatigue accompanies cancer and its treatment in from half to all cancer patients depending upon the type of cancer and treatment regimen. The lasting impact of the cancer and its treatment are particularly evident and dangerous for the elderly. “Senior cancer survivors are a particularly vulnerable population because they have an increased risk for the development or progression of chronic diseases (e.g., cardiovascular, hypertension, stroke, Type 2 diabetes mellitus, arthritis, etc). . .  In senior cancer survivors, this is highly relevant as twice as many deaths occur as a result of chronic diseases other than cancer, with cardiovascular disease emerging as a leading cause of death” (Campo et al. 2016).


Tai Chi has been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevity. Tai Chi training is designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. Only recently though have the effects of Tai Chi practice been scrutinized with empirical research. It has revealed that it is effective for an array of physical and psychological issues. It appears to strengthen the immune systemreduce inflammation and increase the number of cancer killing cells in the bloodstream. All of these effects suggest that Tai Chi may be effective for elderly cancer survivors.


In today’s Research News article “Blood Pressure, Salivary Cortisol, and Inflammatory Cytokine Outcomes in Senior Female Cancer Survivors Enrolled in a Tai Chi Chih Randomized Controlled Trial.” See:

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:

Campo and colleagues examine the effectiveness of Tai Chi practice to improve the health of elderly (>= 55 yrs.) female cancer survivors. The women were randomly assigned to receive 12 weeks of Tai Chi practice or Health Education for one hour three times per week. They were measured before and after training for blood pressure, salivary cortisol levels, and inflammatory cytokines. Campo and colleagues found that the Tai Chi group had a significantly greater reduction in systolic blood pressure (12%) and salivary cortisol levels (24%), but not inflammatory cytokines, than the Health Education group.


These are excellent findings. The fact that Tai Chi improved systolic blood pressure suggests that it improved cardiovascular health. This is particularly significant as cardiovascular disease is the greatest threat to the longevity of these vulnerable patients. The fact that Tai Chi reduced the salivary cortisol levels, an indicator of stress, suggests that Tai Chi reduced the levels of physiological stress in these patients which is also associated with decreased health and longevity. Hence, Tai Chi practice lowers chronic illness risk factors in elderly female cancer survivors.


It is known that exercise lowers cardiovascular and stress related risk factors and Tai Chi is a gentle exercise. This may be responsible for its effectiveness. Mindfulness practice is also known to reduce these risk factors. So, it is also possible that this is the reason for the effectiveness of Tai Chi practice. Regardless, Tai Chi is an almost perfect practice for elderly cancer survivors. It is gentle, has virtually no adverse side effects, and can be practiced in groups or alone at home at very low cost.


So, improve elderly cancer survivors’ health with tai chi.


“The gentle approach makes tai chi an ideal physical and mental exercise for cancer patients. The world of cancer treatment is filled with messages that tell patients to fight a war against their cancer, which can make them feel at war with their own bodies. Tai chi is particularly beneficial for anyone affected by cancer because it teaches people to respond peacefully and mindfully to forces out of their control.”Michelle Whitmer


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+


Study Summary

Campo, R. A., Light, K. C., O’Connor, K., Nakamura, Y., Lipschitz, D., LaStayo, P. C., … Kinney, A. Y. (2015). Blood Pressure, Salivary Cortisol, and Inflammatory Cytokine Outcomes in Senior Female Cancer Survivors Enrolled in a Tai Chi Chih Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Cancer Survivorship : Research and Practice, 9(1), 115–125.


Purpose: Older cancer survivors are a vulnerable population due to an increased risk for chronic diseases (e.g., cardiovascular disease) compounded with treatment late-effects and declines in physical functioning. Therefore, interventions that reduce chronic disease risk factors (i.e., blood pressure, chronic inflammation, & cortisol) are important in this population. Tai Chi Chih (TCC) is a mind-body exercise associated with reductions in chronic disease risk factors, but has not been examined with older cancer survivors. In a feasibility randomized controlled trial of TCC, we examined secondary outcomes of blood pressure, salivary cortisol, and inflammatory cytokines (interleukin (IL)-6, IL-12, tumor necrosis factor-α, IL-10, IL-4) due to their implications in chronic diseases.

Methods: Sixty-three senior female cancer survivors (Mage=67 years, SD=7.15) with physical functioning limitations (SF-12 physical functioning≤80 or role-physical≤72) were randomized to 12-weeks (60-minutes, three times a week) of TCC or Health Education control (HEC) classes. Resting blood pressure, 1-day salivary cortisol samples, and fasting plasma samples for cytokine multiplex assays were collected at baseline and 1-week post-intervention.

Results: Controlling for baseline values, the TCC group had significantly lower systolic blood pressure (SBP,p=0.002) and cortisol area-under-curve (AUC, p=0.02) at post-intervention than the HEC group. There was no intervention effect on inflammatory cytokines (p’s>0.05).

Conclusions: This TCC feasibility trial was associated with significant reductions in SBP and cortisol AUC in senior female cancer survivors. Larger, definitive trials are needed to confirm these findings.


Improve Type II Diabetes with Yoga Therapy

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.



“many people who practice yoga report a deep sense of relaxation, substantially increased flexibility and blood and oxygen supply after regular classes—regardless of aerobic exercise. In addition, some reports suggest that because yoga can decrease stress, it may be helpful in controlling glucose levels in people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes.” – Jacqueline Shahar


Diabetes is a major health issue. It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States have diabetes and the numbers are growing. Type 2 diabetes is a common and increasingly prevalent illness that is largely preventable. Although this has been called adult-onset diabetes it is increasingly being diagnosed in children. One of the reasons for the increasing incidence of Type 2 Diabetes is its association with overweight and obesity which is becoming epidemic in the industrialized world.


Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. In addition, diabetes is heavily associated with other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, and circulatory problems leading to amputations. As a result, diabetes doubles the risk of death of any cause compared to individuals of the same age without diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes results from a resistance of tissues, especially fat tissues, to the ability of insulin to promote the uptake of glucose from the blood. As a result, blood sugar levels rise producing hyperglycemia.


A leading cause of this tissue resistance to insulin is overweight and obesity and a sedentary life style. Unlike Type I Diabetes, Type II does not require insulin injections. Instead, the treatment and prevention of Type 2 Diabetes focuses on diet, exercise, and weight control. Recently, mindfulness practices have been shown to be helpful in managing diabetes.

A mindfulness practice that combines mindfulness with exercise is yoga and it has been shown to be helpful in the treatment of Type II Diabetes. Yoga practice is primarily provided in groups where everyone performs exactly the same postures, body scans, and meditation. Yoga Therapy, on the other hand, is a method of applying yoga practice for the treatment of mental and physical conditions that is customized to the individuals’ needs.


In today’s Research News article “Impact of individualized yoga therapy on perceived quality of life performance on cognitive tasks and depression among Type II diabetic patients.” See:

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:

Satish and Lakshmi apply yoga therapy, individualized practice, to the treatment of Type II Diabetes. Patients with Type II diabetes were recruited and assessed before and after yoga therapy treatment for diabetes quality of life, depression, cognitive ability, and postprandial blood sugar, fasting blood sugar, and glycosylated hemoglobin (HBA1c). Participants received yoga therapy in 12 individualized sessions over 3 months, including postures, breathing exercises, chants, and diet advice.


They found that following yoga therapy the patients showed significantly reduced depression levels and frequencies of depression and improvements in cognition, including improved attentional inhibition of irrelevant information and short-term memory. The patients with diabetes also showed lower fasting blood sugar levels. In addition, the patients reported improved quality of life, including better sleep quality, lower craving for food, and improved subjective well-being.


These results are encouraging and clearly demonstrates that yoga therapy is effective in treating Type II diabetes. There are a number of possible mechanism of how yoga could produce these positive effects including the fact that yoga practice involves physical exercise and exercise has been repeatedly found to be beneficial for Type 2 Diabetes patients. Yoga may also act by reducing body weight and body fat, improving the management of stress, reducing physiological activation by the nervous system, or through encouraging a generally healthier lifestyle. But it is unclear if the individualized yoga therapy is superior to group yoga practice. Future research is needed to compare the effectiveness of the two.


So, improve type ii diabetes with yoga therapy.


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


“there’s nothing to fret about because the condition can be controlled with a little awareness and care. Good food, regular exercise, and a few minutes of yoga practice everyday – the three golden rules to remember if you are a diabetic.” –  Art of Living


This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+


Study Summary

Latha Satish, V Subbu Lakshmi. Impact of individualized yoga therapy on perceived quality of life performance on cognitive tasks and depression among Type II diabetic patients. Int J Yoga. 2016 Jul-Dec; 9(2): 130–136. doi: 10.4103/0973-6131.183707



Context: An individualized approach of providing yoga support can address many of the disease-related concerns indicated in the management of diabetes, specifically the impact on other life activities and long-term functional wellbeing.

Aim: To analyze the role of regular yoga practice as a self-management approach to achieve glycemic control and psychological wellbeing in Type II diabetic patients.

Methods: Ninety-one subjects of both sexes responded to the announcement and consented to participate in the study. This was a single group, before and after yoga evaluation without control comparison. The fasting and postprandial blood sugar, glycosylated hemoglobin (HBA1c), cognitive tasks, depression, cognitive failure, and diabetic-related quality of life (QOL) were measured as pretest. The subjects underwent one-to-one individualized yoga therapy sessions, which included 12 supervised sessions spread over a 3-month period. The posttest data were analyzed using paired t-test and Wilcoxon paired rank test.

Results: Showed significant reduction in fasting blood sugar. QOL of the diabetic patients had improved significantly. There was a significant reduction in the frequency (mean difference of 7.58, P > 0.01) of depressive symptoms and intensity of depression (mean difference 1.66, P > 0.05). Concentration and attention span improved significantly and mean discrepancy score reduced (mean difference 3.42, P > 0.01). There were no marked changes in the postprandial blood sugar and HBA1c.

Conclusion: Yoga practice enhances the subjective wellbeing, QOL, improves mood and concentration, and facilitates achievement of adequate glycemic control among Type II diabetic patients.