Psychedelic Drugs Produce Mystical Spiritual Experiences

Psychedelic Drugs Produce Mystical Spiritual Experiences

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mystical experiences can be deeply transforming and powerful tools of spiritual evolution. Traditionally considered to be restricted to religious-based epiphanies and available only to a small few who were deserving enough to be addressed by their god or gods, in these times of mass awakening, they are but a wholesome, intentional psychedelic experience away.” – Xavier Francuski

 

Psychedelic substances such as peyote, mescaline, LSD, Bufotoxin, ayahuasca and psilocybin have been used almost since the beginning of recorded history to alter consciousness and produce spiritually meaningful experiences. Psychedelics produce effects that are similar to those that are reported in spiritual awakenings. They report a loss of the personal self, a decentering. They experience what they used to refer to as the self as just a part of an integrated whole. They report feeling interconnected with everything else in a sense of oneness with all things. They experience a feeling of timelessness where time seems to stop and everything is taking place in a single present moment. They experience ineffability, being unable to express in words what they are experiencing and as a result sometimes producing paradoxical statements. And they experience a positive mood, with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

 

It is easy to see why people find these experiences so pleasant and eye opening. They often report that the experiences changed them forever. Even though the effects of psychedelic substances have been experienced and reported on for centuries, only very recently have these effects come under rigorous scientific scrutiny.

 

In today’s Research News article “Intensity of Mystical Experiences Occasioned by 5-MeO-DMT and Comparison With a Prior Psilocybin Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02459/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_847629_69_Psycho_20181211_arts_A ), Barsuglia and colleagues compare the investigate the ability of Bufotoxin (5-MeO-DMT) to produce spiritual experiences. They recruited participants in a psychospiritual retreat in Baha Mexico. The participants were administered 50 mg of vaporized bufotoxin, estimated to contain 5–7 mg of 5-MeO-DMT “The bufotoxin was obtained from wild toads in the Sonoran Desert, Mexico.” Four to six hours after the experience they were administered a questionnaire on mystical experiences.

 

They found that the 5-MeO-DMT produced mystical experience equivalent to those produced by high, but not moderate or low, doses of Psilocybin including unitive experiences, noetic quality, and sacredness, positive mood, transcendence of time/space, and ineffability. Hence, Bufotoxin containing 5-MeO-DMT appears to have the same psychospiritual benefits as Psilocybin but at lower doses. It also appears to have very low addictive qualities, suggesting that it may be an excellent agent when therapy with psychedelic substances is called for.

 

The use of psychedelic substances is extremely controversial and for the most part illegal. But the present findings suggest that at least under controlled circumstances, they may have positive effects on the individual and their spirituality. It is interesting that these substances produce experiences that are very similar to those reported in awakening (enlightenment) experiences. This raises the possibility that these experiences are triggered by changes produced in the brain’s chemistry induced by spiritual practices. Much more research is needed to examine this speculation.

 

“It is fairly common for people who were initially skeptical of religions and spirituality prior to working with psychedelics to report that psychedelic experiences have increased their openness toward spirituality, sometimes even leading them to a specific spiritual path or religion.” – David Wilder

 

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

 

Barsuglia J, Davis AK, Palmer R, Lancelotta R, Windham-Herman A-M, Peterson K, Polanco M, Grant R and Griffiths RR (2018) Intensity of Mystical Experiences Occasioned by 5-MeO-DMT and Comparison With a Prior Psilocybin Study. Front. Psychol. 9:2459. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02459

 

5-MeO-DMT is a psychoactive substance found in high concentrations in the bufotoxin of the Colorado River Toad (Bufo alvarius). Emerging evidence suggests that vaporized 5-MeO-DMT may occasion mystical experiences of comparable intensity to those occasioned by more widely studied psychedelics such as psilocybin, but no empirical study has tested this hypothesis. Data was obtained from 20 individuals (Mage = 38.9, ± 10.7; male = 55%, Caucasian = 85%) who were administered 5-MeO-DMT as part of a psychospiritual retreat program in Mexico. All participants received 50 mg of inhaled vaporized toad bufotoxin which contains 5-MeO-DMT and completed the Mystical Experience Questionnaire (MEQ30) approximately 4–6 h after their session. Administration of 5-MeO-DMT occasioned strong mystical experiences (MEQ30 Overall Mintensity = 4.17, ± 0.64, range 0–5) and the majority (n = 15, 75%) had “a complete mystical experience” (≥60% on all MEQ30 subscales). Compared to a prior laboratory-based psilocybin study, there were no differences in the intensity of mystical effects between 5-MeO-DMT and a high dose (30 mg/70 kg) of psilocybin, but the intensity of mystical effects was significantly higher in the 5-MeO-DMT sample compared to moderate/high dose (20 mg/70 kg) of psilocybin (MEQ30 Total Score: p = 0.02, d = 0.81). Administration of vaporized 5-MeO-DMT reliably occasioned complete mystical experiences in 75% of individuals and was similar in intensity to high dose psilocybin administered in a laboratory setting. The short duration of action may be advantageous for clinical interventions and for studying mystical-type experiences.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02459/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_847629_69_Psycho_20181211_arts_A

 

Improve Glaucoma with Meditation

Improve Glaucoma with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“a relaxation program with meditation can lower IOP (intraocular pressure) in glaucoma patients and improve their quality of life by lowering stress hormones like cortisol.” – Tanuj Dada

 

Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that is the leading cause of blindness in people over 60 years of age, although it can occur at younger ages. It affects over 65 million people worldwide and over 3 million Americans. It involves an abnormally high pressure in the eye that if untreated produces permanent damage to the retina and the optic nerve. It often occurs without other symptoms and can only be detected with measurement of intraocular pressure. Treatments are designed to prevent further damage by lowering intraocular pressure and may involve eyedrops, drugs, laser treatment or surgery. “These therapies are costly and have ocular and systemic side effects that can adversely affect the health-related quality of life of glaucoma patients.”

 

Mindfulness training is known to be able to lower blood pressure. So, it is possible that meditation practice may be useful in the treatment of glaucoma. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Intraocular Pressure, Lowers Stress Biomarkers and Modulates Gene Expression in Glaucoma: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://eyewire.news/articles/study-meditation-an-effective-therapy-to-reduce-eye-pressure-in-primary-open-angle-glaucoma/), Dada and colleagues recruited patients with open-angle Glaucoma who were being treated with prescription eye drops and randomly assigned them to either receive a 3 week, once a day for 60 minutes, program of meditation and yogic breathing exercises or to a wait-list control condition. They were measured before and after treatment for intraocular pressure, quality of life, stress-related serum biomarkers [cortisol, β-endorphins, IL6, TNF-α, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, reactive oxygen species, total antioxidant capacity], and whole genome expression.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control that the Glaucoma patients who meditated had significantly lower intraocular pressure and stress-related serum biomarkers and significantly improved quality of life.  Additionally, meditation significantly reduced the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol levels and increased the levels of beta-endorphins and brain-derived neurotrophic factors and reduced the levels of the pro-inflammatory markers, interleukins. In addition, the greater the decrease in intraocular pressure the greater the improvements in quality of life and the stress-related serum biomarkers. These changes correlated well with gene expression profiling.

 

These are exciting results that suggest that meditation may be a safe and effective treatment for Glaucoma. The reduction in intraocular pressure may reduce further damage to the optic nerve and help to preserve the remaining vision of the patients. Further the reduction in stress hormones and inflammation suggests an overall improvement in the patient’s health.

 

Meditation appears to produce these benefits by reducing the physiological responses to stress. This makes sense as stress has been shown to be highly related to the development of Glaucoma and mindfulness practices are well known to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. The authors speculate that the relaxation produced by meditation and yogic breathing exercises is responsible for the benefits. Regardless of the mechanism, the findings indicate that meditation practice may be a treatment to slow further visual degeneration and improve the lives of Glaucoma sufferers,

 

So, improve glaucoma with meditation.

 

“When scientists asked 45 glaucoma patients to try mindfulness meditation for an hour a day for three weeks they discovered that the pressure in their eyes lowered by 25 per cent  compared to patients who stuck to eye drops.” Sarah Knapton

 

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

 

Dada, Tanuj, Mittal, Deepti, Mohanty, Kuldeep, Faiq, Muneeb A., Bhat, Muzaffer A., Yadav, Raj K., Sihota, Ramanjit, Sidhu, Talvir, Velpandian, Thirumurthy, Kalaivani, Mani, Pandey, Ravindra M., Gao, Ying, Sabel, Bernhard A., Dada, Rima. Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Intraocular Pressure, Lowers Stress Biomarkers and Modulates Gene Expression in Glaucoma: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Glaucoma: December 2018 – Volume 27 – Issue 12 – p 1061–1067. doi: 10.1097/IJG.0000000000001088

 

Background: Reducing intraocular pressure (IOP) in primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) is currently the only approach to prevent further optic nerve head damage. However, other mechanisms such as ischemia, oxidative stress, glutamate excitotoxicity, neurotrophin loss, inflammation/glial activation, and vascular dysregulation are not addressed. Because stress is a key risk factor affecting these mechanisms, we evaluated whether mindfulness-based stress reduction can lower IOP and normalize typical stress biomarkers.

Materials and Methods: In a prospective, randomized trial 90 POAG patients (180 eyes; age above 45 y) were assigned to a waitlist control or mindfulness meditation group which practiced daily for 21 days. We measured IOP (primary endpoint), quality of life (QOL), stress-related serum biomarkers [cortisol, β-endorphins, IL6, TNF-α, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), reactive oxygen species (ROS), total antioxidant capacity (TAC)], and whole genome expression.

Results: Between-group comparisons revealed significantly lowered IOP in meditators (OD: 18.8 to 12.7, OS 19.0 to 13.1 mm Hg) which correlated with significantly lowered stress-biomarker levels including cortisol (497.3 to 392.3 ng/mL), IL6 (2.8 to 1.5 ng/mL), TNF-α (57.1 to 45.4 pg/mL), ROS (1625 to 987 RLU/min/104 neutrophils), and elevated β-endorphins (38.4 to 52.7 pg/mL), BDNF (56.1 to 83.9 ng/mL), and TAC (5.9 to 9.3) (all P<0.001). These changes correlated well with gene expression profiling. Meditators improved in QOL (P<0.05).

Conclusions: A short course of mindfulness-based stress reduction by meditation in POAG, reduces IOP, improves QOL, normalizes stress biomarkers, and positively modifies gene expression. Mindfulness meditation can be recommended as adjunctive therapy for POAG.

https://eyewire.news/articles/study-meditation-an-effective-therapy-to-reduce-eye-pressure-in-primary-open-angle-glaucoma/

 

Improve Type 2 Diabetes with Yoga Practice

Improve Type 2 Diabetes with Yoga Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Yoga can do more than just relax your body in mind — especially if you’re living with diabetes. Certain poses may help lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels while also improving circulation, leading many experts to recommend yoga for diabetes management.” – HealthLine

 

Diabetes is a major health issue. It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States and nearly 600 million people worldwide have diabetes and the numbers are growing. Type II 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. 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 is a common and increasingly prevalent illness that is largely preventable. 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. A leading cause of this is 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.

 

In today’s Research News article “Therapeutic Role of Yoga in Type 2 Diabetes.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6145966/ ), Raveendran and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the effectiveness of yoga practice for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. They report that the research suggests that yoga practice produces beneficial changes in the behavior, psychology, and physiology of patients with Type 2 diabetes.

 

People with Type 2 diabetes who practice yoga have been shown to improve their diets, engage in greater levels of exercise, and develop greater tolerance for exercise. This is important as improved diet and greater exercise have been shown to improve Type 2 diabetes. The practitioners also feel better psychologically, with improved mood, greater quality of life and reduced perceived stress levels.

 

On the physiological level people with Type 2 diabetes who practice yoga show reductions in body weight which is important for reducing insulin resistance. They have improved cardiovascular function, including reduced heart rate and blood pressure and improved blood fat profiles. Yoga practice with diabetes has also been shown to strengthen the immune system, reduce stress hormones, and reduce the inflammatory response. Practitioners also show autonomic nervous system changes including increased parasympathetic and reduce sympathetic activity, producing enhanced physiological relaxation. Finally, yoga practice has been shown to increase insulin secretion and reduce insulin resistance.

 

The studies, though, are often of weak research design either lacking in a control condition or not having an active control condition for appropriate comparison and with weak statistical analysis. The studies are often of short duration without follow-up measures to verify the longevity of the benefits. There are also present uncontrolled confounding factors such as selection bias, subject expectancy effects, and experimenter bias effects. Hence, the research is encouraging, but not definitive that yoga practice is greatly beneficial for the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes. More and better research is needed.

 

So, improve Type 2 Diabetes with yoga practice.

 

“I recommend yoga primarily for stress management. Stress elevates blood sugar, which can lead to more diabetes complications. Yoga helps us center ourselves, and centering calms us and can help keep blood sugar levels balanced.” – Janet Zappe

 

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

Raveendran, A. V., Deshpandae, A., & Joshi, S. R. (2018). Therapeutic Role of Yoga in Type 2 Diabetes. Endocrinology and metabolism (Seoul, Korea), 33(3), 307-317.

 

Abstract

Yoga originated in India more than 5,000 years ago and is a means of balancing and harmonizing the body, mind, and emotions. Yoga practice is useful in the management of various lifestyle diseases, including type 2 diabetes. Psycho-neuro-endocrine and immune mechanisms are involved in the beneficial effects of yoga on diabetes. Incorporation of yoga practice in daily life helps to attain glycaemic control and reduces the risk of complications in people with diabetes. In this review, we briefly describe the role of various yoga practices in the management of diabetes based on evidence from various clinical studies.

 

CONCLUSIONS

Yoga therapy is relevant for wellness, as well as for illness. The latest scientific evidence suggests the potential role of yoga-based lifestyle modifications in the management of type 2 diabetes and its associated risk factors. It is suggested that psychoneuro-endocrine and immune mechanisms have holistic effects in diabetes control. Parasympathetic activation and the associated anti-stress mechanisms improve patients’ overall metabolic and psychological profiles, increase insulin sensitivity, and improve glucose tolerance and lipid metabolism. Yoga practices such as cleansing processes, asanas, pranayama, mudras, bandha, meditation, mindfulness, and relaxation are known to reduce blood glucose levels and to help in the management of comorbid disease conditions associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus, resulting in significant positive clinical outcomes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6145966/

 

Relieve Burnout in Practicing Psychologists with Mindful Self-Compassion Training

Relieve Burnout in Practicing Psychologists with Mindful Self-Compassion Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness interventions in the workplace target workplace functioning: reducing stress and improving decision-making, productivity, resilience, interpersonal communication, organizational relationships, perspective-taking, and self-care,”– M. Janssen

 

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. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. 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. It not only affects the healthcare providers personally, but also the patients, as it produces a loss of empathy and compassion. Burnout, in fact, it is a threat to the entire healthcare system as it contributes to the shortage of doctors and nurses.

 

Preventing burnout has to be a priority. Unfortunately, it is beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress and prevent burnout, so it is important that methods be found to reduce the individual’s responses to stress; to make the individual more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Contemplative practices have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep. Mindfulness is also known to improve self-compassion, understanding one’s own suffering. It is possible that this may be a key to understanding mindfulness’ effects on burnout.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindful Self-Compassion Training Reduces Stress and Burnout Symptoms Among Practicing Psychologists: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Brief Web-Based Intervention.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02340/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_847629_69_Psycho_20181211_arts_A ), Eriksson and colleagues recruited practicing psychologists and randomly assigned them a wait list control condition or to receive mindful self-compassion training online for 6 weeks of 15 minute per day for 6 days per week. The program consisted of mindfulness exercises and compassion-focused exercises with 6 components, “(1) Kind attention, (2) Kind awareness, (3) Loving kindness with oneself and others, (4) Self-compassion—part 1, (5) Self-compassion—part 2, (6) Compassion with others and Quiet Practice.” The participants were measured before and after training for mindfulness, self-compassion, perceived stress, and burnout.

 

They found that compared to baseline and the wait-list control group, the group receiving mindful self-compassion training had significantly higher mindfulness and self-compassion and significantly lower self-coldness, perceived stress and burnout symptoms including fatigue, weariness, tension, and listlessness. They also found that the greater the change in self-compassion the greater the reduction in perceived stress and burnout. This suggests that improvements in self-compassion are an important consequence of mindfulness training in reducing burnout.

 

The fact that the program was delivered online and only involved 15 minutes per day is important for the engagement of busy professionals. This resulted in about 4 out of 5 psychologists successfully completing the program. Importantly, the observed sizes of the effects of the training were comparable to those seen in studies employing face-to-face training. Hence, offering the program online appeared to have the major advantages of convenience and wide availability without reducing effectiveness.

 

These results suggest that mindful self-compassion training delivered online is effective in reducing the symptoms of burnout in practicing psychologists. This should not only relieve the suffering of the psychologists but also make them more effective in relieving the suffering of their clients.

 

So, relieve burnout in practicing psychologists with mindful self-compassion training.

 

Self-compassion enhances our careers by increasing our motivation,16 encouraging us to take risks without fear of failure, to persist despite obstacles; it fosters personal growth, and even reduces medical errors.” – Laurie Keefer

 

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

 

Eriksson T, Germundsjö L, Åström E and Rönnlund M (2018) Mindful Self-Compassion Training Reduces Stress and Burnout Symptoms Among Practicing Psychologists: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Brief Web-Based Intervention. Front. Psychol. 9:2340. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02340

 

Objective: The aims of this study were (a) to examine the effects of a 6 weeks web-based mindful self-compassion program on stress and burnout symptoms in a group of practicing psychologists, and (b) to examine relationships between changes in self-compassion and self-coldness and changes in stress and burnout symptoms.

Method: In a randomized controlled trial, 101 practicing psychologists were assigned to a training group (n = 51) or a wait-list control group (n = 49). The training encompassed 15 min exercises per day, 6 days a week, for 6 weeks. The participants completed the Self-Compassion Scale (SCS), the Five Facets of Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), and the Shirom Melamed Burnout Questionnaire (SMBQ) pre and post intervention.

Results: Eighty-one participants (n = 40 in the training group, n = 41 in the control group) took part in the pre and post intervention assessments. Selective gains for the intervention group were observed for SCS total scores (d = 0.86; d = 0.94 for the SCS), FFMQ scores (d = 0.60), while levels of self-coldness was reduced (d = 0.73). Critically, levels of perceived stress (d = 0.59) and burnout symptoms (d = 0.44 for SMBQ total) were additionally lowered post intervention. Finally, the results confirmed the hypothesis that the measures of distress would be more strongly related to self-coldness than self-compassion, a pattern seen in cross-sectional analyses and, for burnout, also in the longitudinal analyses.

Conclusions: This training program appeared effective to increase self-compassion/reduce self-coldness, and to alleviate stress and symptoms of burnout and provide support of the distinction between self-compassion and self-coldness. Additional studies, preferably three-armed RCTs with long-term follow-up, are warranted to further evaluate the effectiveness of the program.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02340/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_847629_69_Psycho_20181211_arts_A

 

Orienting Attention is Associated with Mindfulness

Orienting Attention is Associated with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness is about developing and applying the skills that support alert, observant experience; with regular practice its benefits can begin now and accrue over time.” – Deborah Schoeberlein

 

One of the primary effects of mindfulness training is an improvement in the ability to pay attention to the task at hand and ignore interfering stimuli. This is an important consequence of mindfulness training and produces improvements in thinking, reasoning, and creativity. The importance of heightened attentional ability to the individual’s ability to navigate the demands of complex modern life cannot be overstated. It helps in school, at work, in relationships, or simply driving a car.

 

Attention is a complex skill that actually involves a number of skills including alerting, orienting, and preventing interference. It is not known which of these skills, or which combinations of these skills are affected by mindfulness.  In today’s Research News article “Dispositional Mindfulness and Attentional Control: The Specific Association Between the Mindfulness Facets of Non-judgment and Describing With Flexibility of Early Operating Orienting in Conflict Detection.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02359/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_847629_69_Psycho_20181211_arts_A ), Sørensen and colleagues recruited college students and administered a questionnaire that measured mindfulness. The participants then performed a flanker task, a test that measures attention including alerting, orienting, and preventing interference. In this task the participant has to respond to the direction of an arrow, when it is surrounded by distracting arrows that point either in the same (congruent) or opposite (incongruent) directions. Sometimes there are signals ahead of time indicating whether it’s a congruent or incongruent trial.

 

They found that the higher the levels of either of the mindfulness facets of non-judging and describing the lower the levels of orienting to conflict detection. They also found that the higher the levels of the mindfulness facets of non-judging and describing the faster the reaction times when a spatial cue signaled an incongruent flanker, suggesting a heightened ability to disengage from invalid cues to re-direct attention and detect incongruent flanker conflicts.

 

This study is correlational and as such no conclusions about causation can or should be reached. But the results suggest a clear relationship between mindfulness and the orienting component of attention. In particular, the association is with the describing and non-judging facets of mindfulness. This suggests that being able to accurately characterize what is observed without judging it allows for efficient orienting attention while ignoring distractions. As the authors state “This indicates that higher tendencies to be in a mindful state associates with more flexible attention orienting in everyday life. This flexible orienting makes it easier to disengage from salient stimuli/information that is irrelevant for goal-directed behavior.”

 

These results combined with previous findings that mindfulness training can improve attention suggests that it is not all components of attention that are affected, but those that direct orienting to an object of attention, ignoring other distracting environmental stimuli. It is this improvement in attention that is important for the benefits of mindfulness.

 

“The practice of mindfulness can be incorporated into a daily routine of simply paying attention, or taken to a deep level of mindful mediation. Daily mindfulness is accomplished when we attentively check-in with our selves, consciously being aware of the senses: sights, tastes, smells, touch and sounds. This also includes awareness of how it makes us feel; happy, sad, melancholy, invigorated etc. . . .The benefits of practice mindfulness range from a more complete experience in life to fine-tuning thought  patterns that ultimately give a higher sense of control and awareness.” – Lynn Soots

 

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

 

Sørensen L, Osnes B, Visted E, Svendsen JL, Adolfsdottir S, Binder P-E and Schanche E (2018) Dispositional Mindfulness and Attentional Control: The Specific Association Between the Mindfulness Facets of Non-judgment and Describing With Flexibility of Early Operating Orienting in Conflict Detection. Front. Psychol. 9:2359. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02359

 

Background: A state of mindfulness refers to a present-centered attentional awareness without judging. Being mindful seems to increase the ability to be flexible and adaptive in attention focus according to situational contingencies. The way mindfulness affects such attentional control is often measured with three different but interacting attentional networks of alerting (preparedness), orienting (selection of stimulus), and conflict detection (suppression of irrelevant stimuli). In the current study, the aim was to study the effects of dispositional mindfulness on these attention networks, and specifically the effects on the interactions between these attention networks.

Methods: Fifty participants between 19 and 29 years old filled out the questionnaire Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) and performed the revised version of the Attention Network Test (ANT-R). The five FFMQ facets of Describing, Non-Judgment, Orienting, Non-Reactivity, and Acting with Awareness were included as predictors in multiple linear regression analyses with the ANT-R scores of alerting, orienting, conflict detection, and the interaction scores of alerting by conflict detection and orienting by conflict detection as outcome variables, respectively.

Results: Higher dispositional mindfulness as measured with the five FFMQ facets predicted interaction scores (faster reaction times) of orienting by conflict detection, but none of the other ANT-R scores. It was specifically the FFMQ facets of Describing and non-judgment that predicted this lower interaction score of orienting by conflict detection.

Conclusion: Our findings indicate that being mindful is associated with a more flexible and efficient orienting attention. It is associated with a higher ability to disengage from salient stimuli that is irrelevant to pursue goal-directed behavior (conflict detection).

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02359/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_847629_69_Psycho_20181211_arts_A

 

Improve Substance Use Disorders and Prevent Relapse with Mindfulness

Improve Substance Use Disorders and Prevent Relapse with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

As we understand more about the human condition and the things that drive some people to dangerous behavior, we can apply new methods of treatment to help heal the body and mind. One of these methods is what we call mindfulness, and it can play a vital role in recovery.” – Foundations Recovery Network

 

Substance abuse is a major health and social problem. There are estimated 22.2 million people in the U.S. with substance dependence. It is estimated that worldwide there are nearly ¼ million deaths yearly as a result of illicit drug use which includes unintentional overdoses, suicides, HIV and AIDS, and trauma. In the U.S. about 17 million people abuse alcohol. Drunk driving fatalities accounted for over 10,000 deaths annually. “Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. Cigarette smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans each year, with more than 41,000 of these deaths from exposure to secondhand smoke. In addition, smoking-related illness in the United States costs more than $300 billion a year. In 2013, an estimated 17.8% (42.1 million) U.S. adults were current cigarette smokers.”  (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

 

Obviously, there is a need to find effective methods to prevent and treat substance abuse. There are a number of programs that are successful at stopping the drug abuse, including the classic 12-step program emblematic of Alcoholics Anonymous. Unfortunately, the majority of drug and/or alcohol abusers relapse and return to substance abuse. Hence, it is important to find an effective method to both treat substance abuse disorders and to prevent relapses. Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve recovery from various addictions and reduce relapse.

 

There is developing an extensive research literature on mindfulness application to substance abuse. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness meditation in the treatment of substance use disorders and preventing future relapse: neurocognitive mechanisms and clinical implications.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6247953/ ), Priddy and colleagues review and summarize this published research literature (21 studies) on the application of mindfulness practices for the treatment of substance abuse disorders.

 

They report that mindfulness training helps individuals with substance abuse disorders in a number of ways. From a neurocognitive perspective it appears to produce improvements in substance abusers’ working memory, selective attention/response inhibition, and decision-making skills. In addition, mindfulness training appears to improve positive emotions and responses to natural rewards and reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress in substance abusers. These benefits may be associated with reduces substance abuse. Mindfulness training also appears to improve the abuser’s ability to understand the reasons for and consequences of their substance abuse. It can reduce reactivity to drug related cues in the environment, reduce cravings, and reduce substance seeking and consumption. All of this not only helps in quitting drugs but also in preventing relapse.

 

Hence, there is accumulating scientific findings, many of which from tightly controlled randomized trials, that suggest that mindfulness training is an excellent treatment for reducing substance abuse and also for preventing of relapse. It appears to act by altering not only drug related behavior but also the underlying physiological mechanisms that produce addiction and support substance abuse. The research, then, suggests that mindfulness training may be an important part of the solution to the scourge of substance abuse.

 

So, improve substance use disorders and prevent relapse with mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness meditation has also been shown to contribute to improved self-control, and since impulsivity plays an important role in addiction and drug abuse, better self-control is always welcome.” – Racel Fintzy

 

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

 

Priddy, S. E., Howard, M. O., Hanley, A. W., Riquino, M. R., Friberg-Felsted, K., & Garland, E. L. (2018). Mindfulness meditation in the treatment of substance use disorders and preventing future relapse: neurocognitive mechanisms and clinical implications. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, 9, 103–114. doi:10.2147/SAR.S145201

 

Abstract

Substance use disorders (SUDs) are a pervasive public health problem with deleterious consequences for individuals, families, and society. Furthermore, SUD intervention is complicated by the continuous possibility of relapse. Despite decades of research, SUD relapse rates remain high, underscoring the need for more effective treatments. Scientific findings indicate that SUDs are driven by dysregulation of neural processes underlying reward learning and executive functioning. Emerging evidence suggests that mindfulness training can target these neurocognitive mechanisms to produce significant therapeutic effects on SUDs and prevent relapse. The purpose of this manuscript is to review the cognitive, affective, and neural mechanisms underlying the effects of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) on SUDs. We discuss the etiology of addiction and neurocognitive processes related to the development and maintenance of SUDs. We then explore evidence supporting use of MBIs for intervening in SUDs and preventing relapse. Finally, we provide clinical recommendations about how these therapeutic mechanisms might be applied to intervening in SUDs and preventing relapse.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6247953/

 

Improve Mental Health with Mindfulness Learned Over the Internet

Improve Mental Health with Mindfulness Learned Over the Internet

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“With the rise of mental illness and the increasingly pressing need for effective treatments, there’s never been a more important moment for mindfulness — the ability to cultivate a focused, non-judgmental awareness on the present moment. Research has shown mindfulness and meditation-based programs to hold promise for treating a number of psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.” Carolyn Gregoire

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a certified trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients 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, online mindfulness training programs 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. There is evidence that mindfulness programs delivered online can be quite effective. But there is a need to further investigate the effectiveness of these programs as an alternative to face-to-face trainings for the treatment of clinical mental health problems.

 

In today’s Research News article “Web-Based Mindfulness Interventions for Mental Health Treatment: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6231788/ ), Sevilla-Llewellyn-Jones and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the effectiveness on mindfulness training delivered online for the improvement of clinical mental health. They found 12 published studies employing patients with diagnosed mental health issues who received online mindfulness training.

 

They found that the published research literature reported that online mindfulness training produced significant improvements in depression and anxiety, especially in patients diagnosed with anxiety disorders. In addition, they found that online mindfulness training produced significant improvements in quality of life and mindfulness skills in these clinical patients. The effects were strongest when the control condition was a wait-list and less so, and often non-significant when compared to other active treatments. This suggests the online mindfulness training is not more but equivalently effective as other treatments.

 

These are important results as anxiety disorders and depression are very common diagnoses. It has been well established that mindfulness training improves depression and anxiety. These results extend these prior findings by demonstrating that treatment can be delivered online and to patients with clinical mental health diagnoses. The fact that the treatment was found to be especially effective for patients with anxiety disorders is important as patients with anxiety disorders may be reticent to venture into a clinical environment to receive treatment. Being able to receive treatment without venturing out into the outside world with all of its anxiety evoking situations may be very helpful for these patients.

 

The fact that mindfulness training can be effective when delivered online is very important. Online delivery allows for the application of mindfulness training to a much wider audience at low cost and thus increases the availability of treatment for the relief of suffering,

 

So, improve mental health with mindfulness learned over the internet.

 

“Mindfulness helps to be awakening to the patterns of the mind rather than emptying the mind. It helps you to be in touch with your way of ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’. It is a concept that could be life changing and worth experiencing.” – Christos Papalekas

 

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

 

Sevilla-Llewellyn-Jones, J., Santesteban-Echarri, O., Pryor, I., McGorry, P., & Alvarez-Jimenez, M. (2018). Web-Based Mindfulness Interventions for Mental Health Treatment: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. JMIR mental health, 5(3), e10278. doi:10.2196/10278

 

Abstract

Background

Web-based mindfulness interventions are increasingly delivered through the internet to treat mental health conditions.

Objective

The objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness of web-based mindfulness interventions in clinical mental health populations. Secondary aims were to explore the impact of study variables on the effectiveness of web-based mindfulness interventions.

Methods

We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies investigating the effects of web-based mindfulness interventions on clinical populations.

Results

The search strategy yielded 12 eligible studies. Web-based mindfulness interventions were effective in reducing depression in the total clinical sample (n=656 g=−0.609, P=.004) and in the anxiety disorder subgroup (n=313, g=−0.651, P<.001), but not in the depression disorder subgroup (n=251, P=.18). Similarly, web-based mindfulness interventions significantly reduced anxiety in the total clinical sample (n=756, g=−0.433, P=.004) and the anxiety disorder subgroup (n=413, g=−0.719, P<.001), but not in the depression disorder group (n=251, g=−0.213, P=.28). Finally, web-based mindfulness interventions improved quality of life and functioning in the total sample (n=591, g=0.362, P=.02) in the anxiety disorder subgroup (n=370, g=0.550, P=.02) and mindfulness skills in the total clinical sample (n=251, g=0.724, P<.001).

Conclusions

Results support the effectiveness of web-based mindfulness interventions in reducing depression and anxiety and in enhancing quality of life and mindfulness skills, particularly in those with clinical anxiety. Results should be interpreted with caution given the high heterogeneity of web-based mindfulness interventions and the low number of studies included.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6231788/

 

Improve Response Inhibition to Quit Smoking with Mindfulness

Improve Response Inhibition to Quit Smoking with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness home practice significantly predicted reduced smoking behavior, even after controlling for initial craving and cigarette use. In fact, every day the participants meditated meant 1.2 fewer cigarettes, and every day they were mindful with their cravings and in everyday activities meant 1.52 fewer cigarettes.” – Mayo Clinic

 

“Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States.” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). So, treating nicotine addiction and producing smoking cessation could greatly improve health. But smoking has proved devilishly difficult to treat. There are a wide variety of methods and strategies to quit smoking which are to only a very limited extent effective. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 40% of smokers who want to quit make a serious attempt to do so each year, but fewer than 5% actually succeed. Most people require three or four failed attempts before being successful.

 

One problem is that nicotine is one of the most addictive substances known and withdrawal from nicotine is very stressful, producing many physical and psychological problems, including negative emotional states and depression. In essence, the addict feels miserable without the nicotine. This promotes relapse to relieve the discomfort. Better methods to quit which can not only promote quitting but also prevent relapse are badly needed. Mindfulness practices have been found to be helpful in treating addictions, including nicotine addiction, and reducing the risk of relapse. In order to quit smoking, the addict must learn to withhold responding to smoking related cues. That is the smoker must be better able to inhibit the smoking response.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of a brief mindfulness-meditation intervention on neural measures of response inhibition in cigarette smokers.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5784955/ ), Andreu and colleagues explore a possible mechanism by which mindfulness may affect smoking cessation; improved response inhibition. This is the ability to stop or withhold a behavior that may be highly motivated. Obviously, smoking is strongly motivated and a behavior that is very hard to stop or withhold.

 

They recruited adult smokers and exposed them to a cigarette and either provided them with a recorded mindfulness instruction or were told to cope with their urge to smoke in any way they could. They then had the Electroencephalogram (EEG) recorded while performing a smoking go/no-go task in which they pushed a button each time a picture was presented with a particularly colored frame on a computer screen and did not press the button when the picture had a different colored frame. The pictures were either smoking related or neutral. The go-no-go task is a standard test for response inhibition.

 

They found that there were no significant differences between the error rates or response speeds between the mindfulness or no instruction groups on the go/no-go task. But there were differences in the EEG. During the task the changes in the electrical activity that occur in response to the pictures was recorded. These event-related potentials or ERPs are the fluctuations of the signal after specific periods of time which are thought to measure different aspects of the nervous system’s processing of the stimulus. The P3 response in the evoked potential (ERP) is a positive going electrical response occurring between a 3 to 5 tenths of a second following the target stimulus presentation. These responses were significantly larger with the smoking related than neutral pictures. Importantly, the mindfulness instruction group had significantly smaller P3 responses on the no-go trials than the no-instruction group.

 

The P3 component is thought to reflect response inhibition. The lower P3 response after mindfulness instruction suggests that mindfulness reduces the effort needed to withhold a response when needed (no-go trials). By paying closer attention in the present moment, detection of the no-go stimulus may be enhanced making it easier to withhold responding. Hence, the results suggest that mindfulness improves response inhibition in smokers. This may be, in part, the mechanism by which mindfulness training improves smoking cessation and reduces relapse. It makes it easier to not respond to smoking related situation with smoking.

 

So, improve response inhibition to quit smoking with mindfulness.

 

mindfulness training may actually target the addictive loop, breaking the relationship between craving and smoking and resulting in greater smoking cessation.” – Lori Pbert

 

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

 

Andreu, C. I., Cosmelli, D., Slagter, H. A., & Franken, I. (2018). Effects of a brief mindfulness-meditation intervention on neural measures of response inhibition in cigarette smokers. PloS one, 13(1), e0191661. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0191661

 

Abstract

Research suggests that mindfulness-practices may aid smoking cessation. Yet, the neural mechanisms underlying the effects of mindfulness-practices on smoking are unclear. Response inhibition is a main deficit in addiction, is associated with relapse, and could therefore be a candidate target for mindfulness-based practices. The current study hence investigated the effects of a brief mindfulness-practice on response inhibition in smokers using behavioral and electroencephalography (EEG) measures. Fifty participants (33 females, mean age 20 years old) underwent a protocol of cigarette exposure to induce craving (cue-exposure) and were then randomly assigned to a group receiving mindfulness-instructions or control-instructions (for 15 minutes approximately). Immediately after this, they performed a smoking Go/NoGo task, while their brain activity was recorded. At the behavioral level, no group differences were observed. However, EEG analyses revealed a decrease in P3 amplitude during NoGo vs. Go trials in the mindfulness versus control group. The lower P3 amplitude might indicate less-effortful response inhibition after the mindfulness-practice, and suggest that enhanced response inhibition underlies observed positive effects of mindfulness on smoking behavior.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5784955/

 

Competition for Attention is Responsible for Fluctuations in Mindfulness

Competition for Attention is Responsible for Fluctuations in Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

With so many stimuli competing for attention, any hope for making it through the day without our brains feeling like scrambled eggs rests on being more conscious of how you parse attention over specific tasks.” – Jeremy Hunter

 

One of the primary effects of mindfulness training is an improvement in the ability to pay attention to the task at hand and ignore interfering stimuli. This is an important consequence of mindfulness training and produces improvements in thinking, reasoning, and creativity. The importance of heightened attentional ability to the individual’s ability to navigate the demands of complex modern life cannot be overstated. It helps at work, in relationships, in coping with emotion laden situations, or simply driving a car.

 

Attention can be a double-edged sword in relation to mindfulness. In daily life there is a barrage of stimuli vying for attention. Many can draw away our focus on the present moment. Hence, outside events can disrupt mindfulness. Unfortunately, little is known regarding the effects of everyday events to distract from mindfulness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Explaining Variations in Mindfulness Levels in Daily Life.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6244631/ ), Suelmann and colleagues recruited adults with active mindfulness practices for a 7 to 10 day experience sampling. Five times per day the participants received a signal on their smartphones at random times that prompted them to answer questions on their smartphones. The brief questionnaire asked the participants to indicate their state of mindful awareness and non-reactivity, intention to be mindful, threat to mindfulness, social interaction, fatigue, business, and good feeling.

 

They found that most participants answered the questions within 3 minutes of receiving the signal. They found that mindfulness levels fluctuated often during the day with no correlation of mindfulness at one moment with mindfulness in the next sampled moment. They also found, not surprisingly, that mindfulness was higher when there was an intention to be mindful and when they felt good and lower when they were busy, when they were fatigued, and when they were involved in a social interaction.

 

These are interesting results that in many ways are not surprising. Everyone who practices mindfulness recognizes that mindfulness changes from moment to moment particularly in response to the environment including social interactions and business. But this study is a wonderful attempt to begin to study the factors that influence mindfulness on a moment-to-moment basis. This could lead to a better understanding of how to promote mindfulness, decrease distractibility from mindfulness, and recover it once lost. These understandings could lead to new mindfulness training programs that had heightened effectiveness, maintaining mindfulness in busy and social contexts where mindfulness may be particularly important.

 

The results demonstrate that competition for attention is responsible for fluctuations in mindfulness.

 

If left to its own devices, our human mind habitually wanders away from the present moment. When we’re not in the here and now, we dwell in the past, grasping and replaying it, or we project into the future, trying to anticipate the unknown (and often catastrophizing) These habitual thought patterns don’t serve our ultimate well-being.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

Suelmann, H., Brouwers, A., & Snippe, E. (2018). Explaining Variations in Mindfulness Levels in Daily Life. Mindfulness, 9(6), 1895–1906.

 

Abstract

Despite the apparent benefits of being mindful, people are often not very mindful. There seem to be forces that drive people toward as well as away from mindfulness. These forces are conceptualised in terms of competition for scarce attentional resources. To explore these forces and to test this framework, an experience sampling study was performed among people with an explicit intention to be mindful and an ongoing practice to examine concurrent associations between state mindfulness and daily life experiences that may affect it. Participants (N = 29, 1012 observations) filled out questions on momentary experiences at semi-random intervals, five times a day, over a period of 7 to 10 days. Predictors of within-person variations in awareness of Present Moment Experience (PME) and non-reactivity to PME were examined using multilevel analyses. Participants were more aware of PME when they had an activated intention to be mindful and when they felt good, and not very busy or hurried, and were not involved in social interaction. They were more reactive to PME when they experienced unpleasant affect, and when they were hurried or tired. An activated intention to be mindful was also associated with an increased tendency to analyse PME. Experiencing threat was associated with increased reactivity, but not with decreased awareness. Our study generally supports the idea that competition for attention can be a fruitful framework to describe mechanisms behind being or not being mindful.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6244631/

 

Improve Psychological Health with Online Mindfulness Training

Improve Psychological Health with Online Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The research is strong for mindfulness’ positive impact in certain areas of mental health, including stress reduction, emotion and attention regulation, reduced rumination, for reducing mild to moderate depression and anxiety, and preventing depressive relapse.” – Kelle Walsh

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a certified trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients 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, online mindfulness training programs 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. There is evidence that mindfulness programs delivered online can be quite effective. But there is a need to further investigate the effectiveness of these programs as an alternative to face-to-face trainings.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effects of an Online Mindfulness Intervention on Perceived Stress, Depression and Anxiety in a Non-clinical Sample: A Randomised Waitlist Control Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6244637/ ), Querstet and colleagues recruited adult participants online and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive a 4-week online mindfulness course. The course was implemented with audio and video components and required about 2 hours each week and additional homework. The participants were measured before and after the training for mindfulness, perceived stress, anxiety, and depression. After the wait-list controls completed their mindfulness training they completed follow-up measures at 3 and 6 months after the training.

 

They found that in comparison to the wait-list controls, the participants who received mindfulness training had significant reductions in perceived stress, anxiety, and depression. There were also significant increases in mindfulness including the observing, describing, acting with awareness, and non-judging facets. These effects were sustained 3 and 6 months after the completion of training. They also found that the decreases in perceived stress, anxiety, and depression, produced by the intervention were mediated by the increases in the non-judging facet of mindfulness. The effect on depression was also meditated by the describing facet of mindfulness.

 

It is interesting that the facet of mindfulness that appeared to have the greatest impact on the psychological health of the participants was non-judging. Hence, being able to be aware of varied experiences simply as experiences and not judging them is a key to improved psychological well-being. This makes sense as most of the things that happen to an individual are not under their control. What can be controlled are the reactions to the experiences. These are best accomplished if they can be seen as not good or bad, important or trivial, or due to some personal characteristic, but simply as they are.

 

The results add to the accumulating evidence that mindfulness can be trained online and that it produces similar benefits as face-to-face training. This is very important as this makes mindfulness training inexpensive and available to a very large population regardless of schedule and location. This makes it possible to bring the benefits of mindfulness training, promoting psychological health and well-being, to a wide audience.

 

So, improve psychological health with online mindfulness training.

 

“Mindfulness helps to train individuals in bringing back the attention time and time again when it has wandered. And it is precisely through helping individuals to not get carried away by their thoughts that mindfulness has been shown to be so effective for conditions like anxiety and depression.” – Carolyn Gregoire

 

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

Querstret, D., Cropley, M., & Fife-Schaw, C. (2018). The Effects of an Online Mindfulness Intervention on Perceived Stress, Depression and Anxiety in a Non-clinical Sample: A Randomised Waitlist Control Trial. Mindfulness, 9(6), 1825–1836.

 

Abstract

Mindfulness interventions have been shown to be effective for health and wellbeing, and delivering mindfulness programmes online may increase accessibility and reduce waiting times and associated costs; however, research assessing the effectiveness of online interventions is lacking. We sought to: (1) assess the effects of an online mindfulness intervention on perceived stress, depression and anxiety; (2) assess different facets of mindfulness (i.e. acting with awareness, describing, non-judging and non-reacting) as mechanisms of change and (3) assess whether the effect of the intervention was maintained over time. The sample was comprised of 118 adults (female, n = 95) drawn from the general population. Using a randomised waitlist control design, participants were randomised to either an intervention (INT) or waitlist control (WLC) group. Participants completed the online intervention, with the WLC group starting after a 6-week waitlist period. Participants completed measures of depression (PHQ-9), anxiety (GAD-7) and perceived stress (PSS-10) at baseline, post-treatment, 3- and 6-month follow-up. Participants who completed the mindfulness intervention (n = 60) reported significantly lower levels of perceived stress (d = − 1.25 [− 1.64, − 0.85]), anxiety (d = − 1.09 [− 1.47, − 0.98]) and depression (d = − 1.06 [− 1.44, − 0.67]), when compared with waitlist control participants (n = 58), and these effects were maintained at follow-up. The effect of the intervention was primarily explained by increased levels of non-judging. This study provides support for online mindfulness interventions and furthers our understanding with regards to how mindfulness interventions exert their positive effects.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6244637/