Enhance Attention and Attentional Brain Systems with Meditation

Enhance Attention and Attentional Brain Systems with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“intensive and continued meditation practice is associated with enduring improvements in sustained attention,” – Anthony Zanesco

 

There has accumulated a large amount of research demonstrating that mindfulness has significant benefits for psychological, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. It even improves high level thinking known as executive function and emotion regulation and compassion. 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. As important as attention is, it’s surprising that little is known about the mechanisms by which mindfulness improves attention.

 

There is evidence that mindfulness training improves attention by altering the brain. It appears That mindfulness training increases the size, connectivity, and activity of areas of the brain that are involved in paying attention. In today’s Research News article “Enhanced Attentional Network by Short-Term Intensive Meditation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03073/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1245141_69_Psycho_20200213_arts_A), Kwak and colleagues recruited healthy meditation naïve adults and randomly assigned them to a 4 -day 3-night structured residential retreat of either meditation practice (19 hours total practice) or relaxation.

 

Before and after the retreat the participants underwent functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) of their brains. While they were in the scanner attention was measured with an attention network task. This included a flanker task and a temporal and spatial cueing task. These tasks measure 3 attentional processes, alerting, orienting, and executive control.

 

They found that after the meditation retreat but not the relaxation retreat there was a significant improvement in executive attentional control. The fMRI revealed that the meditation retreat group in comparison to baseline and the relaxation group had significant increases in activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex, both components of the so-called executive control network. They also found that the better the performance on the executive attentional control task, the greater the increase in activity in the anterior cingulate cortex. Additionally, they found that the meditation group had significant increases in the activity of the so called attentional orienting network in the brain including the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, superior and inferior frontal gyrus, frontal eye fields, and anterior cingulate cortex. Finally, they found that the meditation group had significant increases in the activity of the so-called attentional alerting network in the brain including the superior temporal gyrus and the insula.

 

The results demonstrate that an intensive meditation retreat significantly improves attentional processes. This can be seen both behaviorally and neurologically. Behaviorally there was improvement in the executive attentional control while neurologically there were increases in the executive, orienting, and alerting attentional networks. These results suggest that meditation practice alters to brain systems underlying attention resulting in improved attentional ability. These changes may underlie many of the benefits produced by meditation practice.

 

So, enhance attention and attentional brain systems with meditation.

 

With more distractions at your fingertips than ever before, focused attention has become “an endangered species.” Luckily, . . . as little as 10 minutes of meditation a day can help turn the tide, and these benefits can be observed from the moment a person begins their practice.” – Nicole Bayes-Fleming

 

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

 

Kwak S, Kim S-Y, Bae D, Hwang W-J, Cho KIK, Lim K-O, Park H-Y, Lee TY and Kwon JS (2020) Enhanced Attentional Network by Short-Term Intensive Meditation. Front. Psychol. 10:3073. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03073

 

While recent studies have suggested behavioral effects of short-term meditation on the executive attentional functions, functional changes in the neural correlates of attentional networks after short-term meditation have been unspecified. Here, we conducted a randomized control trial to investigate the effects of a 4-day intensive meditation on the neural correlates of three attentional functions: alerting, orienting, and executive attention. Twenty-three participants in meditation practice and 14 participants in a relaxation retreat group performed attention network test (ANT) during functional magnetic resonance imaging both before and immediately after intervention. The meditation group showed significantly improved behavioral performance in the executive control network in ANT after the intervention. Moreover, neural activities in the executive control network, namely, the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), were also significantly increased during the ANT after meditation. Interestingly, neural activity in the right ACC was significantly predicted by behavioral conflict levels in each individual in the meditation group, indicating significant effects of the program on the executive control network. Moreover, brain regions associated with the alerting and orienting networks also showed enhanced activity during the ANT after the meditation. Our study provides novel evidence on the enhancement of the attentional networks at the neural level via short-term meditation. We also suggest that short-term meditation may be beneficial to individuals at high risk of cognitive deficits by improving neural mechanisms of attention.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03073/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1245141_69_Psycho_20200213_arts_A

 

Improve the Long-Term Mental Health of Breast Cancer Survivors with Mindfulness

Improve the Long-Term Mental Health of Breast Cancer Survivors with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness-based meditation can help ease the stress, anxiety, fear, and depression that often come along with a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.” – Breast Cancer.org

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. Anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia are common symptoms in the aftermath of surviving breast cancer. These symptoms markedly reduce the quality of life of the patients.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including fatiguestress,  sleep disturbance, and anxiety and depression. Although there is considerable research on the topic, there is very little on the long-term effectiveness of mindfulness training on Hispanic breast cancer survivors.

 

In today’s Research News article “Long-Term Effect of a Nonrandomized Psychosocial Mindfulness-Based Intervention in Hispanic/Latina Breast Cancer Survivors.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6971966/), Elimimian and colleagues recruited patients who had received a breast cancer diagnosis within the last 5 years. They provided them with a once a week for 2 hours, 8 week program of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). The program included meditation, body scan, yoga practices, and discussion along with daily home practice. They were measured before the program and every 3 months thereafter for 2 years for anxiety, depression, mental, emotional, and physical health, and physical and mental quality of life.

 

They found that after MBSR treatment and over the 2-year follow-up period that there were significant reductions in anxiety and depression, and significant improvements in mental quality of life. It should be noted that there wasn’t a control comparison condition present so the results must be interpreted with caution. But prior better controlled research studies have demonstrated that MBSR treatment is effective in improving symptoms in cancer survivors. So, it is likely that the present results were due to the effectiveness of the MBSR program and not to a confounding factor. The contribution of the present study is that it demonstrates that these mental health improvements also occur in Hispanic women.

 

So, improve the long-term mental health of breast cancer survivors with mindfulness.

 

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

 

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

 

Elimimian, E., Elson, L., Bilani, N., Farrag, S. E., Dwivedi, A. K., Pasillas, R., & Nahleh, Z. A. (2020). Long-Term Effect of a Nonrandomized Psychosocial Mindfulness-Based Intervention in Hispanic/Latina Breast Cancer Survivors. Integrative cancer therapies, 19, 1534735419890682. https://doi.org/10.1177/1534735419890682

 

Abstract

Background: There is a paucity of research on the long-term impact of stress-reduction in Hispanic/Latina breast cancer (BC) survivors, a growing minority. In this article, we assess the long-term efficacy of an 8-week training program in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on quality of life (QoL) in Hispanic BC survivors. Methods: Hispanic BC survivors, within the first 5 years of diagnosis, stages I to III BC, were recruited. Participants were enrolled in bilingual, 8-week intensive group training in MBSR and were asked to practice a- home, daily. They were also provided with audio recordings and a book on mindfulness practices. Patient-reported outcomes for QoL and distress were evaluated at baseline, and every 3 months, for 24 months. Results: Thirty-three self-identified Hispanic women with BC completed the MBSR program and were followed at 24 months. Statistically significant reduction was noted for the Generalized Anxiety Disorder measure (mean change −2.39, P=0.04); and Patient Health Questionnaire (mean change −2.27, P=0.04), at 24 months, compared with baseline. Improvement was noted in the Short-Form 36 Health-related QoL Mental Component Summary with an increase of 4.07 (95% confidence interval = 0.48-7.66, P=0.03). However, there was no significant change in the Physical Component Summary. Conclusions: Hispanic BC survivors who participated in an 8-week MBSR–based survivorship program reported persistent benefits with reduced anxiety, depression, and improved mental health QoL over 24 months of follow-up. Stress reduction programs are beneficial and can be implemented as part of a comprehensive survivorship care in BC patients.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6971966/

 

Different Meditation Types Produce Different Effects on Attention, Compassion, and Theory of Mind

Different Meditation Types Produce Different Effects on Attention, Compassion, and Theory of Mind

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The mental procedures used by various traditions and schools of meditation are fairly dissimilar. And recent scientific research has verified that these different ways of meditating activate different areas in our brain.” – Trancendental Meditation

 

Meditation training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. As a result, meditation training has been called the third wave of therapies. One problem with understanding meditation effects is that there are, a wide variety of meditation techniques and it is not known which work best for affecting different psychological areas.

 

There are a number of different types of meditation. Classically they’ve been characterized on a continuum with the degree and type of attentional focus. In focused attention meditation, the individual practices paying attention to a single meditation object. In open monitoring meditation, the individual opens up awareness to everything that’s being experienced including thoughts regardless of its origin. In Loving Kindness Meditation the individual systematically pictures different individuals from self, to close friends, to enemies and wishes them happiness, well-being, safety, peace, and ease of well-being.

 

In today’s Research News article “Differential benefits of mental training types for attention, compassion, and theory of mind.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6891878/), Trautwein and colleagues recruited healthy adults and assigned them to one of three conditions; presence, affect, and perspective training. Each condition consisted of a 3-day retreat followed by once a week 2-hour training session for 13 weeks along with daily home practice. The presence training focused on attention to the present moment and contained focused breath meditation, walking meditation, and body scan practices. The affect training focused on developing an “accepting, kind, and compassionate stance towards oneself and others” and contained loving kindness meditation, forgiveness meditation, and affect dyad practices. The perspective training focused on the central role that thoughts play in our lives and contained meditation of observing thoughts coming and going and perspective dyads. They were measured before and after training with a cued flanker task measuring executive control and attentional reorienting and a Theory of Mind and Social Cognition task measuring social cognitive and affective functions including compassion. Theory of mind refers to the ability to observe self-awareness in self and others.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the other modules, the presence training significantly improved executive control and attentional reorienting. They also found that the affect and perspective training produced significant improvements in the socio-emotional dimension of compassion. Finally, they found that perspective training produced significantly higher scores on Theory of Mind (understanding beliefs, desires, and needs of others). Hence the three different forms of mindfulness training affected different abilities.

 

The findings suggest that training on present moment awareness affects attentional abilities but not socio-emotional and theory of mind abilities. On the other hand, affect training affects socio-emotional abilities including compassion but not attention or theory of mind abilities. Finally, the results suggest that perspective training affects socio-emotional and theory of mind abilities but not attentional abilities. These findings suggest that different mindfulness training programs should be employed to target specific problem areas for the participant. They also suggest that incorporating components from presence, affect, and perspective training may produce a training package that enhances abilities in all domains.

 

So, different meditation types produce different effects on attention, compassion, and theory of mind.

 

“Meditation is a simple strategy that can help obtain better health and a happier life. It takes time to master, as does any other skill. If a person sticks with it and is willing to experiment with the different methods, they are more likely to discover a meditation style that suits them.” – Zawn Villines

 

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

 

Trautwein, F. M., Kanske, P., Böckler, A., & Singer, T. (2020). Differential benefits of mental training types for attention, compassion, and theory of mind. Cognition, 194, 104039. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2019.104039

 

Abstract

Mindfulness- and, more generally, meditation-based interventions increasingly gain popularity, effectively promoting cognitive, affective, and social capacities. It is unclear, however, if different types of practice have the same or specific effects on mental functioning. Here we tested three consecutive three-month training modules aimed at cultivating either attention, socio-affective qualities (such as compassion), or socio-cognitive skills (such as theory of mind), in three training cohorts and a retest control cohort (N = 332). While attentional performance improved most consistently after attention training, compassion increased most after socio-affective training and theory of mind partially improved after socio-cognitive training. These results show that specific mental training practices are needed to induce plasticity in different domains of mental functioning, providing a foundation for evidence-based development of more targeted interventions adapted to the needs of different education, labor, and health settings.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6891878/

 

Focused Meditation Changes Clustering of Brain Systems

Focused Meditation Changes Clustering of Brain Systems

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

meditation . . . appears to have an amazing variety of neurological benefits – from changes in grey matter volume to reduced activity in the “me” centers of the brain to enhanced connectivity between brain regions.” – Alice G. Walton

 

The nervous system is a dynamic entity, constantly changing and adapting to the environment. It will change size, activity, and connectivity in response to experience. These changes in the brain are called neuroplasticity.  Over the last decade neuroscience has been studying the effects of contemplative practices on the brain and has identified neuroplastic changes in widespread area. and have found that meditation practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits. These brain changes with mindfulness practice are important and need to be further investigates.

 

Meditation practice results in a shift in mental processing. It produces a reduction of mind wandering and self-referential thinking and an increase in attention and higher-level thinking. The neural system that underlie mind wandering is termed the Default Mode Network (DMN) and consists in a set of brain structures including medial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate, lateral temporal cortex and the hippocampus. The neural system that underlies executive functions such as attention and higher-level thinking is termed the Fronto-Parietal Network (FPN). and includes the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, posterior parietal cortex, and cingulate cortex.

 

There are a number of different types of meditation. Classically they’ve been characterized on a continuum with the degree and type of attentional focus. In focused attention meditation, the individual practices paying attention to a single meditation object. In today’s Research News article “Revealing Changes in Brain Functional Networks Caused by Focused-Attention Meditation Using Tucker3 Clustering.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6990115/), Miyoshi and colleagues examine the changes in the brain’s functional systems resulting from meditation practice. They recruited meditation naïve adults. They had their brains scanned with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) during a 5-minute rest and a 5-minute breath-following (Focused) meditation.

 

They found in comparison to rest, during the brief focused meditation there was increased clustering in “eight brain regions, Frontal Inferior Operculum L, Occipital Inferior R, ParaHippocampal R, Cerebellum 10 R, Cingulum Middle R, Cerebellum Crus1 L, Occipital Inferior L, and Paracentral Lobule R increased through the meditation.” These are all regions involved in the Default Mode Network (DMN), the Somatosensory Network (SSN), and the Fronto-Parietal Network (FPN). The activity of these clusters best discriminated between the resting and focused meditative states.

 

These results make sense in that during a typical meditation there will be attentional focus, mind wandering, and return to attentional focus. The attentional focus is thought to involve the Fronto-Parietal Network (FPN). The mind wandering is thought to involve the Default Mode Network (DMN). Finally, returning from mind wandering to attentional focus is thought to involve Somatosensory Network (SSN). Hence the increased clustering in these systems seen in the focused meditative state would be expected given what is known of neural systems.

 

These results are from a very brief single focused meditation by meditation naïve participants. So, it does not reflect neuroplastic changes in the nervous system that would be expected in practiced meditators. Rather the results indicate the short term activation of clustered systems in the brain that if practiced over time would produce neuroplastic changes.

 

So, focused meditation changes clustering of brain systems.

 

long-term, active meditative practice decreases activity in the default network. This is the brain network associated with the brain at rest — just letting your mind wander with no particular goal in mind — and includes brain areas like the medial prefrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex.” – Kayt Sukel

 

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

 

Miyoshi, T., Tanioka, K., Yamamoto, S., Yadohisa, H., Hiroyasu, T., & Hiwa, S. (2020). Revealing Changes in Brain Functional Networks Caused by Focused-Attention Meditation Using Tucker3 Clustering. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 13, 473. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2019.00473

 

Abstract

This study examines the effects of focused-attention meditation on functional brain states in novice meditators. There are a number of feature metrics for functional brain states, such as functional connectivity, graph theoretical metrics, and amplitude of low frequency fluctuation (ALFF). It is necessary to choose appropriate metrics and also to specify the region of interests (ROIs) from a number of brain regions. Here, we use a Tucker3 clustering method, which simultaneously selects the feature vectors (graph theoretical metrics and fractional ALFF) and the ROIs that can discriminate between resting and meditative states based on the characteristics of the given data. In this study, breath-counting meditation, one of the most popular forms of focused-attention meditation, was used and brain activities during resting and meditation states were measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging. The results indicated that the clustering coefficients of the eight brain regions, Frontal Inferior Operculum L, Occipital Inferior R, ParaHippocampal R, Cerebellum 10 R, Cingulum Middle R, Cerebellum Crus1 L, Occipital Inferior L, and Paracentral Lobule R increased through the meditation. Our study also provided the framework of data-driven brain functional analysis and confirmed its effectiveness on analyzing neural basis of focused-attention meditation.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6990115/

 

Yoga Practice Changes and Protects the Brain from Aging

Yoga Practice Changes and Protects the Brain from Aging

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

We can talk about anxiety, depression and blood pressure lowering in yoga, all of those are proven. But the biggest thing we see that results from yoga is that your quality of life will change for the better,” – Amy Wheeler

 

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. Starting in the 20s there is a progressive decrease in the volume of the brain as we age. But the nervous system is a dynamic entity, constantly changing and adapting to the environment. It will change size, activity, and connectivity in response to experience. These changes in the brain are called neuroplasticity.

 

Over the last decade neuroscience has been studying the effects of contemplative practices on the brain and has identified neuroplastic changes in widespread area. and have found that meditation practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits. 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.

 

The evidence has been accumulating. It is reasonable to pause and summarize what has been learned. In today’s Research News article “Yoga Effects on Brain Health: A Systematic Review of the Current Literature.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6971819/), Gothe and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the effects of yoga practice on the brain. They found 11 published studies.

 

They report that the studies that compare the brains of yoga practitioners to non-practitioners and studies that trained participants in yoga have found increases in cortical volume and thickness particularly in the frontal cortex, hippocampus, anterior cingulate cortex and insula. They also found that yoga practice appears to increase the functional connectivity in a series of brain structures labelled as the default mode network. These changes are similar to those observed with other aerobic exercises. Importantly, the changes observed were mainly in the structures that are most affected by aging.

 

These findings from the currently available research studies suggest that yoga practice, like other aerobic exercises, can produce neuroplastic changes in the brain. These changes involve increases in size and function of areas that a typically seen to deteriorate with aging. This suggests that yoga practice can protect the brain from age-related deterioration. This would explain why yoga practice helps to prevent functional deterioration in the elderly.

 

These are important findings that suggest that yoga practice tends to protect or reverse age-related declines in the structure and functions of the nervous system. This could make for a healthier, happier aging process where the elderly retain cognitive abilities as they continue to age.

 

So, protect the brain from aging with yoga.

 

Using MRI scans, Villemure detected more gray matter—brain cells—in certain brain areas in people who regularly practiced yoga, as compared with control subjects.” – Stephani Sutherland

 

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

 

Gothe, N. P., Khan, I., Hayes, J., Erlenbach, E., & Damoiseaux, J. S. (2019). Yoga Effects on Brain Health: A Systematic Review of the Current Literature. Brain plasticity (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 5(1), 105–122. doi:10.3233/BPL-190084

 

Abstract

Yoga is the most popular complementary health approach practiced by adults in the United States. It is an ancient mind and body practice with origins in Indian philosophy. Yoga combines physical postures, rhythmic breathing and meditative exercise to offer the practitioners a unique holistic mind-body experience. While the health benefits of physical exercise are well established, in recent years, the active attentional component of breathing and meditation practice has garnered interest among exercise neuroscientists. As the scientific evidence for the physical and mental health benefits of yoga continues to grow, this article aims to summarize the current knowledge of yoga practice and its documented positive effects for brain structure and function, as assessed with MRI, fMRI, and SPECT. We reviewed 11 studies examining the effects of yoga practice on the brain structures, function and cerebral blood flow. Collectively, the studies demonstrate a positive effect of yoga practice on the structure and/or function of the hippocampus, amygdala, prefrontal cortex, cingulate cortex and brain networks including the default mode network (DMN). The studies offer promising early evidence that behavioral interventions like yoga may hold promise to mitigate age-related and neurodegenerative declines as many of the regions identified are known to demonstrate significant age-related atrophy.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6971819/

 

Improve Smartphone Addiction with Mindfulness

Improve Smartphone Addiction with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

As we get more connected to our wireless technology, we appear to run the risk of damaging our brains’ wiring, and disconnecting from the face-to-face interaction that our social and psychological systems need. With its emphasis on harnessing attention with intention (i.e. redirecting it on purpose), mindfulness—with all its scientifically-established health and well-being benefits—has the potential to keep us from drifting hopelessly away from one another.” – Mitch Abblett

 

Over the last few decades, the internet has gone from a rare curiosity to the dominant mode of electronic communications. In fact, it has become a dominant force in daily life, occupying large amounts of time and attention. As useful as the internet may be, it can also produce negative consequences. “Problematic Internet Use” is now considered a behavioral addiction, with almost half of participants in one study considered “Internet addicts”, developing greater levels of “tolerance” and experiencing “withdrawal” and distress when deprived. This phenomenon is so new that there is little understanding of its nature, causes, and consequences and how to treat it. The dominant mode of accessing the internet is through smartphones creating smartphone addictions.

 

Future time perspective is the ability to anticipate and plan to bring about desired outcomes in the future. Most addictions involve being completely driven by present needs. So, future time perspective is contrary to addiction and may help to overcome addiction. Mindfulness training has been shown to be helpful with each of the components of addictions, decreasing cravings, impulsiveness, and psychological and physiological responses to stress, and increasing emotion regulation.  Mindfulness has also been shown to be associated with a balanced time perspective. It is no wonder then that mindfulness training has been found to be effective for the treatment of a variety of addictions. Hence, there is a need to further explore the relationships of smartphone addiction with future time perspective and mindfulness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Smartphone use disorder and future time perspective of college students: the mediating role of depression and moderating role of mindfulness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6969420/), Zhang and colleagues recruited freshman and sophomore college students aged 18-22 years. The completed measures of future time perspective, smartphone use disorder, depression, and mindfulness.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of future time perspective and the lower the levels of depression and smartphone use disorder. They also found that the higher the levels of future time perspective the higher the levels of mindfulness and the lower the levels of depression and smartphone use disorder. They then performed a mediation analysis and found that future time perspective had not only a direct and relationship with smartphone use disorder but also was indirectly related via depression such that future time perspective was negatively related to depression which, in turn, was positively related to. smartphone use disorder. Finally, they found that mindfulness moderated the indirect path with high mindfulness decreasing the relationship of future time perspective on depression and decreasing the relationship of depression with smartphone use disorder.

 

This study is correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. Nevertheless, the results suggest that the ability of college students to focus on the future is associated with lower depression and smartphone addictions. Also, college students’ addictions to smartphones are lower when mindfulness is present. This relationship occurs directly and as a result of moderating the relationships between thinking and planning for the future, depression, and smartphone use disorder. It remains for future research to train students in mindfulness to determine if mindfulness can be used to treat addictions to smartphones.

 

So, improve smartphone addiction with mindfulness.

 

“just as technology is increasingly being developed to attract and hold our attention, with mindfulness we can develop the capability to be much more aware of where the spotlight of our attention is being drawn to, and consciously choose to direct and place our attention and energy on an activity of our choosing.” – Neil Tranter

 

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

 

Zhang, Y., Lv, S., Li, C., Xiong, Y., Zhou, C., Li, X., & Ye, M. (2020). Smartphone use disorder and future time perspective of college students: the mediating role of depression and moderating role of mindfulness. Child and adolescent psychiatry and mental health, 14, 3. doi:10.1186/s13034-020-0309-9

 

Abstract

Background

Smartphone use disorder (SUD) of college students has drawn increasing attention. Although future time perspective (FTP) may be an important protective factor for individual SUD, the moderating and mediating mechanisms underlying this relationship remain unknown. We tested the individual roles of depression and mindfulness as moderators of this relationship.

Methods

A cross-sectional study was conducted in two colleges in Shandong and Chongqing in China using a sample of 1304 college students recruited by stratified cluster sampling. Data were collected through a validated self-report instrument. A moderation–mediation model was constructed, and an SPSS PROCESS macro was used to analyse the data.

Results

The correlation analyses showed that FTP was negatively associated with SUD of college students. The mediation model revealed that depression partially mediated the link between FTP and SUD of college students. The moderation–mediation model suggested that mindfulness moderates two direct paths: FTP to depression and depression to SUD. In the first path (FTP to depression), a high level of mindfulness among college students had weakened the relationship between FTP and depression. Here, the relationship is strengthened by a low level of mindfulness. In the second path (depression to SUD), low levels of mindfulness strengthen the link between depression and FTP. In contrast, significant association was not found with high levels of mindfulness.

Conclusions

Results suggest that interventions, such as improving the individual level of FTP and mindfulness, should be conducted. These interventions, in turn, help control the level of depression in college students and ultimately decrease their level of SUD.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6969420/

 

Prayer Reduces Catholic Teacher Burnout

Prayer Reduces Catholic Teacher Burnout

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“One of the most important ways we can take care of ourselves, is by maintaining a consistent prayer life. We have to be willing to recognize God’s role in our life and in our teaching.“ – Rachel Gleeson

 

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

 

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

 

Mindfulness has been demonstrated to be helpful in treating and preventing burnout.

Prayer can be a mindfulness meditation practice. It is possible that Prayer, like mindfulness, can reduce teacher burnout.

 

In today’s Research News article “Spirituality and Prayer on Teacher Stress and Burnout in an Italian Cohort: A Pilot, Before-After Controlled Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02933/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1232595_69_Psycho_20200204_arts_A), Chirico and colleagues recruited Catholic school teachers and randomly assigned them to a no treatment control condition or to receive training 30-minute, twice a week for 2 months in a combination of prayer and meditative adoration of the divine. They were measured before the treatment and 4 months later for job satisfaction, psychological well-being, and burnout, including emotional exhaustion and depersonalization.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control condition that the group that received training in prayer had significantly higher levels of job satisfaction and psychological well-being, and significantly lower levels of burnout, including both emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. These effects had moderate to large effect sizes.

 

These results are interesting and suggest that prayer, like other mindfulness practices, is effective in promoting well-being and reducing job burnout. The mechanisms by which this occurs were not investigated but mindfulness is known to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. This may, in turn, make the individual more resilient and better able to withstand the difficulties encountered in the classroom.

 

So, reduces catholic teacher burnout with prayer.

 

spiritual intelligence plays an important role in work environment.” – Ravie Mirshavi

 

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

 

Chirico F, Sharma M, Zaffina S and Magnavita N (2020) Spirituality and Prayer on Teacher Stress and Burnout in an Italian Cohort: A Pilot, Before-After Controlled Study. Front. Psychol. 10:2933. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02933

 

Introduction: Teaching is a stressful profession that exposes workers to the risk of burnout. Techniques involving higher mental functions, such as transcendental meditation and prayer, have been used in stress and burnout prevention programs. In this study, we report the results of an experience conducted in a group of teachers of a religious institute, in which prayer was used as a technique to prevent burnout.

Methods: Fifty teachers and support staff employed at a Catholic school of a Congregation of nuns volunteered for this study. They were randomized into two groups: prayer treatment (n = 25) or control group (n = 25). The treatment protocol was based on the combination of individual Christian prayer and a focus group of prayer-reflection. The participants received two 30 min training sessions a week over 2 months. Job satisfaction, well-being, and burnout symptoms (emotional exhaustion and depersonalization sub-scales) were measured at baseline and at follow-up (4 months) with the Italian versions of the Maslach Burnout Inventory validated for teaching and education sector, the General Health Questionnaire, and the Warr, Cook, and Wall’s Job Satisfaction Scale.

Results: At follow-up, a significant improvement of all outcome measures was observed. Emotional exhaustion (16.80–4.92, p < 0.001), depersonalization (3.72–0.60, p < 0.001) levels, and psychological impairment (10.08–2.04, p < 0.001) were significantly decreased, and job satisfaction (45.96–77.00, p < 0.001) was increased. The effect sizes (Glass’ Δ) of the therapeutic interventions ranged from 0.53 (satisfaction level) to 2.87 (psychological health), suggesting moderate to large effects.

Discussion: Prayer could be effective, no less than meditation and other spiritual or mind-body techniques, in contrasting the negative effects of occupational stress and preventing burnout among teachers and possibly other human service professionals.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02933/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1232595_69_Psycho_20200204_arts_A

 

Alter the Brain and Memory Consolidation During Sleep with Meditation

Alter the Brain and Memory Consolidation During Sleep with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

meditation. The deep relaxation technique has been shown to increase sleep time, improve sleep quality, and make it easier to fall (and stay) asleep.” – Sleep Foundation

 

We spend about a third of our lives in sleep, but we know very little about it. It is known that sleep is not a unitary phenomenon. Rather, it involves several different states that can be characterized by differences in physiological activation, neural activity, and subjective experiences. These changes can be recorded from the scalp with an electroencephalogram (EEG).

 

In the waking state the nervous system shows EEG activity that is termed low voltage fast activity. The electrical activity recorded from the scalp is rapidly changing but only with very small size waves. When sleep first occurs, the individual enters into a stage called slow-wave sleep, sometimes called non-REM sleep. The heart rate and blood pressure decline even further and the muscles become very soft and relaxed. In this state the EEG shows a characteristic waveform known as the theta rhythm, which is a large change in voltage recorded that oscillates at a rate of 4 to 8 cycles per second. As the individual goes even deeper into sleep something remarkable happens as the individual enters into rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep). Here the muscles become extremely inhibited and flaccid, but the eyes move rapidly under the closed eyelids as if the individual was looking around. At the same time the heart rate and blood pressure increase and become very variable and sometimes very high.

 

Sleep has also been shown to be involved in memory consolidation. “Sleep is thought to strengthen information learned during the day, to select which experiences are best remembered and which are best forgotten, and to assimilate new knowledge into existing autobiographical networks.” It has been shown that mindfulness training, including meditation practice, affects sleep and tends to improve sleep and reduce insomnia. It has also been shown to affect memory. But there is need to further investigate the effects of meditation practice, particularly long-term meditation practice, on brain activity during sleep and wakefulness and memory consolidation to begin to understand the mechanisms by which meditation practice affects memory, sleep, and wakefulness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Different Patterns of Sleep-Dependent Procedural Memory Consolidation in Vipassana Meditation Practitioners and Non-meditating Controls.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03014/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1232595_69_Psycho_20200204_arts_A), Solomonova and colleagues recruited healthy young adult (aged 18-35 years) practitioners of Vipassana meditation and matched non-meditators for an afternoon nap study. The participants were measured for body awareness. On one day they engaged in a 90-minute nap preceded by either a 10-minute meditation or a 10-minute relaxation period. During the nap their EEG was recorded. The participants reported on their dreams when awoken halfway into and at the end of the nap. Before and after the nap the participants engaged in a 5-minute session measuring balance with a Nintendo game “Balance Bubble.”

 

They found that the meditators had significantly greater body awareness than the non-meditators. In addition, for meditators only, the higher the body awareness the better the performance on the balance task. Hence meditation practice is associated with better awareness of the body which was in turn related to their balance.

 

There were no significant differences between the groups in improvement on the balance task after the nap or in sleep structure as assessed with the EEG during the nap. Interestingly, the greater the lifetime meditation practice, the less time spent in slow-wave (non-REM) sleep. For the meditation group but not the controls, the greater the density of slow-wave (non-REM) sleep spindles during the nap, the greater the improvement in the balance task. On the other hand, for the non-meditators the greater the time spent in REM sleep, the greater the improvement in the balance task.

 

These findings suggest that memory consolidation for a balance task over a nap occurred in concert with different sleep architecture for the meditators and non-meditators. This suggests the meditation practice produce neuroplastic changes in the brain that resulted in different memory consolidation mechanisms during sleep. These are complex changes that suggest different neural processing of information during sleep in meditators.

 

So, alter the brain and memory consolidation during sleep with meditation.

 

Given the many health concerns pertaining to sleep aid medication use in older adults,” he added, “mindfulness meditation appears to be a safe and sensible health promoting practice to improve sleep quality.” – David Black

 

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

 

Solomonova E, Dubé S, Blanchette-Carrière C, Sandra DA, Samson-Richer A, Carr M, Paquette T and Nielsen T (2020) Different Patterns of Sleep-Dependent Procedural Memory Consolidation in Vipassana Meditation Practitioners and Non-meditating Controls. Front. Psychol. 10:3014. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03014

 

Aim: Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, and sleep spindles are all implicated in the consolidation of procedural memories. Relative contributions of sleep stages and sleep spindles were previously shown to depend on individual differences in task processing. However, no studies to our knowledge have focused on individual differences in experience with Vipassana meditation as related to sleep. Vipassana meditation is a form of mental training that enhances proprioceptive and somatic awareness and alters attentional style. The goal of this study was to examine a potential role for Vipassana meditation experience in sleep-dependent procedural memory consolidation.

Methods: Groups of Vipassana meditation practitioners (N = 22) and matched meditation-naïve controls (N = 20) slept for a daytime nap in the laboratory. Before and after the nap they completed a procedural task on the Wii Fit balance platform.

Results: Meditators performed slightly better on the task before the nap, but the two groups improved similarly after sleep. The groups showed different patterns of sleep-dependent procedural memory consolidation: in meditators, task learning was positively correlated with density of slow occipital spindles, while in controls task improvement was positively associated with time in REM sleep. Sleep efficiency and sleep architecture did not differ between groups. Meditation practitioners, however, had a lower density of occipital slow sleep spindles than controls.

Conclusion: Results suggest that neuroplastic changes associated with meditation practice may alter overall sleep microarchitecture and reorganize sleep-dependent patterns of memory consolidation. The lower density of occipital spindles in meditators may mean that meditation practice compensates for some of the memory functions of sleep.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03014/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1232595_69_Psycho_20200204_arts_A

 

Improved Work Engagement is Associated with Mindfulness

Improved Work Engagement is Associated with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness exerts its positive effect on work engagement by increasing positive affect, hope, and optimism, which on their own and in combination enhance work engagement.” – Peter Malinowski

 

Work is very important for our health and well-being. We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. How we spend that time is immensely important for 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 people we work with. But, more than half of employees in the U.S. and nearly 2/3 worldwide are unhappy at work. This is partially due to work-related stress which is epidemic in the western workplace. Almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This stress can result in impaired health and can result in burnout; producing fatigue, cynicism, and professional inefficacy.

 

To help overcome unhappiness, stress, and burnoutmindfulness practices have been implemented in the workplace. Indeed, mindfulness practices have been shown to markedly reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, it has become very trendy for business to incorporate meditation into the workday to help improve employee well-being, health, and productivity. It seems reasonable that mindfulness would be associated with greater engagement in work.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Influence of Individual and Team Mindfulness on Work Engagement.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02928/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1232595_69_Psycho_20200204_arts_A), Liu and colleagues recruited employees of service companies and had them complete questionnaires at 3 different occasions. First, they completed measures of mindfulness, recovery, and work engagement. Three months later they completed measures of team mindfulness and recovery level. Three months later they completed a measure of work engagement. Recovery is the degree to which the individual recovers from stress or boredom.

 

They found significant relationships such that the higher the level of individual mindfulness the higher the levels of team mindfulness, recovery, and work engagement, and the higher the levels of recovery the higher the levels of work engagement. A confirmatory factor analysis revealed that mindfulness was directly related to higher levels of work engagement. Mindfulness was also indirectly related with work engagement via recovery such that mindfulness was related to higher levels of recovery which was in turn related to higher levels of work engagement.

 

The study did not manipulate mindfulness or recovery, so causation cannot be absolutely determined. But the results suggest an important role for mindfulness in the workplace. Work engagement is important for employee performance. Hence, the present results suggest that mindfulness is important for this performance. It is so by being directly related and also by being related to recovery which then is related to work engagement.

 

Mindfulness practices have been shown to markedly reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. This would allow for rapid recovery from the stress. Mindfulness appears to promote the ability to bounce back from stress and boredom and that this skill facilitates engagement in work. This suggests that that a mindful employee is a less stressed, better employee.

 

So, improved work engagement is associated with mindfulness.

 

Better employee engagement is only one of the benefits of practicing mindfulness in the workplace. The additional advantages you can expect from it are the following: Better employee retention: Workers are less inclined to look for another job as mindfulness helps lower their emotional exhaustion at work. Better health of employees results in lower incidences of absences and healthcare costs. Better productivity¾because employees are happier and healthier!” –  Cheryl Chandola

 

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

 

Liu S, Xin H, Shen L, He J and Liu J (2020) The Influence of Individual and Team Mindfulness on Work Engagement. Front. Psychol. 10:2928. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02928

 

Mindfulness metacognitive practice that can be performed in the workplace. Drawing on the theory of conservation of resources, we test a moderated mediating model of how and when employee mindfulness has a positive effect on work engagement. Via analysis of data from 311 employees from 83 teams at different times, this study investigates the relationship between employee mindfulness and work engagement as well as the moderating effect of team mindfulness and the mediating effect of recovery level. The results from this multi-wave field study show that the mindfulness of the individual employee has a positive influence on work engagement and that recovery level plays a mediating role. Team mindfulness positively moderates the relationship between individual mindfulness and work engagement. This conclusion may bridge the relationship between mindfulness and work engagement theory.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02928/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1232595_69_Psycho_20200204_arts_A

 

Religious and Spiritual Coping Reduces the Risk of Hypertension.

Religious and Spiritual Coping Reduces the Risk of Hypertension.

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Scientific literature have recorded that spiritual well-being is associated with better physical and mental health, according to psycho-neuro-immune models of health. Spirituality and religion can help patients, their families and caregivers dealing with illness and other stressful life events.” – Marcelo Saad

 

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

 

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

 

Spirituality is defined as “one’s personal affirmation of and relationship to a higher power or to the sacred. There have been a number of studies of the influence of spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental healthReligiosity is also known to help with a wide range of physical and psychological problems. So, it would make sense to investigate the influence of spirituality and religiosity on hypertension in African Americans.

 

In today’s Research News article “). Religious and Spiritual Coping and Risk of Incident Hypertension in the Black Women’s Health Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6230974/), Cozier and colleagues performed a secondary analysis of the data provided by a large U.S. national sample of adult black women. The women had completed a large array of measures. But for the present study measures were extracted of religion/spirituality, positive religious coping, perceived stress, depression, and experiences of racism. They were also measured 8 years later for the incidence of hypertension.

 

They found that women who reported high levels of religion/spirituality were older, more educated, less likely to smoke or drink, lived in disadvantaged neighborhoods, and with lower levels of perceived stress. Significantly, they also found that women high in positive religious coping had a significantly lower risk of developing hypertension 8 years later. This association was strongest in women with the highest levels of perceived stress.

 

These results are interesting and suggest that the development of hypertension is associated with stress and that positive religious coping can mitigate the effects of stress on blood pressure. Positive religious coping involves using “religious and spiritual resources to cope with and adapt to stressful life circumstances.” Hence spiritualty and religiosity can promote better health in black women by providing them with methods to cope with the stresses in their lives.

 

So, reduce the risk of hypertension with religious/spiritual coping.

 

Religious coping now represents a key variable of interest in research on health outcomes, not only because many individuals turn to their faith in times of illness, but also because studies have frequently found that religious coping is associated with desirable health outcomes.” – Jeremey Cummings

 

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

 

Cozier, Y. C., Yu, J., Wise, L. A., VanderWeele, T. J., Balboni, T. A., Argentieri, M. A., … Shields, A. E. (2018). Religious and Spiritual Coping and Risk of Incident Hypertension in the Black Women’s Health Study. Annals of behavioral medicine : a publication of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, 52(12), 989–998. doi:10.1093/abm/kay001

 

Abstract

Background

The few studies of the relationship between religion and/or spirituality (R/S) and hypertension are conflicting. We hypothesized that R/S may reduce the risk of hypertension by buffering adverse physiological effects of stress.

Methods

We prospectively assessed the association of R/S with hypertension within the Black Women’s Health Study (BWHS), a cohort study initiated in 1995 that follows participants through biennial questionnaires. The 2005 questionnaire included four R/S questions: (i) extent to which one’s R/S is involved in coping with stressful situations, (ii) self-identification as a religious/spiritual person, (iii) frequency of attending religious services, and (iv) frequency of prayer. Incidence rate ratios (IRRs) and 95% confidence intervals were calculated for each R/S variable in relation to incident hypertension using Cox proportional hazards regression models, controlling for demographics, known hypertension risk factors, psychosocial factors, and other R/S variables.

Results

During 2005–2013, 5,194 incident cases of hypertension were identified. High involvement of R/S in coping with stressful events compared with no involvement was associated with reduced risk of hypertension (IRR: 0.87; 95% CI: 0.75, 1.00). The association was strongest among women reporting greater levels of perceived stress (IRR: 0.77; 95% CI: 0.61, 0.98; p interaction = .01). More frequent prayer was associated with increased risk of hypertension (IRR: 1.12; 95% CI: 0.99, 1.27). No association was observed for the other R/S measures.

Conclusion

R/S coping was associated with decreased risk of hypertension in African American women, especially among those reporting higher levels of stress. Further research is needed to understand the mechanistic pathways through which R/S coping may affect health.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6230974/