Meditation on Different States of Consciousness Produces Different Brain Activity

Meditation on Different States of Consciousness Produces Different Brain Activity

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Meditation is just self-directed neuroplasticity. In other words, you are directing the change of your brain by inwardly and consciously directing attention in a particular way. You’re using the mind to change the brain, like a child crafting a Playdough structure.” – Liam McClintock

 

Mindfulness 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. How exactly mindfulness practices produce their benefits is unknown. It is known that meditation practice alters states of consciousness and alters brain activity.

 

It is possible to investigate the relationships between consciousness and brain activity. One way is to measure changes in the electroencephalogram (EEG), the rhythmic electrical activity that can be recorded from the scalp. The recorded activity can be separated into frequency bands. Delta activity consists of oscillations in the 0.5-3 cycles per second band. Theta activity in the EEG consists of oscillations in the 4-8 cycles per second band. Alpha activity consists of oscillations in the 8-12 cycles per second band. Beta activity consists of oscillations in the 15-25 cycles per second band while Gamma activity occurs in the 35-45 cycles per second band. Changes in these brain activities can be compared during different forms of meditation with different conscious content.

 

In today’s Research News article “Large effects of brief meditation intervention on EEG spectra in meditation novices.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7649620/ ) Stapleton and colleagues recruited healthy meditation-naïve adults and had them attend a 3-day meditation training workshop where seated meditation to music was practiced 3 times per day. The participants were instructed to focus on different states (emotions, gratitude, surrendering, emotions, future events, oneness, energy, future intentions, and moving energy) during the meditations. During before, during, and after each meditation brain activity was recorded with an electroencephalogram (EEG).

 

They found that from the baseline to the end of the meditations there was a significant global increase in both Theta (4-8 hz.) and Gamma (35-45 hz.) rhythms in the EEG. These activities normally occur during information processing in the brain. They also found that different meditations produced different patterns of EEG activity. Delta activity was increased to the greatest extent by meditations on gratitude, elevated emotions, and energy. Theta activity was increased to the greatest extent by meditations on gratitude, elevated emotions, and future intention. Alpha activity was increased to the greatest extent by meditations on gratitude, oneness, and future intention. Beta activity was increased to the greatest extent by meditations on gratitude, future events, elevated emotions, and future intention. Finally, Gamma activity was increased to the greatest extent by meditations on gratitude, energy, and future intention.

 

These results suggest that different conscious content during meditation is reflected in differences in the activity of the brain in novice meditators. These understandings may be useful in identifying conscious content in real time during meditation. But these results need to be replicated in experienced meditators.

 

So, meditation on different states of consciousness produces different brain activity.

 

mindfulness . . . has come to describe a meditation-based practice whose aim is to increase one’s sense of being in the present, but it has also been used to describe a nonmeditative state in which subjects set aside their mental distractions to pay greater attention to the here and now.” – Alvin Powell

 

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

 

Stapleton, P., Dispenza, J., McGill, S., Sabot, D., Peach, M., & Raynor, D. (2020). Large effects of brief meditation intervention on EEG spectra in meditation novices. IBRO reports, 9, 290–301. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ibror.2020.10.006

 

Abstract

This study investigated the impact of a brief meditation workshop on a sample of 223 novice meditators. Participants attended a three-day workshop comprising daily guided seated meditation sessions using music without vocals that focused on various emotional states and intentions (open focus). Based on the theory of integrative consciousness, it was hypothesized that altered states of consciousness would be experienced by participants during the meditation intervention as assessed using electroencephalogram (EEG). Brainwave power bands patterns were measured throughout the meditation training workshop, producing a total of 5616 EEG scans. Changes in conscious states were analysed using pre-meditation and post-meditation session measures of delta through to gamma oscillations. Results suggested the meditation intervention had large varying effects on EEG spectra (up to 50 % increase and 24 % decrease), and the speed of change from pre-meditation to post-meditation state of the EEG co-spectra was significant (with 0.76 probability of entering end-meditation state within the first minute). There was a main 5 % decrease in delta power (95 % HDI = [−0.07, −0.03]); a global increase in theta power of 29 % (95 % HDI = [0.27, 0.33]); a global increase of 16 % (95 % HDI = [0.13, 0.19]) in alpha power; a main effect of condition, with global beta power increasing by 17 % (95 % HDI = [0.15, 0.19]); and an 11 % increase (95 % HDI = [0.08, 0.14]) in gamma power from pre-meditation to end-meditation. Findings provided preliminary support for brief meditation in altering states of consciousness in novice meditators. Future clinical examination of meditation was recommended as an intervention for mental health conditions particularly associated with hippocampal impairments.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7649620/

 

Improve Glucose and Lipid Metabolism with Tai Chi

Improve Glucose and Lipid Metabolism with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Tai Chi exercises can improve blood glucose levels and improve the control of type 2 diabetes and immune system response.” – Anna McKenney

 

Diet and exercise are the typical recommendation to improve glucose and lipid metabolism for the treatment and prevention of a number of metabolic disorders. Alternatives to classical exercise programs are Tai and Qigong practices. They have been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevity. Tai Chi training is designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements.

 

Recently the effects of Tai Chi practice been scrutinized with empirical research. It has been found to be effective for an array of physical and psychological issues. It appears to strengthen the immune systemreduce inflammationincrease the number of cancer killing cells in the bloodstream and improve cardiovascular function. In addition, they appear to be effective in improving blood glucose and lipid metabolism. Because Tai Chi is not strenuous, involving slow gentle movements, and is safe, having no appreciable side effects, it is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion. But most studies of Tai Chi benefits have employed lengthy practices. The acute, immediate, effects of a session of Tai Chi have not been well investigated.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of a Single Session of Tai Chi Chuan Practice on Glucose and Lipid Metabolism and Related Hormones.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7460509/ ) Lu and colleagues recruited healthy adults over 50 years of age who were Tai Chi practitioners and a group of non-practitioners who were equivalent in age, gender, and body size. The Tai Chi group performed one 40-minute Tai Chi practice while the control group rested for 40 minutes. They obtained blood samples from both groups before and after their sessions and measured them for total cholesterol, blood glucose, insulin, insulin resistance, insulin sensitivity, and endothelin-1 (ET-1, a vasoconstrictor).

 

They found that at baseline, before practice, the Tai Chi group in comparison to the control group at rest had significantly lower levels of total cholesterol, insulin, insulin resistance, while insulin sensitivity was significantly higher. In comparison to the control group the Tai Chi group had a significantly greater percentage increases from baseline in blood glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance and a significantly larger percentage decreases in total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, insulin sensitivity, and endothelin-1 (ET-1).

 

These are interesting results that must be tempered with the understanding that the control condition was not active. So, the changes seen after Tai Chi practice may have been due to exercise effects rather than performing Tai Chi itself. Indeed, the results on the immediate acute effects of Tai Chi practice on glucose and lipid metabolism are complicated and difficult to interpret. This may be due to the lack of an active control, comparison, condition, revealing the effects of activity vs. rest rather than effects specific to Tai Chi.

 

But the baseline results are not contaminated and they suggest that the practice of Tai Chi produces a general improvement in glucose and fat metabolism that is present even without immediate practice. This suggests that Tai Chi practice improves the overall physiological health of the practitioners. This would lead to lower likelihood of diabetes or cardiovascular disease and improvements in the diseases if present. Indeed Tai Chi practice has been found to be beneficial, improving symptoms, for people with diabetes and also cardiovascular disease.

 

So, improve glucose and lipid metabolism with Tai Chi.

 

Diet and exercise are the cornerstone of diabetes management. People with diabetes who exercise regularly have better control over their blood glucose levels and fewer complications such as heart disease and stroke. Many people, however, are unable to keep up with their regular exercise because they either don’t enjoy it, or have a problem finding time to exercise. Tai chi offers a major advantage: It’s enjoyable, and to many, it’s almost addictive.” – Paul Lam

 

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

 

Lu, W. A., Chen, Y. S., Wang, C. H., & Kuo, C. D. (2020). Effect of a Single Session of Tai Chi Chuan Practice on Glucose and Lipid Metabolism and Related Hormones. Life (Basel, Switzerland), 10(8), 145. https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080145

 

Abstract

Background: To examine the effect of Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) practice on glucose and lipid metabolism and related hormones in TCC practitioners. Methods: Twenty-one TCC practitioners and nineteen healthy controls were included in this study. Classical Yang’s TCC was practiced by the TCC practitioners. The percentage changes in serum total cholesterol (TC), high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C), serum glucose (SG), serum insulin, serum insulin level, homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), log(HOMA-IR), quantitative insulin sensitivity check index (QUICKI), and serum endothelin-1 (ET-1) before and 30 min after resting or TCC practice were compared between healthy controls and TCC practitioners. Results: Before TCC or resting, the serum insulin level, HOMA-IR, and log(HOMA-IR) of the TCC practitioners were significantly lower than those of healthy subjects, whereas the QUICKI of the TCC practitioners was significantly higher than that of healthy subjects. Thirty min after TCC practice, the %TC, %HDL-C, %QUICKI, and %ET-1 were all significantly decreased, whereas the %SG, %serum insulin, and %HOMA-IR were significantly increased in the TCC group as compared to the control group 30 min after resting. Conclusions: The serum glucose, insulin level and insulin resistance were enhanced, whereas the cholesterol, HDL-C and ET-1 levels were reduced 30 min after TCC practice. The mechanism underlying these effects of TCC 30 min after TCC is not clear yet.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7460509/

 

Mind-Body Skills Training Improves College Student Mental Health and Well-Being

Mind-Body Skills Training Improves College Student Mental Health and Well-Being

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

By focusing on and controlling our breath, we can change how we think and feel. We can use the breath as a means of changing our emotional state and managing stress.” —Tommy Rosen

 

There is an accumulating volume of research findings to demonstrate that Mind-body practices have highly beneficial effects on the health and well-being of humans. These include meditation, yoga, tai chi, qigong, biofeedback, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, hypnosis, and deep breathing exercises. Because of their proven benefits the application of these practices to relieving human suffering has skyrocketed.

 

There is a lot of pressure on college students to excel. This stress might in fact be counterproductive as the increased pressure can actually lead to stress and anxiety which can impede the student’s physical and mental health, well-being, and school performance. Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health. Indeed, these practices have been found to improve psychological health in college students. So, it would be expected that training in mind-body practices would improve the psychological health of college students.

 

In today’s Research News article “Impact of a University-Wide Interdisciplinary Mind-Body Skills Program on Student Mental and Emotional Well-Being.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7686595/ ) Novak and colleagues recruited college students who were enrolled to take a mind-body skills program and an equivalent group of control college students. The program consisted of 9-weeks of once a week for 2 hours training and discussion of “mindfulness, guided imagery, autogenic training, biofeedback, and breathing techniques, as well as art, music, and movement practices” in groups of 10. The students were instructed to practice daily at home for 20 minutes. They were measured before and after training for perceived stress, positive and negative emotions, resilience, depression, anxiety, fatigue, sleep disturbance, mindfulness, interpersonal reactivity, and burnout. Subsets of each group were remeasured one year after the completion of the study. There were no significant differences in these measures between the groups at baseline.

 

They found that in comparison to the baseline and the control group, the students who received mind-body skills training had significant decreases in perceived stress, negative affect, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and burnout and significant increases in positive emotions, resilience, mindfulness, empathic concern, and perspective taking. In addition, the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of perceived stress, negative emotions and depersonalization and the higher the levels of positive emotions, resilience, and perspective taking. Unfortunately, these improvements, except for mindfulness, disappeared by the one year follow up.

 

The present study did not have an active control condition. So, it is possible that confounding factors such as participant expectancy, experimenter bias, attention effects etc. may have been responsible for the results. But in prior controlled research it has been demonstrated that mindfulness training produces decreases in perceived stress, negative emotions, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and burnout and significant increases in positive emotions, resilience, and empathic concern. So, it is likely that the benefits observed in the present study were due to the mind-body skills training.

 

These results then suggest that mind-body skills training produces marked improvements in the psychological health and well-being of college students. But the improvements were not lasting. This may signal the need for better training protocols or periodic booster session to maintain the benefits. Given the great academic stress, pressure, and social stresses of college life, the students were much better off for taking the mind-body skills training program. It was not measured but these benefits would predict increased academic performance and improved well-being in these students.

 

So, mind-body skills training improves college student mental health and well-being.

 

mind/body approaches to healing and wellness are gaining in popularity in the U.S. and research supports their efficacy in treating a number of psychological and physical health issues that are not easily treated by mainstream medicine.” – Doug Guiffrida

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Novak, B. K., Gebhardt, A., Pallerla, H., McDonald, S. B., Haramati, A., & Cotton, S. (2020). Impact of a University-Wide Interdisciplinary Mind-Body Skills Program on Student Mental and Emotional Well-Being. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 9, 2164956120973983. https://doi.org/10.1177/2164956120973983

 

Abstract

Background

Positive effects of mind-body skills programs on participant well-being have been reported in health professions students. The success seen with medical students at this university led to great interest in expanding the mind-body skills program so students in other disciplines could benefit from the program.

Objective

The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of a 9-week mind-body skills program on the mental and emotional well-being of multidisciplinary students compared to controls. We also sought to determine if the program’s effects were sustained at 1-year follow-up.

Methods

A cross-sectional pre-post survey was administered online via SurveyMonkey to participants of a 9-week mind-body skills program and a control group of students from 7 colleges at a public university from 2017–2019. Students were assessed on validated measures of stress, positive/negative affect, resilience, depression, anxiety, fatigue, sleep disturbance, mindfulness, empathy, and burnout. Scores were analyzed between-groups and within-groups using bivariate and multivariate analyses. A 1-year follow-up was completed on a subset of participants and controls.

Results

279 participants and 247 controls completed the pre-survey and post-survey (79% response rate; 71% female, 68% white, mean age = 25 years). Participants showed significant decreases in stress, negative affect, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and burnout, while positive affect, resilience, mindfulness, and empathy increased significantly (P < .05). Only sleep disturbance showed a significant decrease in the control group. Follow-up in a subset of participants showed that only mindfulness remained elevated at 1-year (P < .05), whereas the significant changes in other well-being measures were not sustained.

Conclusion

Participation in a 9-week mind-body skills program led to significant improvement in indicators of well-being in multidisciplinary students. A pilot 1-year follow-up suggests that effects are only sustained for mindfulness, but not other parameters. Future programming should focus on implementing mind-body skills booster sessions to help sustain the well-being benefits.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7686595/

 

Nature-Based and Mind-Body Practices Produce Cost-Effective Improvements in Life Satisfaction and Happiness

Nature-Based and Mind-Body Practices Produce Cost-Effective Improvements in Life Satisfaction and Happiness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

our emotional connections with nature are predictive of our attitudes and the choices we make about living sustainable lifestyles. But in addition, the study also found a unique connection between nature and happiness itself.” – Marilyn Price-Mitchell

 

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

 

A variety of forms of mindfulness training including mind-body practices have been shown to increase psychological well-being and happiness. People have long reported that walking in nature elevates their mood and Tai Chi practice has also been found to increase happiness. The evidence has been accumulating. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what has been learned

 

In today’s Research News article “Nature-Based Interventions and Mind-Body Interventions: Saving Public Health Costs Whilst Increasing Life Satisfaction and Happiness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7660642/ ) Pretty and Barton analyze four databases (Green Light Trust (n = 32), Trust Links Growing Together (n = 328), Ecominds green care interventions (n = 154), and a tai chi programme (n = 128) on the effects of nature-based and mind-body interventions on satisfaction with life and happiness. These interventions included woodland therapy, therapeutic horticulture, ecotherapy/green care, and tai chi.They then compared the costs of these programs to the costs of public health and other services to produce comparable changes in life satisfaction and happiness. They also looked at the cost savings produced by nature-based and mind-body interventions in preventing the use of other medical and psychological services.

 

They report that the analysis demonstrated that all nature-based and Tai Chi interventions produced large and significant improvements in satisfaction with life and happiness and these improvements were still present 2 years later. They report that the magnitude of these changes is substantially greater than those produced by major life events such as marriage, birth of a child, etc. They find that the economic impact of these programs is substantial and estimated savings of between £6000–£14,000 per person per year.

 

These findings are remarkable and suggest that nature-based and Tai Chi interventions are highly effective in improving life satisfaction and happiness. These improvements are not only psychological but also economic saving money by reducing the need for medical and other services. These programs then produce great value for the money. It is recommended that such programs should be incorporated into standard public health services.

 

So, nature-based and mind-body practices produce cost-effective improvements in life satisfaction and happiness.

 

If you want to further your happiness and success, then having a mind-body-spirit connection is vital. “– Health and Happiness

 

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

 

Pretty, J., & Barton, J. (2020). Nature-Based Interventions and Mind-Body Interventions: Saving Public Health Costs Whilst Increasing Life Satisfaction and Happiness. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(21), 7769. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17217769

 

Abstract

A number of countries have begun to adopt prevention pays policies and practices to reduce pressure on health and social care systems. Most affluent countries have seen substantial increases in the incidence and costs of non-communicable diseases. The interest in social models for health has led to the growth in use of social prescribing and psychological therapies. At the same time, there has been growth in application of a variety of nature-based and mind–body interventions (NBIs and MBIs) aimed at improving health and longevity. We assess four NBI/MBI programmes (woodland therapy, therapeutic horticulture, ecotherapy/green care, and tai chi) on life satisfaction/happiness and costs of use of public services. These interventions produce rises in life satisfaction/happiness of 1.00 pts to 7.29 (n = 644; p < 0.001) (for courses or participation >50 h). These increases are greater than many positive life events (e.g., marriage or a new child); few countries or cities see +1 pt increases over a decade. The net present economic benefits per person from reduced public service use are £830–£31,520 (after 1 year) and £6450–£11,980 (after 10 years). We conclude that NBIs and MBIs can play a role in helping to reduce the costs on health systems, while increasing the well-being of participants.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7660642/

 

Improve Motor and Imitation Skills in Children with Autism with Yoga

Improve Motor and Imitation Skills in Children with Autism with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

children with autism, specifically, respond very positively to regular yoga practice.  Some of the encouraging physical benefits of yoga include increased strength, flexibility, balance and coordination. But there are more subtle gains as well: increased social-emotional skills, body awareness, self-regulation, focus and concentration are benefits as well!” – Rachel Costello

 

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that tends to appear during early childhood and affect the individual throughout their lifetime. It affects a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others, delays learning of language, makes eye contact or holding a conversation difficult, impairs reasoning and planning, narrows and intensifies interests, produces poor motor skills and sensory sensitivities, and is frequently associated with sleep and gastrointestinal problems. It is currently estimated that over 1% of the world population has autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

 

Treatment is generally directed at symptoms and can include behavioral therapies, exercises and drug treatments. Clearly, there is a need for effective alternative treatment options. A promising treatment is mindfulness training. It has been shown to be helpful in treating ASD. A characterizing feature of ASD is dysfunction in motor behavior. Since yoga is both a mindfulness practice and an exercise it is reasonable to examine the ability of yoga to improve the motor behavior of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

 

In today’s Research News article “Creative Yoga Intervention Improves Motor and Imitation Skills of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7325451/ ) Kaur and Bhat recruited children between the ages of 5 and 13 years who were diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They were randomly assigned to receive 8 weeks of 2 sessions per week of 45 minutes led by a physical therapist and 2 sessions per week of 25 minutes led at home by parents of either yoga or sedentary academic activities such as reading and arts and crafts. They were measured before and after training for motor ability and imitation. For the yoga group was imitation was measured as the accuracy of trained yoga postures while for the academic group imitation was measured as the accuracy for performing some simple tasks such as rolling, pinching, pushing, and pulling using building materials such as Play-Doh.

 

They found in comparison to baseline that the children in the yoga group had significant improvements in gross motor ability while the academic group had significant improvements in fine motor ability. Both groups had significant reductions in imitation errors. These findings suggest that children with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) benefit from either yoga or academic practice with both improving imitation but with yoga improving gross motor movements while academic training improved fine motor movements.

 

Inactivity and problems with motor ability are characteristic of children with ASD, and these impairments are associated with social and behavioral problems. The results suggest that these children would benefit by practicing both yoga and academic skills. The improved motor ability is postulated to be translated in better social interactions and lower levels of behavioral issues. It remains for future research to investigate this speculation.

 

So, improve motor and imitation skills in children with autism with yoga.

 

creative movement interventions utilizing music and yoga should be an essential part of the standard of care for children with ASD.” – Kaur & Bhat

 

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

 

Kaur, M., & Bhat, A. (2019). Creative Yoga Intervention Improves Motor and Imitation Skills of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder. Physical therapy, 99(11), 1520–1534. https://doi.org/10.1093/ptj/pzz115

 

Background

There is growing evidence for motor impairments in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), including poor gross and fine motor performance, poor balance, and incoordination. However, there is limited evidence on the effects of motor interventions for this population.

Objective

In the present study, the effects of a physical therapy intervention using creative yoga on the motor and imitation skills of children with ASD were evaluated.

Design

This study had a pretest-posttest control group design.

Methods

Twenty-four children with ASD aged between 5 and 13 years received 8 weeks of a physical therapist-delivered yoga or academic intervention. Children were tested before and after the intervention using a standardized motor measure, the Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Performance–2nd Edition (BOT-2). The imitation skills of children using familiar training-specific actions (ie, poses for the yoga group and building actions for the academic group) were also assessed.

Results

After the intervention, children in the yoga group improved gross motor performance on the BOT-2 and displayed fewer imitation/praxis errors when copying training-specific yoga poses. In contrast, children in the academic group improved their fine motor performance on the BOT-2 and performed fewer imitation errors while completing the training-specific building actions.

Limitations

The study limitations include small sample size and lack of long-term follow-up.

Conclusions

Overall, creative interventions, such as yoga, are promising tools for enhancing the motor and imitation skills of children with ASD.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7325451/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Non-Judging and Positive Emotions which Improve Emotional Health

Mindfulness is Associated with Non-Judging and Positive Emotions which Improve Emotional Health

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Almost any approach for cultivating care for others needs to start with paying attention. The beginning of cultivating compassion and concern, or doing something for the benefit of others, is first noticing what something or someone means to you.” – Erika Rosenberg

 

Over the last several decades, research and anecdotal experiences have accumulated an impressive evidential case that the development of mindfulness has positive benefits for the individual’s mental, physical, and spiritual life. One way that mindfulness may be producing its benefits is by improving emotion regulation so that mindful people are better able to experience yet control their responses to emotions. This then improves mental health.

 

Mindfulness, though, is not a unitary concept. It has been segregated into five facets; observing, describing, acting with awareness, non-judgement, and non-reactivity. People differ and an individual can be high or low on any of these facets and any combination of facets. It is not known what pattern of mindfulness facets are most predictive of good mental health. So, it is important to investigate the interrelationships of mindfulness, compassion, and emotions with negative states such as of anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and negative emotions.

 

In today’s Research News article “Network Analysis of Mindfulness Facets, Affect, Compassion, and Distress.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7689647/ ) Medvedev and colleagues recruited college students and also mailed questionnaires to the general population (response rate 12%). They had them complete measures of anxiety, depression, perceived stress, positive and negative emotions, compassion, and mindfulness, including observing, describing, acting with awareness, non-judgement, and non-reactivity facets. These data were subjected to a network analysis.

 

They found two major clusters of variables. The maladaptive factors of anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and negative emotions were highly associated and strongly clustered into a tight node. The adaptive factors of positive emotions, compassion, and mindfulness, including observing, describing, acting with awareness, non-judgement, and non-reactivity facets were also clustered but not as tightly into a second node. Examining which variables were the primary bridge between the two nodes revealed that the mindfulness facet of non-judging of internal experience and positive emotions were by far the strongest negative bridges. Compassion was associated with the maladaptive node by a strong connection with positive emotions that were negatively associated with the maladaptive node.

 

These results are correlative and as such caution must be exercised in reaching causal connections. But mindfulness and its facets have been shown in previous research to reduce anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and negative emotions. So, the associations observed in the present study likely represent causal connections. Nonetheless, the present findings suggest that mindfulness and compassion work to reduce maladaptive emotions through non-judging of internal experience and positive emotions. That is, they increase these bridging factors and thereby reduce the maladaptive emotions.

 

Non-judging of internal experience involves taking a neutral attitude toward one’s own experience. Accepting one’s internal experiences appears to be the key to reducing anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and negative emotions. In other words, if a thought arises that predicts a future negative event it does not evoke anxiety or depression if that thought is not judged, just allowed to happen. The adaptive characteristics also appear to improve one’s emotional state producing greater positive feelings. This also appears to be an antidote to negative feelings. So, mindfulness and compassion increase positive emotions that act to counteract negative feelings.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with non-judging and positive emotions which improve emotional health.

 

The beauty of self-compassion is that instead of replacing negative feelings with positive ones, new positive emotions are generated by embracing the negative ones. The positive emotions of care and connectedness are felt alongside our painful feelings. When we have compassion for ourselves, sunshine and shadow are experienced simultaneously.” – Kristin Neff

 

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

 

Medvedev, O. N., Cervin, M., Barcaccia, B., Siegert, R. J., Roemer, A., & Krägeloh, C. U. (2020). Network Analysis of Mindfulness Facets, Affect, Compassion, and Distress. Mindfulness, 1–12. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-020-01555-8

 

Abstract

Objectives

Mindfulness, positive affect, and compassion may protect against psychological distress but there is lack of understanding about the ways in which these factors are linked to mental health. Network analysis is a statistical method used to investigate complex associations among constructs in a single network and is particularly suitable for this purpose. The aim of this study was to explore how mindfulness facets, affect, and compassion were linked to psychological distress using network analysis.

Methods

The sample (n = 400) included equal numbers from general and student populations who completed measures of five mindfulness facets, compassion, positive and negative affect, depression, anxiety, and stress. Network analysis was used to explore the direct associations between these variables.

Results

Compassion was directly related to positive affect, which in turn was strongly and inversely related to depression and positively related to the observing and describing facets of mindfulness. The non-judgment facet of mindfulness was strongly and inversely related to negative affect, anxiety, and depression, while non-reactivity and acting with awareness were inversely associated with stress and anxiety, respectively. Strong associations were found between all distress variables.

Conclusions

The present network analysis highlights the strong link between compassion and positive affect and suggests that observing and describing the world through the lens of compassion may enhance resilience to depression. Taking a non-judging and non-reacting stance toward internal experience while acting with awareness may protect against psychological distress. Applicability of these findings can be examined in experimental studies aiming to prevent distress and enhance psychological well-being.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7689647/

 

Improve Brain Systems Underlying Sustained Attention in Sixth Graders with Mindfulness

Improve Brain Systems Underlying Sustained Attention in Sixth Graders with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“research suggests that mindfulness meditation can increase awareness of our thoughts, or meta-cognitive awareness, as well as regulate emotion, enhance attention and reduce stress. These changes can also be detected in the brain.” – B. Grace Bullock

 

Childhood is a miraculous period during which the child is dynamically absorbing information from every aspect of its environment. This is particularly evident during the elementary school years. Mindfulness training in school has been shown to have very positive effects. These include improvements in the academic, cognitive, psychological, and social domains. Importantly, mindfulness training in school appears to improve attentional ability which is fundamental to success in all aspects of academic performance.

 

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. Hence, it is important to further study the impact of mindfulness training on the development of attentional ability and associated brain mechanisms in elementary school children.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness training preserves sustained attention and resting state anticorrelation between default-mode network and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex: A randomized controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7670646/ ) Bauer and colleagues recruited 6th grade students and randomly assigned them to receive 45 minute 4 times per week for 8 weeks mindfulness or computer coding training. They were measured before and after training for sustained attention with a 15-minute go-no-go task and had their brains scanned with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

 

They found in comparison to baseline and the computer coding group that the mindfulness training produced a significant improvement in sustained attention (Go accuracy) while the computer coding group had a significant decrease in accuracy. The brain scans revealed an anticorrelation between the Default Mode Network (DMN) of the brain and the Central Executive Network (CEN), such that as one becomes active the other becomes less active.

This anticorrelation was related to baseline sustained attention, with better sustained attention correlated with greater anticorrelation. They also found that after mindfulness training the anticorrelation was maintained while it decreased in the computer coding group. In addition, they found that the greater the increase in sustained attention after mindfulness training, the greater the increase in the anticorrelation while this was not true for the compute coding group.

 

The Default Mode Network (DMN) of the brain is a set of interconnected brain structures that is thought to be involved in mind wandering, thoughts not related to the task at hand, while the Central Executive Network (CEN) of the brain is a set of interconnected brain structures that is thought to be involved in high level thinking and attention to the task at hand. The anticorrelation between the two systems indicates that as the brain system underlying attention becomes stronger the brain system underlying mind wandering becomes weaker and vice versa. The strengthening of the anticorrelation indicates better neural processing ability by segregating mind wandering from attention, resulting in better sustained attention.

 

The results suggest that mindfulness training in 6th graders improves sustained attention by improving the brain systems underlying sustained attention with the greater the improvement in attention the greater the increase in the anticorrelation. These results indicate how mindfulness training may improve attention in these children. They suggest that mindfulness training improves neural processing which in turn improves the children’s attentional ability. Although not investigated, improvement in attention should result in better academic performance.

 

So, improve brain systems underlying sustained attention in sixth graders with mindfulness.

 

a brief 10-min guided mindfulness meditation instruction period can improve executive attentional control even in naïve, inexperienced meditators.” – Catherine Norris

 

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

 

Bauer, C., Rozenkrantz, L., Caballero, C., Nieto-Castanon, A., Scherer, E., West, M. R., Mrazek, M., Phillips, D. T., Gabrieli, J., & Whitfield-Gabrieli, S. (2020). Mindfulness training preserves sustained attention and resting state anticorrelation between default-mode network and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex: A randomized controlled trial. Human brain mapping, 41(18), 5356–5369. https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.25197

 

Abstract

Mindfulness training can enhance cognitive control, but the neural mechanisms underlying such enhancement in children are unknown. Here, we conducted a randomized controlled trial (RCT) with sixth graders (mean age 11.76 years) to examine the impact of 8 weeks of school‐based mindfulness training, relative to coding training as an active control, on sustained attention and associated resting‐state functional brain connectivity. At baseline, better performance on a sustained‐attention task correlated with greater anticorrelation between the default mode network (DMN) and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), a key node of the central executive network. Following the interventions, children in the mindfulness group preserved their sustained‐attention performance (i.e., fewer lapses of attention) and preserved DMN–DLPFC anticorrelation compared to children in the active control group, who exhibited declines in both sustained attention and DMN–DLPFC anticorrelation. Further, change in sustained‐attention performance correlated with change in DMN–DLPFC anticorrelation only within the mindfulness group. These findings provide the first causal link between mindfulness training and both sustained attention and associated neural plasticity. Administered as a part of sixth graders’ school schedule, this RCT supports the beneficial effects of school‐based mindfulness training on cognitive control.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7670646/

 

Dyadic Mindfulness Training Improves the Mental Health of Metastatic Cancer Patients and their Spouses

Dyadic Mindfulness Training Improves the Mental Health of Metastatic Cancer Patients and their Spouses

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Cancer is a traumatic event that changes a person’s life. Utilizing mindfulness tools can provide peace and hope. Practicing mindfulness on a daily basis can assist with long term effects of happiness and positivity. Even occasional mindfulness practice can help provide a break from the stress of cancer and fill patients with a sense of calm to confront the challenges they face.” – Erin Murphy-Wilczek

 

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 dealing with cancer. These issues extend not just to the patient but also to their partners in life. These symptoms markedly reduce the quality of life of both.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to relieve chronic pain. It can also help treat the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including stress,  sleep disturbancefear, and anxiety and depression. But cancer does not occur in isolation. It effects both the patient but also their significant others. There has been considerable research conducted on the effectiveness of mindfulness practices in treating the psychological issues associated with cancer. But there is little research on treating the cancer patients and their spouses in mindfulness as dyads.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Mindfulness-Based Intervention as a Supportive Care Strategy for Patients with Metastatic Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer and Their Spouses: Results of a Three-Arm Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7648356/ ) Milbury and colleagues recruited adult patients undergoing treatment for metastatic non‐small cell lung cancer and their romantic partners. Couples were randomly assigned to usual care or to receive 4 one-hour sessions via videoconference of either couple-based meditation or supportive-expressive practice. Couple-based meditation incorporated meditation and couple’s emotion sharing exercises. Supportive-expressive practice involved discussion of cancer-related issues that couples share. They were measured before and after treatment and 3 months later for depression, cancer-related stress symptoms, and spiritual well-being.

 

Attendance was high in both groups but the couple-based meditation reported that the sessions were more beneficial than the supportive-expressive practice group. They found that in comparison to baseline and the other groups at the 3-month follow-up the couple-based meditation patients and their significant others had significantly lower depression and cancer-related stress symptoms and higher spiritual well-being.

 

A strength of the study is that it had an active control condition, supportive-expressive practice, that contained therapeutic elements, expectancy effects and similar attention features to the couple-based meditation practice. This reduces the possibility of confounding variable being responsible for the results and suggests that the effects were due to the nature of the therapy. Another key aspect of this study is that the therapy was delivered via videoconference which may be responsible for the high attendance rates. This form of delivery is very convenient and flexible making it more likely to be effective.

 

There are great psychological and emotional problems co-occurring with cancer treatment for the patient and also for the patient’s romantic partner. So, these results are interesting and important suggesting that couple-based meditation practice can help relieve the suffering. The fact that the romantic partner was included was very important as the cancer effects both members of the dyad. Treating both prevents the suffering of one from interfering with the therapy for the other.

 

So, dyadic mindfulness training improves the mental health of metastatic cancer patients and their spouses.

 

Being in this present moment, letting go, practicing non-attachment and acceptance are so helpful in dealing with uncertainty and fear. Mindfulness is something that they use for the rest of their lives for really great benefit.” – Linda 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

 

Milbury, K., Li, Y., Durrani, S., Liao, Z., Tsao, A. S., Carmack, C., Cohen, L., & Bruera, E. (2020). A Mindfulness-Based Intervention as a Supportive Care Strategy for Patients with Metastatic Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer and Their Spouses: Results of a Three-Arm Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. The oncologist, 25(11), e1794–e1802. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1634/theoncologist.2020-0125

 

Abstract

Background

Although mindfulness‐based interventions have been widely examined in patients with nonmetastatic cancer, the feasibility and efficacy of these types of programs are largely unknown for those with advanced disease. We pilot‐tested a couple‐based meditation (CBM) relative to a supportive‐expressive (SE) and a usual care (UC) arm targeting psychospiritual distress in patients with metastatic lung cancer and their spousal caregivers.

Patients and Methods

Seventy‐five patient‐caregiver dyads completed baseline self‐report measures and were then randomized to one of the three arms. Couples in the CBM and SE groups attended four 60‐minute sessions that were delivered via videoconference. All dyads were reassessed 1 and 3 months later.

Results

A priori feasibility benchmarks were met. Although attendance was high in both groups, dyads in the CBM group indicated greater benefit of the sessions than those in the SE group (patients, CBM mean = 2.63, SE mean = 2.20, p = .003; spouses, CBM mean = 2.71, SE mean = 2.00, p = .005). Compared with the UC group, patients in the CBM group reported significantly lower depressive symptoms (p = .05; d = 0.53) and marginally reduced cancer‐related stress (p = .07; d = 0.68). Medium effect sizes in favor of the CBM compared with the SE group for depressive symptoms (d = 0.59) and cancer‐related stress (d = 0.54) were found. Spouses in the CBM group reported significantly lower depressive symptoms (p < .01; d = 0.74) compared with those in the UC group.

Conclusion

It seems feasible and possibly efficacious to deliver dyadic interventions via videoconference to couples coping with metastatic lung cancer. Mindfulness‐based interventions may be of value to managing psychological symptoms in the palliative care setting

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7648356/

 

Mindfulness is Related to Improved Psychological Health During the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Mindfulness is Related to Improved Psychological Health During the Covid-19 Pandemic.

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“During the current pandemic, there is so much uncertainty concerning the future, and many threats to our security (physical, social, emotional, and financial). It is totally natural and normal to feel anxious, fearful, and frustrated. . . Mindfulness can help us acknowledge this situation, without allowing us to be carried away with strong emotions; it can, in turn, help bring ourselves back to a centered calm. Only then can we see more clearly what it is we have control over and what it is that we do not.” – Michigan Medicine

 

Modern living is stressful under the best of conditions. But with the Covid-19 pandemic the levels of stress have been markedly increased. These conditions markedly increase anxiety. This is true for everyone but especially for healthcare workers and people caring for patients with COVID-19 and for people with pre-existing conditions that makes them particularly vulnerable. But it is also true for healthy individuals who worry about infection for themselves or loved ones.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has also produced considerable economic stress, with loss of employment and steady income. For the poor this extends to high levels of food insecurity. This not only produces anxiety about the present but also for the future. It is important for people to engage in practices that can help them control their responses to the stress and their levels of anxiety. Mindfulness practices have been found routinely to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress, reduce anxiety levels, and improve mood. But there is a need to investigate the relationships of mindfulness to psychological health in relation to knowledge concerning Covid-19.

 

In today’s Research News article “Knowledge of COVID-19 and Its Influence on Mindfulness, Cognitive Emotion Regulation and Psychological Flexibility in the Indian Community.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.589365/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1490157_69_Psycho_20201124_arts_A ) Dubey and colleagues recruited adults in India during the Covid-19 lockdown. They were measured online for their knowledge and awareness of Covid-19, depression, anxiety, perceived stress, mindfulness, emotion regulation, and acceptance of private experiences or experiential avoidance.

 

They found that the greater the amount of knowledge of Covid-19 the lower the levels of perceived stress, anxiety, catastrophizing, and depression and the higher the levels of mindfulness and psychological flexibility. In addition, they found that the higher the levels of mindfulness, the higher the levels of knowledge of Covid-19 and psychological flexibility and the lower the levels of perceived stress, anxiety, catastrophizing, and depression.

 

These findings are correlational and thus caution must be exercised in concluding causation. But in previous research it has been shown that mindfulness produces better emotion regulation by increasing psychological flexibility and by lowering the levels of psychological distress by lowering the levels of perceived stress, anxiety, catastrophizing, and depression. So, the relationships seen here are likely caused by mindfulness.

 

It is interesting that knowledge and awareness of Covid-19 appears to be crucial in dealing with its psychological impact on the individual. Higher levels of knowledge appear to mitigate the negative emotional effects of the pandemic, perhaps by improving the ability to be cognitively flexible in coping with it. When it comes to the pandemic ignorance is not bliss, rather it evokes grater psychological distress.

 

The Covid-19 lockdown was obviously a time of great fear and anxiety, not only for the individual’s physical health but also for their economic stability. Being able to deal with the negative emotions produced is essential not only for the individual’ mental health but also for evoking constructive and adaptive responses. Mindfulness and knowledge of the pandemic appear to be important for doing just that.

 

So, mindfulness is related to improved psychological health during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

 

These are trying times, but incorporating mindful practices into your daily routine can help calm anxiety and build healthy coping skills.” – Rae Jacobson

 

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

 

Dubey N, Podder P and Pandey D (2020) Knowledge of COVID-19 and Its Influence on Mindfulness, Cognitive Emotion Regulation and Psychological Flexibility in the Indian Community. Front. Psychol. 11:589365. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.589365

 

ABSTRACT

The current global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has brought about an immense effect on the mental health of the general public. Considering the escalation in number of cases, mankind is facing a myriad of psychological problems, ranging from those related to taking precautions and maintaining safety to the ones caused by separation and bereavement. The current study aims to explore whether there is a significant difference between individuals with excellent, good, fair and vague knowledge of COVID-19 with respect to depression, anxiety, stress, level of mindfulness, specific cognitive emotion regulation strategies and psychological flexibility; to find out whether there is any significant relationship among these variables; and to determine whether knowledge of COVID-19, level of mindfulness, specific cognitive emotion regulation strategies and psychological flexibility are significant predictors of depression, anxiety and stress in the sample of the current study. The sample consisted of 402 individuals selected from the community following the research criteria. Data was collected using digital consent form, information schedule and questionnaires, from 3rd May to 13th May, 2020. The questionnaires consisted of a semi-structured interview schedule to assess knowledge of COVID-19, Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale – 21, Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire-Short Form, Cognitive Emotion Regulation Questionnaire-Short version and Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-II. The data was statistically analyzed using analysis of variance test, correlational analysis and linear regression. The findings show that significant differences were present among individuals having varying degrees of knowledge of COVID-19 with respect to anxiety, level of mindfulness and psychological flexibility. Significant relationships were found to be present among the variables of the present study, having differing trends brought forward by the COVID-19 crisis. Certain socio-demographic characteristics and study variables were found to significantly predict the existing levels of depression, anxiety and stress in the current sample. The study suggests the necessity to formulate and implement appropriate mindfulness-based therapeutic interventions to address the mental health concerns arising as a result of the pandemic.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.589365/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1490157_69_Psycho_20201124_arts_A

 

Breathing-Focused Yoga Practices Produce Greater Benefits for College Students than Meditative-Focused Practices

Breathing-Focused Yoga Practices Produce Greater Benefits for College Students than Meditative-Focused Practices

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Want to manage your anger so you don’t feel you’re always on the verge of blowing up? Want to feel less stressed and juggle all the things going on in your life? Need to focus better in class or while you do your homework? Yoga poses can help. But meditation and breathing really round out those benefits.” – Mary L. Gavin

 

Yoga 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. There are a wide variety of different yoga training techniques. Many varieties employ breath-focused practices while many others employ meditative-focused practices. Although the benefits of yoga practices in general are well studied there is little scientific research comparing breathing-focused versus meditative-focused yoga.

 

In today’s Research News article “Comparing the Psychological Effects of Meditation- and Breathing-Focused Yoga Practice in Undergraduate Students.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.560152/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1490157_69_Psycho_20201124_arts_A ) Qi and colleagues recruited college students with no yoga experience and randomly assigned them to a once a week for 80 minutes 12-week program of either breath-focused yoga or meditation-focused yoga. During each Hatha yoga class the students received either 10 minutes of meditation practice or breathing practice. They were measured before and after the program for work intention, mindfulness, and perceived stress.

 

They found that both before and after yoga training the higher the participants’ levels of mindfulness the lower their levels of perceived stress. They further found that in comparison to baseline and the other yoga group, the breath-focused yoga group had significantly higher levels of perceived stress and mindfulness while the meditation-focused yoga group had significantly lower work intention.

 

These results are interesting and document the previously reported linkage between mindfulness and lower stress levels. But they go further in demonstrating that breath-focus is an important component of yoga practice for the improvement of mindfulness and the lowering of perceived stress. This suggests that breathing practice should be emphasized in yoga instruction. These results also suggest that yoga practice may be beneficial for college students who are routinely found to have high stress levels, reducing their stress and thereby allowing them to perform their best in their studies.

 

So, breathing-focused yoga practices produce greater benefits for college students than meditative-focused practices.

 

Mindful yoga (or the integration of yoga and mindfulness meditation techniques) provides a healthy and safe environment for individuals to practice “being with” uncomfortable emotional and physical experiences, and to eventually reunite with and fully inhabit their bodies.” – Melissa Mercedes

 

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

 

Qi X, Tong J, Chen S, He Z and Zhu X (2020) Comparing the Psychological Effects of Meditation- and Breathing-Focused Yoga Practice in Undergraduate Students. Front. Psychol. 11:560152. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.560152

 

ABSTRACT

Objectives: The present study aimed to compare the psychological effects of meditation- and breathing-focused yoga practice in undergraduate students.

Methods: A 12-weeks yoga intervention was conducted among a group of undergraduate students enrolled in four yoga classes at an academically prestigious university in Beijing, China. Four classes were randomized to meditation-focused yoga or breathing-focused yoga. A total of 86 participants finished surveys before and after the 12-weeks intervention, measuring work intention, mindfulness, and perceived stress. The repeated-measure multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) followed by univariate analyses were conducted to examine the differences in work intention, mindfulness, and stress between the two yoga intervention groups over the semester, after controlling for age and gender.

Results: The repeated-measure MANCOVA revealed significant group differences with a median effect size [Wilks’ lambda, Λ = 0.90, F(3, 80) = 3.10, p = 0.031, η2 = 0.104]. Subsequent univariate analyses showed that students in the breathing-focused yoga group had significant higher work intentions [F(1, 82) = 5.22; p = 0.025; η2p = 0.060] and mindfulness [F(1, 82) = 6.33; p = 0.014; η2p = 0.072] but marginally lower stress [F(1, 82) = 4.20; p = 0.044; η2p = 0.049] than students in the meditation-focused yoga group.

Conclusion: Yoga practice with a focus on breathing is more effective than that with a focus on meditation for undergraduates to retain energy for work, keep attention and awareness, and reduce stress.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.560152/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1490157_69_Psycho_20201124_arts_A