Mindfulness Improves Psychological and Physical Health in South Africans

Mindfulness Improves Psychological and Physical Health in South Africans

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) can be seen as a public health intervention, designed to over time move the bell curve of society as a whole toward greater health.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. Techniques such as Mindfulness Training, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) as well as Yoga practice and Tai Chi or Qigong practice have been demonstrated to be effective. This has led to an increasing adoption of these mindfulness techniques for the health and well-being of both healthy and ill individuals. Although these benefits have been well established in western populations, there is a need to demonstrate that these same benefits accrue across cultures.

 

In today’s Research News article “Examining the impact of a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction intervention on the health of urban South Africans.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6018653/ ), Whitesman and colleagues performed a retrospective analysis of South African participants in an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. MBSR was delivered in weekly 2.5-hour sessions accompanied with home practice. It consisted of meditation, yoga, and body scan practices and group discussion. The participants were measured before and after treatment for mindfulness, perceived stress, positive and negative emotions, and medical and psychological symptoms.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline, after the MBSR program there were significant increases in mindfulness and positive emotions, and significant decreases in perceived stress, negative emotions, medical symptoms, and psychological symptoms. They also found that the greater the increase in mindfulness scores after the MBSR program the higher the scores for positive emotions and the lower the levels of perceived stress, negative emotions, medical symptoms, and psychological symptoms. So, mindfulness training improved mental and physical health in participants from South Africa and the great the improvement in mindfulness the greater the benefits.

 

This study did not contain a control condition and was thus subject to contamination and potential confounding. But, similar results have been repeated found with randomized clinical trials employing MBSR. So, it is unlikely that bias and confounding are responsible. In addition, the current study simply demonstrated that training is similarly effective in people from a different culture. This suggests that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a safe and effective program for the enhancement of mental and physical well-being in diverse populations of participants.

 

So, it appears that mindfulness improves psychological and physical health in South Africans.

 

mindfulness practices may help people manage stress, cope better with serious illness and reduce anxiety and depression. Many people who practice mindfulness report an increased ability to relax, a greater enthusiasm for life and improved self-esteem.” – NIH News

 

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

 

Whitesman, S. L., Hoogenhout, M., Kantor, L., Leinberger, K. J., & Gevers, A. (2018). Examining the impact of a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction intervention on the health of urban South Africans. African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine, 10(1), 1614. http://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v10i1.1614

 

Abstract

Background

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) has been found to have significant health benefits in studies conducted in the global North.

Aim

This study examined the effects of MBSR on stress, mood states and medical symptoms among urban South Africans to inform future research and clinical directions of MBSR in local settings.

Setting

Participants completed an 8-week MBSR programme based in central Cape Town.

Method

A retrospective analysis of 276 clinical records was conducted. Mindfulness, stress, negative and positive mood, medical symptoms and psychological symptoms were assessed before and after the intervention using self-report questionnaires. We compared pre and post-intervention scores and examined the relationship between changes in mindfulness and changes in stress, mood and medical symptoms.

Results

Mindfulness scores were significantly higher after intervention, both on the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS) and the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS). Changes on the KIMS were associated with reductions in stress, negative mood, psychological symptoms and total medical symptoms, and improvement in positive mood. Changes in mindfulness, as measured by the MAAS, were significantly correlated only with reduced total number of medical symptoms.

Conclusion

This study provides preliminary evidence for the positive health impact of MBSR on urban South Africans, and in turn acceptability and feasibility evidence for MBSR in South Africa and supports the case for larger trials in different local settings.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6018653/

 

Relaxation and Mindfulness Training Have Differing Psychological and Neural Effects

Relaxation and Mindfulness Training Have Differing Psychological and Neural Effects

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“this practice of nonjudgmental self-awareness is one of the most effective ways to improve mood and anxiety.” – Neda Gould

 

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. As a result, mindfulness training has been called the third wave of therapies. One problem with understanding mindfulness training effects is that there are, a wide variety of mindfulness techniques and it is not known which work best for improving different conditions.

 

There are a number of different types of meditation. Many can be 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, learns to filter out distracting stimuli, including thoughts, and learns to stay focused on the present moment, filtering out thoughts centered around the past or future. In open monitoring meditation, the individual opens up awareness to everything that’s being experienced regardless of its origin. These include bodily sensations, external stimuli, and even thoughts.

 

These techniques have common properties of restful attention on the present moment, but there are large differences. These differences are likely to produce different effects on the practitioner. One way to distinguish between the effects of these different meditation techniques is to observe the effects of each technique on the brain.  In today’s Research News article “Common and Dissociable Neural Activity After Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Relaxation Response Programs.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5976535/ ), Sevinc and colleagues recruited adults and randomly assigned them to receive 8 weekly 2-hour group sessions with 20 minutes of daily home practice with guided recordings of either a Relaxation Response program or a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program.

 

In the Relaxation Response program, the participants practiced a body scan with emphasis on relaxation and focused meditation on the breath in a 20-minute session. In the MBSR program the participants practiced body scan with focus on awareness of the sensations from the body for 2 weeks, yoga for 2 weeks, and open monitoring meditation for 2 weeks. The last 2 weeks the participants could chose whichever of the practices they wanted to perform. They were measured before and after training for perceived stress, mindfulness, self-compassion, rumination, and life stressors. They also underwent Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) while they listened to a guided recording for the body scan from their home practices.

 

They found that both practices equivalently reduced perceived stress and increased mindfulness. But the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program also significantly increased self-compassion and decreased rumination. Interestingly, although both practices produced increases functional connectivity between the prefrontal cortex and motor cortex, the two practices also produced different connectivities. When the body scan was practiced with emphasis on relaxation there was increased functional connectivity was with the right inferior frontal gyrus. This is an area that’s involved in behavioral inhibition. On the other hand, when the body scan was practiced with emphasis on awareness of sensations there was increased functional connectivity between the Insula and Cingulate Cortex, areas associated with sensory awareness.

 

Hence, although both practices were beneficial, the MBSR program appears to create better psychological well-being. In addition, the body scan technique used in the MBSR program, emphasizing sensory awareness, appears to increase the connectivity between brain areas that are involved in sensory awareness. On the other hand, a relaxation instruction with the body scan appears to produce increased brain systems devoted to restraining responses. Different mindfulness techniques produced different psychological and neural outcomes. Both appear to improve stress responding and mindfulness, but the MBSR program also produces better compassion for the self and less repetitive negative thinking, rumination.

 

So, there may be a place for the relaxation response program, but with these otherwise healthy adults, the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program appears to produce superior results.

 

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

 

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

 

Sevinc, G., Hölzel, B. K., Hashmi, J., Greenberg, J., McCallister, A., Treadway, M., … Lazar, S. W. (2018). Common and Dissociable Neural Activity After Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Relaxation Response Programs. Psychosomatic Medicine, 80(5), 439–451. http://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0000000000000590

 

ABSTRACT

Objective

We investigated common and dissociable neural and psychological correlates of two widely used meditation-based stress reduction programs.

Methods

Participants were randomized to the Relaxation Response (RR; n = 18; 56% female) or the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR; n = 16; 56% female) programs. Both programs use a “bodyscan” meditation; however, the RR program explicitly emphasizes physical relaxation during this practice, whereas the MBSR program emphasizes mindful awareness with no explicit relaxation instructions. After the programs, neural activity during the respective meditation was investigated using functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Results

Both programs were associated with reduced stress (for RR, from 14.1 ± 6.6 to 11.3 ± 5.5 [Cohen’s d = 0.50; for MBSR, from 17.7 ± 5.7 to 11.9 ± 5.0 [Cohen’s d = 1.02]). Conjunction analyses revealed functional coupling between ventromedial prefrontal regions and supplementary motor areas (p < .001). The disjunction analysis indicated that the RR bodyscan was associated with stronger functional connectivity of the right inferior frontal gyrus—an important hub of intentional inhibition and control—with supplementary motor areas (p < .001, family-wise error [FWE] rate corrected). The MBSR program was uniquely associated with improvements in self-compassion and rumination, and the within-group analysis of MBSR bodyscan revealed significant functional connectivity of the right anterior insula—an important hub of sensory awareness and salience—with pregenual anterior cingulate during bodyscan meditation compared with rest (p = .03, FWE corrected).

Conclusions

The bodyscan exercises in each program were associated with both overlapping and differential functional coupling patterns, which were consistent with each program’s theoretical foundation. These results may have implications for the differential effects of these programs for the treatment of diverse conditions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5976535/

 

Relieve Depression with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Training

Relieve Depression with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

Clinically diagnosed depression is the most common mental illness, affecting over 6% of the population. Major depression can be quite debilitating. Depression can be difficult to treat and is usually treated with anti-depressive medication. But, of patients treated initially with drugs only about a third attained remission of the depression. After repeated and varied treatments including drugs, therapy, exercise etc. only about two thirds of patients attained remission. But, drugs often have troubling side effects and can lose effectiveness over time. In addition, many patients who achieve remission have relapses and recurrences of the depression. Even after remission some symptoms of depression may still be present (residual symptoms).

 

Being depressed and not responding to treatment or relapsing is a terribly difficult situation. The patients are suffering and nothing appears to work to relieve their intense depression. Suicide becomes a real possibility. So, it is imperative that other treatments be identified that can relieve the suffering. Mindfulness training is an alternative treatment for depression. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and its recurrence and even in the cases where drugs fail.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on Depression in Adolescents and Young Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01034/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_686352_69_Psycho_20180626_arts_A ), Chi and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of published randomize controlled trials (RCTs) of the application of a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program for the treatment of depression in adolescents and young adults. They discovered 18 published studies including a total of 2042 patients from 18 to 25 years of age.

 

They found that the published studies found that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) treatment effectively reduced depression in these patients with a moderate effect size. The type of control condition made a difference as active control groups as opposed to no-treatment control groups also produced significant reductions in depression. So, in comparison to active control groups MBSR had a smaller effect size. This suggests that placebo effects (subject expectancy effects) were responsible for some of the improvements and overall MBSR had an even greater impact on depression.

 

Hence, the published research literature supports the conclusion that MBSR is a safe and moderately effective treatment for depression in adolescents and young adults. MBSR is a compound treatment program which contains meditation, body scan, and yoga practices. It would be interesting in future research to begin to determine which components are necessary for the ability of MBSR treatment to reduce depression.

 

So, relieve depression with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training.

 

“Through mindfulness, individuals start to see their thoughts as less powerful. These distorted thoughts – such as “I always make mistakes” or “I’m a horrible person” – start to hold less weight. . . watching ourselves think. We ‘experience’ thoughts and other sensations, but we aren’t carried away by them. We just watch them come and go.” – William Marchand

 

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

 

Chi X, Bo A, Liu T, Zhang P and Chi I (2018) Effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on Depression in Adolescents and Young Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Front. Psychol. 9:1034. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01034

 

Abstract

Background: Mindfulness as a positive mental health intervention approach has been increasingly applied to address depression in young people. This systematic review and meta-analysis evaluated the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) in the treatment of depression among adolescents and young adults.

Methods: Electronic databases and references in articles were searched. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating MBSR and reporting outcomes for depressive symptoms among young people aged 12 to 25 years were included. Data extraction and risk of bias assessment were conducted by two reviewers independently. Hedges’ gwith a 95% confidence interval was calculated to represent intervention effect.

Results: Eighteen RCTs featuring 2,042 participants were included in the meta-analysis. Relative to the control groups (e.g., no treatment, treatment as usual, or active control), MBSR had moderate effects in reducing depressive symptoms at the end of intervention (Hedges’ g = −0.45). No statistically significant effects were found in follow-up (Hedges’ g = −0.24) due to a lack of statistical power. Meta-regression found that the average treatment effect might be moderated by control condition, treatment duration, and participants’ baseline depression.

Conclusion: MBSR had moderate effects in reducing depression in young people at posttest. Future research is needed to assess the follow-up effects of MBSR on depressive symptoms among adolescents and young adults.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01034/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_686352_69_Psycho_20180626_arts_A

 

Improve the Physical and Psychological State of HIV-Infected Youth with Mindfulness

Improve the Physical and Psychological State of HIV-Infected Youth with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Even in the midst of this stressful experience of testing positive for HIV, coaching people to feel happy, calm and satisfied — what we call positive affect — appears to influence important health outcomes,” – Judith Moskowitz

 

More than 35 million people worldwide and 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection. HIV is a virus that gradually attacks the immune system. It destroys a type of white blood cell called a T-helper cell (CD4 Cell). This isn’t a problem unto itself, but the immune system is our body’s natural defense against illness. Hence, HIV infection makes it harder to combat other infections and diseases. If HIV is untreated, these secondary infections produce chronic illness and eventually death. It is important, then, in treating HIV infection to strengthen the immune system and increase the levels of CD4 in the blood to fight off disease.

 

In 1996, the advent of the protease inhibitor and the so-called cocktail changed the prognosis for HIV. Since this development a 20 year-old infected with HIV can now expect to live on average to age 69. Hence, living with HIV is a long-term reality for a very large group of people. People living with HIV infection experience a wide array of physical and psychological symptoms which decrease their perceived quality of life. The symptoms include muscle aches, anxiety, depression, weakness, fear/worries, difficulty with concentration, concerns regarding the need to interact with a complex healthcare system, stigma, and the challenge to come to terms with a new identity as someone living with HIV. Hence, patients with HIV infection, even when controlled with drugs, have a reduction in their quality of life.

 

Mindfulness has been shown to strengthen the immune system. It also improve psychological and physical well-being in people suffering from a wide range of disorders including depression and anxiety. It has also been shown that mindfulness is associated with psychological well-being and lower depression in patients with HIV infection. Hence, it makes sense to further study the ability of mindfulness training as a treatment for the physical and psychological issues associated with living with HIV.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness instruction for HIV-infected youth: a randomized controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5987527/ ), Webb and colleagues recruited HIV infected youths 14-22 aged years who were being treated with drugs. They were randomly assigned to receive a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program or health education program. Both the MBSR and health education programs were presented for 2.5 hours, once a week, for 8 weeks. MBSR consisted of discussion and meditation, body scan, and yoga practices and included 30-minute daily home practice. They were measured before and after training and 3-months later for mindfulness, perceived stress, cognitive self-regulation, emotional attention, coping, life satisfaction, problem solving, aggression, HIV drug regimen adherence, HIV viral load, and CD4 counts.

 

At the 3-month follow-up, the youths who received the MBSR program had significantly higher levels of mindfulness, life satisfaction, problem solving, and lower levels of aggression. MBSR participants were significantly more likely to have markedly improved HIV viral loads after treatment. These results are potentially very important and demonstrate that mindfulness training improves the psychological state of HIV infected youths. But significantly appeared to also improve their physiological state, lowing the levels of virus in their blood.

 

This suggests that the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program may be an effective treatment for HIV infected youths. MBSR was designed to and has been repeatedly been shown to improve the individual’s ability to cope with the physiological and psychological effect of stress. Since stress is known to worsen the symptoms of HIV, it would seem reasonable to speculate that the improved stress coping underlies the ability of MBSR to improve the physical and psychological state of HIV sufferers.

 

So, improve the physical and psychological state of HIV-infected youth with mindfulness.

 

“mindfulness meditation stress-management training can have a direct impact on slowing HIV disease progression. . . . it’s possible that such training can be used as a powerful complementary treatment for HIV disease, alongside medications.” – David Creswell

 

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

 

Webb, L., Perry-Parrish, C., Ellen, J., & Sibinga, E. (2018). Mindfulness instruction for HIV-infected youth: a randomized controlled trial. AIDS Care, 30(6), 688–695. http://doi.org/10.1080/09540121.2017.1394434

 

Abstract

HIV-infected youth experience many stressors, including stress related to their illness, which can negatively impact their mental and physical health. Therefore, there is a significant need to identify potentially effective interventions to improve stress management, coping, and self-regulation. The object of the study was to assess the effect of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program compared to an active control group on psychological symptoms and HIV disease management in youth utilizing a randomized controlled trial. Seventy-two HIV-infected adolescents, ages 14–22 (mean age 18.71 years), were enrolled from two urban clinics and randomized to MBSR or an active control. Data were collected on mindfulness, stress, self-regulation, psychological symptoms, medication adherence, and cognitive flexibility at baseline, post-program, and 3-month follow-up. CD4+ T lymphocyte and HIV viral load (HIV VL) counts were also pulled from medical records. HIV-infected youth in the MBSR group reported higher levels of mindfulness (P = .03), problem-solving coping (P = .03), and life satisfaction (P = .047), and lower aggression (P = .002) than those in the control group at the 3-month follow-up. At post-program, MBSR participants had higher cognitive accuracy when faced with negative emotion stimuli (P = .02). Also, those in the MBSR study arm were more likely to have or maintain reductions in HIV VL at 3-month follow-up than those in the control group (P = .04). In our sample, MBSR instruction proved beneficial for important psychological and HIV-disease outcomes, even when compared with an active control condition. Lower HIV VL levels suggest improved HIV disease control, possibly due to higher levels of HIV medication adherence, which is of great significance in both HIV treatment and prevention. Additional research is needed to explore further the role of MBSR for improving the psychological and physical health of HIV-positive youth.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5987527/

 

Improve Acceptance with Mindfulness Training or a Psychedelic Drug

Improve Acceptance with Mindfulness Training or a Psychedelic Drug

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“If someone gives you 100 micrograms of acid something is going to happen. Two hours later the significance of your existence will have just been borne down on you like an avalanche. And again this can be terrifying or it can be absolutely sublime depending on various causes and conditions. But the one thing it cannot be is boring. And that is you can’t say that about yoga or meditation or just going into solitude or anything else that – any other, you know, non-pharmacological means of inquiry.” – Big Think

 

Psychedelic substances such as peyote, mescaline, LSD, ayahuasca and psilocybin  have been used almost since the beginning of recorded history to alter consciousness and produce spiritually meaningful experiences. A substantial number of Brazilian religious groups ingest the natural psychedelic substance ayahuasca on a regular basis for ritual purposes. These groups, like many users of psychedelic substances, employ them to develop spirituality and self-transcendence.

 

Psychedelics produce effects that are similar to those that are reported in spiritual awakenings. They report a loss of the personal self, a decentering. They experience what they used to refer to as the self as just a part of an integrated whole. They report feeling interconnected with everything else in a sense of oneness with all things. They experience a feeling of timelessness where time seems to stop and everything is taking place in a single present moment. They experience ineffability, being unable to express in words what they are experiencing and as a result sometimes producing paradoxical statements. And they experience a positive mood, with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

 

It is easy to see why people find these experiences so pleasant and eye opening. They often report that the experiences changed them forever. Even though the effects of psychedelic substances have been experienced and reported on for centuries, only very recently have these effects come under rigorous scientific scrutiny.  In today’s Research News article “Four Weekly Ayahuasca Sessions Lead to Increases in “Acceptance” Capacities: A Comparison Study With a Standard 8-Week Mindfulness Training Program.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5869920/ ), Soler and colleagues compare the ability of the psychedelic drug ayahuasca and mindfulness training to change the mindfulness of volunteers.

 

They formed two matched groups from the volunteers, based upon levels of decentering. One group were provided a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. The MBSR program was presented for 2.5 hours, once a week, for 8 weeks with 30-minute daily home practice. It consisted of discussion and meditation, body scan, and yoga practices. The second group of volunteers received 4 weekly 6-8-hour ayahuasca sessions. They were measured before and after treatment for decentering and mindfulness, including the mindfulness facets of observing, describing, non-reacting, non-judging, and acting with awareness.

 

They found that following the MBSR program there were significant increases in decentering and all 5 mindfulness facets. On the other hand, after ayahuasca treatment there was a significant increase only in the non-judging mindfulness facet. Hence, the MBSR program produced the routinely observed improvements in mindfulness and decentering, while ayahuasca treatments only altered “acceptance” (non-judging facet of mindfulness).

 

It is very interesting and perhaps puzzling that ayahuasca treatment did not increase decentering. Decentering changes the nature of experience by having the individual step outside of experiences and observe them from a distanced perspective and be aware of their impermanent nature. This is exactly the type of perspective that is promoted by experiences with psychedelic drugs. The fact that it was not increased with the ayahuasca treatments calls into question the effectiveness of the treatments and dosing used in the current study.

 

Nevertheless the ayahuasca treatments did produce increases in acceptance. This suggests that some of the therapeutic benefits of ayahuasca treatments may be due to changes in mindfulness which, in turn, produce physical and psychological benefits. It will remain for future research to continue to explore the means by which such psychedelic treatments alter the psychological landscape of the individual. It is clear, though, in the current study that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a potent facilitator of all facets of mindfulness and decentering.

 

So, improve acceptance with mindfulness training or a psychedelic drug.

 

“Meditating can be hard, lonely work, but if recent research is to be believed there may be a quick-and-dirty shortcut to enlightenment: psychedelic drugs. According to an exploratory study, drinking the hallucinogenic brew ayahuasca can bring about improvements in mindfulness that would take years of dedicated meditation to achieve. The research found that ayahuasca raised mindfulness abilities to levels equal to or even greater than those of people who have been practising meditation for around seven years.” – Plastic Brain

 

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

 

Soler, J., Elices, M., Dominguez-Clavé, E., Pascual, J. C., Feilding, A., Navarro-Gil, M., … Riba, J. (2018). Four Weekly Ayahuasca Sessions Lead to Increases in “Acceptance” Capacities: A Comparison Study With a Standard 8-Week Mindfulness Training Program. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 9, 224. http://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2018.00224

 

Abstract

Background: The therapeutic effects of the Amazonian plant tea ayahuasca may relate to its ability to enhance mindfulness capacities. Ayahuasca induces a modified state of awareness through the combined action of its active principles: the psychedelic N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and a series of centrally acting β-carbolines, mainly harmine and tetrahydroharmine. To better understand the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca, here we compared the impact on mindfulness capacities induced by two independent interventions: (a) participation in four ayahuasca sessions without any specific purpose related to improving mindfulness capacities; and (b) participation in a standard mindfulness training course: 8 weeks mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), with the specific goal of improving these skills.

Methods: Participants of two independent groups completed two self-report instruments: The Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) and the Experiences Questionnaire (EQ). The MINDSENS Composite Index was also calculated, including those EQ and FFMQ items that have proven to be the most sensitive to meditation practice. Group A (n = 10) was assessed before and after the last of four closely spaced consecutive ayahuasca sessions. Group B (n = 10) was assessed before and after completion of a standard 8-week MBSR course.

Results: MBSR training led to greater increases in overall mindfulness scores after the 8-week period. MBSR but not ayahuasca led to increases in the MINDSENS Composite Index. However, the ayahuasca sessions induced comparable increases in the Non-Judging subscale of the FFMQ, specifically measuring “acceptance.” Improving this capacity allows for a more detached and less judgmental stance toward potentially distressing thoughts and emotions.

Results: The present findings suggest that a small number of ayahuasca sessions can be as effective at improving acceptance as more lengthy and costly interventions. Future studies should address the benefits of combining ayahuasca administration with mindfulness-based interventions. This will allow us to investigate if ayahuasca will improve the outcome of psychotherapeutic interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5869920/

 

Improve Caregivers Emotion Regulation with Mindfulness

Improve Caregivers Emotion Regulation with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Caregivers have a habit of neglecting their own wellbeing for their patients’ sakes. Some caregivers even believe taking a few minutes out of the day to practice mindfulness is “selfish.” Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, taking a few minutes to practice mindfulness everyday will improve the quality of care you can give to your patient. It should be mandatory that all caregivers practice some form of mindfulness today” – Caregiver Space

 

There is a tremendous demand for caregiving in the US. It is estimated that over 65 million (29% of the adult population) provides care to someone who is mentally or physically ill, disabled or aged, averaging 20 hours per week spent caring for their loved ones. This caregiving comes at a cost to the caregiver. It exacts a tremendous toll on caregivers’ health and well-being. Caregiving has been associated with increased levels of depression and anxiety as well as higher use of psychoactive medications, poorer self-reported physical health, compromised immune function, and increased mortality.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be beneficial for both the caregiver and the patients. But, this is reactive, working with already stressed caregivers. It is important to be able to be proactive and better prepare caregivers to withstand the difficulties and stress of caregiving and provide better care for patients. In today’s Research News article “Developing professional caregivers’ empathy and emotional competencies through mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR): results of two proof-of-concept studies.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5781061/ ), Lamothe and colleagues investigate the effects of mindfulness training on the emotion regulation ability of psychology students and professional caregivers.

 

They recruited psychology students in a university and professional caregivers in a pediatric hematology-oncology unit of a hospital. They were provided a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. The MBSR program was presented for 2 hours, once a week, for 8 weeks with 30-minute daily home practice. It consisted of discussion and meditation, body scan, and yoga practices. They were measured before and after the program and 3 months later for mindfulness, empathy, emotional competencies, recognition of emotions in others, emotional acceptance, and emotion regulation.

 

They found that in both groups there were large increases in mindfulness that were maintained 3 month later. In addition, they found that there were significant improvements after training in empathy, emotional competencies, recognition of emotions in others, identification of emotions in others, emotional acceptance, and emotion regulation, with the exception that the caregivers change in recognition of emotions in others was not statistically significant. At the 3-month follow-up they found that there were still significant improvements in identifying emotions and emotional acceptance.

 

These results are preliminary as there wasn’t a comparison, control, condition. As such, they are interpreted as a proof of concept. To reach firm conclusions a randomized controlled clinical trial with an active control condition is necessary. The results are interesting and powerful enough that such an extensive study is warranted. Nevertheless, the results provide preliminary evidence that mindfulness training improves the emotional competences of both students and professional caregivers. This suggests that mindfulness training can be used both for practicing caregivers and those in training. Hence, mindfulness training may be helpful both reactively and proactively to promote the emotional health of the caregivers and, in turn, provide better care.

 

So, improve caregivers emotion regulation with mindfulness.

 

“mindfulness practices can help both caregivers and their loved ones maintain their emotional well-being. This is important for two reasons. First, strong emotional well-being is a good defense against such stress-related problems as depression and anxiety. Second, emotional well-being supports the resiliency that makes a person’s life not just tolerable, but enjoyable and meaningful: restful sleep, invigorating exercise, healthful food and some form of spiritual or emotional nourishment.” – Adam Perlman

 

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

 

Lamothe, M., McDuff, P., Pastore, Y. D., Duval, M., & Sultan, S. (2018). Developing professional caregivers’ empathy and emotional competencies through mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR): results of two proof-of-concept studies. BMJ Open, 8(1), e018421. http://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2017-018421

 

Abstract

Objectives

To assess the feasibility and acceptability of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)-based intervention and determine if the intervention is associated with a significant signal on empathy and emotional competencies.

Design

Two pre–post proof-of-concept studies.

Setting

Participants were recruited at the University of Montreal’s Psychology Department (Study 1) and the CHU Sainte-Justine Department of Hematology-Oncology (Study 2).

Participants

Study 1: 12 students completed the 8-week programme (mean age 24, range 18–34). Study 2: 25 professionals completed the 8-week programme (mean age 48, range 27–63).

Intervention

Standard MBSR programme including 8-week mindfulness programme consisting of 8 consecutive weekly 2-hour sessions and a full-day silent retreat.

Outcomes measures

Mindfulness as measured by the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale; empathy as measured by the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI)’s Perspective Taking and Empathic Concern subscales; identification of one’s own emotions and those of others as measured by the Profile of Emotional Competence (PEC)’s Identify my Emotions and Identify Others’ Emotions subscales; emotional acceptance as measured by the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-II (AAQ-II) and the Emotion Regulation Scale (ERQ)’s Expressive Suppression subscale; and recognition of emotions in others as measured by the Geneva Emotion Recognition Test (GERT).

Results

In both studies, retention rates (80%–81%) were acceptable. Participants who completed the programme improved on all measures except the PEC’s Identify Others’ Emotions and the IRI’s Empathic Concern (Cohen’s d median=0.92, range 45–1.72). In Study 2, favourable effects associated with the programme were maintained over 3 months on the PEC’s Identify my Emotions, the AAQ-II, the ERQ’s Expressive Suppression and the GERT.

Conclusions

The programme was feasible and acceptable. It was associated with a significant signal on the following outcomes: perspective taking, the identification of one’s own emotions and emotional acceptance, thus, justifying moving towards efficacy trials using these outcomes.

The programme was feasible and acceptable. It was associated with a significant signal on the following outcomes: perspective taking, the identification of one’s own emotions and emotional acceptance, thus, justifying moving towards efficacy trials using these outcomes.

 

Strengths and limitations of this study

Two feasibility studies of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)-based intervention in students and professionals had high attendance rates and acceptability levels.

Results suggested a significant clinical signal on most measured outcomes in the domains of emotion regulation and empathy, with effects lasting at follow-up for identification of one’s own emotions and emotional acceptance.

The same pattern of results was obtained in two independent small-scale studies.

A limitation to theses studies is that samples were not randomly selected, had limited size, and no control groups were used.

Another limitation is that most outcomes were self-reported and could be subject to desirability bias.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5781061/

 

Improve Psychological Health in the Elderly with Mindfulness

Improve Psychological Health in the Elderly with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“In nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, loneliness, depression, and anxiety are considerable risk factors for residents. Mindfulness may help elders to find peace within themselves with daily practice.” – GoldenCares

 

Human life is one of constant change. We revel in our increases in physical and mental capacities during development but regret their decline during aging. As we age, there are systematic progressive declines in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our mental abilities and results in impairments in memory, attention, and problem solving ability. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. Aging also results in changes in mental health. Depression is very common in the elderly. The elderly cope with increasing loss of friends and family, deteriorating health, as well as concerns regarding finances on fixed incomes. All of these are legitimate sources of worry. In addition, many elderly experience withdrawal and isolation from social interactions. But, no matter how reasonable, the increased loneliness, worry and anxiety add extra stress that can impact on the elderly’s already deteriorating physical and psychological health.

 

Mindfulness appears to be effective for an array of physical and psychological issues that occur with aging. It appears to strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation. It has also been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging. and improve cognitive processes. It has also been shown to reduce anxietyworry, and depression and improve overall mental health. Since the global population of the elderly is increasing at unprecedented rates, it is imperative to investigate safe and effective methods to improve mental health in the elderly. In addition, more and more elderly individuals are residing in continuing care retirement communities. Hence it is important to find treatment methods amenable to implementation in these facilities.

 

In today’s Research News article “An Adapted Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program for Elders in a Continuing Care Retirement Community: Quantitative & Qualitative Results from a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5973835/ ), Moss and colleagues recruited elderly residents, predominantly female (82%), of a continuing care retirement community. They were 62 to 92 years of age. They were randomly assigned to either receive an adapted Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program or to a wait-list control condition. The MBSR program was presented for 2 hours, once a week, for 8 weeks with 30-minute daily home practice. It consisted of the standard meditation, body scan, and yoga practices. But, yoga practice was changed to chair yoga to be better practiced by the elderly. The participants were measured before and after the treatment for acceptability of the program including attendance and rate of home practice, health, psychological flexibility, mindfulness, self-compassion, anxiety, depression, and somatization.

 

They found a high degree of acceptability of the program with only 20% dropping out and the participants averaged 5 days a week of home practice. In comparison to the baseline and wait-list control group, the participants who received the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) had significantly improved psychological flexibility and reduced physical limitations. In comparison to baseline the MBSR participants had significantly greater observing mindfulness, mental health, and vitality, and significantly less emotional limitations. The participants reflected that after the training they were better able to attend to the present moment, had greater well-being, self-compassion and kindness, and reduced self-judgement and stress.

 

These are wonderful results that demonstrate that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is an acceptable, safe, and effective program to enhance the psychological health of elderly residents of a continuing care retirement community. The adaptations to the program to recognize the physical limitations of the elderly did not appear to blunt its’ effectiveness and perhaps made it more acceptable. Future research should employ an active control condition, such as aerobic exercise to better control for confounding variables. Regardless, the MBSR program would appear to have great benefits for the aging population.

 

So, improve psychological health in the elderly with mindfulness.

 

“Often elderly people can live uncomfortable, lonely, quiet lives. Teaching them to pay attention moment by moment, on purpose but without judgement, to each of their experiences, can improve of the quality of their lives, based on the demonstrated effectiveness of mindfulness techniques in many forms of therapy. Mindfulness practice has a definite positive impact on issues such as recurrent depression, stress, anxiety, chronic physical pain and loneliness. For the elderly, chronic health conditions, the loss of self-determination in their daily lives, isolation, and a lack of interaction with the outside world can understandably take much of the joy out of life.” – MyHomecare

 

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

 

Moss, A. S., Reibel, D. K., Greeson, J. M., Thapar, A., Bubb, R., Salmon, J., & Newberg, A. B. (2015). An Adapted Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program for Elders in a Continuing Care Retirement Community: Quantitative & Qualitative Results from a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Applied Gerontology : The Official Journal of the Southern Gerontological Society, 34(4), 518–538. http://doi.org/10.1177/0733464814559411

 

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to test the feasibility and effectiveness of an adapted 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program for elders in a continuing care community. This mixed-methods study used both quantitative and qualitative measures. A randomized wait-list control design was used for the quantitative aspect of the study. Thirty-nine elderly were randomized to MBSR (n=20) or a wait-list control group (n=19); mean age 82 years. Both groups completed pre-post measures of health related quality of life, acceptance and psychological flexibility, facets of mindfulness, self-compassion, and psychological distress. A subset of MBSR participants completed qualitative interviews. MBSR participants showed significantly greater improvement in acceptance and psychological flexibility and in role limitations due to physical health. In the qualitative interviews, MBSR participants reported increased awareness, less judgment and greater self-compassion. Study results demonstrate the feasibility and potential effectiveness of an adapted MBSR program in promoting mind-body health for elders.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5973835/

 

Improve the Physical and Sleep Symptoms of Stress with Mindfulness

Improve the Physical and Sleep Symptoms of Stress with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness not only reduces stress but also gently builds an inner strength so that future stressors have less impact on our happiness and physical well-being.” – Shamash Alidina

 

Stress is an integral part of life. People often think of stress as a bad thing. But, it is actually essential to the health of the body. In fact, we invest time and resources in stressing ourselves, e.g ridding rollercoasters, sky diving, competing in sports, etc. We say we love a challenge, but, challenges are all stressful. So, we actually love to stress ourselves. In moderation, it is healthful and provides interest and fun to life. If stress, is high or is prolonged, however, it can be problematic. It can significantly damage our physical and mental health and even reduce our longevity, leading to premature deaths. So, it is important that we develop methods to either reduce or control high or prolonged stress or reduce our responses to it.

 

Mindfulness practices have been found routinely to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. But, it is not known exactly how mindfulness produces these benefits. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Meditation Targets Transdiagnostic Symptoms Implicated in Stress-Related Disorders: Understanding Relationships between Changes in Mindfulness, Sleep Quality, and Physical Symptoms.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5971306/ ), Greeson and colleagues investigated some potential intermediaries between improved mindfulness produced by mindfulness training and improved responses to the physical and sleep problems produced by stress.

 

They recruited participants in a community based 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. The participants were primarily well-educated, white women averaging 45 years of age. The MBSR program consisted of meditation, yoga, and body scans. It met once a week for 2.5 hours and included home practice of 20 to 45 minutes per day for 6 days a week They had the participants complete measures online before and after the MBSR program of mindfulness, physical symptoms, sleep quality, ruminative responses, thought suppression, experiential avoidance, and emotion regulation.

 

They found that compared to baseline, following MBSR training there were statistically significant improvements in all measures, including reductions in physical symptoms and increases in sleep quality. In addition, they found that the greater the increase in mindfulness produced by MBSR training, the greater the reduction in physical symptoms, rumination, unwanted intrusive thoughts, thought suppression, experiential avoidance, and expressive suppression and the greater the improvement in sleep quality, emotion regulation and cognitive reappraisal. Using a partial correlation strategy, they found that the improvements in physical symptoms and sleep quality produced by increased mindfulness were, in part, mediated by the improvements in rumination, unwanted intrusive thoughts, thought suppression, experiential avoidance, emotion suppression, and cognitive reappraisal.

 

These results clearly replicate prior findings that improved mindfulness is a consequence of  MBSR training that produces improvements in physical symptoms and sleep quality. They further demonstrate that this is, in part, produced by the ability of mindfulness training to improve the cognitive and emotional issues that lead to physical symptoms and poor sleep quality. This clearly demonstrates how beneficial mindfulness training is for the physical and psychological health of the participants. It also suggests that there is, to some extent, a causal chain of effects that produce the improvements with some of the benefits of mindfulness training being responsible for other benefits.

 

So, improve the physical and sleep symptoms of stress with mindfulness.

 

“If you believe being overly busy and overextended is evidence of productivity, then you probably believe that creating space to explore, think, and reflect should be kept to a minimum. Yet these very activities are the antidote to the nonessential busyness that infects so many of us.” — Greg Mckeown

 

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

 

Jeffrey M. Greeson, Haley Zarrin, Moria J. Smoski, Jeffrey G. Brantley, Thomas R. Lynch, Daniel M. Webber, Martica H. Hall, Edward C. Suarez, Ruth Q. Wolever. Mindfulness Meditation Targets Transdiagnostic Symptoms Implicated in Stress-Related Disorders: Understanding Relationships between Changes in Mindfulness, Sleep Quality, and Physical Symptoms. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018; 2018: 4505191. Published online 2018 May 13. doi: 10.1155/2018/4505191

 

Abstract

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is an 8-week meditation program known to improve anxiety, depression, and psychological well-being. Other health-related effects, such as sleep quality, are less well established, as are the psychological processes associated with therapeutic change. This prospective, observational study (n = 213) aimed to determine whether perseverative cognition, indicated by rumination and intrusive thoughts, and emotion regulation, measured by avoidance, thought suppression, emotion suppression, and cognitive reappraisal, partly accounted for the hypothesized relationship between changes in mindfulness and two health-related outcomes: sleep quality and stress-related physical symptoms. As expected, increased mindfulness following the MBSR program was directly correlated with decreased sleep disturbance (r = −0.21, p = 0.004) and decreased stress-related physical symptoms (r = −0.38, p < 0.001). Partial correlations revealed that pre-post changes in rumination, unwanted intrusive thoughts, thought suppression, experiential avoidance, emotion suppression, and cognitive reappraisal each uniquely accounted for up to 32% of the correlation between the change in mindfulness and change in sleep disturbance and up to 30% of the correlation between the change in mindfulness and change in stress-related physical symptoms. Results suggest that the stress-reducing effects of MBSR are due, in part, to improvements in perseverative cognition and emotion regulation, two “transdiagnostic” mental processes that cut across stress-related disorders.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5971306/

 

Improve Pain Tolerance After Athletic Injuries with Mindfulness

Improve Pain Tolerance After Athletic Injuries with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Meditation is not something that only benefits yogis. Meditation gives athletes the ability to stay calm in the eye of the storm, it improves your ability to ignore distractions, and it has a powerful impact on the state of your nervous systems. All of these elements are significant to recovery time.” – Jennifer Houghton

 

Athletic performance requires the harmony of mind and body. Excellence is in part physical and in part psychological. That is why an entire profession of Sports Psychology has developed. “In sport psychology, competitive athletes are taught psychological strategies to better cope with a number of demanding challenges related to psychological functioning.” They use a number of techniques to enhance performance including mindfulness training. It has been shown to improve attention and concentration and emotion regulation and reduces anxiety and worry and rumination, and the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, mindfulness training has been employed by athletes and even by entire teams to enhance their performance.

 

Athletes, however, often get injured. It has been shown that mindfulness can help with pain management. But, it is not known if mindfulness training can help in dealing with and recovering from severe athletic injuries. In today’s Research News article “Effect of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in Increasing Pain Tolerance and Improving the Mental Health of Injured Athletes.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00722/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_650705_69_Psycho_20180524_arts_A ), Mohammed and colleagues examined the ability of a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program to reduce the physical and psychological effects of severe athletic injuries.

 

They recruited university athletes who had severe injuries that kept them from participating in their sport for at least 3 months. All athletes received usual care consisting of the standard physiotherapy treatments throughout the study. They were randomly assigned to receive either an additional 8-week program of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). They met once a week for 90 minutes and were asked to practice at home for 20 minutes per day. MBSR contains meditation, yoga and body scan practices. For this study the practices were adapted to the physical needs and capabilities of the injured athletes. All athletes were measured before and after training for pain tolerance with a cold pressor test, rated their own levels of pain, and completed measures of mindfulness, positive and negative emotions, anxiety, and depression.

 

They found that following training the athletes receiving MBSR training had a significantly greater level of pain tolerance, and mindfulness compared to baseline and the control group. Both groups had significant improvements in mood, especially significant reductions in anxiety and stress. This is a small study and it needs to be repeated with larger groups and an active control condition. But, the results indicate that Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) improves pain tolerance and mindfulness in injured athletes. It has been previously demonstrated that mindfulness training reduces pain perception in general. The present study suggests that it also does so for severely injured athletes. This may be important for the athlete’s recovery from their injuries.

 

It will be interesting to see if the heightened mindfulness produces improved athletic performance when the athletes recover and return to their respective sporting activities. It has been shown that mindfulness training improves athletic performance. But it is not known whether it is effective with athletes returning to competition after serious injury.

 

So, improve pain tolerance after athletic injuries with mindfulness.

 

Athletes that fall into reactive habits are being mindful when under stress.  They are at the mercy of these destructive habits.  Becoming mindful creates a pause between the stimulus that occurs and the athletes reaction to the event.” – Robert Andrews

 

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

 

Mohammed WA, Pappous A and Sharma D (2018) Effect of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in Increasing Pain Tolerance and Improving the Mental Health of Injured Athletes. Front. Psychol. 9:722. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00722

 

Abstract

Literature indicates that injured athletes face both physical and psychological distress after they have been injured. In this study, a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was utilised as an intervention for use during the period of recovery with injured athletes and, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first study using MBSR as an intervention for this purpose.

Objective: The aim of this research was to investigate the role of MBSR practise in reducing the perception of pain and decreasing anxiety/stress, as well as increasing pain tolerance and mindfulness. An additional aim was to increase positive mood and decrease negative mood in injured athletes.

Methods: The participants comprised of twenty athletes (male = 14; female = 6; age range = 21–36 years) who had severe injuries, preventing their participation in sport for more than 3 months. Prior to their injury, the participants had trained regularly with their University teams and participated in official university championships. Both groups followed their normal physiotherapy treatment, but in addition, the intervention group practised mindfulness meditation for 8 weeks (one 90-min session/week). A Cold Pressor Test (CPT) was used to assess pain tolerance. In contrast, the perception of pain was measured using a Visual Analogue Scale. Other measurements used were the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS), and Profile of Mood States (POMS).

Results: Our results demonstrated an increase in pain tolerance for the intervention group and an increase in mindful awareness for injured athletes. Moreover, our findings observed a promising change in positive mood for both groups. Regarding the Stress/Anxiety scores, our findings showed a notable decrease across sessions; however, no significant changes were observed in other main and interaction effects in both groups.

Conclusion: Injured athletes can benefit from using mindfulness as part of the sport rehabilitation process to increase their pain tolerance and awareness. Further research is required to assess whether increasing pain tolerance could help in the therapeutic process.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00722/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_650705_69_Psycho_20180524_arts_A

Mindfulness Training has Long-Lasting Positive Effects

Mindfulness Training has Long-Lasting Positive Effects

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“These findings suggest that mindfulness training has both short-term and long-term effects on coping. These effects (six years on) were found despite poor to moderate adherence to formal mindfulness practice.” – de Vibe et al.

 

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. As a result, mindfulness training has been called the third wave of therapies. The vast majority of studies of mindfulness, however, are conducted over relatively short periods of time, often without follow-up and if there is follow-up it is often only for a few weeks. Hence, it is not known whether mindfulness training has long-term persisting benefits that are detectable years later.

 

In today’s Research News article “Six-year positive effects of a mindfulness-based intervention on mindfulness, coping and well-being in medical and psychology students; Results from a randomized controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5916495/ ), de Vibe and colleagues examine whether mindfulness training has detectable benefits 6 years after training. They recruited second year medical and clinical psychology students and randomly assigned them to either receive a 7-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program or a no-treatment control condition. MBSR consists of training in meditation, yoga, and body scan. The students were measured at baseline and then one month and two, four and six years after training for mindfulness, well-being, coping, and class attendance.

 

“During the six-year follow-up period, students in the intervention group were invited to participate in optional 1.5-hour mindfulness booster sessions once every semester.” Two thirds of the students attended one or no booster sessions. “During the six-year follow-up period, the number of participants in the intervention group who reported to practice formal mindfulness exercises decreased from 112 of 140 (80%), one month after the intervention to 28 of 48 (58%), at six-year follow-up.”

 

They found that in comparison to the control group and regardless of attendance at booster sessions or home practice, participants in the MBSR training demonstrated higher levels of mindfulness, improved well-being, decreased avoidance coping, and increased problem focused coping at the six year follow-up. Hence mindfulness training resulted in improvements in mindfulness, well-being, and adaptive coping ability that lasted over a six years period with no trend toward weakening.

 

These are remarkable results that suggest that the benefits of mindfulness training are not fleeting, but rather last over substantial periods of time. To my knowledge, this is the first demonstration that the effects last for such a prolonged, 6-year, period. They underscore the ability of mindfulness training to fundamentally alter the individual’s approach to life resulting in relatively permanent improvements in their mental and physical well-being.

 

So, produce long lasting positive effects with mindfulness training.

 

“mindfulness exercises can result in long-lasting positive psychological effects, especially for people new to these experiences.” – Monique Tello

 

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

 

Michael de Vibe, Ida Solhaug, Jan H. Rosenvinge, Reidar Tyssen, Adam Hanley, Eric Garland. Six-year positive effects of a mindfulness-based intervention on mindfulness, coping and well-being in medical and psychology students; Results from a randomized controlled trial, PLoS One. 2018; 13(4): e0196053. Published online 2018 Apr 24. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0196053

 

Abstract

Longitudinal research investigating the enduring impact of mindfulness training is scarce. This study investigates the six-year effects of a seven-week mindfulness-based course, by studying intervention effects in the trajectory of dispositional mindfulness and coping skills, and the association between those change trajectories and subjective well-being at six-year follow-up. 288 Norwegian medical and psychology students participated in a randomized controlled trial. 144 received a 15-hour mindfulness course over seven weeks in the second or third semester with booster sessions twice yearly, while the rest continued their normal study curricula. Outcomes were subjective well-being, and dispositional mindfulness and coping assessed using the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire and the Ways of Coping Checklist. Analyses were performed for the intention-to-treat sample, using latent growth curve models. At six-year follow-up, students receiving mindfulness training reported increased well-being. Furthermore, they reported greater increases in the trajectory of dispositional mindfulness and problem-focused coping along with greater decreases in the trajectory of avoidance-focused coping. Increases in problem-focused coping predicted increases in well-being. These effects were found despite relatively low levels of adherence to formal mindfulness practice. The findings demonstrate the viability of mindfulness training in the promotion of well-being and adaptive coping, which could contribute to the quality of care given, and to the resilience and persistence of health care professionals.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5916495/