Change Brain Connectivity for Better Attention and Thinking with Mindfulness

Change Brain Connectivity for Better Attention and Thinking with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness meditation training increases resting state connectivity between top-down executive control regions, highlighting an important mechanism through which it reduces stress levels.” – Daniel Reed

 

There has accumulated a large amount of research demonstrating that mindfulness has significant benefits for psychological, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. It even improves high level thinking known as executive function and emotion regulation and compassion. Its positive effects are so widespread that it is difficult to find any other treatment of any kind with such broad beneficial effects on everything from thinking to mood and happiness to severe mental and physical illnesses. This raises the question of how mindfulness training could produce such widespread and varied benefits. One possibility is that mindfulness practice results in beneficial changes in the nervous system.

 

The nervous system is a dynamic entity, constantly changing and adapting to the environment. It will change size, activity, and connectivity in response to experience. These changes in the brain are called neuroplasticity. Over the last decade neuroscience has been studying the effects of contemplative practices on the brain and has identified neuroplastic changes in widespread areas. In other words, mindfulness practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits. The changes are complex and require sophisticated brain scanning techniques to detect. Hence there is a need to continue investigating the nature of these changes in the brain produced by meditation.

 

In today’s Research News article “Trait Mindfulness and Functional Connectivity in Cognitive and Attentional Resting State Networks.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6473082/), Parkinson and colleagues recruited undergraduate students who had never meditated, measured them for mindfulness, and scanned their brains under resting conditions with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). They examined the functional connectivity of a number of established neural networks and their relationship with mindfulness.

 

They found that mindfulness was negatively related to the functional connectivity of the Default Mode Network (DMN) and positively related to the functional connectivity of the Salience Network, the Central Executive Network, and Attention Network. The Default Mode Network (DMN) has been shown to be associated with mind wandering and self-referential thinking. It is not surprising that mindfulness would be associated with lower levels of the functioning of this network. Indeed, previous work has demonstrated that mindfulness is associated with reduced “mind wandering.”

 

The Salience Network is involved in detecting and filtering important stimuli in the environment from the environment and thereby gets involved in a myriad of high level psychological and social functions. The results suggest that being more mindful is associated with being more sensitive to important information.

 

The Central Executive Network has been shown to be associated with high level thinking and behavioral control. Hence, the results further suggest that high mindfulness is associated with improved cognition. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown through extensive research to be associated with better cognitive ability.

 

Finally, the Attention Network has been found to be associated with, no surprise, the ability to attend and focus. This suggests that high mindfulness is associated with improved attention ability. Again, this reflects other research which demonstrated that mindfulness is associated with a greater ability to attend.

 

Hence the study demonstrated the associations with mindfulness with functional connectivity in various neural networks tracks the demonstrated effects of mindfulness on the individual’s ability to focus, think, and stay in the present moment. This further suggests that changes in the operations of the brain are produced by mindfulness and that hese changes in turn produced improved functional capacities.

 

So, change brain connectivity for better attention and thinking with mindfulness.

 

“Just 11 hours of learning a meditation technique induce positive structural changes in brain connectivity by boosting efficiency in a part of the brain that helps a person regulate behavior in accordance with their goals,” – University of Oregon

 

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

 

Parkinson, T. D., Kornelsen, J., & Smith, S. D. (2019). Trait Mindfulness and Functional Connectivity in Cognitive and Attentional Resting State Networks. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 13, 112. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2019.00112

 

Abstract

Mindfulness has been described as an orienting of attention to the present moment, with openness and compassion. Individuals displaying high trait mindfulness exhibit this tendency as a more permanent personality attribute. Given the numerous physical and mental health benefits associated with mindfulness, there is a great interest in understanding the neural substrates of this trait. The purpose of the current research was to examine how individual differences in trait mindfulness associated with functional connectivity in five resting-state networks related to cognition and attention: the default mode network (DMN), the salience network (SN), the central executive network (CEN), and the dorsal and ventral attention networks (DAN and VAN). Twenty-eight undergraduate participants completed the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), a self-report measure of trait mindfulness which also provides scores on five of its sub-categories (Observing, Describing, Acting with Awareness, Non-judging of Inner Experience, and Non-reactivity to Inner Experience). Participants then underwent a structural MRI scan and a 7-min resting state functional MRI scan. Resting-state data were analyzed using independent-component analyses. An analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was performed to determine the relationship between each resting state network and each FFMQ score. These analyses indicated that: (1) trait mindfulness and its facets showed increased functional connectivity with neural regions related to attentional control, interoception, and executive function; and (2) trait mindfulness and its facets showed decreased functional connectivity with neural regions related to self-referential processing and mind wandering. These patterns of functional connectivity are consistent with some of the benefits of mindfulness—enhanced attention, self-regulation, and focus on present experience. This study provides support for the notion that non-judgmental attention to the present moment facilitates the integration of regions in neural networks that are related to cognition, attention, and sensation.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6473082/

 

Change the Brain to Improve Resilience with Meditation

Change the Brain to Improve Resilience with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindful people … can better cope with difficult thoughts and emotions without becoming overwhelmed or shutting down (emotionally). Pausing and observing the mind may (help us) resist getting drawn into wallowing in a setback.” – Badri Bajaj

 

Psychological well-being is sometimes thought of as a lack of mental illness. But it is more than just a lack of something. It is a positive set of characteristics that lead to happy, well-adjusted life. These include the ability to be aware of and accept one’s strengths and weaknesses, to have goals that give meaning to life, to truly believe that your potential capabilities are going to be realized, to have close and valuable relations with others, the ability to effectively manage life issues especially daily issues, and the ability to follow personal principles even when opposed to society. But stress can interfere with the individual’s ability to achieve these goals.  When highly stressed, resilience is required to cope with the stress and continue on the path to psychological well-being.

 

One way that mindfulness practices such as meditation may improve resilience is by altering the brain. The nervous system is a dynamic entity, constantly changing and adapting to the environment. It will change size, activity, and connectivity in response to experience. These changes in the brain are called neuroplasticity. Over the last decade neuroscience has been studying the effects of contemplative practices on the brain and has identified neuroplastic changes in widespread areas. In other words, mindfulness practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits. The changes in the brain, however, that are responsible for increased resilience are unknown.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Immediate and Sustained Positive Effects of Meditation on Resilience Are Mediated by Changes in the Resting Brain.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6448020/), Kwak and colleagues recruited healthy adults to participate in a 4-day retreat. They were randomly assigned to a meditation retreat or a relaxation retreat. They were measured before and after the retreat and 3 months later for mindfulness, resilience, and religious preference. Also, before and after the retreat the participants underwent functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (f-MRI) of their brains.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the relaxation retreat participants, the meditation retreat participants at the 3-month follow-up had significant increases in both mindfulness and resilience. They also found that the meditation group had significantly increased functional connectivity between the left rostral anterior cingulate cortex and the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, precuneus, and angular gyrus. In addition, the greater the increase in the functional connectivity in the meditation retreat group the greater the increases in resilience and mindfulness. The increase in resilience was associated with the increase in mindfulness and this association was found to be partially mediated by the change in functional connectivity. In other words, increased mindfulness was associated with increased resilience directly and also indirectly by its association with the increased functional connectivity which was in turn associated with greater resilience.

 

The results are interesting and suggest that the effect of meditation on resilience is due to increases in mindfulness that change the brain to produce greater resilience. In particular, meditation appears to increase the functional connectivity between brain regions, the cingulate cortex and the prefrontal cortex and the precuneus, and angular gyrus, and thus is partially responsible for increased resilience.

 

Resilience is very important for the individual to be able to withstand the stress and negative events in life. Meditation appears to change the brain to help people better cope with the stresses of life. This may underlie, at least in part, the psychological and physical benefits of meditation practice.

 

So, change the brain to improve resilience with meditation.

 

The emotional soup that follows a stressful event can whip up negative stories about yourself or others that goes on and on, beyond being useful. Mindfulness reduces this rumination and, if practiced regularly, changes your brain so that you’re more resilient to future stressful events.” – Shamash Alidina

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Kwak, S., Lee, T. Y., Jung, W. H., Hur, J. W., Bae, D., Hwang, W. J., … Kwon, J. S. (2019). The Immediate and Sustained Positive Effects of Meditation on Resilience Are Mediated by Changes in the Resting Brain. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 13, 101. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2019.00101

 

Abstract

While recent studies have explored the maintenance of the effect of meditation on stress resilience, the underlying neural mechanisms have not yet been investigated. The present study conducted a highly controlled residential study of a 4-day meditation intervention to investigate the brain functional changes and long-term effects of meditation on mindfulness and resilience. Thirty participants in meditation practice and 17 participants in a relaxation retreat (control group) underwent magnetic resonance imaging scans at baseline and post-intervention and completed the Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale (CAMS) and Resilience Quotient Test (RQT) at baseline, post-intervention, and the 3-month follow-up. All participants showed increased CAMS and RQT scores post-intervention, but only the meditation group sustained the enhancement after 3 months. Resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) between the left rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) and the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC), precuneus, and angular gyrus was significantly increased post-intervention in the meditation group compared with the relaxation group. The changes in rACC-dmPFC rsFC mediated the relationship between the changes in the CAMS and RQT scores and correlated with the changes in the RQT score both immediately and at 3 months post-intervention. Our findings suggest that increased rACC-dmPFC rsFC via meditation causes an immediate enhancement in resilience that is sustained. Since resilience is known to be associated with the preventative effect of various psychiatric disorders, the improvement in stress-related neural mechanisms may be beneficial to individuals at high clinical risk.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6448020/

 

Become More Sensitive to Others with Meditation

Become More Sensitive to Others with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“as we pay attention to our breath, our body, our lives, in this simple and gentle way, a natural consequence is the opening of the heart.” – Matthew Brensilver

 

Humans are social animals. This is a great asset for the species as the effort of the individual is amplified by cooperation. In primitive times, this cooperation was essential for survival. But in modern times it is also essential, not for survival but rather for making a living and for the happiness of the individual. This ability to cooperate is so essential to human flourishing that it is built deep into our DNA and is reflected in the structure of the human nervous system. This deep need for positive social interactions heightens the pain of social rejection.

 

Mindfulness has been found to increase prosocial behaviors such as altruism, compassion and empathy and reduce antisocial behaviors such as violence and aggression. In today’s Research News article “Exploring the Role of Meditation and Dispositional Mindfulness on Social Cognition Domains: A Controlled Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00809/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_963174_69_Psycho_20190416_arts_A), Campos and colleagues examine the relationship of mindfulness to social cognition, “the mental operations that underlie social interactions, including perceiving, interpreting, and generating responses to the intentions, dispositions, and behaviors of others”.

 

They recruited a group of healthy adult meditation practitioners and a group of non-meditators and had them complete measures of mindfulness, empathy, emotion recognition, theory of mind, attribution style, depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairment. Comparing the two groups they found that the meditators had significantly higher levels of mindfulness, interpersonal reactivity (empathy), emotion recognition, and theory of mind and significantly lower levels of cognitive impairment and lower levels of attribution style, including hostility bias intentionality bias, blame, anger bias, and aggressivity bias. They also found that the higher the levels of mindfulness, particularly the non-reactivity facet of mindfulness, the higher the levels of empathy.

 

This study is cross-sectional and has to be interpreted with caution. The results, however suggest that meditators have higher levels of social cognition. That is, that meditators are much more sensitive to others. This, in turn, improves their ability to understand and interact with others. They also suggest that meditators have a better ability to be non-reactive to what is transpiring in the present moment. This would make them better at responding empathetically to others. Hence, the study suggests that meditation practice may improve the individual’s sensitivity to others.

 

So, become more sensitive to others with meditation.

 

“Learning to communicate with empathy can go a long way toward building more positivity in your relationships and reducing your stress. If we all focused more on listening and understanding each other, the world would be a lot less stressful—and a lot happier—place to live.” – Arthur Ciamamicoli

 

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

 

Campos D, Modrego-Alarcón M, López-del-Hoyo Y, González-Panzano M, Van Gordon W, Shonin E, Navarro-Gil M and García-Campayo J (2019) Exploring the Role of Meditation and Dispositional Mindfulness on Social Cognition Domains: A Controlled Study. Front. Psychol. 10:809. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00809

 

Research suggests that mindfulness can induce changes in the social domain, such as enhancing emotional connection to others, prosocial behavior, and empathy. However, despite growing interest in mindfulness in social psychology, very little is known about the effects of mindfulness on social cognition. Consequently, the aim of this study was to explore the relationship between mindfulness and social cognition by comparing meditators with non-meditators on several social cognition measures. A total of 60 participants (meditators, n = 30; non-meditators, n = 30) were matched on sex, age, and ethnic group, and then asked to complete the following assessment measures: Mindful Awareness Attention Scale (MAAS), Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire Short Form (FFMQ-SF), Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI), Revised Eyes Test, Hinting Task, Ambiguous Intentions and Hostility Questionnaire (AIHQ), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), and Screening for Cognitive Impairment in Psychiatry (SCIP). The results showed that meditators reported higher empathy (except for the personal distress subscale), higher emotional recognition, higher theory of mind (ToM), and lower hostile attributional style/bias. The findings also demonstrated that dispositional mindfulness (both total score assessed with MAAS and mindfulness facets using the FFMQ) was associated with social cognition, although it was not equally correlated with all social cognition outcomes, and correlation patterns differ when analyses were conducted separately for meditators and non-meditators. In addition, results showed potential predictors for each social cognition variable, highlighting non-reactivity to inner experience as a key component of mindfulness in order to explain social cognition performance. In summary, the findings indicated that the meditator sample performed better on certain qualities (i.e., empathy, emotional recognition, ToM, hostile attributional style/bias) in comparison to non-meditators and, furthermore, support the notion that mindfulness is related to social cognition, which may have implications for the design of mindfulness-based approaches for use in clinical and non-clinical settings.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00809/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_963174_69_Psycho_20190416_arts_A

 

Improve Feedback Learning with Focused Meditation

Improve Feedback Learning with Focused Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Meditation is a powerful tool for the body and the mind; it can reduce stress and improve immune function. But can it also help us train our minds to learn faster from feedback or information acquired through past experiences?” – Jasmine Collier

 

Learning is fundamental to humans’ ability to survive and adapt in our environments. It is particularly essential in modern environments. Indeed, modern humans need to spend decades learning the knowledge and skills that are needed to be productive. Essential to the learning process is reacting to feedback from the consequences of actions. This is known as the “Law of Effect. Mindfulness is known to improve learning. So, it would seem reasonable to investigate how mindfulness training may improve the ability to respond to the feedback and learn.

 

In today’s Research News article “Meditation experience predicts negative reinforcement learning and is associated with attenuated FRN amplitude.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6420441/), Knytl and Opitz recruited healthy adults and separated them into groups who were non-meditators, novice meditators, and experienced meditators. The meditators were practitioners of focused meditation. They performed a probablistic selection task while the electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded. Event related potentials (ERPs) were recorded in response to the presentation of the symbols.

 

In the probablistic selection task the participants were asked to select between two symbols presented randomly on a computer screen. One symbol, if selected, would produce positive feedback (10 points). Whether that symbol produced the feedback did not occur on every occasion. There were different probabilities of feedback, 20%, 30%, 40%, 60%, 70%, 80%. In the 60% case feedback would occur 6 out of every 10 times the symbol was presented. The participants were not told which symbols would produce positive feedback. They had to discover it themselves.

 

They found that non-meditators were significantly more negatively biased while focused meditators were significantly more positively biased. The non-meditators were better at not responding on trials where there was no positive feedback symbol present while the focused meditators were better at responding on trials where there was a positive feedback symbol present. In addition, they found that the more years of focused meditation experience the larger the difference.

 

In the EEG, the focused meditators had the smallest feedback related negativity (FRN) which involves a greater negative going electrical response of the frontal lobes in the event related potential (ERP) that occurred about a quarter of a second after the stimulus on positive trials than on negative trials. This response is thought to signal reinforcement occurring in the brain systems. In addition, they found that the more years of meditation experience the larger the reduction in the FRN.

 

The study is complicated and the results difficult to interpret, but they suggest that focused meditation experience makes and individual more sensitive to positive reinforcement and less sensitive to negative reinforcement. This bias is reflected in both the behavioral and event related potential data. This suggests that the demonstrated ability of focused meditation training to improve attention ability improves the ability of the meditator to detect stimuli that produce positive reinforcement. This makes meditators better at learning the feedback signals provided by the environment.

 

So, improve feedback learning with focused meditation.

 

“Humans have been meditating for over 2000 years, but the neural mechanisms of this practice are still relatively unknown. These findings demonstrate that, on a deep level, meditators respond to feedback in a more even-handed way than non-meditators, which may help to explain some of the psychological benefits they experience from the practice.” – Paul Knytl

 

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

 

Knytl, P., & Opitz, B. (2018). Meditation experience predicts negative reinforcement learning and is associated with attenuated FRN amplitude. Cognitive, affective & behavioral neuroscience, 19(2), 268–282. doi:10.3758/s13415-018-00665-0

 

Abstract

Focused attention meditation (FAM) practices are cognitive control exercises where meditators learn to maintain focus and attention in the face of distracting stimuli. Previous studies have shown that FAM is both activating and causing plastic changes to the mesolimbic dopamine system and some of its target structures, particularly the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and striatum. Feedback-based learning also depends on these systems and is known to be modulated by tonic dopamine levels. Capitalizing on previous findings that FAM practices seem to cause dopamine release, the present study shows that FAM experience predicts learning from negative feedback on a probabilistic selection task. Furthermore, meditators exhibited attenuated feedback-related negativity (FRN) as compared with nonmeditators and this effect scales with meditation experience. Given that reinforcement learning and FRN are modulated by dopamine levels, a possible explanation for our findings is that FAM practice causes persistent increases in tonic dopamine levels which scale with amount of practice, thus altering feedback processing.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6420441/

 

Improve Psychological Adjustment with Meditation

Improve Psychological Adjustment with Meditation

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Fine-tuning which type of mindfulness or meditation someone uses as a prescriptive to treat a specific need will most likely be the next big advance in the public health revolution of mindfulness and meditation.” – Christopher Bergland

 

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

 

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. The meditator just observes these thoughts and lets them arise and fall away without paying them any further attention. Loving Kindness Meditation is designed to develop kindness and compassion to oneself and others. The individual systematically pictures different individuals from self, to close friends, to enemies and wishes them happiness, well-being, safety, peace, and ease of well-being.

 

These techniques have common properties of restful attention on the present moment. They are also similar to many religious and spiritual practices. There are large differences between these practices that are likely to produce different effects on the practitioner. But what those differences are is not known. In today’s Research News article “Religiosity and Meditation Practice: Exploring Their Explanatory Power on Psychological Adjustment.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00630/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_951898_69_Psycho_20190404_arts_A), Montero-Marin and colleagues explore the different effects of these practices on the psychological well-being of practitioners.

 

They recruited adult participants online and had them complete measures of happiness, depression, positive and negative emotions, and negative psychological adjustment. They were also asked to indicate the amount of prayer, and the types and amounts of meditation practices engaged in, including open monitoring, focused, and compassion meditation types.

 

They found that positive psychological states were associated with the amount of the various meditation practices and not particularly with religiosity or prayer. They found that the amount of focused meditation practice was significantly related to all measures of psychological adjustment, including happiness, depression, positive and negative emotions, and negative psychological adjustment. On the other hand, open monitoring practice was significantly associated with self-regulation of negative emotions and compassion meditation was significantly related to positive emotions and happiness.

 

These are interesting results that are cross-sectional and correlative. So, care must be taken in concluding causation. Nevertheless, the results suggest that meditation practice has positive benefits for the psychological state of the practitioner that are superior to religious practices. It appears that focused meditation practice has the greatest benefits while compassion meditation may help increase happiness and open monitoring meditation may help with dealing with negative emotions. Previous research has indicated some additional benefits of religiosity, prayer, and focused, open monitoring, and compassion meditation techniques. It remains for future research to better clarify the advantages and disadvantages of each of these meditation types.

 

So, improve psychological adjustment with meditation.

 

”For someone who meditates, the practice offers a chance to improve physical wellbeing, as well as emotional health. However, there is no “right way” to meditate, meaning people can explore the different types until they find one that works for them.” – Zawn Villines

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Montero-Marin J, Perez-Yus MC, Cebolla A, Soler J, Demarzo M and Garcia-Campayo J (2019) Religiosity and Meditation Practice: Exploring Their Explanatory Power on Psychological Adjustment. Front. Psychol. 10:630. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00630

 

There has been increased interest in the relationships between religiosity, meditation practice and well-being, but there is lack of understanding as to how specific religious components and distinct meditation practices could influence different positive and negative psychological adjustment outcomes. The aim of this study was to assess the explanatory power of religious beliefs and the practice of prayer, focused attention (FA), open monitoring (OM), and compassion meditation (CM) on psychological adjustment, taking into consideration a number of practice-related variables such as session length, frequency of practice and lifetime practice. Psychological adjustment was assessed by means of happiness, positive affect, depression, negative affect, and emotional overproduction. A cross-sectional design was used, with a final sample comprising 210 Spanish participants who completed an online assessment protocol. Hierarchical regressions were performed, including age, sex and psychotropic medication use in the first step as possible confounders, with the addition of religious beliefs and the practice of prayer, FA, OM, and CM in the second step. FA session length was related to all psychological adjustment outcomes: happiness (ΔR2 = 0.09, p = 0.002; β = 0.25, p = 0.001), positive affect (ΔR2 = 0.09, p = 0.002; β = 0.18, p = 0.014), depression (ΔR2 = 0.07, p = 0.004; β = -0.27, p < 0.001), negative affect (ΔR2 = 0.08, p = 0.007; β = -0.27, p < 0.001) and emotional overproduction (ΔR2 = 0.07, p = 0.013; β = -0.23, p = 0.001). CM session length was related to positive affect (β = 0.18, p = 0.011). CM practice frequency was associated with happiness (ΔR2 = 0.06, p = 0.038; β = 0.16, p = 0.041). Lifetime practice of FA was related to happiness (ΔR2 = 0.08, p = 0.007; β = 0.21, p = 0.030) and OM to emotional overproduction (ΔR2 = 0.08, p = 0.037; β = -0.19, p = 0.047). Religious beliefs and prayer seemed to be less relevant than meditation practices such as FA, OM, and CM in explaining psychological adjustment. The distinct meditation practices might be differentially related to distinct psychological adjustment outcomes through different practice-related variables. However, research into other forms of institutional religiosity integrating social aspects of religion is required.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00630/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_951898_69_Psycho_20190404_arts_A

 

Improve Sleep and Reduce Insomnia with Mindfulness

Improve Sleep and Reduce Insomnia with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Given the absence of side effects and the positive potential benefits of mindfulness that extend beyond sleep, we encourage people with chronic insomnia, particularly those unable or unwilling to use sleep medications, to consider mindfulness training.” – Cynthia Gross

 

Modern society has become more around-the-clock and more complex producing considerable pressure and stress on the individual. The advent of the internet and smart phones has exacerbated the problem. The resultant stress can impair sleep. Indeed, it is estimated that over half of Americans sleep too little due to stress. As a result, people today sleep 20% less than they did 100 years ago. Not having a good night’s sleep has adverse effects upon the individual’s health, well-being, and happiness. It has been estimated that 30 to 35% of adults have brief symptoms of insomnia, 15 to 20% have a short-term insomnia disorder, and 10% have chronic insomnia

 

Insomnia is more than just an irritant. Sleep deprivation is associated with decreased alertness and a consequent reduction in performance of even simple tasks, decreased quality of life, increased difficulties with memory and problem solving, increased likelihood of accidental injury including automobile accidents, and increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It also can lead to anxiety about sleep itself. This is stressful and can produce even more anxiety about being able to sleep. About 4% of Americans revert to sleeping pills. But these do not always produce high quality sleep and can have problematic side effects. So, there is a need to find better methods to treat insomnia. Mindfulness-based practices have been reported to improve sleep amount and quality and help with insomnia.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effect of Mind-Body Therapies on Insomnia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6393899/ ), Wang and colleagues review, summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the effects of mind-body practices on sleep. They uncovered 49 studies employing meditation, tai chi, qigong, and yoga practices and measuring sleep.

 

They report that the published studies found that meditation, tai chi, qigong, and yoga practices significantly reduced insomnia and improved the quality of sleep particularly when compared to no-treatment control groups. They also report that the benefits of the mind-body practices were greater in healthy individuals than in clinical populations. These significant effects were obtained by subjective reports, while objective sleep diary and actigraph measures were not significant.

 

These are interesting results that suggest that mind-body practices significantly improve the participants evaluations of the quality of sleep and insomnia. This is important as individuals in modern society tend not to get sufficient sleep and adequate sleep is important to the psychological and physical well-being of the individual and their performance during the day. Engaging in these mind-body practices of meditation, tai chi, qigong, and yoga practice have been shown to have many other benefits in addition to the improvement of sleep.

 

So, improve sleep and reduce insomnia with mindfulness.

 

“Insomnia is a disorder of cognitive and physiological hyperarousal, which mindfulness addresses.” – Aya Brackett

 

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

 

Wang, X., Li, P., Pan, C., Dai, L., Wu, Y., & Deng, Y. (2019). The Effect of Mind-Body Therapies on Insomnia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2019, 9359807. doi:10.1155/2019/9359807

 

Abstract

Background/Purpose

Sleep plays an important role in individuals’ health. The functions of the brain, the cardiovascular system, the immune system, and the metabolic system are closely associated with sleep. As a prevalent sleep disorder, insomnia has been closely concerned, and it is necessary to find effective therapies. In recent years, a growing body of studies has shown that mind-body therapies (MBTs) can improve sleep quality and ameliorate insomnia severity. However, a comprehensive and overall systematic review has not been conducted. In order to examine the effect of MBTs on insomnia, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis evaluating the effects of MBTs on sleep quality in healthy adults and clinical populations.

Methods

PubMed, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, and review of references were searched up to July 2018. English language studies of all designs evaluating the effect of MBTs on sleep outcomes in adults with or without diseases were examined. To calculate the SMDs and 95% CIs, we used a fixed effect model when heterogeneity was negligible and a random effect model when heterogeneity was significant.

Results

49 studies covering 4506 participants published between 2004 and 2018 were identified. Interventions included meditation, tai chi, qigong, and yoga which lasted 4 to 24 weeks. The MBTs resulted in statistically significant improvement in sleep quality and reduction on insomnia severity but no significant effects on sleep quantity indices, which were measured by sleep diary or objective measures. We analyzed the effects of tai chi and qigong separately as two different MBTs for the first time and found that qigong had a slight advantage over tai chi in the improvement of sleep quality. Subgroup analyses revealed that the effect of MBTs on sleep quality in healthy individuals was larger than clinical populations. The effect of MBTs might be influenced by the intervention duration but not the frequency.

Conclusions

MBTs can be effective in treating insomnia and improving sleep quality for healthy individuals and clinical patients. More high-quality and well-controlled RCTs are needed to make a better conclusion in further study.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6393899/

 

Reduce Worry and Rumination and Improve Emotion Regulation Lowering Anxiety and Depression with Mindfulness

Reduce Worry and Rumination and Improve Emotion Regulation Lowering Anxiety and Depression with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The practice of mindfulness teaches us a different way to relate to our thoughts, feelings, and emotions as they arise. It is about learning to approach and acknowledge whatever is happening in the present moment, setting aside our lenses of judgment and just being with whatever is there, rather than avoiding it or needing to fix it.” – Elisha Goldstein

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving the physical and psychological condition of otherwise healthy people and also treating the physical and psychological issues of people with illnesses. This has led to an increasing adoption of mindfulness techniques for the health and well-being of both healthy and ill individuals.

 

Worry (concern about the future) and rumination (repetitive thinking about the past) are associated with mental illness, particularly anxiety and depression. Fortunately, worry and rumination may be interrupted by mindfulness and emotion regulation improved by mindfulness. These may be some of the mechanisms by which mindfulness training improves anxiety and depression. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness and Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety in the General Population: The Mediating Roles of Worry, Rumination, Reappraisal and Suppression.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00506/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_934868_69_Psycho_20190314_arts_A ), Parmentier and colleagues examine the ability of mindfulness to improve emotion regulation and reduce worry and rumination and thereby improve anxiety and depression.

 

They recruited adult participants online and had them complete an online survey measuring mindfulness, anxiety, depression, rumination, worry, emotion regulation, and meditation history. They found that meditation practice was not associated with anxiety or depression directly but rather through its positive association with mindfulness which was strongly negatively associated with anxiety and depression. Mindfulness was associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression directly and also indirectly through its association with rumination and worry and the emotion regulation mechanisms of suppression and reappraisal. Mindfulness was associated with lower levels of suppression, rumination, and worry and higher levels of reappraisal. which in turn were associated with anxiety and depression.

 

These findings suggest that meditation practice increases mindfulness and this decreases anxiety and depression. It does so directly and indirectly. Mindfulness reduces the tendency to suppress, prevent, anxiety and depression from arising which allows for full mindful appreciation of these emotions and as a result produces an actual reduction in them. It also decreases worry and rumination that normally heighten anxiety and depression. At the same time mindfulness increases reappraisal, heightening the ability to investigate the causes of anxiety and depression, resulting in their reduction. Worry and rumination were the most powerful mediating factors while suppression and reappraisal were still significant factors but substantially weaker.

 

These results support the conclusion that mindfulness directly decreases anxiety and depression. But mindfulness also acts indirectly by affecting has a number of psychological processes including improving emotion regulation and by decreasing the counterproductive cognitive processes of worry and rumination.

 

So, reduce worry and rumination and improve emotion regulation lowering anxiety and depression with mindfulness.

 

“With mindfulness practice, we can learn how to unhook from rumination and cut ourselves (and others) the slack requisite for increasing clarity and ease of being.” – Mitch Abblett

 

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

 

Parmentier FBR, García-Toro M, García-Campayo J, Yañez AM, Andrés P and Gili M (2019) Mindfulness and Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety in the General Population: The Mediating Roles of Worry, Rumination, Reappraisal and Suppression. Front. Psychol. 10:506. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00506

 

The present study examined the effects of mindfulness on depression and anxiety, both direct and indirect through the mediation of four mechanisms of emotional regulation: worry, rumination, reappraisal and suppression. Path analysis was applied to data collected from an international and non-clinical sample of 1151 adults, including both meditators and non-meditators, who completed an online questionnaire battery. Our results show that mindfulness are related to lower levels of depression and anxiety both directly and indirectly. Suppression, reappraisal, worry and rumination all acted as significant mediators of the relationship between mindfulness and depression. A similar picture emerged for the relationship between mindfulness and anxiety, with the difference that suppression was not a mediator. Our data also revealed that the estimated number of hours of mindfulness meditation practice did not affect depression or anxiety directly but did reduce these indirectly by increasing mindfulness. Worry and rumination proved to be the most potent mediating variables. Altogether, our results confirm that emotional regulation plays a significant mediating role between mindfulness and symptoms of depression and anxiety in the general population and suggest that meditation focusing on reducing worry and rumination may be especially useful in reducing the risk of developing clinical depression.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00506/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_934868_69_Psycho_20190314_arts_A

 

Enhance Flow in Athletes with Mindfulness

Enhance Flow in Athletes with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness-based interventions for sports are effective because they help athletes direct their attention to the current athletic task, while minimizing external distractions.” – Mitch Plemmons

 

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.

 

Flow refers to a state of mind that is characterized by a complete absorption with the task at hand, often resulting in enhanced skilled performance. The flow state underlies the athletes’ feelings and thoughts when they recall the best performances of their careers. It is obvious that the notion of flow and mindfulness have great similarity. There is little known, however, about the relationship between mindfulness and flow in athletes.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness training enhances flow state and mental health among baseball players in Taiwan.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6307497/ ), Chen and colleagues recruited the members of an elite male baseball team in Taiwan and provided them with a 4-session mindfulness training including meditation, yoga, and discussion of the application of mindfulness to their sport. They were measured before and after training and 4 weeks later for depression, anxiety, eating disorders, sleep quality, competitive anxiety, mindfulness, and flow state.

 

They found that after training and at follow-up there was a significant increase in sleep quality and flow state and a significant decrease in eating disorders and competitive anxiety. In addition, the higher the level of mindfulness of the player, the greater the level of flow state. They also saw a non-significant increase in the team’s performance after the training.

 

These are interesting results but conclusions need to be tempered with the fact that there wasn’t a control condition. This leaves many alternative confounding interpretations. Nevertheless, these pilot findings suggest that further research is warranted to investigate the effect of mindfulness training on athletic flow state. These results contribute to the growing body of research that suggests that being mindful produces enhanced athletic performance.

 

So, enhance flow in athletes with mindfulness.

 

“Achieving peak performance and especially being able to develop flow experiences in athletes is the holy grail of sport psychology.  . . researches are getting one step closer to unveiling the psychological factors that influence flow experiences, and mindfulness could be an essential part of the puzzle.” – Carmilo Saenz

 

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

 

Chen, J. H., Tsai, P. H., Lin, Y. C., Chen, C. K., & Chen, C. Y. (2018). Mindfulness training enhances flow state and mental health among baseball players in Taiwan. Psychology research and behavior management, 12, 15-21. doi:10.2147/PRBM.S188734

 

Abstract

Objective

To examine the effect of mindfulness-based training on performance and mental health among a group of elite athletes.

Methods

This study aimed to evaluate the effect of mindful sport performance enhancement (MSPE) on mental health, flow state, and competitive state anxiety using a 4-week workshop. We recruited an amateur baseball team (N=21) in Taiwan, and collected information by self-reported questionnaires administered before, immediately after, and at a 4-week follow-up. The primary outcome was to evaluate sports performance by flow state and competitive state anxiety, which included self-confidence, somatic anxiety, and cognitive anxiety. The secondary outcome was to explore whether MSPE intervention can improve anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, and eating disorders.

Result

After the workshop and follow-up 1 month later, we found improvements in flow state (P=0.001; P=0.045), cognitive anxiety in competitive anxiety (P=0.056; P=0.008), global eating disorder (P=0.009; P<0.001), marked shape concern (P=0.005; P<0.001), and weight concern (P=0.007; P<0.001). Scores of sleep disturbance (P=0.047) showed significant improvement at follow-up. We also found significant association between flow state and mindfulness ability (P<0.001).

Conclusion

This is the first mindfulness intervention to enhance athletes’ performance in Taiwan, and also the first application of MSPE for team sports. Our study results suggested that mindfulness ability is associated with flow state, and that MSPE is a promising training program for strengthening flow state and mental health.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6307497/

 

Decrease Hypertension with Yoga Practice

Decrease Hypertension with Yoga Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga, when performed mindfully, can reduce this type of stress-induced hypertension, while addressing its underlying causes. It pacifies the sympathetic nervous system and slows down the heart, while teaching the muscles and mind to relax deeply.” – Marla Apt

 

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

 

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

 

Obviously, there is a need for alternative to drug treatments for hypertension. Mindfulness practices have been shown to aid in controlling hypertension. Exercise is also known to help. So, yoga practice, which combines mindfulness practice with exercise would seem to be a good candidate practice for the treatment of hypertension. Indeed, yoga practice appears to lower blood pressure in hypertension. But yoga practices can contain a number of components including meditation, breathing exercises, postures, chanting, and mantras. It is not known, whether the postures included in the practice are necessary for the beneficial effects of yoga practice on hypertension.

 

In today’s Research News article “Yoga in Arterial Hypertension.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6375068/ ), Cramer and colleagues recruited adult patients with primary arterial hypertension receiving antihypertensive medication. They were randomly assigned to receive either yoga training that either included postures or without postures, or a wait-list control condition. The yoga practice consisted of 90 minutes, once a week, for 12 weeks of meditation, relaxation techniques, and postures for the yoga with postures group. The participants were encouraged and provided materials to practice daily at home. They were measured before and after training and 26 weeks later for systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

 

They found that at the end of training the yoga group without postures had a greater reduction in systolic blood pressure than either the control group or the group with yoga postures. But, at follow-up, 26 weeks later, the yoga group that included postures had a greater reduction in systolic blood pressure than either the control group or the group without yoga postures. Diastolic blood pressure was not affected. It should be noted that these benefits were obtained in patients taking antihypertensive medications. So, the yoga practice benefits supplemented those of the drugs.

 

These are interesting results that suggest that on the short-term yoga practice without postures is best for blood pressure reduction in patients with hypertension while for the long-term yoga with postures is best. The relaxation produced by practicing meditation and relaxation may have the immediate consequence of decreasing blood pressure but doesn’t appear to be sustained while the exercise involved in postures, like occurs with other aerobic exercises, may have more long-term benefits for the cardiovascular system.

 

These benefits are important as reducing blood pressure in patients with hypertension is important for their health, longevity, and well-being. Yoga appears to be a safe, effective, and relatively inexpensive treatment. In addition, yoga practice has psychological and social benefits that can help to maintain practice over the long-term.

 

So, decrease hypertension with yoga practice.

 

“Yoga, along with deep breathing exercises, meditation and inner reflection, is a good adjunctive and integrative cardiovascular approach to better health, including lowering blood pressure, as this data suggests,” – David Friedman

 

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

 

Cramer, H., Sellin, C., Schumann, D., & Dobos, G. (2018). Yoga in Arterial Hypertension. Deutsches Arzteblatt international, 115(50), 833-839. DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2018.0833

 

Abstract

Background

Yoga seems to exert its effect against arterial hypertension mainly through the associated breathing and meditation techniques, and less so through yoga postures. The goal of this trial was to compare the blood pressure–lowering effect of yoga interventions with and without yoga postures in patients with arterial hypertension.

Methods

75 patients taking medications for arterial hypertension (72% women, mean age 58.7 ± 9.5 years) were randomized into three groups: a yoga intervention group with yoga postures (25 patients, of whom 5 dropped out of the trial before its end), a yoga intervention group without yoga postures (25 patients, 3 dropouts), and a wait list control group (25 patients, one dropout). The interventions consisted of 90 minutes of yoga practice per week for twelve weeks. The data collectors, who were blinded to the intervention received, assessed the primary outcome measures “systolic 24-hour blood pressure” and “diastolic 24-hour blood pressure” before and after the intervention. In this report, we also present the findings on secondary outcome measures, including follow-up data.

Results

After the intervention, the systolic 24-hour blood pressure in the yoga intervention group without yoga postures was significantly lower than in the control group (group difference [?]= -3.8 mmHg; [95% confidence interval (CI): (-0.3; -7.4) p = 0.035]); it was also significantly lower than in the yoga intervention group with yoga postures (? = -3.2 mmHg; 95% CI: [-6.3; -0.8]; p = 0.045). Diastolic blood pressures did not differ significantly across groups. No serious adverse events were encountered in the course of the trial.

Conclusion

In accordance with the findings of earlier studies, we found that only yoga without yoga postures induced a short-term lowering of ambulatory systolic blood pressure. Yoga is safe and effective in patients taking medications for arterial hypertension and thus can be recommended as an additional treatment option for persons in this category.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6375068/

 

Improve Sleep in Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy with Yoga

Improve Sleep in Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Sleep disturbance is a common problem for women with breast cancer, and can have a variety of causes, from stress and depression related to the treatment or diagnosis, to a side effect of some of the drugs and anti-nausea medications used in chemotherapy regimens. Yoga not only produced benefits in the short term, it also produced benefits in sleep quality three months and six months after treatment.” – Paul Raeburn

 

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. Fatigue and insomnia are common symptoms in the aftermath of surviving breast cancer.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including fatiguestress,  sleep disturbance, and anxiety and depression. Yoga practice is a form of mindfulness training that has been shown to be beneficial for cancer patients.  In today’s Research News article “Randomized trial of Tibetan yoga in patients with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5735004/ ), Chaoul and colleagues examine the ability of yoga practice to improve sleep in breast cancer patients.

 

They recruited patients with Stage 1 to 3 breast cancer scheduled to undergo chemotherapy. They were randomly assigned to usual care or to either receive a Tibetan Yoga Program or a stretching program. Participants met for 4, 75 to 90-minute, sessions during chemotherapy and 3 booster sessions over the next 6 months. The participants were also encouraged to practice at home. The Tibetan Yoga Program consisted of “1) mindfulness and focused attention through guided meditation with breathing and visualization; 2) an alternate nostril breathing practice and a breath retention exercise; 3) Tsa Lung movements; and 4) closing with a brief compassion-based meditation.” The participants were measured before and after the programs and 3, 6, and 12 months later for sleep quality, fatigue, and actigraph measured sleep patterns.

 

They found that all groups improved in sleep quality and fatigue over the 12-month measurement period. But the Tibetan Yoga group had significantly less daily sleep disturbances and fewer minutes awake before sleep onset. Hence, participation in the Tibetan Yoga Program had modest benefits for the quality of sleep for the patients. The Tibetan Yoga Program contains a number of different components including meditation, postures, and breathing exercises. It is impossible to determine in the current study which components or which combinations of components were necessary and sufficient for the benefits.

 

These results are encouraging but not clinically significant as the effects were very modest. But,

it should be kept in mind that yoga and meditation programs have been shown to improve a number of other impacts of breast cancer diagnosis and survival. So, the total impact of participation in yoga for breast cancer patients may be much greater than implied by the current results.

 

So, improve sleep in breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy with yoga.

 

“it is encouraging to see that the women who practiced yoga outside of class had improved sleep outcomes over time. Previous research has established that yoga effectively reduces sleep disturbances for cancer patients, but have not included active control groups or long-term follow-up.” – Lorenzo Cohen

 

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

 

Chaoul, A., Milbury, K., Spelman, A., Basen-Engquist, K., Hall, M. H., Wei, Q., Shih, Y. T., Arun, B., Valero, V., Perkins, G. H., Babiera, G. V., Wangyal, T., Engle, R., Harrison, C. A., Li, Y., … Cohen, L. (2017). Randomized trial of Tibetan yoga in patients with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy. Cancer, 124(1), 36-45.

 

Abstract

BACKGROUND

This randomized trial examined the effects of a Tibetan yoga program (TYP) versus a stretching program (STP) and usual care (UC) on sleep and fatigue in women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy.

METHODS

Women with stage I–III breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy were randomized to TYP (n=74), STP (n=68), or UC (n=85) groups. Participants in the TYP and STP groups participated in 4 sessions during chemotherapy, followed by three booster sessions over the subsequent 6 months, and encouraged to practice at home. Self-report measures of sleep disturbances (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index) fatigue (Brief Fatigue Inventory), and actigraphy were collected at baseline, 1-week post-treatment, and 3, 6 and 12 months.

RESULTS

There were no group differences in total sleep disturbances or fatigue levels over time. However, patients in TYP reported fewer daily disturbances 1-week post-treatment than STP (difference=−0.43, 95% CI: −0.82, −0.04, P=0.03) and UC (difference=−0.41, 95.5% CI: −0.77, −0.05, P=0.02). Group differences at the other time points were maintained for TYP versus STP. Actigraphy data revealed greater minutes awake after sleep onset for STP 1-week post treatment versus TYP (difference=15.36, 95% CI: 7.25,23.48, P=0.0003) and UC (difference=14.48, 95% CI: 7.09,21.87, P=0.0002). Patients in TYP who practiced at least two times a week during follow-up reported better PSQI and actigraphy outcomes at 3 and 6 months post-treatment than those who did not and better than those in UC.

CONCLUSIONS

Participating in TYP during chemotherapy resulted in modest short-term benefits in sleep quality, with long-term benefits emerging over time for those who practiced TYP at least two times a week.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5735004/