Alter the Brain and Memory Consolidation During Sleep with Meditation

Alter the Brain and Memory Consolidation During Sleep with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Increase Telomere Length and Decrease Cellular Aging with Meditation

Increase Telomere Length and Decrease Cellular Aging with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

some forms of meditation may have salutary effects on telomere length by reducing cognitive stress and stress arousal and increasing positive states of mind and hormonal factors that may promote telomere maintenance.” – Elissa Epel

 

One of the most exciting findings in molecular biology in recent years was the discovery of the telomere. This is a component of the DNA molecule that is attached to the ends of the strands. Recent genetic research has suggested that the telomere and its regulation is the biological mechanism that produces aging. It has been found that the genes, coded on the DNA molecule, govern cellular processes in our bodies. One of the most fundamental of these processes is cell replication. Cells are constantly turning over. Dying cells or damaged are replaced by new cells. The cells turn over at different rates but most cells in the body are lost and replaced between every few days to every few months. Needless to say, we’re constantly renewing ourselves.

 

As we age the tail of the DNA molecule called the telomere shortens. When it gets very short cells have a more and more difficult time reproducing and become more likely to produce defective cells. On a cellular basis, this is what produces aging. As we get older the new cells produced are more and more likely to be defective. The shortening of the telomere occurs each time the cell is replaced. So, slowly as we age it gets shorter and shorter. This has been called a “mitotic clock.” This is normal. But telomere shortening can also be produced by oxidative stress, which can be produced by psychological and physiological stress. This is mediated by stress hormones and the inflammatory response. So, chronic stress can accelerate the aging process. In other words, when we’re chronically stressed, we get older faster.

 

Fortunately, there is a mechanism to protect the telomere. There is an enzyme in the body called telomerase that helps to prevent shortening of the telomere. It also promotes cell survival and enhances stress-resistance.  Research suggests that processes that increase telomerase activity tend to slow the aging process by protecting the telomere.  One activity that seems to increase telomerase activity and protect telomere length is mindfulness practice. Hence, engaging in mindfulness practices may protect the telomere and thereby slow the aging process. There is accumulating evidence, so it makes sense to stop and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Meditation and telomere length: a meta-analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://doi.org/10.1080/08870446.2019.1707827 ), Schutte and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis on the effects of meditation practice on cellular aging as reflected in telomere lengths. They identified 12 controlled published research studies.

 

They found that the published research demonstrated that meditation practices produce longer telomere lengths. The effect sizes were moderate and indicated that the meditation practitioners had telomeres about a half of a standard deviation longer then controls. They also report that the greater the number of hours of meditation practice the longer the telomeres, but this relationship was not significant in studies where there was a random assignment of participants to groups.

 

These are exciting findings that suggest that meditation practice can lead to greater telomere length. This in turn suggests that meditation would improve health and longevity. It is suspected that meditation has these benefits as the result of the ability of meditation practice to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress, where stress is known to have a shortening effect on the telomeres. Regardless of the mechanism, the accumulating research suggests that meditation can reduce cellular aging and thereby improve health and longevity.

 

Increase telomere length and decrease cellular aging with meditation.

 

meditation and the like, which people can use to reduce stress and increase wellbeing, would be having their salutary and well-documented useful effects in part through telomeres.” – Elizabeth Blackburn

 

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

 

Nicola S. Schutte, John M. Malouff & Shian-Ling Keng (2020): Meditation and telomere length: a meta-analysis, Psychology & Health, DOI: 10.1080/08870446.2019.1707827

 

ABSTRACT Objective: Telomeres are the caps at the end of chromosomes. Short telomeres are a biomarker for worsening health and early death. Design: The present study consolidated research on meditation and telomere length through a meta-analysis of results of studies examining the effect of meditation on telomere length by comparing the telomere length of meditating participants with participants in control conditions. Results: A search of the literature identified 11 studies reporting 12 comparisons of meditating individuals with individuals in control conditions. An overall significant weighted effect size of g ¼.40 indicated that the individuals in meditation conditions had longer telomeres. When an outlier effect size was trimmed from the analysis, the effect size was smaller, g ¼.16. Across studies, a greater number of hours of meditation among participants in meditation conditions was associated with larger effect sizes. Conclusion: These findings provide tentative support for the hypothesis that participants in meditation conditions have longer telomeres than participants in comparison conditions, and that a greater number of hours of meditation is associated with a greater impact on telomere biology. The results of the meta-analysis have potential clinical significance in that they suggest that meditation-based interventions may prevent telomere attrition or increase telomere length.

https://doi.org/10.1080/08870446.2019.1707827

 

Improve Emotion Processing with Brief Short-Term Meditation

Improve Emotion Processing with Brief Short-Term Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“brief mindfulness meditation, but not deliberate engagement in state mindfulness, produces demonstrable changes in emotional processing indicative of reduced emotional reactivity,” – Yanli Lin

 

Mindfulness practice has been shown to improve emotions and their regulation. Practitioners demonstrate more positive and less negative emotions and the ability to fully sense and experience emotions, while responding to them in appropriate and adaptive ways. In other words, mindful people are better able to experience yet control their responses to emotions. The ability of mindfulness training to improve emotion regulation is thought to be the basis for a wide variety of benefits that mindfulness provides to mental health and the treatment of mental illness especially depression and anxiety disorders. Dose-response, however, has not been explored and it is not known how much meditation practice is needed to produce emotional benefits.

 

In today’s Research News article “Brief Mindfulness Meditation Improves Emotion Processing.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6795685/), Wu and colleagues recruited physically and mentally healthy nom- meditating university students and randomly assigned them to a daily, 15 minutes, for 7 days of either mindfulness meditation or a course on emotional awareness. They were measured before and after treatment for anxiety, and depression. They also viewed a set of emotionally positive, negative or neutral pictures and were measured for their reactions of emotion intensity, emotional memory, and emotional attentional bias.

 

They found that the meditation group did not change in depression levels while the emotional awareness group increased in depression producing a significant difference between the groups. The meditation group had significant reductions in both positive and negative emotional intensity following the intervention while the emotional awareness group had a significant increase in negative emotional intensity. Following the intervention, the meditation group demonstrated a significant decrease in negative and a significant increase in positive emotional attentional bias while the emotional awareness group had a significant decrease in positive and emotional attentional bias.

 

These results are in line with prior research in demonstrating mindfulness training producing significant improvements in depression and emotional regulation. The results, however, are particularly interesting as the meditation intervention was brief and short-term, yet had significant impacts on mood and emotional regulation. Hence, a relatively small dose of meditation practice is sufficient to produce emotional benefits. The control condition was an active control condition, which is a strength. But it may have produced increased attention to emotions increasing reactions to them. Regardless, the study demonstrates that mindfulness meditation can have beneficial effects on emotions and their regulation even after only brief and short-term practice.

 

So, improve emotion processing with brief short-term meditation.

 

Meditation trains you to be resilient. The more you can learn to stay with all the highs and lows of your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, the more strength you can bring to each moment and experience.”Carley Hauck

 

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

 

Wu, R., Liu, L. L., Zhu, H., Su, W. J., Cao, Z. Y., Zhong, S. Y., … Jiang, C. L. (2019). Brief Mindfulness Meditation Improves Emotion Processing. Frontiers in neuroscience, 13, 1074. doi:10.3389/fnins.2019.01074

 

Abstract

Mindfulness-based interventions have previously been shown to have positive effects on psychological well-being. However, the time commitment, teacher shortage, and high cost of classic mindfulness interventions may have hindered efforts to spread the associated benefits to individuals in developing countries. Brief mindfulness meditation (BMM) has recently received attention as a way to disseminate the benefits of mindfulness-based interventions. Most existing BMM methods are adaptations of the classic approach. Few studies have investigated the mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of BMM. We developed a 15-min BMM named JW2016, which is based on the core concepts of mindfulness, Anapanasati (breath meditation of Buddhist Vipassana), our practical experience, and the results of scientific reports on meditation. We investigated the effects of this BMM on mood and emotion processing in an effort to create an effective, convenient, safe, and standardized BMM method that could benefit individuals with limited time or money to devote to meditation. Forty-six healthy participants (aged 18–25 years) were randomly allocated to the BMM group (n = 23) or the emotional regulation education (ERE) control group (n = 23). Forty-two of the study participants cooperated fully in all measurements and interventions (one time daily for seven consecutive days). Mood was measured with the Centre for Epidemiological Studies–Depression scale (CES-D) and the State Anxiety Inventory (SAI). Emotion processing was evaluated by assessing performance on an emotion intensity task, an emotional memory task, and an emotional dot-probe task. After intervention, the BMM group, but not the ERE group, showed a significant decreases in emotional intensity in response to positive as well as negative emotional stimuli, response time for emotional memory, and duration of attention bias toward negative emotional stimuli. Negative effects on mood state were found in the ERE group but not in the BMM group. This study demonstrated that BMM may improve aspects of emotion processing such as emotion intensity, emotional memory, and emotional attention bias. JW2016 BMM may be an effective, convenient, safe and standardized way to help practitioners remain focused and peaceful without any negative effect on emotion.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6795685/

 

Enhance Relaxation and Reduce Stress with a Brief Sound Meditation

Enhance Relaxation and Reduce Stress with a Brief Sound Meditation

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Sound meditation is the use of therapeutic instruments played in an intuitive way.  It’s an extremely effective and powerful tool for physical and energetic healing/self care. You don’t just hear the vibrations but you FEEL them within your body.” – Babeskills

 

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.

 

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. There are a variety of objects of focused meditation, the most common of which is focusing on the breath. But focusing on sounds can also be very effective.

 

In today’s Research News article “Didgeridoo Sound Meditation for Stress Reduction and Mood Enhancement in Undergraduates: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6769210/), Philips and colleagues recruited meditation naïve college students and randomly assigned them to a single 30 minute meditation session focusing on either sound or the breath. The sound meditation occurred to music played on a Didgeridoo. They were measured before and after the session for mood and perceived stress.

 

They found that after the meditation both groups had significant increases in relaxation and energy and decreases in negative arousal, tiredness, and perceived stress. But the sound meditation group had significantly greater increases in relaxation and decreases in perceived stress than the breath meditation group. The students reported enjoying the meditation but the sound meditation group reported significantly greater enjoyment than the breath meditation group.

 

The results of the study suggest that a single brief meditation session can improve mood and reduce perceived stress but that meditating to music played on a Didgeridoo produced greater relaxation and greater reductions in perceived stress that a more traditional meditation focused on the breath. It appears that the Didgeridoo music made for a more enjoyable meditation. It is possible that the effects observed were due to making meditation more enjoyable rather than a superiority of sound meditation. Future research needs to explore whether these effects occur to different sounds varying in enjoyability and are maintained with a greater number of meditation sessions.

 

So, enhance relaxation and reduce stress with a brief sound meditation.

 

Sound enhances our self-awareness, it facilitates connecting with the higher self, it promotes self-observation and self-worth, and it increases the state of personal resonance. It brings awareness to the inner processes of the mind: the habitual patterns, the good and bad discursive thinking, the judgment, the filters through which we experience the inner and the outer worlds and realities.” – SoundMeditation.com

 

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

 

Philips, K. H., Brintz, C. E., Moss, K., & Gaylord, S. A. (2019). Didgeridoo Sound Meditation for Stress Reduction and Mood Enhancement in Undergraduates: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Global advances in health and medicine, 8, 2164956119879367. doi:10.1177/2164956119879367

 

Short abstract

Background

College students report feeling frequently stressed, which adversely impacts health. Meditation is one effective method for reducing stress, but program length and required effort are potential obstacles. Research on sound meditation, involving focused listening to sounds, is nascent but may appeal to undergraduates. The effects of listening to didgeridoo, an Australian wind instrument producing a low, resonant, droning sound, have not been studied.

Objective

This study compared the effect of a 30-minute didgeridoo sound meditation versus silent meditation with focus on one’s breath on acute self-perceived stress and mood in undergraduates without prior meditation experience.

Methods

Seventy-four undergraduates were randomized to 2 interventions: (1) didgeridoo meditation (n = 40) performed live by a musician or (2) silent meditation (n = 34) taught by a meditation instructor. Immediate pre–post effects of the session were examined using the 4-Dimension Mood Scale and an item assessing acute self-perceived stress. Intervention acceptability was assessed postintervention.

Results

Two-way mixed analyses of variance were performed. Both groups reported significantly increased relaxation after meditation (Group D, P = .0001 and Group S, P = .0005). Both groups reported decreased negative arousal (Group D, P = .02 and Group S, P = .02), energy (Group D, P = .0001 and Group S, P = .003), tiredness (Group D, P = .0001 and Group S, P = .005), and acute stress (Group D, P = .0001 and Group S, P = .0007). Group Didgeridoo experienced significantly more relaxation (P = .01) and less acute stress (P = .03) than Group Silent. Fifty-three percent of silent participants and 80% of didgeridoo participants agreed that they would attend that type of meditation again. Forty-seven percent of silent participants and 80% of didgeridoo participants enjoyed the meditation.

Conclusion

Didgeridoo sound meditation is as effective as silent meditation for decreasing self-perceived negative arousal, tiredness, and energy and more effective than silent meditation for relaxation and acute stress in undergraduates. Didgeridoo meditation participants reported higher levels of enjoyment and higher likelihood of attending another session. Further investigation into didgeridoo and sound meditation is warranted.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6769210/

 

Improve Vascular Function and blood Pressure with Meditation

Improve Vascular Function and blood Pressure with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Studies have also linked meditation to healthier arteries and improved blood flow to the heart.” – CardioSmart

 

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. Treatment frequently includes 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. Indeed, meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have also been shown to be helpful for heart health. These practices have also been shown to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress and to be helpful for producing the kinds of lifestyle changes needed to prevent heart disease such as smoking cessation, and weight reduction. They have also been shown to be effective in maintaining cardiovascular health and the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Hence it is reasonable to review and summarize what has been learned concerning the effects of mindfulness training on cardiovascular health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Buddhist meditation for vascular function: A narrative review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6881634/?report=classic), Amarasekera and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies on the effects of meditation on vascular endothelial function and blood pressure. They found 5 published research reports.

 

They report that the research found that meditation practice increased mindfulness and decreased stress and blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic. They also found that meditation improved vascular endothelial function, including a reduction in vascular stiffness and an increase in flow mediated dilatation. These benefits occurred in both old and young individuals.

 

The findings of the research to date suggests that meditation practice produces significant improvements in vascular function. This is particularly important as today’s sedentary life styles are associated with increased blood pressure and impaired vascular function which in turn is associated with poorer health. It is likely that the ability of meditation practice to increase mindfulness and to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress are responsible for the cardiovascular improvements.

 

So, improve vascular function and blood pressure with meditation.

 

“it is not the stress in our life, but the reaction to stress that is so potentially harmful to our health, including cardiovascular health. Hence . . . meditation and relaxation techniques are extremely important and useful to minimize these unhealthy reactions to stress.” – Joon Sup Lee

 

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

 

Amarasekera, A. T., & Chang, D. (2019). Buddhist meditation for vascular function: A narrative review. Integrative medicine research, 8(4), 252–256. doi:10.1016/j.imr.2019.11.002

 

Abstract

Background

High blood pressure represents an important risk factor for diseases related to cardiovascular system and is directly associated with high oxidative stress, inflammation and vascular endothelial dysfunction. Recently, there is promising data available to suggest that meditation-based low-cost and low-risk lifestyle modification strategies may provide beneficial effects on chronic inflammation, oxidative stress and maintenance of blood pressure, both in young and older adults. This review aims to summarize the evidence regarding the effectiveness of Buddhist meditation for vascular endothelial function and blood pressure.

Method

A search was conducted using Ovid MEDLINE, Scopus, CINAHL and PsycINFO for articles published from 1990 to 2018.

Results

Relevant articles (n = 407) were reviewed and 5 met selection criteria. Several lines of studies have provided compelling data showing that Buddhist meditation approach was effective in improving inflammation and vascular function (endothelial vasodilation and arterial stiffness) in both young and elderly cohorts. Particularly, Buddhist meditation approach has shown to be effective in reducing plasma inflammatory markers, increasing nitric oxide concentration and improving vascular endothelial function and glycemic control, which in turn can be favorable factors for demonstrated positive effects of Buddhist meditation on blood pressure and vascular function.

Conclusion

This paper presents brief overview of clinical outcomes of complementary therapeutic approach of Buddhist meditation in vascular function. In future, well-structured systematic reviews are essential to report specificity of Buddhist mindfulness-based approach on vascular function, blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk factors.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6881634/?report=classic

 

Increase Equanimity and Insight Thereby Increasing Well-Being with Meditation

Increase Equanimity and Insight Thereby Increasing Well-Being with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Equanimity is a wonderful quality, a spaciousness and balance of heart. Although it grows naturally with our meditation practice, equanimity can also be cultivated in the same systematic way as mindfulness or compassion. We can feel this possibility of balance in our hearts in the midst of life when we recognize that life is not in our control.” – Insight Timer

 

Over the last several decades, research and anecdotal experiences have accumulated an impressive evidential case that the development of mindfulness has positive benefits for the individual’s mental, physical, and spiritual life. Mindfulness appears to be beneficial both for healthy people and for people suffering from a myriad of illnesses. It appears to be beneficial across ages, from children to the elderly. And it appears to be beneficial across genders, personalities, race, and ethnicity. The breadth and depth of benefits is unprecedented. There is no other treatment or practice that has been shown to come anyway near the range of mindfulness’ positive benefits.

 

In today’s Research News article “PROMISE: A Model of Insight and Equanimity as the Key Effects of Mindfulness Meditation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6817944/), Eberth and colleagues investigate a proposed model of how meditation experience produces its benefits. They performed 2 studies. In the first, they interviewed experienced meditators asking them to identify and elaborate on things that they noticed had changed about themselves as a result of meditation.

 

From the reports they identified two principal factors that were altered. The first they labelled as equanimity which was a “reduced frequency and duration of emotional reactions, such as boredom, self-blame, anxiety, guilt, greed, envy, and many more.”  There is not a cessation of emotions but they “would recognize the emotion-evoking feature of the situation (e.g., praise or blame) but not experience a desire or resistance that would prolong or intensify the emotion.” The second factor they labelled as insight which were “convictional alterations that are accompanied by a subjective feeling of deep understanding and by changes in perception, judgment and/or behavior.” The interviews reflected that it was these changes that lead to positive changes in behavior and an alteration in the ideas of self.

 

In a second study they recruited experienced meditators and a control group of individuals who engaged in leisure time activities such as sorts, gardening, music, etc. They completed questionnaires measuring meditation practice, observation mode, including present moment attention and decentering; concept deactivation, including openness and acceptance; equanimity; insight; and life satisfaction.

 

They found that the meditators had significantly higher levels of all of the measured variables; observation mode, concept deactivation, equanimity, insight, and life satisfaction. They found that the greater the meditation experience the higher the levels of both facets of the observation mode, present moment attention and decentering, openness and acceptance, and insight. They then performed a path analysis which found that meditation practice leads to increases in observation mode and concept deactivation that in turn lead to increases in equanimity and insight that in turn lead to increased life satisfaction.

 

These results are very interesting and support a model of how meditation changes the underlying mental processing of the individual leading to positive effects on the individual’s lives. They postulated that meditation practice leads to becoming very observant of the present moment without becoming attached to it, and to becoming more open and accepting of events without conceptualizing them. These changes then alter the practitioner to better be able to regulate their emotions and to better understand the nature of reality. These alterations in the individual improves their ability to enjoy and appreciate their existence.

 

This is an interesting model that deserves further research attention. A better understanding of the mechanisms by which meditation practice improves the individual’s physical and mental health and their enjoyment of life can lead to improved and targeted meditation practices for the improvement of the individual’s physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being. This model is a good first step.

 

So, increase equanimity and insight thereby increasing well-being with meditation.

 

Insight Meditation is a simple and direct way to “see things as they are,” free from distortion.” – Josh Summers

 

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

 

Eberth, J., Sedlmeier, P., & Schäfer, T. (2019). PROMISE: A Model of Insight and Equanimity as the Key Effects of Mindfulness Meditation. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 2389. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02389

 

Abstract

In a comprehensive meta-analysis on the effects of mindfulness meditation, Eberth and Sedlmeier (2012) identified a multitude of positive effects that covered a wide range of psychological variables, such as heightened mindfulness as measured through contemporary mindfulness scales, reduced negative emotions, increased positive emotions, changes in self-concept, enhanced attention, perception, and wellbeing, improved interpersonal abilities, and a reduction of negative personality traits. The present research aimed at developing and testing a comprehensive model explaining the wide range of mindfulness meditation effects and their temporal and causal relationships. In Study 1, interviews with meditators at different levels of experience were analyzed using a grounded theory procedure. The resulting model was triangulated and refined by concepts from both Western research and ancient Buddhist scriptures. The model developed highlights equanimity (reduction in emotional reactivity) and insight (alteration of cognitions) as the two key effects of mindfulness meditation that eventually lead to increased wellbeing. The model was pilot-tested with a large sample of meditators and non-meditators in Study 2. Data showed an acceptable fit with the model and indicated that meditators and non-meditators score significantly differently on the model’s core categories.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6817944/

 

Meditation Comes in Seven Different Varieties

Meditation Comes in Seven Different Varieties

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Experienced meditators agree: a daily meditation practice can have significant benefits for mental and physical health. But one thing they probably won’t agree on? The most effective types of meditation. That’s simply because it’s different for everyone. After all, there are literally hundreds of meditation techniques encompassing practices from different traditions, cultures, spiritual disciplines, and religions.” Headspace

 

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.

 

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

 

But there are a number of techniques that do not fall into these categories and even within these categories there are a number of large variations. In today’s Research News article “What Is Meditation? Proposing an Empirically Derived Classification System.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6803504/), Matko and colleagues attempt to develop a more comprehensive system of classification. They found 309 different techniques but reduced them down to the 20 most popular ones. They recruited 100 meditators with at least 2 years of experience and asked them to rate how similar each technique was to every other technique.

 

They applied multidimensional scaling to the data which uncovered two dimensions that adequately described all of the 20 techniques. The analysis revealed a dimension of the amount of activation involved and a dimension of the amount of body orientation involved. All 20 techniques were classified within these two dimensions. Visual inspection of where the various techniques fell on the two dimensions produces 7 different clusters labelled as “(1) Body-centered meditation, (2) mindful observation, (3) contemplation, (4) mantra meditation, (5) visual concentration, (6) affect-centered meditation, and (7) meditation with movement.”

 

Within the high activation and low body orientation quadrant there was one cluster identified, labelled “Mantra Meditation” including singing sutras/mantras/invocations, repeating syllables and meditation with sounds. Within the low activation and low body orientation quadrant there were three clusters identified, labelled “affect-centered meditation” including cultivating compassion and opening up to blessings; “visual orientations” including visualizations and concentrating on an object; and “contemplation” including contemplating on a question and contradictions or paradoxes.

 

Within the high activation and high body orientation quadrant there was one cluster identified, labelled “meditation with movement” including “meditation with movement, manipulating the breath, and walking and observing senses. Within the low activation and high body orientation quadrant there was one cluster identified, labelled “mindful observation” including observing thoughts, lying meditation, and sitting in silence. Finally, they identified a cluster with high body but straddling the activation dimension, labelled “body centered meditation” including concentrating on a energy centers or channeling, body scan, abdominal breath, nostril breath, and observing the body.

 

This 7-category classification system is interesting and based upon the ratings of experienced meditators. So, there is reason to believe that there is a degree of validity. In addition, the system is able to encompass 20 different popular meditation techniques. It remains for future research to investigate whether this classification system is useful in better understanding the effects of meditation or the underlying brain systems.

 

Not all meditation styles are right for everyone. These practices require different skills and mindsets. How do you know which practice is right for you? “It’s what feels comfortable and what you feel encouraged to practice,” – Mira Dessy

 

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

 

Matko, K., & Sedlmeier, P. (2019). What Is Meditation? Proposing an Empirically Derived Classification System. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 2276. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02276

 

Abstract

Meditation is an umbrella term, which subsumes a huge number of diverse practices. It is still unclear how these practices can be classified in a reasonable way. Earlier proposals have struggled to do justice to the diversity of meditation techniques. To help in solving this issue, we used a novel bottom-up procedure to develop a comprehensive classification system for meditation techniques. In previous studies, we reduced 309 initially identified techniques to the 20 most popular ones. In the present study, 100 experienced meditators were asked to rate the similarity of the selected 20 techniques. Using multidimensional scaling, we found two orthogonal dimensions along which meditation techniques could be classified: activation and amount of body orientation. These dimensions emphasize the role of embodied cognition in meditation. Within these two dimensions, seven main clusters emerged: mindful observation, body-centered meditation, visual concentration, contemplation, affect-centered meditation, mantra meditation, and meditation with movement. We conclude there is no “meditation” as such, but there are rather different groups of techniques that might exert diverse effects. These groups call into question the common division into “focused attention” and “open-monitoring” practices. We propose a new embodied classification system and encourage researchers to evaluate this classification system through comparative studies.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6803504/

 

Meditation and Exercise Reduce Inflammation Through Different Pathways

Meditation and Exercise Reduce Inflammation Through Different Pathways

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness techniques may be more effective in relieving inflammatory symptoms than other activities that promote well-being.” – Science Daily

 

The immune system is designed to protect the body from threats like stress, infection, injury, and toxic chemicals. One of its tools is the Inflammatory response. This response works quite well for short-term infections and injuries. But when inflammation is protracted and becomes chronic, it can itself become a threat to health. It can produce autoimmune diseases such as colitis, Chron’s disease, arthritis, heart disease, increased cancer risk, lung disease, sleep disruption, gum disease, decreased bone health, psoriasis, and depression.

 

Needless to say, chronic inflammation can create major health problems. Indeed, the presence of chronic inflammation is associated with reduced longevity. So, it is important for health to control the inflammatory response, allowing it to do its job in fighting off infection but reducing its activity when no external threat is apparent. Of course, it is far better to prevent chronic inflammation in the first place than to treat it later. Mind-body techniques such as yoga, Tai Chi and meditation have been shown to adaptively reduce the inflammatory response.

 

In today’s Research News article “Differential Reduction of IP-10 and C-Reactive Protein via Aerobic Exercise or Mindfulness-Based Stress-Reduction Training in a Large Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6777863/), Meyer and colleagues recruited healthy sedentary adults aged 30 to 60 years. They were randomly assigned to one of three conditions, exercise, meditation, or wait-list control. The exercise and meditation groups received 8 weekly 2.5-hour sessions and practiced daily for 20 to 45 minutes. The exercise condition consisted of warm-up, aerobic exercise, and cool down. The meditation group received the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program consisting of meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion. The participants maintained weekly activity logs and were measured before and after the intervention and 17 weeks later for body size, exercise, and the blood inflammatory biomarkers Interleukin-6, Interferon gamma-inducible protein-10 (IP-10) and C-Reactive Protein.

 

They found that during the follow-up period both C-Reactive Protein and Interferon gamma-inducible protein-10 (IP-10)  levels were lower for all groups, but the meditation group had significantly lower levels of C-Reactive Protein at the 17 week follow-up while the exercise group had significantly lower levels of Interferon gamma-inducible protein-10 (IP-10) at the post training and 17 week follow-ups. As expected, during follow-up the exercise group had significantly more exercise practice while the meditation group had significantly more meditation practice, but these increases were not significantly related to the amount of change in the inflammatory biomarkers.

 

These results suggest that both exercise and mindfulness practice reduce the levels of biomarkers of inflammation. But they appear to do so through different anti-inflammatory mechanisms. It has been well-established that both exercise and mindfulness practice improves physical and psychological health, and reduce the physical reactions to stress. The present results suggest that these improvements in health may at least in part be accounted for by reduction in the inflammatory response.

 

It is clear from this study that engaging in either exercise or mindfulness practice is beneficial for the health and well-being of the practitioner. Since these practices appear to work via different mechanisms it would seem possible that they would have additive effects where engaging in both would have increased effectiveness in decreasing the inflammatory response and improving health and well-being. This remains for future research.

 

So, meditation and exercise reduce inflammation through different pathways.

 

mindfulness meditation training improves your brain’s ability to help you manage stress, and these changes improve a broad range of stress-related health outcomes, such as your inflammatory health,” – 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

 

Meyer, J. D., Hayney, M. S., Coe, C. L., Ninos, C. L., & Barrett, B. P. (2019). Differential Reduction of IP-10 and C-Reactive Protein via Aerobic Exercise or Mindfulness-Based Stress-Reduction Training in a Large Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of sport & exercise psychology, 41(2), 96–106. doi:10.1123/jsep.2018-0214

 

Abstract

Exercise and meditation improve health and well-being, potentially through decreasing systemic inflammation. In this study, healthy adults (N =413) were randomized to 8 weeks of training in aerobic exercise, matched mindfulness-based stress reduction, or wait-list control. Three inflammation-related biomarkers (C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and interferon-gamma-inducible protein-10) were assessed preintervention, directly postintervention, and 17 weeks later. Within-group analyses found that exercise participants had decreased serum interferon-gamma-inducible protein-10 postintervention and 17 weeks later, whereas C-reactive protein was lower in mindfulness-based stress-reduction participants 17 weeks postintervention only. Self-reported physical activity or amount of meditation practice did not predict biomarker changes. This study suggests that (a) training in aerobic exercise can lower interferon-gamma-inducible protein-10, a chemokine associated with interferon activity and illness, and (b) training in mindfulness meditation may have a delayed effect on C-reactive protein, an important inflammatory biomarker. The findings highlight the likelihood of multiple, distinct pathways underlying the health-promoting effects of these lifestyle interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6777863/

 

Reconfigure the Brain for Improved Executive Function with Meditation

Reconfigure the Brain for Improved Executive Function with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

So, what’s the best way to build a better brain? Backed by 1000’s of studies, meditation is the neuroscientific community’s most proven way to upgrade the human brain.” – EOC Institute

 

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

 

Meditation practice results in a shift in mental processing. It produces a reduction of mind wandering and self-referential thinking and an increase in attention and higher-level thinking. The neural system that underlie mind wandering is termed the Default Mode Network (DMN) and consists in a set of brain structures including medial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate, lateral temporal cortex and the hippocampus. The neural system that underlies executive functions such as attention and higher-level thinking is termed the Central Executive Network (CEN) and includes the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, posterior parietal cortex, and cingulate cortex. Hence the shift in thought process may well be associated with changes in the relationship of these systems.

 

In today’s Research News article “From State-to-Trait Meditation: Reconfiguration of Central Executive and Default Mode Networks.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6893234/), Bauer and colleagues recruited experienced meditators and meditation naïve adults. Their brains were measured with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) at rest (trait mindfulness) and while engaged in a brief meditation (state mindfulness).

 

They found that in comparison to the meditation naïve group during the resting state the experienced meditators had reduced activity and functional connectivity of the Default Mode Network (DMN) and reduced activity in the Central Executive Network (CEN) along with a stronger relationship between the activities of the DMN and CEN. These changes are indicative of the long-term changes in the neural systems produced by meditation and reflect the effects of trait mindfulness. During the meditation the experienced meditators had increased activity in the Central Executive Network (CEN) and increased functional connectivity with the Default Mode Network (DMN). These changes are indicative of the short-term changes in the neural systems produced by meditation and reflect the effects of state mindfulness.

 

These results suggest that long-term meditation practice alters the neural systems emphasizing reducing activation in both the mind wandering system (DMN) and the executive system (CEN) suggesting a reduction in thinking while at rest. This may be indicative of greater present moment awareness without evaluation or thought. The findings further suggest that long-term meditation practice alters the neural systems such that during meditation there is greater activity in the executive system (CEN) and greater influence of the CEN on the mind wandering system (DMN). This may be indicative of greater attention during meditation which suppresses mind wandering and self-referential thinking.

 

In general, it can be speculated that meditation practice alters the brain in ways that affect processing of information overall (trait), reducing thought and increasing awareness of the present moment environment. Meditation practice also alters the brain to increase the ability to attend during meditation and interrupt mind wandering. Hence, the brain activities reflect the subjective psychological changes seen in meditators.

 

So, reconfigure the brain for improved executive function with meditation.

 

“It seems the longer you do meditation, the better your brain will be at self-regulation. You don’t have to consume as much energy at rest and you can more easily get yourself into a more relaxed state.” – Bin He

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Bauer, C., Whitfield-Gabrieli, S., Díaz, J. L., Pasaye, E. H., & Barrios, F. A. (2019). From State-to-Trait Meditation: Reconfiguration of Central Executive and Default Mode Networks. eNeuro, 6(6), ENEURO.0335-18.2019. doi:10.1523/ENEURO.0335-18.2019

 

Abstract

While brain default mode network (DMN) activation in human subjects has been associated with mind wandering, meditation practice has been found to suppress it and to increase psychological well-being. In addition to DMN activity reduction, experienced meditators (EMs) during meditation practice show an increased connectivity between the DMN and the central executive network (CEN). However, the gradual change between DMN and CEN configuration from pre-meditation, during meditation, and post-meditation is unknown. Here, we investigated the change in DMN and CEN configuration by means of brain activity and functional connectivity (FC) analyses in EMs across three back-to-back functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans: pre-meditation baseline (trait), meditation (state), and post-meditation (state-to-trait). Pre-meditation baseline group comparison was also performed between EMs and healthy controls (HCs). Meditation trait was characterized by a significant reduction in activity and FC within DMN and increased anticorrelations between DMN and CEN. Conversely, meditation state and meditation state-to-trait periods showed increased activity and FC within the DMN and between DMN and CEN. However, the latter anticorrelations were only present in EMs with limited practice. The interactions between networks during these states by means of positive diametric activity (PDA) of the fractional amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations (fALFFs) defined as CEN fALFF¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ − DMN fALFF¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ revealed no trait differences but significant increases during meditation state that persisted in meditation state-to-trait. The gradual reconfiguration in DMN and CEN suggest a neural mechanism by which the CEN negatively regulates the DMN and is probably responsible for the long-term trait changes seen in meditators and reported psychological well-being.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6893234/

 

Reduce Muscular Spasticity After Stroke with Mindfulness

Reduce Muscular Spasticity After Stroke with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness can have a profound effect on stroke rehabilitation by changing your brain and increasing motivation to recover.” – Flint Rehab

 

Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke and it is the third leading cause of death, killing around 140,000 Americans each year. A stroke results from an interruption of the blood supply to the brain, depriving it of needed oxygen and nutrients. This can result in the death of brain cells and depending on the extent of the damage produce profound loss of function. Even after recovery from stroke patients can experience residual symptoms. Problems with balance and falling are very common. About 30% of stroke survivors develop spasticity, where the muscles become stiff, tighten up, and resist stretching. Obviously, spasticity can interfere with regaining movement after stroke.

 

The ancient mindful movement technique Tai Chi and Qigong are very safe forms of gentle exercise that appears to be beneficial for stroke victims including improving balance. Tai Chi involves both gentle exercise and mindfulness practice. This raises the possibility that mindfulness practice by itself may be beneficial for stroke victims.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Meditation Effects on Poststroke Spasticity: A Feasibility Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6585237/), Wathugala and colleagues recruited stroke patients with spasticity, aged 45 to 76 tears and provided them with a 14 day mindfulness training program with one guided session and 13 home practice sessions including body scan and sitting meditations. They were measured before and after training for spasticity, upper limb sensorimotor impairments, quality of life, anxiety, depression, and mindfulness.

 

They found that the mindfulness training resulted in a significant reduction in spasticity and improvements in the quality of life facets of energy, personality, and work productivity. In addition, the greater the self-reported quality of meditation the greater the reduction in spasticity. Written comments from the participants indicated that they enjoyed the meditations and believed that they were beneficial.

 

This was a small feasibility study without a control group. But it produced encouraging results that support conducting a large randomized controlled trial. The results suggest that a relatively brief, 2-week, mindfulness training may be beneficial for stroke patients with spasticity. It is not known how mindfulness training might reduce spasticity. But it can be speculated that the ability of mindfulness training to produce relaxation, reduce perceived stress, and to improve the regulation of emotions may be responsible.

 

So, reduce muscular spasticity after stroke with mindfulness.

 

“the combination of listening to music and practicing mindfulness can improve the lives of individuals recovering from stroke.” – Taylor Bennett

 

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

 

Wathugala, M., Saldana, D., Juliano, J. M., Chan, J., & Liew, S. L. (2019). Mindfulness Meditation Effects on Poststroke Spasticity: A Feasibility Study. Journal of evidence-based integrative medicine, 24, 2515690X19855941. doi:10.1177/2515690X19855941

 

Abstract

This study examined the feasibility of an adapted 2-week mindfulness meditation protocol for chronic stroke survivors. In addition, preliminary effects of this adapted intervention on spasticity and quality of life in individuals after stroke were explored. Ten chronic stroke survivors with spasticity listened to 2 weeks of short mindfulness meditation recordings, adapted from Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course, in a pre/post repeated measures design. Measures of spasticity, quality of life, mindfulness, and anxiety, along with qualitative data from participants’ daily journals, were assessed. On average, participants reported meditating 12.5 days of the full 15 days (mean 12.5 days, SD 0.94, range 8-15 days). Seven of the 10 participants wrote comments in their journals. In addition, there were no adverse effects due to the intervention. Exploratory preliminary analyses also showed statistically significant improvements in spasticity in both the elbow (P = .032) and wrist (P = .023) after 2 weeks of meditation, along with improvements in quality of life measures for Energy (P = .013), Personality (P = .026), and Work/Productivity (P = .032). This feasibility study suggests that individuals with spasticity following stroke are able to adhere to a 2-week home-based mindfulness meditation program. In addition, preliminary results also suggest that this adapted, short mindfulness meditation program might be a promising approach for individuals with spasticity following stroke. Future research should expand on these preliminary findings with a larger sample size and control group.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6585237/