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/

 

Improve Psychological Well-Being with Meditation

Improve Psychological Well-Being with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Taking a few minutes to meditate every day with the goal of becoming more mindful, or focused on and accepting of the present, is a great way to relieve stress. But it’s even more powerful than you think. Mindfulness meditation helps ease mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.” – Amy Marturana Winderl

 

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 mental and physical 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.

 

There is a vast array of techniques for the development of mindfulness. They include a variety of forms of meditationyogamindful movementscontemplative prayer, and combinations of practices. In addition, there are many sub-forms of each; e.g. meditation can be practiced in focused, open monitoring, or compassion techniques. The relative effectiveness of these techniques in promoting psychological adjustment and mental health needs to be further explored.

 

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.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6445895/), Montero-Marin and colleagues recruited both male and female adults (aged 18-74 years) online and had them complete measures of religious beliefs, amounts of meditation and prayer practice, happiness, depression, positive and negative emotions, and emotional overproduction.

 

They found that the greater the amounts of lifetime practice of focused meditation and the longer the sessions the greater the levels of happiness and positive emotions and the lower the levels of depression, negative emotions and emotional overproduction. Similarly, the greater the amounts of lifetime practice of open monitoring meditation the greater the levels of happiness and positive emotions and the lower the levels of depression, negative emotions and emotional overproduction. Finally, the greater the amounts of lifetime practice of compassion meditation the greater the levels of happiness and positive emotions. Age was not a significant factor. There were no similar relationships with the amounts of prayer or religious beliefs.

 

The findings are correlational and as such no conclusions regarding causation can be reached. But the findings suggest that meditation practice is associated with the practitioners’ psychological well-being. It is interesting that religious beliefs were not associated with well-being and that there were no significant relationships found between prayer practice and measures of well-being. Prior research suggests that spirituality rather then religiosity is associated with positive well-being. The present study, however, did not include measures of spirituality. It would be expected that the degree to which religious beliefs and prayer were spiritual practices rather than religious recitals would be important in determining the relationships of beliefs and practice with well-being.

 

Although there are different patterns of significant relationships between the different meditation techniques and measures of well-being, there were no direct statistical comparisons conducted. So, no conclusions can be reached regarding the differential effectiveness of the different meditation techniques. In general, it would appear that meditation practice, including focused, open monitoring, and compassion types is related to greater well-being regardless of age, gender, or health status.

 

So, improve psychological well-being with meditation.

 

 

While I could point to lots of research outlining the impressive benefits of meditation, I think it always works best if people do the experiment for themselves. Spend just a little time practising every day and see what a difference it makes in your life.” – Black Dog Institute

 

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, M. C., Cebolla, A., Soler, J., Demarzo, M., & Garcia-Campayo, J. (2019). Religiosity and Meditation Practice: Exploring Their Explanatory Power on Psychological Adjustment. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 630. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00630

 

Abstract

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.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6445895/

 

Reduce the Brain’s Emotional Reactivity with Meditation Practice

Reduce the Brain’s Emotional Reactivity with Meditation Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Of all the reasons people have for trying meditation, being less emotionally reactive is usually pretty high up.” – Alice G. Walton

 

There has accumulated a large amount of research demonstrating that meditation practice has significant benefits for psychological, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. It 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.

 

One way that meditation practices may produce these benefits 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, meditation practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits.

 

In today’s Research News article “Impact of short- and long-term mindfulness meditation training on amygdala reactivity to emotional stimuli.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6671286/), Kral and colleagues recruited health adults who were meditation naïve or who were long term meditators having meditated daily for at least 3 years. They viewed pictures that were produced either positive or negative emotions while having their brains scanned with functional Magnetic Resonance imaging (fMRI). They also rated the pictures emotional content. The meditation naïve participants were randomly assigned to receive either a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or health education program. The MBSR program consists of 8 weekly 2-hour group sessions involving meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion. The participants were also encouraged to perform daily practice at home. After the 8-week training period the participants also had their brains scanned with functional Magnetic Resonance imaging (fMRI) while viewing the positive, neutral, and negative emotional pictures.

 

They found that the long-term meditators rated more pictures as neutral. This suggests that these meditators have reduced emotional responses to emotion evoking stimuli.  In addition, they had lower activations of the Amygdala on the right side in response to emotionally positive pictures than to neutral pictures. Following MBSR training the meditation naïve participants also had lower activations of the Amygdala on the right side in response to emotionally positive pictures and they also had greater functional connectivity between the Amygdala and the Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex.

 

These results suggest that both long-term meditation practice and short-term training impacts the brain in such a way as to reduce the activation of a brain structure (right Amygdala) that is thought to underlie emotional reactivity in response to stimuli. It is interesting to note that the changes were detected on the right side of the brain only as the right side is thought to be the side of the brain that underlies emotion while the left side is thought to underlie more analytical and rational processes.

 

Short-term training appears to impact the ability of the Amygdala to affect the portion of the nervous system that is thought to underlie higher mental processes (Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex). That this increase in functional connectivity was not observed in long-term meditators suggests that over time the reduced activation of the Amygdala produced by meditation practice becomes sufficient by itself to reduce emotional reactivity.

 

It has long been established that mindfulness practices improve emotions and their regulation. The present study reveals underlying neuroplastic changes in the brain that are responsible for these changes in emotional reactivity. They further show that these changes are present after short-term meditation practice and in long-term meditation practitioners. Thus, the research is beginning to reveal not only the effects of meditation practice but also the changes in the brain that underlie these effects.

 

So, reduce the brain’s emotional reactivity with meditation practice.

 

meditation improves emotional health. . . people can acquire these benefits regardless of their ‘natural’ ability to be mindful. It just takes some practice.” – Yanli Lin

 

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

 

Kral, T., Schuyler, B. S., Mumford, J. A., Rosenkranz, M. A., Lutz, A., & Davidson, R. J. (2018). Impact of short- and long-term mindfulness meditation training on amygdala reactivity to emotional stimuli. NeuroImage, 181, 301–313. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.07.013

 

Abstract

Meditation training can improve mood and emotion regulation, yet the neural mechanisms of these affective changes have yet to be fully elucidated. We evaluated the impact of long- and short-term mindfulness meditation training on the amygdala response to emotional pictures in a healthy, non-clinical population of adults using blood-oxygen level dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging. Long-term meditators (N=30, 16 female) had 9,081 hours of lifetime practice on average, primarily in mindfulness meditation. Short-term training consisted of an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course (N=32, 22 female), which was compared to an active control condition (N=35, 19 female) in a randomized controlled trial. Meditation training was associated with less amygdala reactivity to positive pictures relative to controls, but there were no group differences in response to negative pictures. Reductions in reactivity to negative stimuli may require more practice experience or concentrated practice, as hours of retreat practice in long-term meditators was associated with lower amygdala reactivity to negative pictures – yet we did not see this relationship for practice time with MBSR. Short-term training, compared to the control intervention, also led to increased functional connectivity between the amygdala and a region implicated in emotion regulation – ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) – during affective pictures. Thus, meditation training may improve affective responding through reduced amygdala reactivity, and heightened amygdala–VMPFC connectivity during affective stimuli may reflect a potential mechanism by which MBSR exerts salutary effects on emotion regulation ability.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6671286/

 

Improve Brain Processing of Errors with Mindfulness

Improve Brain Processing of Errors with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“meditation physically impacts the extraordinarily complex organ between our ears. Recent scientific evidence confirms that meditation nurtures the parts of the brain that contribute to well-being. Furthermore, it seems that a regular practice deprives the stress and anxiety-related parts of the brain of their nourishment.” – Mindworks

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. As a result, mindfulness training has been called the third wave of therapies. Mindfulness training produces changes in the brain’s electrical activity. This can be measured by recording the electroencephalogram (EEG). The brain produces rhythmic electrical activity that can be recorded from the scalp.

 

One method to indirectly observe information processing in the brain is to measure the changes in the electrical activity that occur in response to specific stimuli. These are called event-related potentials or ERPs. The signal following a stimulus changes over time. The fluctuations of the signal after specific periods of time are thought to measure different aspects of the nervous system’s processing of the stimulus. Error related negativity is a negative going change in the EEG that occurs about a tenth of a second after committing an error in a lab task. This is followed 2 to 4 tenths of a second after error commission by a positive going change in the EEG called the error positivity. Using these parameters in the EEG, the ability of mindfulness meditation training to affect error monitoring can be investigated.

 

In today’s Research News article “On Variation in Mindfulness Training: A Multimodal Study of Brief Open Monitoring Meditation on Error Monitoring.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6770246/), Lin and colleagues recruited meditation naïve, healthy, right handed, female undergraduate students and randomly assigned them to a meditation or control group. Meditation consisted in a recorded 20 minute guided open monitoring meditation while the control condition consisted of an 18 minute TED talk. After they performed an arrow flanker task where the participant had to respond to an arrow stimulus and ignore irrelevant but distracting material. During the task the electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded and the brain’s electrical responses to the arrow flanker task stimuli recorded (event-related potentials, ERP).

 

The groups did not differ in mindfulness or accuracy or reaction times in the flanker task. With the event-related potentials (ERP) they found that on trials where there was an error committed the meditation group had a significantly larger error positivity response. Surprisingly, and contrary to expectations, there were no group differences in error related negativity in the ERP.

 

The results suggest that brief open monitoring meditation in meditation naïve young women does not affect their ability to attend to a task and ignore distractions, but it does alter the electrical response of the brain to attentional errors committed. Error positivity has been linked to awareness of the errors and cognitive adjustments resulting from the errors. Hence, brief open monitoring meditation appears to improve awareness of error commission and perhaps future adjustments.

 

It should be noted that a one-time 20-minute guided meditation may not be sufficient to produce major changes in neural processing. Indeed, meditation practice has been found to improve attentional ability. So, there is a need to investigate error monitoring and detection and the brain’s responses after longer-term meditation practice in both men and women of a wider range of ages.

 

So, improve brain processing of errors with mindfulness.

 

“brain imaging techniques are revealing that this ancient practice can profoundly change the way different regions of the brain communicate with each other – and therefore how we think – permanently.” – Tom Ireland

 

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

 

Lin, Y., Eckerle, W. D., Peng, L. W., & Moser, J. S. (2019). On Variation in Mindfulness Training: A Multimodal Study of Brief Open Monitoring Meditation on Error Monitoring. Brain sciences, 9(9), 226. doi:10.3390/brainsci9090226

 

Abstract

A nascent line of research aimed at elucidating the neurocognitive mechanisms of mindfulness has consistently identified a relationship between mindfulness and error monitoring. However, the exact nature of this relationship is unclear, with studies reporting divergent outcomes. The current study sought to clarify the ambiguity by addressing issues related to construct heterogeneity and technical variation in mindfulness training. Specifically, we examined the effects of a brief open monitoring (OM) meditation on neural (error-related negativity (ERN) and error positivity (Pe)) and behavioral indices of error monitoring in one of the largest novice non-meditating samples to date (N = 212). Results revealed that the OM meditation enhanced Pe amplitude relative to active controls but did not modulate the ERN or behavioral performance. Moreover, exploratory analyses yielded no relationships between trait mindfulness and the ERN or Pe across either group. Broadly, our findings suggest that technical variation in scope and object of awareness during mindfulness training may differentially modulate the ERN and Pe. Conceptual and methodological implications pertaining to the operationalization of mindfulness and its training are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6770246/

Augment Mystical Experiences in Meditation and Long-Term Well-Being with Psilocybin

Augment Mystical Experiences in Meditation and Long-Term Well-Being with Psilocybin

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Trying to harness the mind in meditation is a bit like holding a water wiggly—those tubular, slippery, jelly-filled toys that leap out of your hand whenever you try to hold onto them. With the addition of a psychedelic state of mind, it could be like grasping with a greased hand.” – Paul Austin

 

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

 

It is easy to see why people find these experiences so pleasant and eye opening. They often report that the experiences changed them forever. Even though the effects of psychedelic substances have been experienced and reported on for centuries, only very recently have these effects come under rigorous scientific scrutiny.

 

Psilocybin is a psychedelic substance that is found naturally in a number of varieties of mushrooms. It has been used for centuries particularly by Native Americans for their spiritual practices. When studied in the laboratory under double blind conditions, Psilocybin has been shown to “reliably occasion deeply personally meaningful and often spiritually significant experiences (e.g. mystical-type experiences).” Since the effects of meditation and psilocybin appear similar, it’s important to look at the effects of the combination of meditation with psilocybin.

 

In today’s Research News article “.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6813317/ ), Smigielski and colleagues recruited experienced adult meditators participating in a 5-day meditation retreat and randomly assigned them to receive either a high dose of psilocybin or a placebo. The participants were matched for age, gender, mindfulness level, and meditation experience. They were administered psilocybin or placebo on the fourth day of the retreat. Before and after and on each day of the retreat they were measured for mindfulness and meditation depth. Six hours after psilocybin or placebo administration they were measured for altered states of consciousness and mystical experiences. Four months after the retreat they were evaluated for changes in behavior by self-report and that of a significant other. They did not observe any adverse events associated with psilocybin administration.

 

They found that on the day of administration the psilocybin group had significantly greater depth of meditation and after the retreat significantly higher mindfulness. While the drugs were in effect the psilocybin group had large significant increases in altered states of consciousness, including unity, spiritual experience, blissfulness, insightfulness, and disembodiment and large significant increases in mystical experiences, including complex imagery, elementary imagery, audiovisual synesthesia, and changed meaning of percepts. Four months after the retreat the participants who were administered psilocybin had significant changes in behavior documented by themselves and a significant other including significantly greater appreciation for life, self-acceptance, quest for meaning/sense of purpose, and appreciation of death.

 

Meditation retreats have been shown to increase meditation depth, mindfulness, mystical experiences, and to produce changes in consciousness. The present results suggest that psilocybin administration produces large and significant amplifications of these effects. In fact, the participants who received psilocybin reported that the experience was equivalent to the greatest mystical experiences that they have ever had. Remarkably, the effects of the single administration were enduring, altering and deepening their acceptance of themselves as they are, their appreciation of life and death, and their sense of meaning and purpose. These results suggest that the combination of meditation with psilocybin may be a safe and effective means to improve psychological and spiritual health and well-being.

 

So, augment mystical experiences in meditation and long-term well-being with psilocybin.

 

“After the retreat, mushroom-assisted meditators reported less self-consciousness and more illusions and hallucinations than the control group. What’s more, their brains showed alterations in the functioning of the default mode network—a group of interacting brain regions linked to self-awareness and rumination—during open awareness meditation. . . . What is even more remarkable is that experienced meditators in the psilocybin group reported better social functioning four months later.” – Grace Bullock

 

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

 

Smigielski, L., Kometer, M., Scheidegger, M., Krähenmann, R., Huber, T., & Vollenweider, F. X. (2019). Characterization and prediction of acute and sustained response to psychedelic psilocybin in a mindfulness group retreat. Scientific reports, 9(1), 14914. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-50612-3

 

Abstract

Meditation and psychedelics have played key roles in humankind’s search for self-transcendence and personal change. However, neither their possible synergistic effects, nor related state and trait predictors have been experimentally studied. To elucidate these issues, we administered double-blind the model psychedelic drug psilocybin (315 μg/kg PO) or placebo to meditators (n = 39) during a 5-day mindfulness group retreat. Psilocybin increased meditation depth and incidence of positively experienced self-dissolution along the perception-hallucination continuum, without concomitant anxiety. Openness, optimism, and emotional reappraisal were predictors of the acute response. Compared with placebo, psilocybin enhanced post-intervention mindfulness and produced larger positive changes in psychosocial functioning at a 4-month follow-up, which were corroborated by external ratings, and associated with magnitude of acute self-dissolution experience. Meditation seems to enhance psilocybin’s positive effects while counteracting possible dysphoric responses. These findings highlight the interactions between non-pharmacological and pharmacological factors, and the role of emotion/attention regulation in shaping the experiential quality of psychedelic states, as well as the experience of selflessness as a modulator of behavior and attitudes. A better comprehension of mechanisms underlying most beneficial psychedelic experiences may guide therapeutic interventions across numerous mental conditions in the form of psychedelic-assisted applications.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6813317/

 

Meditation Alters the Perception of the Passage of Time

Meditation Alters the Perception of the Passage of Time

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Experienced meditators typically report that they experience time slowing down in meditation practice as well as in everyday life. Conceptually this phenomenon may be understood through functional states of mindfulness.” – Marc Wittmann

 

There are times in life when time just seems to wiz by and others when it seems to creep. There are also times when it seems like a minute passing feels like 5 minutes and others when it feels like only a few seconds. In other words, our sense of the speed of time passing and the amount of time that has passed varies from occasion to occasion. One factor that effects the perception of time is the content of the interval and the frequency of events occurring. If the interval is relatively packed with events and stimuli, then the time period is overestimated, suggesting that time seemed to pass more slowly. If, on the other hand, there are few things occurring in the interval, then time is underestimated, suggesting that time seemed to pass more quickly.

 

Meditation involves paying close attention to the contents of the present moment; calming the mind and reducing thinking and discursive thought. Focusing on the present moment would tend to fill awareness. This suggests that meditating would increase the apparent amount of things occurring and would thus predict that the interval would appear longer than otherwise.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness meditation, time judgment and time experience: Importance of the time scale considered (seconds or minutes).” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6799951/), Droit-Volet and colleagues recruited college students and randomly assigned them to receive either mindfulness meditation (body scan) or a control condition (listening to poems). In the first study, the mindfulness meditation participants listened to a guided body scan meditation while lying on their backs at home for 11 minutes daily for 7 days. The control condition was similar except they listened to recorded poems. They were then tested in the lab where they first meditated or listened to poems for 8 minutes and then were presented by tones separated either by short intervals (16-50 seconds) or long intervals (2-6 minutes) and were asked to estimated the duration of the intervals.

 

They found that the meditation group in comparison to the controls significantly underestimated the duration of the short intervals and significantly overestimated the duration of the longer intervals. During the session the meditation group but not the control group reported a significant reduction in anxiety and a significant increase in happiness and significantly faster passage of time.

 

In a second study a similar procedure was followed except that the same participants performed the meditation and also the control condition in counterbalanced order and only long intervals were used. In addition, they reported for each interval the passage of time, demands on their attention, task difficulty, present moment focus, and arousal levels.

 

Once again, they found that during the meditation session the participants overestimated the durations of the long intervals. They also indicated significantly longer passage of time, significantly greater demands on their attention, task difficulty, and present moment focus. They found that present moment awareness mediated the effect of meditation on duration estimates with the greater the focus on the present moment the greater the overestimation of the interval duration.

 

They suggest that the underestimation of the short intervals by the meditation group was due to the effects of attentional focus on the apparent passage of time with high degrees of attentional focus occupying the mind such that there is little resource left for assessing the passage of time. The results also suggest that the overestimation of long intervals was due to attention on the present moment. By focusing on the contents of awareness in the present moment there is a greater amount of stimuli in awareness, filling awareness. More happening signals a greater amount of time passing. Regardless of the explanation, the study demonstrates that meditation alters the estimation of time passage.

 

So, meditation alters the perception of the passage of time.

 

My favorite pastime is to let time pass, to have time, to take my time, to live against time.” — Françoise Sagan

 

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

 

Droit-Volet, S., Chaulet, M., Dutheil, F., & Dambrun, M. (2019). Mindfulness meditation, time judgment and time experience: Importance of the time scale considered (seconds or minutes). PloS one, 14(10), e0223567. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0223567

 

Abstract

This manuscript presents two studies on the effect of mindfulness meditation on duration judgment and its relationship to the subjective experience of time when the interval durations are on the second or the minute time scale. After the first 15 minutes of a 30-min meditation or control exercise, meditation-trained participants judged interval durations of 15 to 50 s or 2 to 6 min, during which they performed either a mindfulness meditation exercise or a control exercise. The participants’ scores on the self-reported scales indicated the effectiveness of the meditation exercise, as it increased the level of present-moment awareness and happiness and decreased that of anxiety. The results showed an underestimation of time for the short interval durations and an overestimation of time for the long intervals, although the participants always reported that time passed faster with meditation than with the control exercise. Further statistical analyses revealed that the focus on the present-moment significantly mediated the exercise effect on the time estimates for long durations. The inversion in time estimates between the two time scales is explained in terms of the different mechanisms underlying the judgment of short and long durations, i.e., the cognitive mechanisms of attention and memory, respectively.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6799951/

 

Reduce the Complexity of Brain Activity with Meditation

Reduce the Complexity of Brain Activity with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

There has accumulated a large amount of research demonstrating that meditation practice has significant benefits for psychological, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. One way that meditation practices may produce these benefits 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, meditation practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits.

 

It is important to understand what are the exact changes in the brain that are produced by meditation. Studies of changes in brain activity with meditation suggest that meditators have more complicated information processing going on in their nervous systems at rest but during meditation greatly simplify that activity. But there are, a wide variety of meditation techniques that may have different consequences for brain changes. One category of these techniques is focused attention meditation, where 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 today’s Research News article “Controlling the Temporal Structure of Brain Oscillations by Focused Attention Meditation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6585826/), Irrmischer and colleagues examine the changes in brain activity with focused meditation. They recruited experienced meditators (> 5 years of experience) and meditation naïve control participants. They measured their brain activity with an Electroencephalogram (EEG) after eye closed rest and after 5 minutes of focused meditation. In a second study they recruited experienced meditators and healthy control participants. They again measured their brain activity with an Electroencephalogram (EEG) during and after eye closed rest and during and after 5 minutes of focused meditation.

 

In study 1, compared to after a rest condition, after focused meditation there were significant changes in cognitive content with a reduction in theory of mind, planning, sleepiness, verbal thought, health concerns, and discontinuity of mind, and increase in somatic awareness. Also, in comparison to baseline and the control participants, during focused meditation there was a reduction in the complexity of the brain activity with a reduction in long-range temporal correlations across every frequency band and across brain areas. These differences in the EEG were confirmed in study 2 and they found that after 1 year of meditation training there was a further significant reduction in the complexity of brain activity with a reduction in long-range temporal correlations. These differences were also present after eyes closed rest without meditation suggesting that there was an overall reduction in neural activity complexity.

 

These results are interesting and suggest that meditation changes the brain over time to produce less complexity in brain activity. This is similar to previous findings using a different analytic technique that meditation reduces the complexity of neural processing. It is not known but this decrease in complexity of brain activity may be reflective of the ability of meditation practice to increase attention and decrease mind wandering. Greater focus with less distraction would reduce the complexity of brain activity. This would make the brain more efficient and better able to carry out its important cognitive functions. These cognitive changes were reflected in the cognitive contents after meditation.

 

So, reduce the complexity of brain activity with meditation.

 

bringing attention back to the breath each time you feel your mind wandering during meditation helps strengthen the brain’s neural circuitry for focus.” – Nicole Bayes-Fleming

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Irrmischer, M., Houtman, S. J., Mansvelder, H. D., Tremmel, M., Ott, U., & Linkenkaer-Hansen, K. (2018). Controlling the Temporal Structure of Brain Oscillations by Focused Attention Meditation. Human brain mapping, 39(4), 1825–1838. doi:10.1002/hbm.23971

 

Abstract

Our focus of attention naturally fluctuates between different sources of information even when we desire to focus on a single object. Focused attention (FA) meditation is associated with greater control over this process, yet the neuronal mechanisms underlying this ability are not entirely understood. Here, we hypothesize that the capacity of attention to transiently focus and swiftly change relates to the critical dynamics emerging when neuronal systems balance at a point of instability between order and disorder. In FA meditation, however, the ability to stay focused is trained, which may be associated with a more homogeneous brain state. To test this hypothesis, we applied analytical tools from criticality theory to EEG in meditation practitioners and meditation‐naïve participants from two independent labs. We show that in practitioners—but not in controls—FA meditation strongly suppressed long‐range temporal correlations (LRTC) of neuronal oscillations relative to eyes‐closed rest with remarkable consistency across frequency bands and scalp locations. The ability to reduce LRTC during meditation increased after one year of additional training and was associated with the subjective experience of fully engaging one’s attentional resources, also known as absorption. Sustained practice also affected normal waking brain dynamics as reflected in increased LRTC during an eyes‐closed rest state, indicating that brain dynamics are altered beyond the meditative state. Taken together, our findings suggest that the framework of critical brain dynamics is promising for understanding neuronal mechanisms of meditative states and, specifically, we have identified a clear electrophysiological correlate of the FA meditation state.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6585826/

 

Meditation Practice is Growing Rapidly Among Children and Adolescents

Meditation Practice is Growing Rapidly Among Children and Adolescents

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“It’s almost as though meditation was designed for kids. They just ‘get it’ – there is this elasticity and freedom in their minds which allows them to be present in the moment and free from any external thoughts or pressures.” – Andy Puddicombe

 

Childhood is a miraculous period during which the child is dynamically absorbing information from every aspect of its environment. This occurs almost without any intervention from the adults as the child appears to be programmed to learn. It is here that behaviors, knowledge, skills, and attitudes are developed that shape the individual. Adolescence is a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. It is during this time that higher levels of thinking, sometimes called executive function, develops.

 

Childhood and adolescence can be difficult times, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child or adolescent can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required.

 

Mindfulness training for children and adolescents has been shown to have very positive effects. These include academic, cognitive, psychological, and social domains. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve emotion regulation and to benefit the psychological and emotional health of adolescents. Importantly, mindfulness training with children and adolescents appears to improve the self-conceptimproves attentional ability and reduces stress. These benefits are becoming more widely appreciated and should have led to greater numbers of children and adolescents practicing meditation.

 

In today’s Research News article “Prevalence, patterns, and predictors of meditation use among U.S. children: Results from the National Health Interview Survey.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6502253/), Wang and Gaylord analyzed the data from the 2017 National Health Interview Survey, separating that  obtained from children and adolescents. They recorded meditation use, health records, and health care utilization.

 

They found that 7.4% of the children and adolescents practiced meditation. This was a very large increase from the 1.6% that was found in 2012. 1.0% of the children and adolescents used mantra meditation, 1.6% used mindfulness meditation, 4.0% used spiritual meditation, and 3.0% practiced meditation as part of yoga, tai chi, or qigong. They also found that meditation was more likely to be used by youths whose parent completed some college, had headaches, depression, or a respiratory allergy, and who lived in the western U.S. Children or adolescents who had medical conditions were more likely to use mindfulness meditation. Surprisingly, neither age, gender, race, nor socioeconomic status was associated with different frequencies of meditation use.

 

These results are interesting and document the tremendous increase in the acceptability and utilization of meditation practice by children and adolescents over the last 5 years. This has probably occurred due to the increased recognition of the benefits of mindfulness practices for the physical and psychological health of children and adolescents and it’s increased practice in schools. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues over the next 5 years.

 

“Our kids’ brains are tired, and children of all ages really need opportunities where they can take time out each day “unplugged” to relax and focus. Meditation offers this break and helps kids function more effectively and clearly.” – Healthy Children

 

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, C., Li, K., & Gaylord, S. (2019). Prevalence, patterns, and predictors of meditation use among U.S. children: Results from the National Health Interview Survey. Complementary therapies in medicine, 43, 271–276. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2019.02.004

 

Abstract

Objectives:

The purpose of the study is to examine the characteristics of various types of meditation use (i.e., mantra, mindful, and spiritual meditation) among U.S. children.

Methods:

Using 2017 National Health Interview Survey, we examined the prevalence, patterns, and potential predictors of meditation use among U.S. children aged 4 to 17 years. Descriptive statistics, Wald F chi-square test, and multivariable logistic regression were used for data analysis (n = 6925).

Results:

Overall meditation use has increased substantially from 1.6% in 2012 to 7.4% in 2017 among children in the US. Children with chronic medical conditions were more likely to use mindful meditation (Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) = 1.9–3.6, 95% CI [1.0–7.4]). Regularly taking prescription medication had an inverse relation with mantra meditation use (AOR = 0.4, 95% CI [0.2–0.9]). Children with delayed medical care due to access difficulties were more likely to use spiritual meditation, compared to those who did not (AOR = 1.7, 95% CI [1.1–2.6]).

Conclusions:

Meditation use has rapidly increased among U.S. children within the past few years. Future studies should explore the underlying reasons for this increase and its potential benefits for pediatric meditators.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6502253/

 

Improve Episodic Memory and Alter Brain Activity during Memory Retrieval with Mindfulness

Improve Episodic Memory and Alter Brain Activity during Memory Retrieval with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“A critical part of attention (and working memory capacity) is being able to ignore distraction. There has been growing evidence that meditation training (in particular mindfulness meditation) helps develop attentional control, and that this can start to happen very quickly.” – About Memory

 

There has accumulated a large amount of research demonstrating that mindfulness has significant benefits for psychological, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. One way that mindfulness practices may produce these benefits 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.

 

One way to observe the effects of meditation techniques is to measure the effects of each technique on the brain’s activity. This can be done by recording the electroencephalogram (EEG). The brain produces rhythmic electrical activity that can be recorded from the scalp. It is usually separated into frequency bands. Delta activity consists of oscillations in the 0.5-3 cycles per second band. Theta activity in the EEG consists of oscillations in the 4-8 cycles per second band. Alpha activity consists of oscillations in the 8-12 cycles per second band. Beta activity consists of oscillations in the 13-30 cycles per second band while Gamma activity occurs in the 30-100 cycles per second band.

 

In today’s Research News article “Increases in Theta Oscillatory Activity During Episodic Memory Retrieval Following Mindfulness Meditation Training.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6738165/), Nyhus and colleagues recruited adult participants and randomly assigned them to a wait-list control condition or to receive 4-weeks of once a week for 1 hour of mindfulness meditation training along with 20 minutes of daily home practice. They were measured for episodic memory and mindfulness before and after training. They learned words either by imagining a place associated with them or rating their pleasantness. The electroencephalogram (EEG) was measured from the scalp as the participants were engaged in an episodic memory task.

 

They found that meditation training produced a significant increase in mindfulness, especially the observe, describe, and act with awareness facets. The meditation group were also significantly better at identifying the source (place or pleasantness) of the word in the episodic memory task. With the EEG they found that the meditation group after training had significant increases in power in the Theta frequency band (4-7.5 hz.) in the frontal and parietal cortical areas of the brain. The increase in theta power were correlated with the level of the describe facet of mindfulness.

 

Theta power has been previously found to increase during tasks that test episodic memory. That was true here also. But in the present study the increases in theta power were greater after mindfulness meditation training. This suggests that the training altered the nervous system making it more responsive to episodic memories. The fact that mindfulness has been found to improve memory and that source memory was improved in the present study would appear to support this assertion. Hence, it would appear that mindfulness meditation improves episodic memory by enhancing brain processing of memories.

 

So, improve episodic memory and alter brain activity during memory retrieval with mindfulness.

 

“The meditation-and-the-brain research has been rolling in steadily for a number of years now, . . . . The practice appears to have an amazing variety of neurological benefits – from changes in grey matter volume to reduced activity in the “me” centers of the brain to enhanced connectivity between brain regions.” – Alice Walton

 

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

 

Nyhus, E., Engel, W. A., Pitfield, T. D., & Vakkur, I. (2019). Increases in Theta Oscillatory Activity During Episodic Memory Retrieval Following Mindfulness Meditation Training. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 13, 311. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2019.00311

 

Abstract

Mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve episodic memory and increase theta oscillations which are known to play a role in episodic memory retrieval. The present study examined the effect of mindfulness meditation on episodic memory retrieval and theta oscillations. Using a longitudinal design, subjects in the mindfulness meditation experimental group who underwent 4 weeks of mindfulness meditation training and practice were compared to a waitlist control group. During the pre-training and post-training experimental sessions, subjects completed the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) and studied adjectives and either imagined a scene (Place Task) or judged its pleasantness (Pleasant Task). During the recognition test, subjects decided which task was performed with each word (“Old Place Task” or “Old Pleasant Task”) or “New.” FFMQ scores and source discrimination were greater post-training than pre-training in the mindfulness meditation experimental group. Electroencephalography (EEG) results revealed that for the mindfulness meditation experimental group theta power was greater post-training than pre-training in right frontal and left parietal channels and changes in FFMQ scores correlated with changes in theta oscillations in right frontal channels (n = 20). The present results suggest that mindfulness meditation increases source memory retrieval and theta oscillations in a fronto-parietal network.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6738165/

 

Relieve Depression in Latino Immigrants with Mindfulness Meditation

Relieve Depression in Latino Immigrants with Mindfulness Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

with practice, meditation can help many people control how they react to the stress and anxiety that often leads to depression,” – John Denninger

 

Depression affects over 6% of the population. Depression can be difficult to treat. It is usually treated with antidepressant medication. But, of patients treated initially with drugs only about a third attained remission of the depression. After repeated and varied treatments including drugs, therapy, exercise etc. only about two thirds of patients attained remission. But drugs often have troubling side effects and can lose effectiveness over time. Clearly, there is a need for treatment alternatives that can be effective alone or in combination with drugs.

 

A particularly vulnerable population is Latino immigrants. They experience many forms of stress while attempting to acculturate to the new culture which frequently produces depression. Mindfulness practices including meditation have been found to be effective in relieving depression and preventing its reoccurrence. There is, however, a lack of studies of the effectiveness of meditation practice on depression in stressed Latino immigrant populations.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness meditation and improvement in depressive symptoms among Spanish- and English speaking adults: A randomized, controlled, comparative efficacy trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6611613/), Lopez-Maya and colleagues recruited adult Latino immigrants who reported high levels of psychological distress and stress. They were randomly assigned to receive 6 weeks of once a week for 2 hours group-based sessions in either mindfulness meditation or health education. The mindfulness meditation program consisted of “mindful sitting meditation, mindful eating, appreciation meditation, friendly or loving-kindness meditation, mindful walking, and mindful movement.” They were measured before and after training for depression, mindfulness, and perceived stress.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the health education group, after mindfulness meditation training there was a significant reduction in depression with small to moderate effect size, and large significant increases in mindfulness with large effect size. Hence, the mindfulness meditation program was successful in improving mindfulness and relieving depression in a Latino immigrant population.

 

The fact that mindfulness meditation training reduced depression is not surprising as the efficacy of this training for depression has been well established with a large number of studies. What the current study establishes is that mindfulness meditation training is effective in treating depression in Latino immigrants who are stressed and are experiencing psychological distress. Immigration is difficult and challenging. The present results suggest that mindfulness meditation training is a safe and effective method to help alleviate the psychological effects of these stresses and thereby improve the well-being of the immigrants. Future studies should evaluate the long-term effectiveness of this training for depression.

 

So, relieve depression in latino immigrants with mindfulness meditation.

 

Depression is rooted in fears about the future and regrets about the past. Focusing on the moment, not the past or the future, is the secret behind meditation’s power.” – Eoc Institute

 

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

 

Lopez-Maya, E., Olmstead, R., & Irwin, M. R. (2019). Mindfulness meditation and improvement in depressive symptoms among Spanish- and English speaking adults: A randomized, controlled, comparative efficacy trial. PloS one, 14(7), e0219425. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0219425

 

Abstract

Objective

Latino immigrants experience acculturative stress and increased depression risk. Mindfulness meditation improves depressive symptoms, yet the vast majority of research has focused on English speaking populations.

Methods

In this randomized clinical trial with 2 parallel treatment groups, adults with moderate levels of perceived stress (n = 76) were recruited from the Los Angeles community from October 2015 to March 2016, stratified into Spanish- (n = 36) and English speaking (n = 40) language groups, and randomized for 6 weeks of treatment with standardized mindful awareness practices (MAPs) or health education (HE). Main outcome measure was depressive symptoms, measured by the Beck Depression Inventory.

Results

Using an intent-to-treat analysis, the primary outcome, depressive symptoms as indexed by the Beck Depression Inventory, showed greater improvement in MAPs vs. HE, with a between-group post-intervention mean difference of -2.2 (95% CI -4.4 – -0.07) and effect size of 0.28; similar effect sizes were found in the the Spanish- (0.29) and English speaking (0.30) groups. MAPs showed significant improvement relative to HE on secondary outcome of mindfulness with between group difference of 10.7 (95% CI4.5–16.9), but not perceived stress.

Conclusion

The comparable efficacy of Spanish and English formats of mindfulness meditation in improving depressive symptoms suggests that this community based intervention may mitigate depression risk in Latino adults who are experiencing social adversity.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6611613/