Improve Psychological Well-Being with Mindfulness Regardless of the Amount of Practice

Improve Psychological Well-Being with Mindfulness Regardless of the Amount of Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“No matter what stage of life you are in, the goal of meditating is to find that silence within you, of letting go of external stressors, and accessing calm, tranquility, and feeling that all is well from within. You will reap the benefits of feeling better. And when you feel better, you can be your best self.” – Carol Melnick

 

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. With impacts so great it is important to know how to optimize the development of mindfulness. But it is unclear exactly what kind and how much of training is essential to producing maximum benefits.

 

In today’s Research News article “Adherence to Practice of Mindfulness in Novice Meditators: Practices Chosen, Amount of Time Practiced, and Long-Term Effects Following a Mindfulness-Based Intervention.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6419774/), Ribeiro and colleagues recruited healthy older adults, aged 50 to 80 years, who had not engaged in mindfulness practices and were moderately stressed. They were randomly assigned to either a wait-list control group or to receive a 6-week mindfulness training based upon the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) program. They met once a week for 60-90 minutes and were instructed to practice at home for 30-45 minutes daily. They were measured before and after training and 8 weeks later for neuroticism, perceived stress, expectancy, mindfulness, quality of life, depression, and adherence to mindfulness practice.

 

They found that the participants continued meditation after the training averaging 23 minutes per day for 76% of days and 8 weeks later significantly less averaging 16 minutes per day for 55% of days. Their preferred practice was body scan meditation, followed by sitting meditation and the most popular sitting meditation was breath following. In comparison to the baseline and the wait-list control group, mindfulness practice produced significant improvements in well-being including reductions in perceived stress, depression, and neuroticism and increases in mindfulness and the quality of life. These effects persisted from the end of training to the 8-week follow-up. There were no significant effects of expectancy, amount of practice, or type of practice on the results.

 

These results are similar to previous reports that mindfulness practice reduces perceived stress, depression, and neuroticism and increases in mindfulness and quality of life that continue beyond the end of training. Unlike previous research, however, they did not find any influence of the types, amounts, or patterns of practice on well-being. This may be due to a ceiling effects as the adherence and amount of practice was relatively high. It could also be due to the age of participants. Future studies may clarify these possibilities. Nevertheless, it is clear that mindfulness practice improves well-being in older adults.

 

So, improve psychological well-being with mindfulness regardless of the amount of practice.

 

Ultimately, engaging in mindfulness meditation cultivates our ability to both focus and broaden our attention, which is a practical way to elicit psychological well-being.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

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

 

Ribeiro, L., Atchley, R. M., & Oken, B. S. (2017). Adherence to Practice of Mindfulness in Novice Meditators: Practices Chosen, Amount of Time Practiced, and Long-Term Effects Following a Mindfulness-Based Intervention. Mindfulness, 9(2), 401–411.

 

Abstract

In this study, we objectively tracked the duration, frequency, and the preferred practices chosen by novice mindfulness practitioners following a mindfulness meditation (MM) intervention. A sample of 55 mildly stressed participants, aged 50 to 80 years old, underwent an individual 6-week MM intervention and had their guided meditation home practice electronically recorded during the intervention and the 8-week post-intervention period. Participants’ psychological well-being was assessed through self-report measures of mindfulness, quality of life, and symptoms of depression and stress. Results evidenced a high adherence to practice, with an average of ~23 minutes per day during the intervention and ~16 minutes per day in the follow-up period. Body scan, sitting meditation, and breathing space were the most popular meditation practices among participants. Our results showed significant alterations in self-reported measures over time, suggesting improvements in stress and overall quality of life. Changes in the self-report measures did not correlate with MM practice time, which suggests that other psychological phenomena, including quality of meditation practice, influence these outcomes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6419774/

 

Mindfulness Practice Quality not Quantity Predicts Psychological Improvement

Mindfulness Practice Quality not Quantity Predicts Psychological Improvement

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Ultimately, engaging in mindfulness meditation cultivates our ability to both focus and broaden our attention, which is a practical way to elicit psychological well-being.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

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. With impacts so great it is important to know how to  measure and optimize the development of mindfulness.

 

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. Some are recommended to be practiced for years while others are employed for only a few weeks. Regardless of the technique, they all appear to develop and increase mindfulness. One particularly effective mindfulness training program is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). The MBSR program consists of 8 weekly group sessions involving meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion. The patients are also encouraged to perform daily practice. It is unclear, however, exactly whether it is the quantity or the quality of practice that is essential to producing maximum benefits.

 

In today’s Research News article “The secret ingredient in mindfulness interventions? A case for practice quality over quantity.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6333205/ ), Goldberg and colleagues recruited adults for a “Quit Smoking Trial” and had them participate in an 8 week, once a week for 1.5 hours, mindfulness training program based upon the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program but targeting smoking cessation. They also practiced at home for 30 minutes per day. In addition, for the first 4 weeks they also received nicotine patches. They were measured before and after the program and 5 months later for smoking, mindfulness, psychological functioning, emotion regulation, negative emotions, and quality of life. At each of the 8 practice sessions the participants also reported on the amount of time they practiced during the week and quality of these practices. The measure of practice quality was “composed of two dimensions: perseverance (e.g., “During practice, I attempted to return to my present-moment experience, whether unpleasant, pleasant, or neutral”) and receptivity (e.g., “During practice I was actively avoiding or ‘pushing away’ certain experiences”).”

 

They found that after treatment there was a significant relationship between practice time and the change in practice quality and the psychological functioning of the individuals with small to moderate effect sizes. In particular, the greater the amount of time spent practicing and also the greater the change in the quality of practice, the greater the improvement in psychological function in the participants. At the 5-month follow-up, however, only the change in quality of practice was associated with improved psychological function. Neither the amount of time spent practicing or the quality of practice was associated with smoking cessation at the end of treatment or 5 months later.

 

These results are interesting and suggest the importance of quality of practice in influencing the effectiveness of mindfulness practice on the psychological function of the individual. The quality measure components of perseverance and receptivity reflect exactly what is taught in mindfulness training where the meditator is asked to return to mindfulness whenever they detect mind wandering and to simply let things be as they are without attempts to change or control them. How well these skills are mastered, as evidenced by their change over the 8 weeks of training appears to be very important for maintaining the benefits.

 

This is an unusual study as most research on mindfulness training do not measure either amount or quality of the trained practice, while only a few, monitor the amount of time spent practicing. The current study underlines the importance of measuring quality. It appears to be important for assessing benefits but also may be used to examine practice methods that maximize the quality and quantity of practice and their importance for their benefits.

 

“Mindfulness is an important part of mental wellbeing; it can help us take stock of the fast-paced world around us and understand our emotions and feelings better. Practising mindfulness regularly can help reduce stress and improve mood; it can also help people to become more emotionally alert, to listen more attentively, communicate more clearly, and can increase self-awareness and the awareness of others.” – Fit for Work

 

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

 

Goldberg, S. B., Del Re, A. C., Hoyt, W. T., & Davis, J. M. (2014). The secret ingredient in mindfulness interventions? A case for practice quality over quantity. Journal of counseling psychology, 61(3), 491-7.

 

Abstract

As mindfulness-based interventions become increasingly widespread, interest has grown in better understanding which features of these treatments produce beneficial effects. The present study examined the relative contribution of mindfulness practice time and practice quality in predicting psychological functioning (negative affect, emotion regulation, quality of life, mindfulness). Data were drawn from a randomized clinical trial of mindfulness training for smokers and assessed outcomes at posttreatment (n = 43) and 5-month follow-up (n = 38). The intervention included instruction in mindfulness techniques targeted to smoking cessation and relapse prevention and was composed of 10 group meetings over 8 weeks. Data from 8 treatment groups were used. Mindfulness practice quality was measured weekly over the course of treatment, and multilevel modeling was used to estimate trajectories of change in practice quality. The measure of practice quality was shown to be valid and reliable, with change in practice quality predicting change in psychological functioning at both posttreatment (β= .31, 95% CI =[0.04, 0.56], p = .022) and follow-up (β= .45 [0.16, 0.73], p = .002), even when controlling for practice time. Practice time predicted outcomes at posttreatment (β= .31 [0.05, 0.57], p = .019) but not at follow-up (β= .16 [[H11002]0.14, 0.47], p = .293). Neither practice time nor change in practice quality predicted smoking abstinence at 1 month or 6 months postquit. Results support the importance of practice quality as a relevant aspect of mindfulness interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6333205/

 

Improve Well-Being and Psychological Flexibility with Mindfulness Practice

Improve Well-Being and Psychological Flexibility with Mindfulness Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“There are an endless variety of ways to meditate and practice mindfulness. . . specific types of mindfulness-meditation seem to have specific benefits. Fine-tuning which type of mindfulness or meditation someone uses as a prescriptive to treat a specific need will most likely be the next big advance in the public health revolution of mindfulness and meditation.” – Christopher Bergland

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. Techniques such as Mindfulness Training, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) as well as Yoga practice and Tai Chi or Qigong practice have been demonstrated to be effective. This has led to an increasing adoption of these mindfulness techniques for the health and well-being of both healthy and ill individuals.

 

Mindfulness practice, however, is a complex involving formal and informal practices, and great differences in the frequency and duration of practice. It is not known which of these facets or which combinations of facets are responsible for the beneficial effects of mindfulness. In addition, learning and implementing mindfulness practices can be difficult with a number of impediments and problems present. Hence there is a need to investigate the characteristics of mindfulness practices and the impediments to and supports for practicing mindfulness and their relationship to the well-being and psychological flexibility of the participants.

 

In today’s Research News article “An Exploration of Formal and Informal Mindfulness Practice and Associations with Wellbeing.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6320743/  ), Birtwell and colleagues recruited mindfulness practitioners and had them complete a questionnaire on their mindfulness practice, difficulties encountered with practice, and factors that supported their practice. They also completed scales measuring mental well-being and psychological flexibility.

 

They found 37% of the participants learned mindfulness practice through a formal course while the rest learned on their own through books, the internet, or through therapists. Most practiced several times per week or daily for 10 to 45 minutes. 57% of the participants indicated that falling asleep during practice was an impediment to practice and many indicated that finding time to practice was a problem. In support of their practice they reported that it was helpful to set up particular times for practice, to practice with others in groups, and having an accepting and kind attitude toward themselves, particularly during lapses in practice.

 

Correlating practice factors with mental well being and psychological flexibility they found that the greater the frequency and duration of formal and informal practice the greater the levels of mental well-being and psychological flexibility. But, when all of the practice factors were considered they found that the frequency of informal practice was the only one that significantly predicted improved mental well-being and psychological flexibility.

 

Informal practices involved everyday mindful moments such as being mindful while engaged in everyday activities such as “washing the dishes, eating, driving, brushing teeth, walking the dog, drinking coffee, and watching a wild bird or flower.” Hence, it would appear that integrating mindfulness into everyday life is essential for mindfulness to be associated with good mental well-being and psychological flexibility. In other words, feeling psychologically better and being able to approach psychological issues with acceptance and flexibly is best supported by engaging in daily activities mindfully.

 

It needs to be kept in mind that these findings are correlational and conclusions regarding causation cannot be reached. It is possible that people who are flexible and have mental well-being are those who engage in informal practices or some other factor may be responsible for both. There is a need for future manipulative research to determine causation.

 

So, improve well-being and psychological flexibility with mindfulness practice.

 

“Daily meditation is a powerful tool for managing your stress and enhancing your health. But bringing present-moment awareness to all your daily activities is important.” Melissa Young

 

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

 

Birtwell, K., Williams, K., van Marwijk, H., Armitage, C. J., & Sheffield, D. (2018). An Exploration of Formal and Informal Mindfulness Practice and Associations with Wellbeing. Mindfulness, 10(1), 89-99.

 

Abstract

Mindfulness has transdiagnostic applicability, but little is known about how people first begin to practice mindfulness and what sustains practice in the long term. The aim of the present research was to explore the experiences of a large sample of people practicing mindfulness, including difficulties with practice and associations between formal and informal mindfulness practice and wellbeing. In this cross-sectional study, 218 participants who were practicing mindfulness or had practiced in the past completed an online survey about how they first began to practice mindfulness, difficulties and supportive factors for continuing to practice, current wellbeing, and psychological flexibility. Participants had practiced mindfulness from under a year up to 43 years. There was no significant difference in the frequency of formal mindfulness practice between those who had attended a face-to-face taught course and those who had not. Common difficulties included finding time to practice formally and falling asleep during formal practice. Content analysis revealed “practical resources,” “time/routine,” “support from others,” and “attitudes and beliefs,” which were supportive factors for maintaining mindfulness practice. Informal mindfulness practice was related to positive wellbeing and psychological flexibility. Frequency (but not duration) of formal mindfulness practice was associated with positive wellbeing; however, neither frequency nor duration of formal mindfulness practice was significantly associated with psychological flexibility. Mindfulness teachers will be able to use the present findings to further support their students by reminding them of the benefits as well as normalising some of the challenges of mindfulness practice including falling asleep.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6320743/

 

8-Week Mindfulness Training Produces Greater Benefits than a 4-Week Training

8-Week Mindfulness Training Produces Greater Benefits than a 4-Week Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“adaptations of MBSR that include less class time than the traditional format may be worthwhile for populations for whom reduction of psychological distress is an important goal and for whom a lesser time commitment may be an important determinant of their ability or willingness to participate” – James Carmody

 

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. With impacts so great it is important to know how to optimize the development of mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness is defined as the “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally” (John Kabat-Zinn). This is the goal of mindfulness training. There are, however, a vast array of techniques for the development of mindfulness. They include a variety of forms of meditationyogamindful movementscontemplative prayer, and combinations of practices. Some are recommended to be practiced for years while others are employed for only a few weeks. Regardless of the technique, they all appear to develop and increase mindfulness. It is unclear exactly how much training is essential to producing maximum benefits.

 

In today’s Research News article “Efficacy of 8- and 4-Session Mindfulness-Based Interventions in a Non-clinical Population: A Controlled Study.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01343/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_368025_69_Psycho_20170822_arts_A, Demarzo and colleagues recruited college students and randomly assigned them to a no-treatment control condition or to receive either a 4-week or 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs that met once a week for 2 hours. MBSR consists of body scan, meditation, and mindful movement practice. Participants were also request to practice at home each day. Participants were measured before and after training and 6 months later for mindfulness, self-compassion, anxiety, depression, positive and negative emotions, and resilience.

 

They found that both the 4-week and 8-week mindfulness training groups in comparison to the control condition had, after training and at the 6-month follow-up, significantly improved mindfulness overall and in the mindfulness facets of describing, observing, acting with awareness, non-judging, and non-reacting, and in positive and negative emotions. On the other hand, only the 8-week mindfulness training produced a significant increase in self-compassion and decreases in anxiety and depression.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown in prior studies to improve mindfulness, emotions, anxiety, depression, self-compassion, and resilience. So, the benefits found in this study are not surprising. But the results on the amount of practice are interesting and suggest that considerable benefits accrue to participants in a short, 4-week, mindfulness training but for the full benefits an 8-week program is needed. Hence, unless an abbreviated program is needed for pragmatic reasons, training should be conducted for the full 8-week training period.

 

“people who have been mindfulness meditators for several decades have structural features in their brains that are proportional to their number of hours of practice.” – Daniel Segal

 

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

 

Demarzo M, Montero-Marin J, Puebla-Guedea M, Navarro-Gil M, Herrera-Mercadal P, Moreno-González S, Calvo-Carrión S, Bafaluy-Franch L and Garcia-Campayo J (2017) Efficacy of 8- and 4-Session Mindfulness-Based Interventions in a Non-clinical Population: A Controlled Study. Front. Psychol. 8:1343. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01343

 

Background: Many attempts have been made to abbreviate mindfulness programmes in order to make them more accessible for general and clinical populations while maintaining their therapeutic components and efficacy. The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy of an 8-week mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) programme and a 4-week abbreviated version for the improvement of well-being in a non-clinical population.

Method: A quasi-experimental, controlled, pilot study was conducted with pre-post and 6-month follow-up measurements and three study conditions (8- and 4-session MBI programmes and a matched no-treatment control group, with a sample of 48, 46, and 47 participants in each condition, respectively). Undergraduate students were recruited, and mindfulness, positive and negative affect, self-compassion, resilience, anxiety, and depression were assessed. Mixed-effects multi-level analyses for repeated measures were performed.

Results: The intervention groups showed significant improvements compared to controls in mindfulness and positive affect at the 2- and 6-month follow-ups, with no differences between 8- vs. 4-session programmes. The only difference between the abbreviated MBI vs. the standard MBI was found in self-kindness at 6 months, favoring the standard MBI. There were marginal differences in anxiety between the controls vs. the abbreviated MBI, but there were differences between the controls vs. the standard MBI at 2- and 6-months, with higher levels in the controls. There were no differences in depression between the controls vs. the abbreviated MBI, but differences were found between the controls vs. the standard MBI at 2- and 6-months, favoring the standard MBI. There were no differences with regard to negative affect and resilience.

Conclusion: To our knowledge, this is the first study to directly investigate the efficacy of a standard 8-week MBI and a 4-week abbreviated protocol in the same population. Based on our findings, both programmes performed better than controls, with similar effect size (ES). The efficacy of abbreviated mindfulness programmes may be similar to that of a standard MBI programme, making them potentially more accessible for a larger number of populations. Nevertheless, further studies with more powerful designs to compare the non-inferiority of the abbreviated protocol and addressing clinical populations are warranted.

http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01343/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_368025_69_Psycho_20170822_arts_A