Slow Cellular Aging with Mindfulness

Slow Cellular Aging with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

those with more years of meditation practice had longer telomere length overall, and that women meditators had significantly longer telomeres as compared to women non-meditators. These findings further support meditation’s positive effect on healthy cellular aging.” – Sonima Wellness

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

In today’s Research News article “Association among dispositional mindfulness, self-compassion, and leukocyte telomere length in Chinese adults.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6647116/), Keng and colleagues recruited adults, aged 18 to 55 years of age, with no regular meditation or mindfulness practice. Blood samples were drawn and leukocyte telomere length measured. In addition, they were measured for mindfulness, self-compassion, anxiety, depression, and stress.

 

They found that, as expected, the older the participant the shorter the telomere length and the higher the levels of perceived stress, the shorter the telomere length. When controlling for age they found that the higher the levels of overall mindfulness and the nonreactivity facet of mindfulness the longer the length of the telomeres. Also, when controlling for age the higher the levels of overall self-compassion and the common humanity and de-identification from one’s thoughts and emotions facets of self-compassion the longer the length of the telomeres.

 

It needs to be kept in mind that these results are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. However, previous research has demonstrated a causal link by training mindfulness and finding increased telomere lengths. This suggests that the present associations were due to a causal connection between mindfulness and telomere length.

 

In addition, these were young and middle-aged adults who did not display high levels of mindfulness, stress or psychological distress. Mindfulness is thought to affect telomere length as a result of reducing stress which is responsible for shortening the telomers. So, only mild association would be expected. Clearer larger association may require older more distressed participants. The fact that it was the nonreactivity facet of mindfulness that was most strongly associated with longer telomeres supports the contention that stress reduction is the critical effect of mindfulness. By reducing the reaction to events, stress is lowered which, in turn, decreases cellular aging.

 

These results suggest that mindfulness, particularly the nonreactivity facet of mindfulness and self-compassion common humanity and de-identification from one’s thoughts and emotions facets of self-compassion reduces cellular aging. Mindfulness increases self-compassion. So, although not tested here, mindfulness may decrease cellular aging both directly and indirectly via self-compassion. By protecting the telomeres from shortening and mindfulness reduces cellular aging. In this way mindfulness may lead to happier and longer lives.

 

So, slow cellular aging with mindfulness.

 

one of the most effective interventions, apparently capable of slowing the erosion of telomeres – and perhaps even lengthening them again – is meditation.” – Jo Marchant

 

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

 

Keng, S. L., Yim, O. S., Lai, P. S., Chew, S. H., & Ebstein, R. P. (2019). Association among dispositional mindfulness, self-compassion, and leukocyte telomere length in Chinese adults. BMC psychology, 7(1), 47. doi:10.1186/s40359-019-0323-y

 

Abstract

Background

Whereas meditation training has been purported to support slower cellular aging, little work has explored the association among different facets of dispositional mindfulness, self-compassion, and cellular aging. The present study aimed to examine the relationship between leukocyte telomere length (LTL), an index of cellular aging, dispositional mindfulness, and self-compassion in a sample of Singaporean Chinese adults.

Methods

One hundred and fifty-eight Chinese adults (mean age = 27.24 years; 63.3% female) were recruited from the community and completed self-report measures assessing dispositional mindfulness, self-compassion, and psychological symptoms, as well as provided blood samples for analyses of LTL. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to examine the role of trait mindfulness and self-compassion in predicting LTL, taking into consideration potential covariates such as chronological age and psychological symptoms.

Results

Results showed that nonreactivity, one of the five facets of dispositional mindfulness, was significantly associated with LTL, after controlling for chronological age. There was also a trend for dispositional mindfulness, self-compassion, and their selected facets (i.e., nonjudging, common humanity, and de-identification) to each be associated with longer LTL.

Conclusions

Overall, the findings provide preliminary support for the association among aspects of dispositional mindfulness, self-compassion, and aging. In particular, individuals high on nonreactivity experience slower aging at the cellular level, likely through engaging in more adaptive coping mechanisms.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6647116/

 

Spirituality Interferes with Successful Treatment of Cannabis Abuse in Adolescents

Spirituality Interferes with Successful Treatment of Cannabis Abuse in Adolescents

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“there are three main reasons that cannabis is seen as a spiritual tool. First, “It is a light intoxicant and can therefore be used fairly frequently and without the kinds of impairment associated with major hallucinogens.” Second, cannabis is conducive to group social use and fosters conversation about philosophical and theological matters. Finally, cannabis weakens our ability for sustained attention. . . . it’s great for aiding in shifts of perspective and giving experiences a more pluralistic character.” – Robert Fuller

 

Drug and alcohol addictions are very difficult to kick and if successful about half the time the individual will relapse. So, there have been developed a number of programs to help the addict recover and prevent relapse. The 12 step programs of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, etc. have been as successful as any programs in treating addictions. These programs insist that spirituality is essential to recovery.

 

Marijuana use can lead to the development of problem use, known as a marijuana use disorder, which takes the form of addiction in severe cases. Recent data suggest that 30 percent of those who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder. People who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults.” National Institute of Drug Abuse.

 

Spirituality is defined as “one’s personal affirmation of and relationship to a higher power or to the sacred. There have been a number of studies of the influence of spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health. Spirituality has been shown to assist in addiction recovery. So, it would make sense to investigate the relationship of spirituality with the ability of adolescents to recover from cannabis abuse.

 

In today’s Research News article “”God put weed here for us to smoke”: A mixed-methods study of religion and spirituality among adolescents with cannabis use disorders.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6430642/), Yeterian and colleagues recruited adolescents, aged 14 to 21 years, who were undergoing a 12-step program for the treatment of cannabis abuse. The adolescents were measured before treatment and at 3 and 6-month follow-ups for religiosity, spirituality, and substance abuse. They also underwent interviews about their substance use and the program.

 

They found at follow-up that the higher the levels of spirituality the greater the increase in the use of cannabis by the adolescents, while the higher the levels of spirituality at baseline, the lower the levels of alcohol consumption. The results of the interviews suggested that the relationship of spirituality with increased cannabis use was due to the adolescents believing that cannabis deepened the sense of their spirituality.

 

Twelve-step programs emphasize spirituality and the current results suggest that this may be useful in treating alcohol abuse. But it may be counterproductive in treating cannabis abuse, contributing to greater use. The adolescents appear to see cannabis use as enhancing their spirituality and thus spiritual youths are susceptible to continued and increased cannabis use. This suggests that treatment programs for cannabis abuse should not include spirituality as part of the treatment.

 

So, spirituality interferes with successful treatment of cannabis abuse in adolescents.

 

“It is important for clinicians to be aware of the dynamics of spirituality and religion in the cause, maintenance, and treatment of substance misuse problems.” – John Allen

 

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

 

Yeterian, J. D., Bursik, K., & Kelly, J. F. (2018). “God put weed here for us to smoke”: A mixed-methods study of religion and spirituality among adolescents with cannabis use disorders. Substance abuse, 39(4), 484–492. doi:10.1080/08897077.2018.1449168

 

Abstract

Background:

A growing literature on adults with substance use disorders (SUD) suggests that religious and spiritual processes can support recovery, such that higher levels of religiosity and/or spirituality predict better substance use outcomes. However, studies of the role of religion and spirituality in adolescent SUD treatment response have produced mixed findings, and religiosity and spirituality have rarely been examined separately.

Methods:

The present study examined religiosity and spirituality as predictors of outcomes in an outpatient treatment adolescent sample (N = 101) in which cannabis was the predominant drug of choice. Qualitative data were used to contextualize the quantitative findings.

Results:

Results showed that higher levels of spirituality at post-treatment predicted increased cannabis use at 6-month follow-up (β = .237, p = .043), whereas higher levels of baseline spirituality predicted a lower likelihood of heavy drinking at post-treatment (OR = .316, p = .040). Religiosity did not predict substance use outcomes at later timepoints. When asked to describe the relation between their religious/spiritual views and their substance use, adolescents described believing that they had a choice about their substance use and were in control of it, feeling more spiritual when under the influence of cannabis, and being helped by substance use.

Conclusions:

Together, findings suggest that for adolescents with SUD, religion and spirituality may not counteract the use of cannabis, which may be explained by adolescents’ views of their substance use as being consistent with their spirituality and under their control.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6430642/

 

Improve Quality of Life and Reduce Falls in Dementia Patients with Tai Chi

Improve Quality of Life and Reduce Falls in Dementia Patients with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related conditions is exploding in the United States. But while scientists struggle to find a new medical treatment, tai chi, the ancient Chinese martial art, has emerged as a potentially potent way to help stem the tide.” – David-Dorian Ross

 

Dementia is a progressive loss of mental function produced by degenerative diseases of the brain. These are progressive disorders with no cures. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It is estimated that 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. It involves an irreversible progressive loss of mental function associated with brain degeneration. The early stages are typified by memory loss but as the disease progresses patients can lose the ability to carry on a conversation or carry on normal life functions, and eventually leads to death.

 

Mindfulness training has been found to help protect aging individuals from physical and cognitive declines. Tai Chi has been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevityTai Chi training is designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. Tai Chi practice has been found to be effective for an array of physical and psychological issues. Tai Chi has been shown to help the elderly improve attentionbalance, reducing fallsarthritiscognitive functionmemory, and reduce age related deterioration of the brain. So, it makes sense to investigate the effects of Tai Chi practice in patients with dementia.

 

In today’s Research News article “Randomised Controlled Trial Of The Effect Of Tai Chi On Postural Balance Of People With Dementia.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6875562/),Nyman and colleagues recruited community dwelling elderly (aged 78 to 97 years) adults with dementia and randomly assigned them to either usual care or usual care plus 20 weeks of once a week for 90 minutes Tai Chi practice and home practice. They were measured before and after training for dynamic balance, functional balance, falls, fall efficacy, fear of falls, quality of life, and cognitive function.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the usual care group, the Tai Chi group had a significantly greater quality of life and significantly fewer falls (44% fewer) during the 6-month follow-up period. There were no serious adverse events due to Tai Chi practice recorded.

 

Since Tai Chi is practiced in groups, the fact that it produced an increase in quality of life may have been due to the enhanced social contacts occurring in the course of practice. This can have quite an impact as community dwelling elderly, and particularly those with dementia, are often isolated from social contacts. The reduced falls has been previous documented in the elderly. The present study, though, documents this in dementia patients. This is very important as falls in the elderly are particularly dangerous and can be major contributors to mortality.

 

Tai Chi is not strenuous, involving slow gentle movements, and is safe, having no appreciable side effects, it is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion. It can also be practiced without professional supervision and in groups making it inexpensive to deliver and fun to engage in. This makes Tai Chi practice an excellent means to improve the quality of life and prevent falls in elderly dementia patients.

 

So, improve quality of life and reduce falls in dementia patients with Tai Chi.

 

Researchers have shown that regular practice of Tai Chi increases brain volume, augments memory and thinking skills, and may combat dementia.” – Explore

 

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

 

Samuel R Nyman, Wendy Ingram, Jeanette Sanders, Peter W Thomas, Sarah Thomas, Michael Vassallo, James Raftery, Iram Bibi, Yolanda Barrado-Martín. Randomised Controlled Trial Of The Effect Of Tai Chi On Postural Balance Of People With Dementia. Clin Interv Aging. 2019; 14: 2017–2029. Published online 2019 Nov 19. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S228931

 

Abstract

Purpose

To investigate the effect of Tai Chi exercise on postural balance among people with dementia (PWD) and the feasibility of a definitive trial on falls prevention.

Patients and methods

Dyads, comprising community-dwelling PWD and their informal carer (N=85), were randomised to usual care (n=43) or usual care plus weekly Tai Chi classes and home practice for 20 weeks (n=42). The primary outcome was the timed up and go test. All outcomes for PWD and their carers were assessed six months post-baseline, except for falls, which were collected prospectively over the six-month follow-up period.

Results

For PWD, there was no significant difference at follow-up on the timed up and go test (mean difference [MD] = 0.82, 95% confidence interval [CI] = −2.17, 3.81). At follow-up, PWD in the Tai Chi group had significantly higher quality of life (MD = 0.051, 95% CI = 0.002, 0.100, standardised effect size [ES] = 0.51) and a significantly lower rate of falls (rate ratio = 0.35, 95% CI =0.15, 0.81), which was no longer significant when an outlier was removed. Carers in the Tai Chi group at follow-up were significantly worse on the timed up and go test (MD = 1.83, 95% CI = 0.12, 3.53, ES = 0.61). The remaining secondary outcomes were not significant. No serious adverse events were related to participation in Tai Chi.

Conclusion

With refinement, this Tai Chi intervention has potential to reduce the incidence of falls and improve quality of life among community-dwelling PWD

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6875562/

 

Reconfigure the Brain for Improved Executive Function with Meditation

Reconfigure the Brain for Improved Executive Function with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

Abstract

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

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

 

Reduce Stress and Substance Abuse in Ex-Prisoner HIV Patients with Yoga

Reduce Stress and Substance Abuse in Ex-Prisoner HIV Patients with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga is an ideal exercise for people with HIV. It not only helps build muscle and energy, but also reduces stress.” – Matt McMillen

 

More than 35 million people worldwide and 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection. These include a significant number of children and adolescents. In 1996, the advent of the protease inhibitor and the so-called cocktail changed the prognosis for HIV. Since this development a 20-year-old infected with HIV can now expect to live on average to age 69. Hence, living with HIV is a long-term reality for a very large group of people. People living with HIV infection experience a wide array of physical and psychological symptoms which decrease their perceived quality of life. The symptoms include chronic pain, muscle aches, anxiety, depression, weakness, fear/worries, difficulty with concentration, concerns regarding the need to interact with a complex healthcare system, stigma, and the challenge to come to terms with a new identity as someone living with HIV.

 

Incarcerated people are 5 times more likely to have HIV infection and also are much more likely to suffer from substance abuse problems. Dealing with these issues upon release from prison is essential for successful reintegration into society. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve psychological well-being, lower depression and strengthen the immune system of patients with HIV infection. Yoga practice has also been found to be effective in treating HIV and with substance abuse.  It is not known whether yoga can help with these HIV patients with substance abuse upon release from prison.

 

In today’s Research News article “A randomized trial of yoga for stress and substance use among people living with HIV in reentry.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6397425/), Wimberly and colleagues recruited adult HIV patients who had a history of substance abuse and who were recently released from prison. The participants were randomly assigned to either treatment as usual or to treatment as usual plus once a week for 12 weeks, 90-minute yoga practice. They were measured before and after training for perceived stress and substance abuse.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and treatment as usual the patients who practiced yoga had significant reductions in perceived stress and the percentage of days with substance abuse (20% for yoga participants vs. 41% for treatment as usual). The patients had difficulty attending yoga classes with an average attendance of 35% of the classes.

 

It is well documented that yoga practice reduces stress and is helpful in controlling substance abuse. The present results are encouraging in that they suggest that yoga practice may be helpful in reducing stress and substance abuse in this vulnerable group of HIV patients who had a history of substance abuse and who were recently released from prison. Finding ways to improve attendance would seem important, perhaps online yoga classes would help. Regardless, participation in yoga appears to improve the likelihood that these ex-prisoners will be able to deal with HIV infection and life outside of prison.

 

So, reduce stress and substance abuse in ex-prisoner HIV patients with yoga.

 

Drugs, I believe, are keeping me alive. But yoga,” he says, “keeps my spirit alive.” – Ken Lowstetter

 

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

 

Wimberly, A. S., Engstrom, M., Layde, M., & McKay, J. R. (2018). A randomized trial of yoga for stress and substance use among people living with HIV in reentry. Journal of substance abuse treatment, 94, 97–104. doi:10.1016/j.jsat.2018.08.001

 

Highlights

– Compared stress and substance use outcomes of yoga versus treatment as usual.

– Participants included returning citizens with HIV and substance use problems.

– At three-months, the yoga group had reduced stress and slightly reduced substance use.

– Future research with this population can compare yoga with an active intervention.

Abstract

Background:

People in reentry from prison or jail (returning citizens) living with HIV and substance use problems often experience numerous stressors and are at high risk for resumed substance use. Interventions are needed to manage stress as a pathway to reduced substance use.

Objective:

This study explored the effect of a Hatha yoga intervention as compared to treatment as usual on stress and substance use among returning citizens living with HIV and substance use problems.

Methods:

Participants were randomized to either a 12-session, 90-minute weekly yoga intervention or treatment as usual. All participants were clients of a service provider for returning citizens that offered case management, health care, and educational classes. Outcomes included stress as measured by the Perceived Stress Scale at the completion of the yoga intervention (three-months) and substance use as measured by the Timeline Followback at one-month, two- months, and three-months.

Results:

Seventy-five people were enrolled, two of whom were withdrawn from the study because they did not have HIV. Of the 73 remaining participants, 85% participated in the three- month assessment. At three-months, yoga participants reported less stress than participants in treatment as usual [F (1,59)=9.24, p<.05]. Yoga participants reported less days of substance use than participants in treatment as usual at one-month, two-months, and three-months [X2 (1)= 11.13, p<.001].

Conclusion:

Yoga interventions for returning citizens living with HIV and substance use problems may reduce stress and substance use. This finding is tentative because the control group did not receive an intervention of equal time and intensity.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6397425/

 

Be Better Parents with Online Mindful Parenting

Be Better Parents with Online Mindful Parenting

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Managing our own emotions and behaviors is the key to teaching kids how to manage theirs. . . Unfortunately, when you’re stressed out, exhausted, and overwhelmed, you can’t be available for your child.” – Jill Cedar

 

Raising children, parenting, is very rewarding. But it can also be challenging. Children test parents frequently. They test the boundaries of their freedom and the depth of parental love. They demand attention and seem to especially when parental attention is needed elsewhere. They don’t always conform to parental dictates or aspirations for their behavior. The challenges of parenting require that the parents be able to deal with stress, to regulate their own emotions, and to be sensitive and attentive their child. These skills are exactly those that are developed in mindfulness training. It improves the psychological and physiological responses to stress. It improves emotion regulation. It improves the ability to maintain attention and focus in the face of high levels of distraction.

 

Mindful parenting involves the parents having emotional awareness of themselves and compassion for the child and having the skills to pay full attention to the child in the present moment, to accept parenting non-judgmentally and be emotionally non-reactive to the child. Mindful parenting has been shown to have positive benefits for both the parents and the children.

 

The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a trained therapist. This results in costs that many parents can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with parents’ busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, mindfulness trainings over the internet have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. But the question arises as to the effectiveness of these online trainings in reducing parental stress and improving parenting.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Randomized Control Trial Evaluating an Online Mindful Parenting Training for Mothers With Elevated Parental Stress.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6650592/), Potharst and colleagues recruited mothers who were high in perceived stress and reported parenting problems. The mothers were randomly assigned to either receive an online mindful parenting program or to a wait list control condition. The online mindful parenting program consisted of 8 weekly session with instructions and exercises on meditation, mindful parenting, and self-compassion. They were measured before and after the training and 10 weeks later after the wait list group had received the intervention for parental stress, overreactive parenting discipline, mindful parenting, self-compassion, anxiety, and depression. In addition, both parents rated the child for child aggressive behavior and emotional reactivity.

 

They found that the online mindful parenting program in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group produced significant reductions in anxiety, depression, overreactive parenting discipline, parental role restriction and child emotional reactivity and significant increases in self-compassion.

 

These results suggest that an online mindful parenting program can be successfully implemented and that it significantly improves the psychological health of the mothers, their parenting, and the child’s behavior. Mindful parenting has been previously shown to have positive benefits for both the parents and the children. The contribution of the present study is in demonstrating that mindful parenting can be successfully conducted online with stressed mothers. This greatly increases the ability to roll out this effective program to a much wider audience at low cost.

 

Parenting is difficult and stressful enough under the best of conditions. It is encouraging to find a relatively simple, convenient and inexpensive program that can help the parents to become better parents and to ease their psychological burden.

 

So, be better parents with online mindful parenting.

 

It seems there’s no one right way to parent mindfully. Happily, there are many right ways. Sometimes “It’s as simple as practicing paying full attention to our kids, with openness and compassion, and maybe that’s enough at any moment.” – Juliann Garey

 

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

 

Potharst, E. S., Boekhorst, M., Cuijlits, I., van Broekhoven, K., Jacobs, A., Spek, V., … Pop, V. (2019). A Randomized Control Trial Evaluating an Online Mindful Parenting Training for Mothers With Elevated Parental Stress. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 1550. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01550

 

Abstract

Objectives

The prevalence of maternal stress in early years of parenting can negatively impact child development. Therefore, there is a need for an early intervention that is easily accessible and low in costs. The current study examined the effectiveness of an 8-session online mindful parenting training for mothers with elevated levels of parental stress.

Methods

A total of 76 mothers were randomized into an intervention (n = 43) or a waitlist control group (n = 33). The intervention group completed pretest assessment prior to the online intervention. Participants completed a post intervention assessment after the 10 weeks intervention and a follow-up assessment 10 weeks later. The waitlist group completed waitlist assessment, followed by a 10-week waitlist period. After these 10 weeks, a pretest assessment took place, after which the waitlist group participants also started the intervention, followed by the posttest assessment. Participating mothers completed questionnaires on parental stress (parent-child interaction problems, parenting problems, parental role restriction) and other maternal (over-reactive parenting discipline, self-compassion, symptoms of depression and anxiety) and child outcomes (aggressive behavior and emotional reactivity) while the non-participating parents (father or another mother) were asked to also report on child outcomes.

Results

The online mindful parenting intervention was shown to be significantly more effective at a 95% level than a waitlist period with regard to over-reactive parenting discipline and symptoms of depression and anxiety (small and medium effect sizes), and significantly more effective at a 90% level with regard to self-compassion, and mother-rated child aggressive behavior and child emotional reactivity (small effect sizes). The primary outcome, parental stress, was found to have a 95% significant within-group effect only for the subscale parental role restriction (delayed small effect size improvement at follow-up). No significant improvements on child outcomes were found for the non-participating parent.

Conclusion

To conclude, the results provide first evidence that an online mindful parenting training may be an easily accessible and valuable intervention for mothers with elevated levels of parental stress.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6650592/

 

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Happy Martin Luther King Day with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 

The United State celebrates the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a national holiday. This is unusual as Dr. King was not a president or a general or a founding father. What he was a leader who changed the country and the lives of countless people with love, forgiveness, morality, and non-violence. There are few leaders in modern world history who had a greater impact using  only the power of moral authority and non-violent leadership. Perhaps Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela qualify. I can think of no better reason to have a national holiday than to celebrate this remarkable life.

 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was no Pollyanna. He understood completely the dangers of confronting hate directly. In fact, he said “If physical death is the price that I must pay to free my white brothers and sisters from a permanent death of the spirit, then nothing can be more redemptive.” What is remarkable about this statement is that he saw the struggle against hate not as a way to gain benefit for himself or his followers, but as a means to help the perpetrators of hate to become better people. He didn’t vilify, be saw the redemptive opportunity to change hearts and minds.

 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. confronted hate not with force, violence, or more hate, but with love and understanding. As he said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Like mindfulness, he promulgated loving kindness and compassion as means to change the individual and thereby change the society. “I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Hate feeds on hate and when it is confronted with love it has nothing to feed on and can starve the beast. When an angry and hateful person is confronted with non-violence and compassion it can negate it and have a remarkable transformative effect on the person, making it much harder to hate. This Dr. King understood.

 

With mindfulness we can, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did, see each individual, regardless of whether their actions are good or bad, regardless of their race, faith, or national origin, and regardless of their sexual orientation as human beings deserving of love and understanding. Mindfulness reveals that humans in their essence are all alike. It is the lack of mindfulness that has led to varying beliefs and actions. It is mindlessness that fuels anger and hate.

 

With mindfulness we can fully experience and appreciate our own anger and hate and its effects upon our bodies and minds. We all experience these states during our lives. They can take over and result in hurtful behavior. But by being mindfully aware of how we feel in our bodies and the thoughts that arise when we become angry and hateful, we can better recognize these states when they first arise. This allows us to accept them as they are and respond to them in a more appropriate, constructive, and loving manner. This requires mindfulness practice with sensitivity and attention to the feelings in the present moment. But if it is practiced, then over time we become better and better at recognizing anger and hate and transforming them into insight and understanding.

 

One of the ways that mindfulness can transform anger and hate is by replacing it with peacefulness. Mindfulness practices teach how to find inner peace and equanimity. It shows us that peacefulness is always there and can be produced when needed. This inner peacefulness can be used as a refuge from emotional turmoil. We can learn to use this training to confront anger, fear, and hatred by recognizing when these states arise and using our ability to find inner peace to replace these feelings with calm and equanimity. This is not something that can be accomplished without practice. But it can be learned through mindfulness practices.

 

The more mindful we become the better and better able we become at recognizing when anger and hate are arising and responding by replacing them with peacefulness. An important process involved in this is what is called mindful non-reactivity. This allows us to respond to anger and hate with non-violence. With practice, the events of the present moment do not necessarily produce reflexive negative behaviors. The reflexes can be interrupted and prevented from emerging and producing harm. Hence, practicing mindfulness can help us to become like Dr. King practicing non-violence.

 

Within each of us are the seeds of racism. Some believe that evolution imbedded these seeds in the DNA. For many of us in the older generations we were trained in racism by the structure of society that promoted distance, a sense of other, strangeness and fear. Mindfulness can help each of us uproot the seeds of this racism. By becoming more aware of our inner life we become better able to recognize when racist thoughts and feeling begin to arise and not only not respond to them but to transform them into their opposites, feelings of acceptance, understanding, and love. Looking deeply into our inner life in the present moment is essential to overcoming our own racism.

 

The dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr for a just and loving society can be produced by mindfulness practices. What better way to honor this remarkable man than to practice mindfulness on his holiday and to make a commitment to continue this practice throughout the year and to become non-violent and tolerant and to confront anger and hate with loving kindness and compassion.

 

So, celebrate Martin Luther King day with Mindfulness.

 

Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. I am not unmindful of the fact that violence often brings about momentary results. Nations have frequently won their independence in battle. But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

 

In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

 

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

 

Improve Type 2 Diabetes with Tai Chi Practice

Improve Type 2 Diabetes with Tai Chi Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Tai Chi exercises can improve blood glucose levels and improve the control of type 2 diabetes and immune system response.” – Medical News Today

 

Diabetes is a major health issue. It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States have diabetes and the numbers are growing. Type 2 Diabetes results from a resistance of tissues, especially fat tissues, to the ability of insulin to promote the uptake of glucose from the blood. As a result, blood sugar levels rise producing hyperglycemia. Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. In addition, diabetes is heavily associated with other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, and circulatory problems leading to amputations. As a result, diabetes doubles the risk of death of any cause compared to individuals of the same age without diabetes.

 

Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable. One of the reasons for the increasing incidence of Type 2 Diabetes is its association with overweight and obesity which is becoming epidemic in the industrialized world. A leading cause of this is a sedentary life style. Current treatments for Type 2 Diabetes focus on diet, exercise, and weight control. Recently, mindfulness practices have been shown to be helpful in managing diabetesTai Chi is mindfulness practice and a gentle exercise. As such, it is reasonable to investigate its usefulness in preventing and treating Type 2 Diabetes.

 

In today’s Research News article “Tai Chi for type 2 diabetes mellitus.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6513484/), Zhou and colleagues review and summarize the published research randomized controlled trials of the effectiveness of Tai Chi practice for the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes. They report on 8 published randomized controlled trials.

 

The published studies found that in general Tai Chi practice produces significant improvements in the metabolic profile of Type 2 Diabetes patients including a significant reduction in fasting blood glucose levels, plasma HbA1c, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and body mass index (BMI). For fasting blood glucose levels, plasma HbA1c these reductions were greatest when Tai Chi had been practiced for at least 3 months.

 

These results suggest that Tai Chi practiced for at least 3 months is effective in treating Type 2 diabetes. It is important to recognize that Tai Chi is a gentle and safe exercise that is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses. Also, Tai Chi is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it can be practiced in social groups. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. So, Tai Chi practice would appear to be an almost ideal gentle exercise to treat Type 2 Diabetes.

 

So, improve type 2 diabetes with Tai Chi practice.

 

Diet and exercise are the cornerstone of diabetes management. People with diabetes who exercise regularly have better control over their blood glucose levels and fewer complications such as heart disease and stroke. Many people, however, are unable to keep up with their regular exercise because they either don’t enjoy it, or have a problem finding time to exercise. Tai chi offers a major advantage: It’s enjoyable, and to many, it’s almost addictive.” – Paul Lam

 

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

 

Zhou, J., Zhang, H., Shi, G., Zhang, L., Liu, H., Qin, Y., & Yang, J. (2018). Tai Chi for type 2 diabetes mellitus. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2018(7), CD009717. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009717.pub2

 

Abstract

This is a protocol for a Cochrane Review (Intervention). The objectives are as follows:

To assess the effects of Tai Chi for type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Background

Description of the condition

Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder resulting from a defect in insulin secretion, insulin action, or both. A consequence of this is chronic hyperglycaemia (that is elevated levels of plasma glucose) with disturbances of carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism. Long‐term complications of diabetes mellitus include retinopathy, nephropathy and neuropathy. The risk of cardiovascular disease is also increased. For a detailed overview of diabetes mellitus, please see under ‘Additional information’ in the information on the Cochrane Metabolic and Endocrine Disorders Group in the Cochrane Library (see ‘About’, ‘Cochrane Review Groups (CRGs)’).

Description of the intervention

Exercise or physical activity is one of the principal therapies for type 2 diabetes (Kirk 2007). A systematic review found that exercise can significantly reduce glycosylated haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels by 0.6% (Thomas 2006). The rate of aerobic and resistance exercise necessary to achieve metabolic benefits in clinical trials has sometimes resulted in poor compliance (Brandon 2003), because a large proportion of adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus do not follow recommended physical activity guidelines (Mokdad 2003). A low‐impact, low‐intensity exercise such as Tai Chi may reduce poor compliance in this population and provide a beneficial alternative.

Tai Chi is a traditional Chinese martial art that has been practised for many centuries. The three major components of Tai Chi are movement, meditation and deep breathing (Li 2001a). There are various perspectives on how Tai Chi works. Eastern philosophy holds that Tai Chi unblocks the flow of ‘Qi’. When Qi flows properly, the body, mind and spirit are in balance and health is maintained (Cohen 1997). Others believe that Tai Chi works in the same way as other mind‐body therapies, i.e. the connection between the mind and the body can relieve stress, combat disease and enhance physical well‐being (Li 2001aQiang 2010). Tai Chi combines deep diaphragmatic breathing and relaxation with movement, including many fundamental postural stances, and Qi is said to flow imperceptibly and smoothly from one to the other through slow and soft activity (Chinese Sport 1983). Physical responses to Tai Chi do not exceed 55% of maximum oxygen intake or 60% of the individual maximum heart rate (Li 2001b).

Adverse effects of the intervention

Exercise may lead to hypoglycaemia, falls, injuries, pain or fatigue.

How the intervention might work

A meta‐analysis showed that exercise significantly improves glycaemic control and reduces visceral adipose tissue and plasma triglycerides, but not plasma cholesterol, in people with type 2 diabetes, independently of weight loss (Thomas 2006). Tai Chi is a low‐impact, low‐intensity exercise, and people with diabetes who exercise regularly have better glycaemia control and cardiovascular outcomes than those who do not exercise (Kuramoto 2006Li 2001b). Tai Chi also has an impact on muscle mass through slow and gentle movements (Orr 2006; Qin 2005).

An insulin receptor defect is an important risk factor in the pathology of type 2 diabetes (Youngren 2007). Tai Chi exercise may increase insulin sensitivity (Wang 2008). Furthermore, Tai Chi enhances type 1 T helper function along with an increase in blood interleukin (IL)‐12 levels in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus (Yeh 2009).

Why it is important to do this review

Exercise is one of the principal therapies for type 2 diabetes mellitus and has definite effects and few side effects. Exercise interventions significantly improve glycaemic control, as indicated by a decrease in HbA1c. Tai Chi may be especially useful for elderly type 2 diabetes patients. Although Tai Chi may improve insulin sensitivity and lead to better glucose control, the evidence of the effects of Tai Chi on type 2 diabetes are still limited and conflicting. A systematic review of the effects of Tai Chi on type 2 diabetes is warranted.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6513484/

 

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/

 

Reduce Depression Produced by Internet Addiction with Mindfulness

Reduce Depression Produced by Internet Addiction with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“As we get more connected to our wireless technology, we appear to run the risk of damaging our brains’ wiring, and disconnecting from the face-to-face interaction that our social and psychological systems need. With its emphasis on harnessing attention with intention (i.e. redirecting it on purpose), mindfulness—with all its scientifically-established health and well-being benefits—has the potential to keep us from drifting hopelessly away from one another.” – Mitch Abblett

 

Over the last few decades the internet has gone from a rare curiosity to the dominant mode of electronic communications. In fact, it has become a dominant force in daily life, occupying large amounts of time and attention. As useful as the internet may be, it can also produce negative consequences. “Problematic Internet Use” is now considered a behavioral addiction, with almost half of participants in one study considered “Internet addicts”, developing greater levels of “tolerance” and experiencing “withdrawal” and distress when deprived. This phenomenon is so new that there is little understanding of its nature, causes, and consequences and how to treat it.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be helpful with each of the components of addictions, decreasing cravings, impulsiveness, and psychological and physiological responses to stress, and increasing emotion regulation.  It is no wonder then that mindfulness training has been found to be effective for the treatment of a variety of addictions. Hence, there is a need to further explore the consequences of internet addiction and the relationship of mindfulness with internet addiction and its consequences.

 

In today’s Research News article “Internet Addiction and Depression in Chinese Adolescents: A Moderated Mediation Model.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6865207/), Chi and colleagues recruited middle school students (aged 11 to 15 years) and had them complete a questionnaire measuring internet addiction, depression, positive youth development (measuring positive psychological qualities), and mindfulness.

 

They found that 20% of the youths showed symptoms of internet addiction and 24% showed symptoms of depression. They also observed that the higher the levels of mindfulness, the lower the levels of depression and internet addiction and the higher the levels of positive youth development. On the other hand, the higher the levels of internet addiction the lower the levels of mindfulness and positive youth development and the higher the levels of depression. They also found mediation. The positive relationship between internet addiction and depression was present when mindfulness was low but not when it was high. Similarly, the negative relationship between depression and positive youth development was present when mindfulness was low but not when it was high.

 

These results are correlative and caution must be exercised in concluding causation. Nevertheless, the results replicate previous findings of mindfulness being negatively related to depression and internet addiction and positively related to positive psychological qualities. But the present findings add to these understandings by demonstrating that being addicted to the internet is related to higher depression and lower positive psychological qualities. Importantly, they found that mindfulness moderates the relationships between depression and both internet addiction and positive psychological qualities. High levels of mindfulness appear to prevent internet addiction from producing depression and from depression reducing positive psychological qualities.

 

Internet addiction is a growing problem especially in youths. These results are encouraging though that mindfulness not only is related to less internet addiction but also appears to blunt the relationships of internet addiction with depression and positive psychological qualities. This suggests that training in mindfulness with youths may help prevent addiction to the internet and its consequent effects on depression and youth development. Testing this remains for future research.

 

So, reduce depression produced by internet addiction with mindfulness.

 

when correctly practised and administered, mindfulness meditation is a safe, non-invasive, and cost-effective tool for treating behavioural addictions and for improving psychological health more generally.” – Mark Griffiths

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Chi, X., Liu, X., Guo, T., Wu, M., & Chen, X. (2019). Internet Addiction and Depression in Chinese Adolescents: A Moderated Mediation Model. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 10, 816. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00816

 

Abstract

Research has revealed that Internet addiction is a risk factor for adolescents’ development of depressive symptoms, although the underlying mechanisms are largely unknown. The present study examines the mediating role of positive youth development and the moderating role of mindfulness to determine the association between Internet addiction and depression. A sample of 522 Chinese adolescents completed measures related to Internet addiction, positive youth development, mindfulness, depression, and their background information, for which the results reveal that positive youth development mediates the relation between Internet addiction and depression. Moreover, the associations between both Internet addiction and depression as well as positive youth development and depression are moderated by mindfulness. These two effects were stronger for adolescents with low mindfulness than for those with high mindfulness. The present study contributes to a more thorough understanding of how and when Internet addiction increases the risk of depression in adolescents, suggesting that Internet addiction may affect adolescent depression through positive youth development and that mindfulness can alleviate the negative effect of Internet addiction or a low level of psychological resources on depression. The implications for research and practice are finally discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6865207/