Reduce Aggressiveness in Militant Extremists with Yoga

Reduce Aggressiveness in Militant Extremists with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

yoga helps to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression in prisoners, and crucially, decreases impulsivity—a known factor in much prison violence.” – Georgia Pike

 

As Mahatma Gandhi has recognized “Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.” It attempts to rectify the problem quickly, but the roots of the problem are deep and violence does not address the roots. It only deals with the surface manifestations. This is on display with militant extremists where violence has begot violence for centuries. Rather than solving the root problems, it has instead led to more and more hatred, violence, and deeper and deeper problems.

 

Militant extremism has been increasing recently. Obviously, there is a need in modern society to find methods to reduce violent and aggressive tendencies in extremists who have been captured. Mindfulness training has been shown to reduce aggression and hostility. Yoga is a mindfulness practice whose effects on violent and aggressive behaviors have not been well studied. So, it makes sense to study the effectiveness of yoga practice in reducing aggressive tendencies in captured extremists.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effectiveness of a Comprehensive Yoga Program on Convicted Extremist Offenders.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6937884/), Kanchibhotla and colleagues examine the ability of yoga practice to reduce aggressiveness in militant extremists. They recruited ULFA militant extremists in Northern India who had surrendered their arms. They completed a 40-day intensive yoga workshop including postures, breathing exercises, meditation, singing, and discussions. They were measured before and after training for aggression, satisfaction with life, and quality of life including 4 dimensions, physical health, social relationships, environment, and psychological health.

 

They found that after treatment there were significant decreases in aggression including physical aggression, verbal aggression, anger, and hostile behavior. They also found significant improvements in satisfaction with life, and quality of life including physical health, environment, and psychological health.

 

It should be noted that there wasn’t a comparison, control, group. So, the study is open to many potential confounding influences and the results must be interpreted with great caution. But the study group is so unique that the findings should be considered. Yoga practice has been shown in a number of well controlled studies to reduce aggression, and improve quality of life, and satisfaction with life and reduce aggression and violence in prisoners. So, it is reasonable to suggest that the intensive yoga workshop was effective in improving the psychological health of the militant extremists.

 

This suggests that yoga practice and perhaps other mind-body practices may be effective in reducing hostility and aggression in even the most extreme offenders. This also suggests that yoga practice may be useful in treating violent and aggressive individuals generally. This may intervene and disrupt the circle of escalating violence better addressing the roots of the problem.

 

So, reduce aggressiveness in militant extremists with yoga.

 

“subjects in the yoga group showed a significant improvement from the baseline performance in aggression and results . . . are consistent with earlier researches on yoga to reduce aggression.” – Umesh Dwivedi

 

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

 

Kanchibhotla, D., Kulkarni, S., & Singh, S. (2020). Effectiveness of a Comprehensive Yoga Program on Convicted Extremist Offenders. International journal of yoga, 13(1), 50–54. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_79_18

 

Abstract

Objective:

The present study aimed to explore the effect of yoga techniques on well-being and behavior among those who have propagated and participated in extreme violence and aggression. The sample comprised 219 United Liberation Front of Assam militants selected immediately after surrender of arms in the year 2012 from all over northeast region of India.

Methodology:

The study design was a single group with pre- and posttest assessment. All participants attended a 40-day intensive Yoga workshop (Sudarshan Kriya Yoga, Pranayama, Physical postures or Hatha Yoga, Meditation) conducted at Art of Living International Centre, Bengaluru. The impact of spiritual practices was observed on peace, aggression, life satisfaction, and quality of life in individuals using the aggression Buss Perry questionnaire, WHOQOL-BREF, and Satisfaction with Life Scale. The questionnaires were administered at the beginning and at the end of the 40-day workshop.

Results:

Significant results using paired t-test clearly demonstrate that by following yoga techniques (Sudarshan Kriya, Yoga, and Meditation), a reduction in aggression, quality of life, and life satisfaction can be obtained. These practices can be useful for people who want to rehabilitate themselves after incarceration or experience of militancy. The purpose of these measures is to reduce the risk of future criminality by those already convicted of violent extremist offenses, thereby protecting public safety while also benefiting individuals and communities.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6937884/

 

Improve the Behavior of Prisoners and Prison Staff with Mindfulness

Improve the Behavior of Prisoners and Prison Staff with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“I have seen how men in maximum security prison were able to support not only their own resilience, but also that of their guards, nurses, and other prison staff, through the practice of meditation, mindfulness, and deliberate kindness.” – Doug Carnine

 

Around 2 ¼ million people are incarcerated in the United States. Even though prisons are euphemistically labelled correctional facilities very little correction actually occurs. This is supported by the rates of recidivism. About three quarters of prisoners who are released commit crimes and are sent back to prison within 5-years. The lack of actual treatment for the prisoners leaves them ill equipped to engage positively in society either inside or outside of prison. Hence, there is a need for effective treatment programs that help the prisoners while in prison and prepares them for life outside the prison.

 

Contemplative practices are well suited to the prison environment. Mindfulness training teaches skills that may be very important for prisoners. In particular, it puts the practitioner in touch with their own bodies and feelings. It improves present moment awareness and helps to overcome rumination about the past and negative thinking about the future. It also relieves stress and improves overall health and well-being. Finally, mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in treating depressionanxiety, and anger. It has also been shown to help overcome trauma in male prisoners.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Prison: Experiences of Inmates, Instructors, and Prison Staff.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6745607/), Bouw and colleagues examine the effectiveness of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program for prisoners. They recruited male prisoners, staff, and instructors from prisons in the Netherlands where the prisoners had attended an MBSR program. The MBSR program consisted of 8 weekly 2-hour group sessions involving meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion. The prisoners were also encouraged to perform practice on their own for 45 minutes for 6 days per week.

 

The prisoners were administered a semi-structured interview to obtain the prisoners’ views of level of satisfaction and challenges regarding the program as well as potential effects on stress responsivity, coping style, impulse control, aggression, and self-esteem. The staff members and instructors were also interviewed about the effects or changes they observed in the inmates who underwent the intervention. The prisoners were highly appreciative of the program with 82% attending all MBSR sessions and 64% completing all homework assignments.

 

The prisoners reported that after the program they had significant decreases in both the frequency and intensity of experiencing anger, that they were better able to handle the anger when it did arise, and were more likely to seek solutions to the situation that evoked the anger. They also reported a significant reduction in their reactions to stress, that they were more likely to be relaxed, and less likely to be sad or silent after stress. The prisoners also reported that they were more likely to employ cognitive-oriented coping styles and less emotion-oriented coping styles after the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. Finally, the prisoners reported a significant increase in self-esteem. The prison staff, and instructors reported that the prisoners had overall improvements in their behavior after the MBSR program including reduced stress responses, anger, aggressive behavior, and hostility and increased self-esteem, emotional stability, dealing with difficult emotions, problem solving skills, and regulation of aggression.

 

It has to be recognized that there was no control, comparison, condition. As such the results are open to confounding factors such as demand characteristics, placebo effects, time-based changes, etc. Nevertheless, the results are very encouraging. Even if they are due to confounding factors rather than the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, there was a significant improvement in the prisoners. From a practical standpoint that was the intent of the program in the first place.

 

So, improve the behavior of prisoners and prison staff with mindfulness.

 

“By working with both prisoners and correctional facilities professionals, mindfulness programs systematically transform the impact of our criminal justice system. Through cultivating greater awareness and compassion, mindfulness “encourages a shift away from fear-based and often anti-social or criminal strategies for meeting needs” – Prison Mindfulness Institute

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Bouw, N., Huijbregts, S., Scholte, E., & Swaab, H. (2019). Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Prison: Experiences of Inmates, Instructors, and Prison Staff. International journal of offender therapy and comparative criminology, 63(15-16), 2550–2571. doi:10.1177/0306624X19856232

 

Abstract

Mindfulness intervention aims to reduce stress and to improve physical and mental health. The present study investigated feasibility and effectiveness of mindfulness intervention in a prison context, in both a qualitative and quantitative fashion. Specifically, the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) intervention was investigated, in a retrospective pre–post design, in five Dutch prisons. Twenty-two inmates (out of 25 approached, mean age: 40.1 years (SD = 11.1), convicted of murder, manslaughter, sexual offenses, drug offenses, robbery with violence, and/or illegal restraint/kidnap, and sentenced to incarceration between 15 and 209 months (M = 5.5 years; SD = 3.8) took part in a semistructured interview after completion of the MBSR intervention. The interviews addressed level of satisfaction and challenges regarding the MBSR intervention as well as potential effects on stress responsivity, coping style, impulse control, aggression, and self-esteem. Ten staff members and four MBSR instructors were interviewed about their own practical issues experienced while providing or facilitating the MBSR intervention, and about the effects or changes they observed in the inmates who underwent the intervention. Both participants and instructors/prison staff reported improvements in all of the addressed domains and expressed satisfaction with the intervention. Challenges were mainly identified in practical issues regarding the organization of the intervention sessions. Future studies should investigate mindfulness in longitudinal randomly controlled designs, should strive for a multi-method approach, and distinguish inmates according to personality characteristics.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6745607/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Different Brain Responses to Angry Faces

Mindfulness is Associated with Different Brain Responses to Angry Faces

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Being mindful of anger means not suppressing, denying or avoiding it and also not acting out in harmful ways. Instead, connect with the direct experience of the anger, and then decide what action you want to take.” — Jessica Morey

 

Anger not only produces changes in our behavior and mood, it also produces changes in our physiology, including the brain. It activates the “fight or flight” system in the body, sympathetic nervous, and releases activating hormones. The net result is an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate, sweating, especially the palms, feeling hot in the neck/face, shaking or trembling, and decreased heart rate variability. In addition, anger affects and is affected by the brain. These physical effects can be used to objectively measure anger responses. They are also stressful and if prolonged can be damaging to the individual’s health.

 

If we can control our anger, we will generally be a happier person. But, at times, it is very difficult to do so. Mindfulness and meditation can help. It has been shown to improve our ability to regulate our emotions including anger.  Mindfulness appears to improve our ability not to suppress our emotions, but to fully experience them and yet be better able to respond to them constructively and adaptively.

 

In today’s Research News article “Relationship of mindful awareness to neural processing of angry faces and impact of mindfulness training: A pilot investigation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5480240/ ), Lee and colleagues examine the relationship of mindfulness to the brain’s activity in response to angry stimuli.

 

They recruited right handed healthy adults. Ten of the 18 participants received an 8-week, once a week for 2.5 hours, program of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). ”It includes training in formal meditation practices like body scan, sitting meditation, walking meditation, and mindful movement, as well as informal practices to integrate mindfulness into everyday life.” Participants were asked to practice at home for 45 minutes a day for 6 days per week. The participants were measured before and after training for mindfulness and anger. They were also tested for their brain’s response to pictures of angry or neutral faces while simply indicating whether the face was male or female. While viewing the faces their brains were scanned with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

 

They found at baseline, before training, that in response to angry faces the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the activation of the parietal lobe while the higher the level of anger the greater the activation of the middle frontal gyrus and bilateral angular gyrus. Hence, the participants’ brains responded to the angry faces differently than to the neutral faces and the level of response depended upon their baseline levels of mindfulness and anger. After MBSR training there was a significant increase in mindfulness but no significant change in the fMRI responses to the faces.

 

It is interesting that MBSR training did not change the neural responses to angry faces as it has been shown previously that MBSR training decreases anger in the participants and it would be assumed that changes in anger would be associated with changes in the brains activity in response to stimuli associated with anger. It may well be that viewing angry faces is totally different from actually being personally angry. Regardless, it is clear that mindfulness is associated with different brain responses to angry faces.

 

“Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it.” — Charles Swindoll

 

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

 

Lee, A., Gansler, D. A., Zhang, N., Jerram, M. W., King, J. A., & Fulwiler, C. (2017). Relationship of mindful awareness to neural processing of angry faces and impact of mindfulness training: A pilot investigation. Psychiatry research. Neuroimaging, 264, 22-28.

 

Abstract

Mindfulness is paying attention, non-judgmentally, to experience in the moment. Mindfulness training reduces depression and anxiety and influences neural processes in midline self-referential and lateralized somatosensory and executive networks. Although mindfulness benefits emotion regulation, less is known about its relationship to anger and the corresponding neural correlates. This study examined the relationship of mindful awareness and brain hemodynamics of angry face processing, and the impact of mindfulness training. Eighteen healthy volunteers completed an angry face processing fMRI paradigm and measurement of mindfulness and anger traits. Ten of these participants were recruited from a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class and also completed imaging and other assessments post-training. Self-reported mindful awareness increased after MBSR, but trait anger did not change. Baseline mindful awareness was negatively related to left inferior parietal lobule activation to angry faces; trait anger was positively related to right middle frontal gyrus and bilateral angular gyrus. No significant pre-post changes in angry face processing were found, but changes in trait mindful awareness and anger were associated with sub-threshold differences in paralimbic activation. These preliminary and hypothesis-generating findings, suggest the analysis of possible impact of mindfulness training on anger may begin with individual differences in angry face processing.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5480240/

 

Improve Tolerance of Distress and Psychological State with Mindfulness

Improve Tolerance of Distress and Psychological State with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Distress Tolerance skills are used to help us cope and survive during a crisis, and helps us tolerate short term or long term pain (physical or emotional). Tolerating distress includes a mindfulness of breath and mindful awareness of situations and ourselves.” – DBT Self Help

 

Psychological distress is related to an increase in physiological stress responses. That is, when the individual is anxious, ruminating, or having negative emotions, the physiology including the hormonal system reacts. The increased activity can be measured in heightened stress hormones in the blood and increased heart rate, blood pressure etc. These physiological stress responses on the short-term are adaptive and help to fight off infection, toxins, injury, etc. Unfortunately, psychological distress is often persistent and chronic and resulting in chronic stress which in turn can produce disease.

 

Many of the symptoms of psychological distress have been shown to be related to a lack of mindfulness. Anxiety is often rooted in a persistent dread of future negative events while rumination is rooted in the past, with persistent replaying of negative past events. Since mindfulness is firmly rooted in the present it is antagonistic toward anything rooted in the past or future. Hence, high levels of mindfulness cannot coexist with anxiety and rumination. In addition, high mindfulness has been shown to be related to high levels of emotion regulation and positive emotions. So, mindfulness would appear to be an antidote to psychological distress.

 

In today’s Research News article “Dimensions of distress tolerance and the moderating effects on mindfulness-based stress reduction.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6130202/ ), Gawrysiak and colleagues recruited participants in an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. The program was specifically developed to improve coping with stress and consisted of weekly 2.5-hour group training sessions with home practice and included meditation, body scan, yoga practices, and discussion. They were measured before and after training for distress tolerance, perceived stress, and positive and negative emotions.

 

They found that following the MBSR program the participants demonstrated significant increases in distress tolerance and vigor and decreases in perceived stress, anger, confusion, depression, fatigue, and tension. In addition, they found that participants who were low in distress tolerance had the greatest decreases in perceived stress after the program while those high in distress tolerance had the least change.

 

Hence, they found that the MBSR program improved the psychological state in the participants. This is in line with previous research that demonstrated that mindfulness training improves psychological and physiological responses to stress and improves emotions. What this study contributes is the understanding that MBSR  improves that participants  ability to cope with psychological distress. Importantly, they also found that the participants who benefited the most were the ones who had the least ability to cope with distress to begin with. This suggests that one of the reasons that MBSR training is beneficial is that it improves the individuals ability to deal effectively with tough emotions and situations which, in turn, improves the individuals ability to deal effectively with stress. This, then, improves their emotional state.

 

So, improve tolerance of distress and psychological state with mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

 

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

 

Gawrysiak, M. J., Leong, S. H., Grassetti, S. N., Wai, M., Shorey, R. C., & Baime, M. J. (2016). Dimensions of distress tolerance and the moderating effects on mindfulness-based stress reduction. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 29(5), 552–560. http://doi.org/10.1080/10615806.2015.1085513

 

Abstract

Background and Objectives:

This study examined the relationship between distress tolerance and psychosocial changes among individuals participating in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). The objective of the analysis was to discern whether individuals with lower distress tolerance measured before MBSR showed larger reductions in perceived stress following MBSR.

Design and Methods:

Data were collected from a sample of convenience (n = 372) using a quasi-experimental design. Participants completed self-report measures immediately prior to course enrollment and following course completion.

Results:

Perceived stress, distress tolerance, and mood states showed favorable changes from pre- to post-MBSR in the current study. Baseline distress tolerance significantly moderated reductions on perceived stress, supporting the primary hypothesis that individuals with lower baseline distress tolerance evidenced a greater decline in perceived stress following MBSR. For a one-unit increase on the self-reported baseline Distress Tolerance Scale, reported perceived stress scores decreased by 2.5 units (p < .0001).

Conclusions:

The finding that individuals with lower baseline distress tolerance evidenced a greater decline in perceived stress may offer hints about who is most likely to benefit from MBSR and other mindfulness-based treatments. Identifying moderators of treatment outcomes may yield important benefits in matching individuals to treatments that are most likely to work for them.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6130202/

Improve Psychological Well-being in Coronary Artery Disease Patients with Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy

Improve Psychological Well-being in Coronary Artery Disease Patients with Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Given the proven role of stress in heart attacks and coronary artery disease, effective meditation would be appropriate for almost all patients with coronary artery disease.”Joon Sup Lee

 

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack.” (Centers for Disease Control). “Coronary artery disease develops when the major blood vessels that supply your heart with blood, oxygen and nutrients (coronary arteries) become damaged or diseased. Cholesterol-containing deposits (plaque) in your arteries and inflammation are usually to blame for coronary artery disease.” – (Mayo Clinic)

 

A myriad of treatments has been developed for heart disease including a variety of surgical procedures and medications. But the safest effective treatments are lifestyle changes. These include quitting smoking, weight reduction, improved diet, physical activity, and reducing stresses. Safe and effective alternative treatments for cardiovascular disease are contemplative practices, such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have also been shown to be helpful for heart health. These practices have also been shown to be helpful for producing the kinds of lifestyle changes needed to prevent heart disease such as smoking cessationweight reduction, and stress reduction.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy on Psychological Symptoms in Patients with Coronary Artery Disease.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5852419/ ), Jang and colleagues studied the effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy (MBAT) on the psychological states of patients with coronary artery disease. They recruited outpatients with coronary artery disease and randomly assigned them to either receive 12 weeks, once a week for 45 minutes, of Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy (MBAT) or a treatment as usual control. MBAT was based on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program and included meditation, yoga, and body scan practices along with training in expressing their emotions through art and drawing. Patients were measured before and after training for anxiety, depression, and anger.

 

They found that the MBAT trained patients in comparison to baseline and the treatment as usual group had large and significant reduction in depression, anxiety and depression following treatment. In addition, there were large and significant decreases in experiences of anger and expressions of anger and also increases in anger control. Hence, the Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy (MBAT) program was successful in improving the psychological well-being of patients with coronary heart disease.

 

It should be noted that there wasn’t an active control conditions so the conclusions must be tempered with the understanding that there were considerable opportunities for bias and participant expectations to affect the results and there was no long-term follow-up to determine the durability of the effects. The findings, however, are encouraging and should provide encouragement for conducting a larger trial with active control conditions, e.g. aerobic exercise and long-term follow-up.

 

So, improve psychological well-being in coronary artery disease patients with mindfulness-based art therapy.

 

“15 minutes of meditation a day reduced the risk of death, heart attack, and stroke by 48 per cent” – British Heart Foundation

 

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

 

Jang, S.-H., Lee, J.-H., Lee, H.-J., & Lee, S.-Y. (2018). Effects of Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy on Psychological Symptoms in Patients with Coronary Artery Disease. Journal of Korean Medical Science, 33(12), e88. http://doi.org/10.3346/jkms.2018.33.e88

 

Abstract

Background

Mindfulness-based art therapy (MBAT) induces emotional relaxation in coronary artery disease (CAD) patients, and is a treatment known to improve psychological stability. The objective of this study was to evaluate the treatment effects of MBAT for CAD patients.

Methods

A total of 44 CAD patients were selected as participants, 21 patients belonged to a MBAT group, and 23 patients belonged to the control group. The patients in the MBAT group were given 12 sessions of treatments. To measure depression and anxiety, Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and Trait Anxiety Inventory (TAI) were used. Anger and anger expression were evaluated using the State Trait Anger Expression Inventory (STAXI). The treatment results were analyzed using two-way repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA).

Results

The results showed that significant effects for groups, time, and interaction in the depression (interaction effect, [F(1,36) = 23.15, P < 0.001]; between groups, [F(1,36) = 5.73, P = 0.022]), trait anxiety (interaction effect, [F(1,36) = 13.23, P < 0.001]; between groups, [F(1,36) = 4.38, P = 0.043]), state anger (interaction effect, [F(1,36) = 5.60, P = 0.023]), trait anger (interaction effect, [F(1,36) = 6.93, P = 0.012]; within group, [F(1,36) = 4.73, P = 0.036]), anger control (interaction effect, [F(1,36) = 8.41, P = 0.006]; within group, [F(1,36) = 9.41, P = 0.004]), anger out (interaction effect, [F(1,36) = 6.88, P = 0.012]; within group, [F(1,36) = 13.17, P < 0.001]; between groups, [F(1,36) = 5.62, P = 0.023]), and anger in (interaction effect, [F(1,36) = 32.66, P < 0.001]; within group, [F(1,36) = 25.90, P < 0.001]; between groups, [F(1,36) = 12.44, P < 0.001]).

Conclusion

MBAT can be seen as an effective treatment method that improves CAD patients’ psychological stability. Evaluation of treatment effects using program development and large-scale research for future clinical application is needed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5852419/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Lower Aggression by Lowering Rumination

Mindfulness is Associated with Lower Aggression by Lowering Rumination

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness may restore the emotional resources needed to maintain self-control, and thus may have an important role to play in anger management by helping people to mindfully respond to provocation rather than react with anger.”- AMRA

 

The human tendency to lash out with aggression when threatened was adaptive for the evolution of the species. It helped promote the survival of the individual, the family, and the tribe. In the modern world, however, this trait has become more of a problem than an asset. It results in individual violence and aggression such as physical abuse, fights, road rage, and even murders, and in societal violence such as warfare. It may even be the basis for the horrors of terrorism and mass murder. Obviously, there is a need in modern society to control these violent and aggressive urges.

 

Aggression may, at least in part, be amplified by anger rumination; an uncontrollable, repetitive thinking about anger and its sources. This can produce a downward spiral where people repeatedly think about their anger which, in turn, reinforces the anger making it worse and worse. It is like a record that’s stuck and keeps repeating the same lyrics. It’s replaying a dispute in the individual’s mind. It’s going over their anger, again and again. Fortunately, rumination may be interrupted by mindfulness. This may, in part, be a mechanism by which mindfulness training reduces aggression and hostility. Hence, mindfulness may be an antidote to violent and aggressive urges by interrupting anger rumination.

 

In today’s Research News article “Both trait and state mindfulness predict lower aggressiveness via anger rumination: A multilevel mediation analysis.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4943669/, Eisenlohr-Moul and colleagues recruited college students and had them complete measures of overall and daily levels of mindfulness, anger, anger rumination, anger expression, aggressive inclinations, and aggressive behaviors. Daily measures were collected for 35 consecutive days. They analyzed the responses with sophisticated statistical modelling techniques.

 

They found that the higher the levels of daily the mindfulness facets of acting with awareness and non-judging the lower the levels of daily aggression, daily anger, and daily anger rumination. They also found that the higher the levels of daily anger and daily anger rumination the higher the levels of daily aggression. Hence, mindfulness predicted lower aggression while anger and anger rumination predicted higher aggression. When all three were used to predict aggression, the effects of mindfulness disappeared. With a mediation model, they were able to demonstrate that mindfulness was associated with lower aggression indirectly by mindfulness’ effects on anger and anger rumination which in turn effected aggression. So, mindfulness acted on aggression by the intermediaries of reduced anger and anger rumination.

 

These results are correlational and thus causation cannot be determined. There is a need to investigate whether mindfulness training can produce similar effects. Nevertheless, the findings suggest that the ability of mindfulness to lower anger and interrupt anger rumination may be the keys to the effectiveness of mindfulness in lowering aggression. By focusing on the present moment and not on past transgressions or worries about the future, rumination is disrupted. This in turn, lowers the likelihood of aggressive behavior. In this way mindfulness may be a means to lower the levels of aggression and violence in the modern world.

 

So, lower aggression by lowering rumination with mindfulness.

 

“The first step to managing your anger is to sit with it long enough to hear what it wants to tell you. To do this, you must turn to your body. Your body contains an abundance of information, and it never lies. By listening carefully to your body, you can build new habits for approaching your feelings. A new response strategy will replace the passive-aggressive pattern that may have dominated your life. And mindfulness is the key.” – Andrea Brandt

 

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

 

Eisenlohr-Moul, T. A., Peters, J. R., Pond, R. S., & DeWall, C. N. (2016). Both trait and state mindfulness predict lower aggressiveness via anger rumination: A multilevel mediation analysis. Mindfulness, 7(3), 713–726. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0508-x

 

Abstract

Trait mindfulness, or the capacity for nonjudgmental, present-centered attention, predicts lower aggression in cross-sectional samples, an effect mediated by reduced anger rumination. Experimental work also implicates state mindfulness (i.e., fluctuations around one’s typical mindfulness) in aggression. Despite evidence that both trait and state mindfulness predict lower aggression, their relative impact and their mechanisms remain unclear. Higher trait mindfulness and state increases in mindfulness facets may reduce aggression-related outcomes by (1) limiting the intensity of anger, or (2) limiting rumination on anger experiences. The present study tests two hypotheses: First, that both trait and state mindfulness contribute unique variance to lower aggressiveness, and second, that the impact of both trait and state mindfulness on aggressiveness will be uniquely partially mediated by both anger intensity and anger rumination. 86 participants completed trait measures of mindfulness, anger intensity, and anger rumination, then completed diaries for 35 days assessing mindfulness, anger intensity, anger rumination, anger expression, and self-reported and behavioral aggressiveness. Using multilevel zero-inflated regression, we examined unique contributions of trait and state mindfulness facets to daily anger expression and aggressiveness. We also examined the mediating roles of anger intensity and anger rumination at both trait and state levels. Mindfulness facets predicted anger expression and aggressiveness indirectly through anger rumination after controlling for indirect pathways through anger intensity. Individuals with high or fluctuating aggression may benefit from mindfulness training to reduce both intensity of and rumination on anger.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4943669/

Tamp Down Impulsivity and Aggression in Youth with Mindfulness

 

“When you are angry, when you feel despair, you practice mindful breathing, mindful walking, to generate the energy of mindfulness. This energy allows you to recognize and embrace your painful feelings.“ – Thich Nhat Hahn

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

It is a sad fact that late adolescence and young adulthood are dangerous times in life. The body is either fully developed or close to it, but the brain lags behind, especially the frontal areas that inhibit and control basic instincts and reactions. As a result, youth often react aggressively and impulsively without higher level control of these behaviors. This is responsible for some troubling statistics. Young people ages 15-24 represent only 14% of the U.S. population, but they account for 30% of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries among males. Regarding youth violence and aggression, 46% of males, and 26% of females reported they had been in physical fights, one million U.S. students took guns to school and six thousand were kicked out of school for packing weapons, the annual death toll from school shootings has more than doubled, the youth homicide rate increased by 168 percent, and juvenile arrest for possession of weapons, aggravated assault, robbery, and murder have risen more than 50 percent.

 

It is important for society to control violent and aggressive behavior and late adolescence and young adulthood are periods when the likelihood is high. Mindfulness has been shown to reduce violence and aggression in adults. So, it would seem reasonable to investigate whether mindfulness may be effective in helping to control the aggressive tendencies of youth. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Program for Management of Aggression Among Youth: A Follow-up Study.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1280433211980602/?type=3&theater

or below, Sharma and colleagues investigate this idea. They provided training in mindfulness meditation to youth who were having difficulty controlling aggression. Prior to the training 22% involved themselves in physical violence, 12% also used weapons during aggression, and 14.2% had experienced injuries due to fights. They found that after the training, there were significant decreases in physical aggression, verbal aggression, anger, hostility, rumination, and a decrease in urges to smoke, and significant increases in physical and environmental quality of life, well-being, relaxation, and interpersonal interactions.

 

These results are encouraging that meditation training can help in controlling hostility and aggression in difficult youth. But, without a control comparison condition, the findings have to be viewed cautiously. There is a need for a randomized controlled clinical trial to provide unambiguous evidence that meditation practice can reduce aggressive and impulsive tendencies in youth. It makes sense that mindfulness could do this as it’s been demonstrated that mindfulness training improves executive function and frontal lobe activity which are deficient in youth. The results of this study, although flawed, make a compelling case that further research is warranted.

 

So, tamp down impulsivity and aggression in youth with mindfulness.

 

“After 20 years of working with mindfulness I’ve begun to notice that aggression and reactivity still arise.  Yay.  The difference? Practising the practice has given me the little bit of gap I need to see my desire to jump down someone’s throat, before I actually do it.” – Elaine Smookler

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

Sharma, M. K., Sharma, M. P., & Marimuthu, P. (2016). Mindfulness-Based Program for Management of Aggression Among Youth: A Follow-up Study. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 38(3), 213–216. http://doi.org.ezproxy.shsu.edu/10.4103/0253-7176.183087

 

Abstract

Background: Youth have shown indulgence in various high-risk behaviors and violent activities. Yoga-based approaches have been used for the management of psychological problems. The present work explores the role of mindfulness-based program in the management of aggression among youth.

Materials and Methods: Sociodemographic information schedule, Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire, and World Health Organization quality of life were administered on 50 subjects in the age range of 18-25 years at pre- and post-mindfulness-based program level.

Results: It revealed the presence of feeling of well-being and ability to relax themselves; changes in score of anger, hostility, physical, and verbal aggression; and enhancement of quality of life in the physical and environment domains at 1 month follow-up.

Conclusions: Mindfulness-based program has shown changes in aggression expression/control and implies integration of it in available program for the management of aggression among youth.

 

Lower Physical Aggression with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness recognizes anger, is aware of its presence, accepts and allows it to be there. Mindfulness is like a big brother who does not suppress his younger brother’s suffering. He simply says, “Dear brother, I’m here for you.” You take your younger brother in your arms and you comfort him.” –  Thich Nhat Hahn

 

The human tendency to lash out with aggression when threatened was adaptive for the evolution of the species. It helped promote the survival of the individual, the family, and the tribe. In the modern world, however, this trait has become more of a problem than an asset. It results in individual violence and aggression such as physical abuse, fights, road rage, and even murders, and in societal violence such as warfare. It may even be the basis for the horrors of terrorism and mass murder. Obviously there is a need in modern society to control these violent and aggressive urges.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to reduce aggression and hostility. This suggests that mindfulness may be an antidote to violent and aggressive urges. So, it would make sense to further investigate the relationship between mindfulness and aggression. In today’s Research News article “Physical Aggression and Mindfulness among College Students: Evidence from China and the United States.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1267113226645934/?type=3&theater

or below or view the full text of the study at:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4881105/

Gao and colleagues used psychometric measures of mindfulness and aggression in three samples of freshman college students from the United States and China and investigated the relationships between the students’ trait levels of mindfulness and their aggressive tendencies.

 

They found a strong negative relationship between mindfulness and aggressiveness such that the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of all four types of aggression measured, including hostility, verbal aggressiveness, physical aggressiveness, and anger. This was true for all three samples for both American and Chinese students. In other words, mindfulness was significantly related to low aggressiveness regardless of culture. This relationship may have resulted from the documented ability of mindfulness to improve emotion regulation, including improved control over anger, and fear. By being better able to control their emotions highly mindful people would be less likely to respond to them with aggression.

 

These results are correlational. There was no manipulation of mindfulness. So, a causal relationship between mindfulness and aggressiveness cannot be concluded. A randomize controlled clinical trial is needed to establish if increasing mindfulness decreases aggressiveness. In addition, the sample were typical college freshman and who are not particularly aggressive groups. It will be important to establish in the future if mindfulness can help control aggression in highly aggressive populations such as violent offenders.

 

Regardless the results are clear and suggest that aggression can be lowered with mindfulness.

 

“Anger is always a signal. Mindfulness helps reveal what it signals. Sometimes it is a signal that something in the external world needs to be addressed. Sometimes it is a signal that something is off internally. If nothing else, anger is a signal that someone is suffering. Probably it is you. Sit still in the midst of your anger and find your freedom.”Gil Fronsdal

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

Gao, Y., Shi, L., Smith, K. C., Kingree, J. B., & Thompson, M. (2016). Physical Aggression and Mindfulness among College Students: Evidence from China and the United States. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13(5), 480. http://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph13050480

 

Abstract

Background: The link between trait mindfulness and several dimensions of aggression (verbal, anger and hostility) has been documented, while the link between physical aggression and trait mindfulness remains less clear. Method: We used two datasets: one United States sample from 300 freshmen males from Clemson University, South Carolina and a Chinese sample of 1516 freshmen students from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. Multiple regressions were conducted to examine the association between mindfulness (measured by Mindful Attention and Awareness Scale (MAAS)) and each of the four subscales of aggression. Results: Among the Clemson sample (N = 286), the mindfulness scale had a significant negative association with each of the four subscales of aggression: Hostility: β = −0.62, p < 0.001; Verbal: β = −0.37, p < 0.001; Physical: β = −0.29, p < 0.001; Anger: β = −0.44, p < 0.001. Among the Shanghai male subsample, the mindfulness scale had a significant negative association with each of the four subscales of aggression: Hostility: β = −0.57, p < 0.001; Verbal: β = −0.37, p < 0.001; Physical: β = −0.35, p < 0.001; Anger: β = −0.58, p < 0.001. Among the Shanghai female subsample (N = 512), the mindfulness scale had a significant negative association with each of the four subscales of aggression: Hostility: β = −0.62, p < 0.001; Verbal: β = −0.41, p < 0.001; Physical: β = −0.52, p < 0.001; and Anger: β = −0.64, p < 0.001. Discussion: Our study documents the negative association between mindfulness and physical aggression in two non-clinical samples. Future studies could explore whether mindfulness training lowers physical aggression among younger adults.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4881105/

Manage Anger with Meditation

“Anger is nothing more than a strategy for finding happiness in the midst of a challenging world, but it’s not a very effective strategy. Mindfulness and compassion work much, much better.” – Bodhipaksa

 

The Buddha once said that “holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” In other words, anger is usually more harmful to ourselves than to the source of our anger.

 

Reflect for a moment on the last time you became angry at another driver for cutting you off in traffic. Did you respond like most people with anger? Did that anger actually have any impact, at all, on the other driver? Usually not. Did it have any impact on you? Perhaps upsetting you and causing you to drive in an aggressive manner toward the other driver. Did that actually do any good or did it just put you at increased risk of an accident? Did the anger carry over beyond the actual incident and affect your driving afterward and your actions and mood later in the day? Now, reflect for a moment on the last time you became angry at your significant other. Was it effective? How did that person respond? Did it actually hurt the one you care about? Did it harm your relationship? Most times, anger is not only counterproductive, but destructive.

 

Anger not only produces changes in our behavior and mood, it also produces changes in our physiology. It activates the “fight or flight” system in the body, sympathetic nervous, and releases activating hormones. The net result is an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate, sweating, especially the palms, feeling hot in the neck/face, shaking or trembling, and decreased heart rate variability. These physical effects can be used to objectively measure anger responses. They are also stressful and if prolonged can be damaging to the individual’s health.

 

If we can control our anger, we will generally be a happier person. But, at times, it is very difficult to do so. Mindfulness and meditation can help. It has been shown to improve our ability to regulate our emotions including anger (see http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/index.php/category/research-news/emotions/).  Mindfulness appears to improve our ability not to suppress our emotions, but to fully experience them and yet be better able to respond to them constructively and adaptively.

 

In today’s Research News article “A single session of meditation reduces of physiological indices of anger in both experienced and novice meditators”

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1167915143232410/?type=3&theater

Fennell and colleagues investigated the effect of a single 20-minute meditation on anger responses in experienced and naïve meditators. They induced anger by having participants vividly recall a recent incident where they became angry and to briefly write about it. In the naïve meditators, this produced a significant increase in self-reported anger and increased blood pressure, respiration rate, and decreased heart rate variability. But, the experienced meditators had no physiological response to the induction. They then had their participants meditate for 20 minutes and induced anger a second time. After meditation, the anger induction had very little effect with no significant changes in self-reported anger or blood pressure and decreased heart and respiration rates. This blunting of the anger response after meditation occurred for both the experienced and naïve meditators.

 

These results are remarkable. Even a single brief meditation is capable of producing a significant reduction in both subjective and physiological responses to anger, actually making it look more like relaxation than anger. This response appears to be learned with repeated meditation as experienced meditators appear to have this blunted response even without meditation while naïve meditators require the meditation. Hence, meditation lowers immediate anger responses and experience with meditation makes this chronic, allowing for lower anger responsivity all of the time.

 

These results suggest that meditation is an antidote to anger. This control of anger may be responsible for many of meditation’s beneficial effects, cooling off the “hot coal” and preventing the individual from getting “burned.”

 

So, manage anger with meditation.

 

“Once we have recognized our anger, we embrace it. This is the second function of mindfulness and it is a very pleasant practice. Instead of fighting, we are taking good care of our emotion. If you know how to embrace your anger, something will change.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

Antisocial Prisoners Lack Mindfulness

 

“There are only two kinds of people in this world; those who have a conscience and those who do not.” ― P.A. Speers

 

Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) is a problem not only for the individual but also for society. Individuals with this disorder tend to demonstrate a “disregard for right and wrong, persistent lying or deceit to exploit others, using charm or wit to manipulate others for personal gain or for sheer personal pleasure, intense egocentrism, sense of superiority and exhibitionism, recurring difficulties with the law, repeatedly violating the rights of others by the use of intimidation, dishonesty and misrepresentation, child abuse or neglect, hostility, significant irritability, agitation, impulsiveness, aggression or violence, lack of empathy for others and lack of remorse about harming others, unnecessary risk-taking or dangerous behaviors, poor or abusive relationships, irresponsible work behavior, and failure to learn from the negative consequences of behavior” (Mayo Clinic).

 

Needless to say that this disorder is found to be quite prevalent in prison populations. As much as 80% of male and 65% of female prison inmates exhibit signs and symptoms of antisocial personality disorder. But, it is also common in the general population. Around 3.6% of adults in the United States, equal to about 7.6 million people, have antisocial personality disorder affecting about 3% of adult males and 1% of adult females. To make matters worse, APD is very difficult to treat as it frequently does not respond to psychotherapy and there are no drugs that have been approved to treat it.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness moderates the relationship between aggression and Antisocial Personality Disorder traits: Preliminary investigation with an offender sample”

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1156439277713330/?type=3&theater

Velotti and colleagues investigate the relationship of mindfulness to aggression and Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) with 83 imprisoned violent offenders. They verified the positive relationship between APD and aggressive behavior including physical and verbal aggression, anger, and hostility. But they also found a strong and significant negative relationship between APD and the mindfulness facets of describing, acting with awareness, and non-judging. That is high APD was associated with low mindfulness. In addition, mindfulness was negatively related to physical aggression, anger, and hostility. This was particularly true for acting with awareness. In other words, the lower the level of mindfulness, particularly acting with awareness, the greater the levels of aggressive behavior.

 

It is interesting that the key component of mindfulness that appears to be deficient in individuals with APD is acting with awareness. This facet involves paying attention to one’s current activities. It’s deficiency in APD implies that these individuals are lacking in awareness of what they are doing while they are doing it. In other words, as they are engaged in hostile, aggressive, and even violent activities, they may be acting without conscious thought. Rather they may be responding reflexively to immediate situations and the emotions produced. This further suggests that training to improve real time awareness of actions may be effective in treating APD.
Personality Disorders in general including APD are notoriously resistant to treatment. So, Velotti and colleagues’ findings are potentially important. They suggest that increasing mindfulness may be a way to treat Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD). Although there have not been controlled clinical trials training individuals with APD in mindfulness, mindfulness training is included in Dialectic Behavior Therapy which has been shown to be helpful with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). There are a number of overlapping characteristics in common to both APD and BPD. So, it is possible that mindfulness training may be important in treating Personality Disorders in general. Obviously more research is needed.

 

It should be kept in mind that Velotti and colleagues obtained their findings with prisoners who were convicted of violent crimes. It will be important to also study non-violent APD patients to determine the general applicability of the results. Regardless, it appears that at least in violent prisoners, that mindfulness, especially acting with awareness, is a clear deficiency in Antisocial Personality Disorder.

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies