Lessen the Frequency and Impact of Obsessional Intrusive Thoughts with Mindfulness

Lessen the Frequency and Impact of Obsessional Intrusive Thoughts with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness is a useful technique for decreasing anxiety because of its emphasis on accepting your thoughts. When an intrusive thought pops up, you let it exist in your mind without providing it any weight. You experience the thought, but don’t judge it, change it or try to make it go away. You wait until it passes instead of thinking it should or shouldn’t be there.” – OCD

 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) sufferer have repetitive anxiety producing intrusive thoughts (obsessions) that result in repetitive behaviors to reduce the anxiety (compulsions). In a typical example of OCD, the individual is concerned about germs and is unable to control the anxiety that these thoughts produce. Their solution is to engage in ritualized behaviors, such as repetitive cleaning or hand washing that for a short time relieves the anxiety. The obsessions and compulsions can become so frequent that they become a dominant theme in their lives. Hence OCD drastically reduces the quality of life and happiness of the sufferer and those around them. About 2% of the population, 3.3 million people, are affected at some time in their life. Mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in treating OCD.

 

Obsessional thoughts are not restricted to those diagnosed with OCD. In fact, many normally functioning individuals have occasional obsessional intrusive thoughts. It is not known if mindfulness affects these thoughts in otherwise high functioning adults. In today’s Research News article “Which Facets of Mindfulness Protect Individuals from the Negative Experiences of Obsessive Intrusive Thoughts?” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6061236/ ), Emerson and colleagues examined the relationships of dispositional mindfulness with obsessional intrusive thoughts in normal adults.

 

They recruited staff, students or alumni of a university and had them complete a number of psychometric scales on-line. These scales measured obsessive compulsive symptoms, obsessional intrusive thoughts, and mindfulness. The relationships among these variables were then explored with univariate and multivariate regression analysis.

 

They found that the higher the individual’s level of dispositional mindfulness the lower the levels of obsessional intrusive thoughts, the less of an emotional reaction they had to them, the less difficulty they had controlling them, the lower the levels of dysfunctional appraisals they engaged in, the fewer the control strategies they applied, and the fewer compulsions they had. In other words, mindfulness predicted significantly lower obsessional intrusive thoughts and lessened reactions to them. They further found that the facets of mindfulness of nonjudgment, nonreactivity and acting with awareness were associated with fewer obsessional intrusive thoughts and less difficulty controlling them. In contrast, the observing facet of mindfulness was associated with a greater number of obsessional intrusive thoughts and more difficulty controlling them.

 

The results suggest that dispositional mindfulness overall tends to counteract obsessional intrusive thoughts in normal adults. This is especially true for acting toward them with awareness, treating them without judgement, and without reacting to them. But, mindfully observing these thoughts by itself tends to heighten them. These results also suggest that mindfulness training might be effective in lessening the frequency of obsessional intrusive thoughts and their effects on the individual.

 

So, lessen the frequency and impact of obsessional intrusive thoughts with mindfulness.

 

“most OCD sufferers I know who practice mindfulness find it very helpful in fighting their disorder. To be able to focus on what is really happening in any given moment, as opposed to dwelling on the past or anticipating the future, takes away the power of OCD.” – Janet Singer

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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Study Summary

 

Emerson, L.-M., Heapy, C., & Garcia-Soriano, G. (2018). Which Facets of Mindfulness Protect Individuals from the Negative Experiences of Obsessive Intrusive Thoughts? Mindfulness, 9(4), 1170–1180. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0854-3

 

Obsessive intrusive thoughts (OITs) are experienced by the majority of the general population, and in their more extreme forms are characteristic of obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). These cognitions are said to exist on a continuum that includes differences in their frequency and associated distress. The key factors that contribute to an increased frequency and distress are how the individual appraises and responds to the OIT. Facets of mindfulness, such as nonjudgment and nonreactivity, offer an alternative approach to OITs than the negative appraisals and commonly utilised control strategies that often contribute to distress. Clarifying the role of facets of mindfulness in relation to these cognitions offers a means to elucidate individual characteristics that may offer protection from distress associated with OITs. A sample of nonclinical individuals (n = 583) completed an online survey that assessed their experiences of OITs, including frequency, emotional reaction and appraisals, and trait mindfulness. The findings from a series of multiple regression analyses confirmed that specific facets of mindfulness relating to acting with awareness and acceptance (nonjudgment and nonreactivity) consistently predicted less frequent and distressing experiences of OITs. In contrast, the observe facet emerged as a consistent predictor of negative experiences of OITs. These findings suggest that acting with awareness and acceptance may confer protective characteristics in relation to OITs, but that the observe facet may reflect a hypervigilance to OITs. Mindfulness-based prevention and intervention for OCD should be tailored to take account of the potential differential effects of increasing specific facets of mindfulness.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6061236/

 

Improve Emotional Reactivity with Yoga

Improve Emotional Reactivity with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“One of the great benefits of our yoga practice is we start to notice our triggers and reactivity, which gives us the choice to respond instead of reacting the same old way.” – Kimber Simpkins

 

Emotions are important to our well-being. They provide the spice of life, the joy, the love, the happiness. But, they can be troubling producing sadness, hurt and fear. They can also be harmful such as the consequences of out of control anger or suicidal depression. We need emotions, but we must find ways to keep them under control. Emotion regulation is the term used to describe the ability to control emotions. It is not eliminating or suppressing them. Far from it, emotion regulation allows for the emotion to be fully felt and experienced. But, it maintains the intensity of the emotion at a manageable level and also produces the ability to respond to the emotion appropriately and constructively. Clearly, emotion regulation is a key to a happier life.

 

Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve emption regulation. So, there is reason to believe that yoga practice may improve emotion regulation. But it is not known the amount of practice needed for maximal effectiveness. In today’s Research News article “Reasons, Years and Frequency of Yoga Practice: Effect on Emotion Response Reactivity.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6039555/ ), Mocanu and colleagues recruited adult yoga practitioners. They were asked about their reasons for engaging in yoga practice, their years of practice and how often per week that they practiced. They were also measured for their difficulties with emotions regulation.

 

The participants’ emotional reactions were measured by presenting them with emotion evoking pictures. They were asked to carefully watch pictures on a computer screen that were rated as evoking negative or positive emotions and were emotionally neutral. The participants responded with ratings of the nature and intensity of their emotions. While the pictures were presented the electrocardiogram (EKG), skin conductance, and respiration were recorded as measures of the participants’ physiological reactions.

 

They found that the more hours of yoga practiced in recent weeks the lower the participants’ self-reported intensity of emotion to both positive and negative pictures and the greater the increase in depth of breathing evoked by positive pictures. They further found that the more years of yoga practice the greater the lower the respiration rate evoked by negative pictures. Finally, the more the participants practiced yoga for mental reasons the greater the increase in the heart rate in response to positive pictures.

 

These results suggest that recent practice of yoga decreases emotional reactions and the more years that they practiced yoga the lower the respiratory response to negative stimuli and the greater the respiratory response to positive stimuli. Hence yoga practice alters both psychological and physiological responses to stimuli that evoke emotions. This implies that yoga practice alters emotional reactivity in the practitioners perhaps damping the bad feelings produced by negative emotions while enhancing reactions to positive stimuli. This indicates that yoga practice, like other mindfulness practices, can alter emotional reactivity.

 

So, improve emotional reactivity with yoga.

 

“Studies have shown that doing yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system, lowering the heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure. Cortisol levels drop (the hormone secreted by the adrenal glands in response to stress) and the pituitary gland secretes oxytocin and prolactin—the “cuddle” hormones responsible for feelings of love.” – Kripalu

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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Study Summary

 

Mocanu, E., Mohr, C., Pouyan, N., Thuillard, S., & Dan-Glauser, E. S. (2018). Reasons, Years and Frequency of Yoga Practice: Effect on Emotion Response Reactivity. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 12, 264. http://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2018.00264

 

Abstract

Yoga practice, even in the short term, is supposed to enhance wellbeing and counteract psychopathology through modification of emotion reactivity. Yoga teaches that emotional responses may be less pronounced with longer and more frequent practice, and potentially when people perform yoga for mental rather than physical reasons. We tested 36 yoga practitioners of varying experience (between 6 months and 11 years of practice). We assessed participants’ self-reported emotional experience and peripheral physiological reactions (heart rate, skin conductance, respiration) when seeing positive and negative pictures. Results were analyzed as a function of the years of, frequency of, and reasons for yoga practice. We found a heart rate increase with the degree participants performed yoga for mental reasons. In addition, years of yoga practice were significantly associated with reduced abdominal respiratory rate when facing negative pictures, speaking in favor of reduced arousal with yoga experience. Finally, regarding frequency of practice, a higher frequency in the last month was linked to less negative and positive experiences as well as a reduced abdominal respiratory amplitude when viewing positive pictures. Altogether, these results demonstrate that intense short-term yoga practice might relate to a (i) decrease in the intensity of self-reported emotional experiences and (ii) deepened respiration. Short-term effects might be shaped by what participants expect as practice benefits. However, several years of practice might be needed to decrease respiratory arousal in the face of negative situations, which likely is a manifestation of an evolution in the emotion regulation process.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6039555/

 

Mindfulness Improves Psychological and Physical Health in South Africans

Mindfulness Improves Psychological and Physical Health in South Africans

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) can be seen as a public health intervention, designed to over time move the bell curve of society as a whole toward greater health.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. Techniques such as Mindfulness Training, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) as well as Yoga practice and Tai Chi or Qigong practice have been demonstrated to be effective. This has led to an increasing adoption of these mindfulness techniques for the health and well-being of both healthy and ill individuals. Although these benefits have been well established in western populations, there is a need to demonstrate that these same benefits accrue across cultures.

 

In today’s Research News article “Examining the impact of a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction intervention on the health of urban South Africans.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6018653/ ), Whitesman and colleagues performed a retrospective analysis of South African participants in an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. MBSR was delivered in weekly 2.5-hour sessions accompanied with home practice. It consisted of meditation, yoga, and body scan practices and group discussion. The participants were measured before and after treatment for mindfulness, perceived stress, positive and negative emotions, and medical and psychological symptoms.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline, after the MBSR program there were significant increases in mindfulness and positive emotions, and significant decreases in perceived stress, negative emotions, medical symptoms, and psychological symptoms. They also found that the greater the increase in mindfulness scores after the MBSR program the higher the scores for positive emotions and the lower the levels of perceived stress, negative emotions, medical symptoms, and psychological symptoms. So, mindfulness training improved mental and physical health in participants from South Africa and the great the improvement in mindfulness the greater the benefits.

 

This study did not contain a control condition and was thus subject to contamination and potential confounding. But, similar results have been repeated found with randomized clinical trials employing MBSR. So, it is unlikely that bias and confounding are responsible. In addition, the current study simply demonstrated that training is similarly effective in people from a different culture. This suggests that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a safe and effective program for the enhancement of mental and physical well-being in diverse populations of participants.

 

So, it appears that mindfulness improves psychological and physical health in South Africans.

 

mindfulness practices may help people manage stress, cope better with serious illness and reduce anxiety and depression. Many people who practice mindfulness report an increased ability to relax, a greater enthusiasm for life and improved self-esteem.” – NIH News

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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Study Summary

 

Whitesman, S. L., Hoogenhout, M., Kantor, L., Leinberger, K. J., & Gevers, A. (2018). Examining the impact of a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction intervention on the health of urban South Africans. African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine, 10(1), 1614. http://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v10i1.1614

 

Abstract

Background

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) has been found to have significant health benefits in studies conducted in the global North.

Aim

This study examined the effects of MBSR on stress, mood states and medical symptoms among urban South Africans to inform future research and clinical directions of MBSR in local settings.

Setting

Participants completed an 8-week MBSR programme based in central Cape Town.

Method

A retrospective analysis of 276 clinical records was conducted. Mindfulness, stress, negative and positive mood, medical symptoms and psychological symptoms were assessed before and after the intervention using self-report questionnaires. We compared pre and post-intervention scores and examined the relationship between changes in mindfulness and changes in stress, mood and medical symptoms.

Results

Mindfulness scores were significantly higher after intervention, both on the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS) and the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS). Changes on the KIMS were associated with reductions in stress, negative mood, psychological symptoms and total medical symptoms, and improvement in positive mood. Changes in mindfulness, as measured by the MAAS, were significantly correlated only with reduced total number of medical symptoms.

Conclusion

This study provides preliminary evidence for the positive health impact of MBSR on urban South Africans, and in turn acceptability and feasibility evidence for MBSR in South Africa and supports the case for larger trials in different local settings.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6018653/

 

Improve Caregivers Emotion Regulation with Mindfulness

Improve Caregivers Emotion Regulation with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Caregivers have a habit of neglecting their own wellbeing for their patients’ sakes. Some caregivers even believe taking a few minutes out of the day to practice mindfulness is “selfish.” Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, taking a few minutes to practice mindfulness everyday will improve the quality of care you can give to your patient. It should be mandatory that all caregivers practice some form of mindfulness today” – Caregiver Space

 

There is a tremendous demand for caregiving in the US. It is estimated that over 65 million (29% of the adult population) provides care to someone who is mentally or physically ill, disabled or aged, averaging 20 hours per week spent caring for their loved ones. This caregiving comes at a cost to the caregiver. It exacts a tremendous toll on caregivers’ health and well-being. Caregiving has been associated with increased levels of depression and anxiety as well as higher use of psychoactive medications, poorer self-reported physical health, compromised immune function, and increased mortality.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be beneficial for both the caregiver and the patients. But, this is reactive, working with already stressed caregivers. It is important to be able to be proactive and better prepare caregivers to withstand the difficulties and stress of caregiving and provide better care for patients. In today’s Research News article “Developing professional caregivers’ empathy and emotional competencies through mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR): results of two proof-of-concept studies.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5781061/ ), Lamothe and colleagues investigate the effects of mindfulness training on the emotion regulation ability of psychology students and professional caregivers.

 

They recruited psychology students in a university and professional caregivers in a pediatric hematology-oncology unit of a hospital. They were provided a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. The MBSR program was presented for 2 hours, once a week, for 8 weeks with 30-minute daily home practice. It consisted of discussion and meditation, body scan, and yoga practices. They were measured before and after the program and 3 months later for mindfulness, empathy, emotional competencies, recognition of emotions in others, emotional acceptance, and emotion regulation.

 

They found that in both groups there were large increases in mindfulness that were maintained 3 month later. In addition, they found that there were significant improvements after training in empathy, emotional competencies, recognition of emotions in others, identification of emotions in others, emotional acceptance, and emotion regulation, with the exception that the caregivers change in recognition of emotions in others was not statistically significant. At the 3-month follow-up they found that there were still significant improvements in identifying emotions and emotional acceptance.

 

These results are preliminary as there wasn’t a comparison, control, condition. As such, they are interpreted as a proof of concept. To reach firm conclusions a randomized controlled clinical trial with an active control condition is necessary. The results are interesting and powerful enough that such an extensive study is warranted. Nevertheless, the results provide preliminary evidence that mindfulness training improves the emotional competences of both students and professional caregivers. This suggests that mindfulness training can be used both for practicing caregivers and those in training. Hence, mindfulness training may be helpful both reactively and proactively to promote the emotional health of the caregivers and, in turn, provide better care.

 

So, improve caregivers emotion regulation with mindfulness.

 

“mindfulness practices can help both caregivers and their loved ones maintain their emotional well-being. This is important for two reasons. First, strong emotional well-being is a good defense against such stress-related problems as depression and anxiety. Second, emotional well-being supports the resiliency that makes a person’s life not just tolerable, but enjoyable and meaningful: restful sleep, invigorating exercise, healthful food and some form of spiritual or emotional nourishment.” – Adam Perlman

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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Study Summary

 

Lamothe, M., McDuff, P., Pastore, Y. D., Duval, M., & Sultan, S. (2018). Developing professional caregivers’ empathy and emotional competencies through mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR): results of two proof-of-concept studies. BMJ Open, 8(1), e018421. http://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2017-018421

 

Abstract

Objectives

To assess the feasibility and acceptability of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)-based intervention and determine if the intervention is associated with a significant signal on empathy and emotional competencies.

Design

Two pre–post proof-of-concept studies.

Setting

Participants were recruited at the University of Montreal’s Psychology Department (Study 1) and the CHU Sainte-Justine Department of Hematology-Oncology (Study 2).

Participants

Study 1: 12 students completed the 8-week programme (mean age 24, range 18–34). Study 2: 25 professionals completed the 8-week programme (mean age 48, range 27–63).

Intervention

Standard MBSR programme including 8-week mindfulness programme consisting of 8 consecutive weekly 2-hour sessions and a full-day silent retreat.

Outcomes measures

Mindfulness as measured by the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale; empathy as measured by the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI)’s Perspective Taking and Empathic Concern subscales; identification of one’s own emotions and those of others as measured by the Profile of Emotional Competence (PEC)’s Identify my Emotions and Identify Others’ Emotions subscales; emotional acceptance as measured by the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-II (AAQ-II) and the Emotion Regulation Scale (ERQ)’s Expressive Suppression subscale; and recognition of emotions in others as measured by the Geneva Emotion Recognition Test (GERT).

Results

In both studies, retention rates (80%–81%) were acceptable. Participants who completed the programme improved on all measures except the PEC’s Identify Others’ Emotions and the IRI’s Empathic Concern (Cohen’s d median=0.92, range 45–1.72). In Study 2, favourable effects associated with the programme were maintained over 3 months on the PEC’s Identify my Emotions, the AAQ-II, the ERQ’s Expressive Suppression and the GERT.

Conclusions

The programme was feasible and acceptable. It was associated with a significant signal on the following outcomes: perspective taking, the identification of one’s own emotions and emotional acceptance, thus, justifying moving towards efficacy trials using these outcomes.

The programme was feasible and acceptable. It was associated with a significant signal on the following outcomes: perspective taking, the identification of one’s own emotions and emotional acceptance, thus, justifying moving towards efficacy trials using these outcomes.

 

Strengths and limitations of this study

Two feasibility studies of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)-based intervention in students and professionals had high attendance rates and acceptability levels.

Results suggested a significant clinical signal on most measured outcomes in the domains of emotion regulation and empathy, with effects lasting at follow-up for identification of one’s own emotions and emotional acceptance.

The same pattern of results was obtained in two independent small-scale studies.

A limitation to theses studies is that samples were not randomly selected, had limited size, and no control groups were used.

Another limitation is that most outcomes were self-reported and could be subject to desirability bias.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5781061/

 

Improve Health Message Effectiveness with Mindfulness

Improve Health Message Effectiveness with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Individuals may benefit from cultivating mindful attention when processing potentially threatening yet beneficial health information. It’s possible that incorporating mindfulness cultivation into existing intervention strategies can promote more widespread positive health behavior.” – Yoona Kang

 

Health professionals know that lifestyle is a major contributor to health and alternatively disease. In an attempt to help alter lifestyles to promote health a frequent tactic is education; promoting positive behaviors with health messaging. Unfortunately, health messages are often met with defensiveness. They can be threatening and or induce shame in the targeted individual and thereby become counterproductive. So, it is important to develop methodologies to make health messaging less negative and more effective.

 

Mindfulness has been shown to reduce the emotional responding to a myriad of stimuli. It is therefore possible that mindfulness may improve the effectiveness of health messages.  In today’s Research News article “Dispositional Mindfulness Predicts Adaptive Affective Responses to Health Messages and Increased Exercise Motivation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5363856/ ), Kang and colleagues examine the ability of mindfulness to improve the ability of health messages to promote physical exercise.

 

They recruited relatively inactive healthy adults who came to the laboratory on three occasions. In the first visit they were measured for body size, mindfulness, exercise motivation, physical activity, and depression. For the next week they wore an accelerometer to measure their physical activity and reported to the laboratory for their second visit. At this visit they received a health message regarding the negative health consequences of a sedentary lifestyle, the benefits of exercise and ideas on how to incorporate exercise into their lives. They were also measured for positive and negative affect and exercise motivation. Over the next month they continued to wear the accelerometer and received daily health messages by text. They then reported to the lab for their third visit where they turned in their accelerometers and completed self-report measures of exercise motivation and physical activity.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness that the participants had, the lower the levels of negative emotions and feelings of shame. They also found that the higher the levels of mindfulness at the beginning of the study, the greater the levels of exercise motivation after the health messaging. They then investigated mediation for the effects of mindfulness on the effectiveness of the health messaging on exercise motivation after the month and found that mindfulness was associated with increased exercise motivation directly and indirectly by being associated with decreased negative emotions which, in turn were associated with reduced exercise motivation. In addition, they found that mindfulness was associated with increased exercise motivation directly and indirectly by being associated with decreased shame which in turn were associated with reduced exercise motivation. So, the effectiveness of the health messaging in increasing the participants motivation to engage in exercise was to some extent dependent upon their levels of mindfulness. Mindfulness appeared to work directly on exercise motivation and indirectly by reducing negative emotions and shame which were deterrents to being receptive to the messaging.

 

It should be kept in mind that this study was correlational, so causation cannot be determined. In addition, there wasn’t a no-health-messaging control condition, so the effects of potential bias and contaminants cannot be assessed. But, this study suggests that further research using more controlled conditions and manipulation of mindfulness with training is warranted. In order to make health messages effective in changing behavior, it may be necessary to combine the messaging with mindfulness exercises.

 

So, improve health message effectiveness with mindfulness.

 

“When you aren’t focused on what you’re doing, you may lose that sense of satisfaction for a job well done and, not only that, your workouts may not be as effective. Think about it; when you’re in a rush to be done, how careful are you with your form? If you added more focus to your workouts, more mindfulness to your exercises, you might get more out of them than you think.” – Paige Wehner

 

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

 

Kang, Y., O’Donnell, M. B., Strecher, V. J., & Falk, E. B. (2017). Dispositional Mindfulness Predicts Adaptive Affective Responses to Health Messages and Increased Exercise Motivation. Mindfulness, 8(2), 387–397. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0608-7

Abstract

Feelings can shape how people respond to persuasive messages. In health communication, adaptive affective responses to potentially threating messages constitute one key to intervention success. The current study tested dispositional mindfulness, characterized by awareness of the present moment, as a predictor of adaptive affective responses to potentially threatening health messages and desirable subsequent health outcomes. Both general and discrete negative affective states (i.e., shame) were examined in relation to mindfulness and intervention success. Individuals (n=67) who reported less than 195 weekly minutes of exercise were recruited. At baseline, participants’ dispositional mindfulness and exercise outcomes were assessed, including self-reported exercise motivation and physical activity. A week later, all participants were presented with potentially threatening and self-relevant health messages encouraging physical activity and discouraging sedentary lifestyle, and their subsequent affective response and exercise motivation were assessed. Approximately one month later, changes in exercise motivation and physical activity were assessed again. In addition, participants’ level of daily physical activity was monitored by a wrist worn accelerometer throughout the entire duration of the study. Higher dispositional mindfulness predicted greater increases in exercise motivation one month after the intervention. Importantly, this effect was fully mediated by lower negative affect and shame specifically, in response to potentially threatening health messages among highly mindful individuals. Baseline mindfulness was also associated with increased self-reported vigorous activity, but not with daily physical activity as assessed by accelerometers. These findings suggest potential benefits of considering mindfulness as an active individual difference variable in theories of affective processing and health communication.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5363856/

 

Decrease Adolescent Emotional Problems with Mindful Parenting

Decrease Adolescent Emotional Problems with Mindful Parenting

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“As parents, perhaps the most precious thing we can give our children is the gift of our full presence, in the moment. This is the deep intention and invitation for parents as they make space for mindfulness practice in their lives. Mindful parenting takes to heart the deep truth that we can only give to our children what we have given first and fundamentally to ourselves.” – Lisa Kring

 

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. They are often affected more by peers, for good or evil, than by parents. It is the parents challenge to control themselves, not overreact, and act appropriately in the face of strong emotions. Meeting these challenges becomes more and more important with adolescents, as here are the greatest struggles for independence and the potential for damaging behaviors, particularly, alcohol, drugs, and sexual 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.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Indirect Path From Mindful Parenting to Emotional Problems in Adolescents: The Role of Maternal Warmth and Adolescents’ Mindfulness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00546/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_613817_69_Psycho_20180424_arts_A ), Wang and colleagues recruited mothers of 11-14 year old children. The mothers completed a scale measuring mindful parenting, while the children completed scales measuring mindfulness, maternal warmth, and emotional difficulties.

 

A regression analysis found that there was a significant indirect path from mindful parenting and the children’s emotional problems, such that high levels of mindful parenting were associated with high levels of maternal warmth which were in turn associated with high levels of children’s mindfulness which were in turn associated with low levels of children’s emotional problems. So, mindful parenting was not associated with less emotional problems in the children directly, but indirectly through associations with maternal warmth and the children’s levels of mindfulness. This underscores the importance of the child’s mindfulness for improving emotional health and the effect of the mother’s mindful parenting on the child’s mindfulness.

 

It should be kept in mind that these results are correlative and causation cannot be concluded. But the results support the idea that mindful parenting is important for the emotional development of the children by improving the child’s perception of the warmth of the mother and in turn the child’s mindfulness. Future research should train mothers in mindful parenting and examine the effects on the children’s mental health.

 

So, decrease adolescent emotional problems with mindful parenting.

 

“Managing our own emotions and behaviors is the key to teaching kids how to manage theirs. It is the reason airlines tell us to put our oxygen masks on before you can put on your child’s mask. You need to be regulated before you can model regulation for your child. “– Jill Ceder

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Wang Y, Liang Y, Fan L, Lin K, Xie X, Pan J and Zhou H (2018) The Indirect Path From Mindful Parenting to Emotional Problems in Adolescents: The Role of Maternal Warmth and Adolescents’ Mindfulness. Front. Psychol. 9:546. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00546

 

Mindfulness has been demonstrated to have positive effects on children’s emotional functioning, and adaptive parenting practices are associated with fewer emotional problems. However, the association between mindful parenting and adolescent emotional problems has not been studied much. In the current study, the indirect path from mindful parenting to adolescent emotional problems was examined, with maternal warmth and adolescent dispositional mindfulness as potential mediators. A sample of 168 mother–child dyads participated in this study. A serial indirect effects model showed mother’s mindful parenting could decrease adolescent emotional problems through adolescent’s perceived maternal warmth and their dispositional mindfulness. Findings of this study imply that intervention in mindful parenting may have benefits for adolescents’ emotional problems through enhancing maternal warmth and children’s trait mindfulness.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00546/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_613817_69_Psycho_20180424_arts_A

Mindful People Better Regulate Their Emotions

Mindful People Better Regulate Their Emotions

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

“With MM training or practice (even a little practice has been shown to make a difference), we become more able to allow disturbing emotions and thoughts to pass through awareness. We develop the ability to NOT act or react to every emotion or thought we have.” – Timothy Pychyl

 

Mindfulness practice has been shown to improve emotion regulation. Practitioners demonstrate the ability to fully sense and experience emotions, but respond to them in more appropriate and adaptive ways. In other words, mindful people are better able to experience yet control their responses to emotions. This is a very important consequence of mindfulness. Humans are very emotional creatures and these emotions can be very pleasant, providing the spice of life. But, when they get extreme they can produce misery and even mental illness. The ability of mindfulness training to improve emotion regulation is thought to be the basis for a wide variety of benefits that mindfulness provides to mental health and the treatment of mental illness especially depression and anxiety disorders.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Dampens Cardiac Responses to Motion Scenes of Violence.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5866822/ ), Brzozowski and colleagues examine the relationship of mindfulness with the ability of college students to regulate emotional responses to viewing a violent video.

 

In the first experiment they had the students complete a mindfulness scale and then view a 5-minute violent video. Afterwards they were measured for positive and negative emotions and arousal. They found that students high in mindfulness experienced the film less negatively. In the second experiment the students completed mindfulness and anxiety scales and were measured with and electrocardiogram (ECG) for cardiovascular activity, before, during, and after viewing the 5-minute violent video. They found that students high in mindfulness had lower heart rates before watching the clip, had lower heart rate increases during the clip, and reduced their heart rates to baseline levels faster after the clip.

 

This is a laboratory correlational study and as such is artificial, not necessarily representative of responses to emotions in everyday contexts. It also limits causal conclusions. In addition, there wasn’t a control comparison condition so it cannot be concluded that the recorded responses were due to watching violence or the reactivity to engaging in a scientific study in a laboratory. Nevertheless, the results suggest that mindful individuals have smaller negative emotional responses and less cardiovascular reactivity to watching a violent video. This suggests that mindfulness improves both psychological and physiological responses to viewing violence. Hence, it appears that mindfulness is associated with improved emotion regulation. It remains for future research to examine causation by actively training mindfulness, having a comparison condition, and making the situation more like real life.

 

But, it can be tentatively concluded that mindful people better regulate their emotions.

 

“So rather than getting rid of emotional experience altogether, . . . we can prevent or limit the disruptive aspects of emotions, like rumination. And this can be done by monitoring your thoughts and sensations, but also by adopting a non-judgmental attitude towards them.” – Emily Nauman

 

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

 

Brzozowski, A., Gillespie, S. M., Dixon, L., & Mitchell, I. J. (2018). Mindfulness Dampens Cardiac Responses to Motion Scenes of Violence. Mindfulness, 9(2), 575–584. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0799-6

 

Abstract

Mindfulness is linked with improved regulatory processes of attention and emotion. The potential benefits of mindfulness are vast, including more positive emotional states and diminished arousal in response to emotional stimuli. This study aims to expand of the current knowledge of the mechanisms of mindfulness by relating the latter to cardiovascular processes. The paper describes two studies which investigated the relationship of trait mindfulness to self-report measures of emotions elicited during a violent video clip and cardiovascular responses to the clip. Both studies recruited male and female participants, mainly university undergraduate students. The clip was 5-min-long and evoked mainly feelings of tension and disgust. In study 1, we found that higher scores for trait mindfulness were associated with increased scores for valence (r = .370, p = .009), indicating a more positive interpretation of the clip. In study 2, the average heart rate during the clip was lower than during the preceding (p < .05) and following (p < .01) non-exposure conditions. Higher trait mindfulness was related to diminished heart rate reactivity (r = −.364, p = .044) and recovery (r = −.415, p = .020). This latter effect was obtained only when trait anxiety was used as a statistical covariate. Additionally, increased trait mindfulness was accompanied by higher resting heart rate (r = .390, p = .027). These outcomes suggest that mindfulness is linked with reductions in negative feelings evoked by violent motion stimuli.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5866822/

 

Improve Enjoyment of Exercise with Mindfulness

Improve Enjoyment of Exercise with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Kick your boring treadmill cardio up a notch with mindfulness! Practicing mindfulness while on the treadmill doubles your cardio’s health benefits without any extra work or time.” – Justin Vict

 

There are clearly established benefits to regular exercise for the health and well-being of the individual. But many people find exercise aversive and as a result do not exercise. In fact, the number of people who exercise regularly has been declining over the last few decades, while at the same time, the understanding of the health benefits of exercise has been increasing. It has been estimated that only about 20% of adults meet minimal criteria of engagement in aerobic activity. Hence, there in order to improve the health of the population, method need to be discovered to help motivate people to exercise.

 

Mindfulness practices have been shown to heighten the enjoyment of many activities and heighten positive emotional experiences and lower aversive emotional experiences. It is reasonable to expect, then, that training in mindfulness would increase the enjoyment of exercise and reduce the aversion to exercise. This would make it more likely that exercise averse people would begin and sustain an exercise program. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness and Affective Responses to Treadmill Walking in Individuals with Low Intrinsic Motivation to Exercise.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5841682/ ), Cox and colleagues examined the effects of mindfulness instructions on participants’ feelings while exercising.

 

They recruited college students between the ages of 18 to 35 years who either engaged in no or moderate physical activity and who had low motivation to exercise. They participated in 3 30-minute sessions. In the first they performed a progressive walking exercise on a treadmill designed to bring their heart rate to 65% of their maximum heart rate for 10 minutes. In the 2nd and 3rd sessions they engaged in identical sessions while in the 3rd they also listened to a recorded mindfulness script. The script was designed to bring attention to the physical experience of walking on a treadmill during the 10-minute target heart rate period. Measurements were taken before during and after the exercise of feelings of pleasure and displeasure and perceived exertion.

 

They found that when the participants were exercising while listening to a mindfulness script their emotions were significantly more positive and their attention significantly more focused than when simply exercising. Hence, the mindfulness condition resulted in a better exercise experience for individuals who do not enjoy exercise; they had more positive feelings and were more attentive to the exercise. This suggests that mindfulness may be of assistance in motivating exercise averse people to engage in exercise. Future research should explore the long-term effects of mindfulness training on the likelihood of engaging in exercise and sustaining  participation.

 

So, improve enjoyment of exercise with mindfulness.

 

“Adding a practice of mindfulness to your workouts not only takes the dread out of exercise, but increases your connection to your body and the wisdom it has to offer.” – Sandra Pawula

 

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

 

Cox, A. E., Roberts, M. A., Cates, H. L., & Mcmahon, A. K. (2018). Mindfulness and Affective Responses to Treadmill Walking in Individuals with Low Intrinsic Motivation to Exercise. International Journal of Exercise Science, 11(5), 609–624.

 

Abstract

An aversion to the sensations of physical exertion can deter engagement in physical activity. This is due in part to an associative focus in which individuals are attending to uncomfortable interoceptive cues. The purpose of this study was to test the effect of mindfulness on affective valence, ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), and enjoyment during treadmill walking. Participants (N=23; Mage=19.26, SD = 1.14) were only included in the study if they engaged in no more than moderate levels of physical activity and reported low levels of intrinsic motivation. They completed three testing sessions including a habituation session to determine the grade needed to achieve 65% of heart rate reserve (HRR); a control condition in which they walked at 65% of HRR for 10 minutes and an experimental condition during which they listened to a mindfulness track that directed them to attend to the physical sensations of their body in a nonjudgmental manner during the 10-minute walk. ANOVA results showed that in the mindfulness condition, affective valence was significantly more positive (p = .02, ηp2 = .22), enjoyment and mindfulness of the body were higher (p < .001, ηp2 = .36 and .40, respectively), attentional focus was more associative (p < .001, ηp2 =.67) and RPE was minimally lower (p = .06, ηp2 =.15). Higher mindfulness of the body was moderately associated with higher enjoyment (p < .05, r =.44) in the mindfulness but not the control condition. Results suggest that mindfulness during exercise is associated with more positive affective responses.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5841682/

 

Be Mindful for Improved Psychological Health

Be Mindful for Improved Psychological Health

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

We’ve seen this in the clinical domain for many years. People, in concert with their physicians… actually going off their medications for pain, for anxiety, for depression, as they begin to learn the self-regulatory elements of mindfulness. They discover that the things that used to be symptomatically problematic for them are no longer arising at the same level.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

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

 

In fact, the degree of mindfulness, inherent in the individual, without training, known as dispositional mindfulness, has been shown to be associated with the degree of mental and physical health. In today’s Research News article “Dispositional Mindfulness and Psychological Health: a Systematic Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5770488/ ), Tomlinson and colleagues review and summarize the published scientific research regarding the relationship of dispositional mindfulness to psychological health. They identified 93 research studies that found three different areas of relationship.

 

They report that the published research found that dispositional mindfulness was associated with improved psychopathological symptoms. The published research report that the higher the individuals’ levels of dispositional mindfulness the lower the levels of depression, anxiety, disordered eating, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and Borderline Personality Disorder (DPD) symptoms.

 

They report that the published research found that dispositional mindfulness was associated with improved cognitive performance. It was found that that the higher the individuals’ levels of dispositional mindfulness the lower the levels of avoidant coping strategies e.g. procrastination, rumination, impulsivity, catastrophizing and neuroticism, and the higher the levels of executive function (high level thinking).

 

Finally, they report that dispositional mindfulness was associated with improved emotional control. It was reported that the higher the individuals’ levels of dispositional mindfulness the lower the levels of perceived stress, emotional distress, and higher levels of emotion regulation, emotional stability, psychological well-being, and recovery following stressful conditions.

 

This review of the published research suggests that being generally mindful (dispositional mindfulness) is associated with psychological health and well-being. The problem with dispositional characteristics is that they cannot be manipulated as they are relatively stable characteristics of the individual. They can only be correlated with other characteristics. As such, it is impossible to conclude causal relationships between dispositional mindfulness and psychological health. It is equally likely that psychological health produces dispositional mindfulness, that dispositional mindfulness produces psychological health, or that a third factor causes both.

 

Manipulative research, producing changes in the short-term state of mindfulness, however, demonstrates that increases in mindfulness cause improvements in psychological well-being. So, it is likely that the observed relationships of dispositional mindfulness and psychological health are the result of dispositional mindfulness causing improved emotional and cognitive function and thereby reduced psychopathology and improved mental health.

 

So, be mindful for improved psychological health.

 

“A great deal of research has documented physical health benefits of mindfulness, such as an improved immune system, lower blood pressure, and better sleep. Mindfulness has also been linked to mental health benefits, such as reduced stress and anxiety, and improved concentration and focus, less emotional reactivity.” – American Psychiatric Association

 

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

 

Eve R. Tomlinson, Omar Yousaf, Axel D. Vittersø, Lauraine Jones. Dispositional Mindfulness and Psychological Health: a Systematic Review. Mindfulness (N Y) 2018; 9(1): 23–43. Published online 2017 Jul 1. doi: 10.1007/s12671-017-0762-6

 

Abstract

Interest in the influence of dispositional mindfulness (DM) on psychological health has been gathering pace over recent years. Despite this, a systematic review of this topic has not been conducted. A systematic review can benefit the field by identifying the terminology and measures used by researchers and by highlighting methodological weaknesses and empirical gaps. We systematically reviewed non-interventional, quantitative papers on DM and psychological health in non-clinical samples published in English up to June 2016, following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. A literature search was conducted using PsycINFO, PubMED, Medline and Embase, and 93 papers met the inclusion criteria. Within these, three main themes emerged, depicting the relationship between DM and psychological health: (1) DM appears to be inversely related to psychopathological symptoms such as depressive symptoms, (2) DM is positively linked to adaptive cognitive processes such as less rumination and pain catastrophizing and (3) DM appears to be associated with better emotional processing and regulation. These themes informed the creation of a taxonomy. We conclude that research has consistently shown a positive relationship between DM and psychological health. Suggestions for future research and conceptual and methodological limitations within the field are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5770488/

Improve Brain Processing of Emotional Stimuli with Mindfulness

Improve Brain Processing of Emotional Stimuli with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“If you’re a naturally mindful person, and you’re walking around very aware of things, you’re good to go. You shed your emotions quickly,” Moser said. “If you’re not naturally mindful, then meditating can make you look like a person who walks around with a lot of mindfulness.” – Jason Moser

 

The nervous system is a dynamic entity, constantly changing and adapting to the environment. It will change size, activity, and connectivity in response to experience. These changes in the brain are called neuroplasticity. Over the last decade neuroscience has been studying the effects of contemplative practices on the brain and has identified neuroplastic changes in widespread areas. In other words, mindfulness practices appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits.

 

Mindfulness practice has been shown to improve emotion regulation. Practitioners demonstrate the ability to fully sense and experience emotions, but respond to them in more appropriate and adaptive ways. In other words, mindful people are better able to experience yet control their responses to emotions. This is a very important consequence of mindfulness. Humans are very emotional creatures and these emotions can be very pleasant, providing the spice of life. But, when they get extreme they can produce misery and even mental illness. The ability of mindfulness training to improve emotion regulation is thought to be the basis for a wide variety of benefits that mindfulness provides to mental health and the treatment of mental illness especially depression and anxiety disorders.

 

One way to measure emotional responses is to record brain activity with the electroencephalogram (EEG) that occurs in response to visual stimuli that reliably evoke emotional responses. In particular, the late positive potential (LPP) response in the EEG is a positive going electrical response to an emotion laden picture that occurs between 0.3 to 0.6 seconds following stimulus presentation. The LPP response has been associated with the presence of emotional information. As such, these electrical responses can be used to measure the brains response to emotional laden stimuli and can perhaps measure brain process of emotion regulation. It may be that simply being a mindful individual may be associated with different processing of emotional stimuli by the brain and this can be seen in the LPP response.

 

In today’s Research News article “Dispositional mindfulness and the attenuation of neural responses to emotional stimuli.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3541486/ ), Brown and colleagues recruited college students and measured their enduring levels of mindfulness (trait mindfulness), attentional control, neuroticism, and levels of positive and negative emotions. They measured the electroencephalogram (EEG) changes in the students that occurred in response to pictures that evoked pleasant or unpleasant emotions at a high level (e.g. skydiving, erotica, vs. mutilations) or at a low level (e.g. flowers vs. pollution).

 

They found, confirming prior research, that the late positive potential (LPP) response in the EEG was larger after pictures that evoked strong emotions regardless of whether they were pleasant or unpleasant than after pictures that evoked weak emotions. Importantly, they found that the trait mindfulness of the participants modulated the response. Students high in mindfulness had smaller LPP responses to images that evoked strong emotions both pleasant and unpleasant than low mindfulness students. Hence, mindfulness was shown to lessen the brains response to emotion laden stimuli.

 

This is interesting research that suggests that mindfulness changes the brains processing of emotional stimuli, reducing the strength of the response. The LPP is indicative of the very early stage of brain processing of emotional material. So, the results suggest that the brains of mindful people improve their ability to regulate their emotions and that this occurs at a very early stage of neural processing. It reduces the magnitude of the initial response to emotions. This may make difficult or extreme emotion easier to handle.

 

So, improve brain processing of emotional stimuli with mindfulness.

 

“The impact that mindfulness exerts on our brain is borne from routine: a slow, steady, and consistent reckoning of our realities, and the ability to take a step back, become more aware, more accepting, less judgmental, and less reactive. Just as playing the piano over and over again over time strengthens and supports brain networks involved with playing music, mindfulness over time can make the brain, and thus, us, more efficient regulators, with a penchant for pausing to respond to our worlds instead of mindlessly reacting.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Brown, K. W., Goodman, R. J., & Inzlicht, M. (2013). Dispositional mindfulness and the attenuation of neural responses to emotional stimuli. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 8(1), 93–99. http://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nss004

 

Abstract

Considerable research has disclosed how cognitive reappraisals and the modulation of emotional responses promote successful emotion regulation. Less research has examined how the early processing of emotion-relevant stimuli may create divergent emotional response consequences. Mindfulness—a receptive, non-evaluative form of attention—is theorized to foster emotion regulation, and the present study examined whether individual differences in mindfulness would modulate neural responses associated with the early processing of affective stimuli. Focus was on the late positive potential (LPP) of the event-related brain potential to visual stimuli varying in emotional valence and arousal. This study first found, replicating past research, that high arousal images, particularly of an unpleasant type, elicited larger LPP responses. Second, the study found that more mindful individuals showed lower LPP responses to high arousal unpleasant images, even after controlling for trait attentional control. Conversely, two traits contrasting with mindfulness—neuroticism and negative affectivity—were associated with higher LPP responses to high arousal unpleasant images. Finally, mindfulness was also associated with lower LPP responses to motivationally salient pleasant images (erotica). These findings suggest that mindfulness modulates neural responses in an early phase of affective processing, and contribute to understanding how this quality of attention may promote healthy emotional functioning.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3541486/