Yoga Practice Improves Mood and Spirituality Regardless of Physical or Spiritual Instruction

Yoga Practice Improves Mood and Spirituality Regardless of Physical or Spiritual Instruction

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The word yoga means to join or unite, and yogis view this unison in different ways – the unison of body, mind and spirit, uniting all the aspects of yourself, or uniting with a higher power or spiritual force.” – DoYou

 

Yoga developed in India millennia ago as a deep spiritual practice. It developed as a contemplative practice that unified body and mind. Yoga was known to have physical benefits, but the most important benefit was seen to be spiritual development. But as yoga emerged and was practiced in the west it was secularized. This was for good reason, as western society was not ready to accept an ancient eastern spiritual practice.

 

There are many forms of yoga and many practitioners who are focused on the spiritual aspects of yoga. But, to the vast majority of westerner’s yoga is an exercise for physical fitness. It is a means to mold the body to look good, as a health promoting practice, and as a strategy to help lose weight. These are good and reasonable goals. But they have replaced the spiritual development originally promoted by yoga. As Jon Kabat-Zinn has remarked, ‘there is the potential for something priceless to be lost.’

 

It may be speculated that the instructions provided with yoga training may produce different effects on the physical and spiritual benefits. In today’s Research News article “Verbal Cuing Is Not the Path to Enlightenment. Psychological Effects of a 10-Session Hatha Yoga Practice.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01375/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1373328_69_Psycho_20200709_arts_A) Csala and colleagues recruited female college students with no previous experience with yoga and randomly assigned them to receive 10 weekly 1.5 hour training sessions in Hatha yoga designated either as “Sport” yoga or “Spiritual” yoga or to a no treatment control condition. The “Sport” yoga and “Spiritual” yoga  only differed in instructions. The “Sport” yoga group was instructed with an emphasis on the physical aspects of yoga (e.g., correct position, muscles involved). The “Spiritual” yoga group was instructed with an emphasis on the spiritual aspects of yoga (e.g. energetic body and blockages, chakras, meditations etc.). They were measured before and after training for body awareness, mindfulness, positive and negative emotions, and spiritual connections.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment control condition the practice of either “Sport” or “Spiritual” yoga produced significant increases in spiritual connections and significant decreases in negative emotions. Hence, regardless of whether the instructions emphasized the physical or spiritual aspects of yoga practice, the same effects occurred of increased spirituality and mood.

 

Yoga practice has been repeatedly shown in prior research studies to improve mood. So, the observed mood enhancement effects were no surprise. But, the ability of yoga practice to increase spirituality even when the spiritual aspects of yoga were not talked about is surprising. Regardless of instruction Hatha yoga practice produced increased spirituality. This suggests that the western emphasis on the secular aspects of yoga may not interfere with the enhancement of spirituality produced by yoga practice.

 

Perhaps yoga practice makes the individual more aware of the physical limitations of the body and that by itself may put human existence into perspective, amplifying the importance of the non-physical, spiritual, aspects. Yoga practice has for centuries been practiced in the east enhancing spirituality. It is interesting to find that it has the same effects in the west even when there is no instruction on the spiritual side of yoga practice.

 

So, yoga practice improves mood and spirituality regardless of physical or spiritual instruction.

 

“yoga offers much more than just a way to exercise the body. The deeper meaning and gift of yoga is the path it offers into the timeless world of spirit.” – Chopra.com

 

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

 

Csala B, Ferentzi E, Tihanyi BT, Drew R and Köteles F (2020) Verbal Cuing Is Not the Path to Enlightenment. Psychological Effects of a 10-Session Hatha Yoga Practice. Front. Psychol. 11:1375. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01375

 

Verbal instructions provided during yoga classes can differ substantially. Yoga instructors might choose to focus on the physical aspects of yoga (e.g., by emphasizing the characteristics of the poses), or they might take a more spiritual approach (e.g., by mentioning energy flow and chakras). The present study investigated the effects of verbal cues during yoga practice on various psychological measures. Eighty-four female students (22.0 ± 3.80 years) participated in the study. Two groups attended a beginner level hatha yoga course in which physically identical exercise was accompanied by different verbal cues. The so-called “Sport group” (N = 27) received instructions referring primarily to the physical aspects of yoga practice, while the “Spiritual group” (N = 23) was additionally provided with philosophical and spiritual information. A control group (N = 34) did not receive any intervention. Mindfulness, body awareness, spirituality, and affect were assessed 1 week before and after the training. 2 × 3 mixed (time × intervention) ANOVAs did not show an interaction effect for any of the variables. However, when the two yoga groups were merged and compared to the control group, we found that spirituality increased, and negative affect decreased among yoga participants. In conclusion, yoga practice might influence psychological functioning through its physical components, independent of the style of verbal instructions provided.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01375/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1373328_69_Psycho_20200709_arts_A

 

Decrease Teacher Stress and Improve Mental Health with a 4-Day Intensive Mindfulness Program

Decrease Teacher Stress and Improve Mental Health with a 4-Day Intensive Mindfulness Program

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

when teachers practice mindfulness, students’ misbehavior and other stressors become like water off a duck’s back, allowing them to stay focused on what teachers really want to do: teach.” – Vickie Zakrzewski

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This often produces burnout; fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, and professional inefficacy. Teachers experience burnout at high rates. Roughly a half a million teachers out of a workforce of three million, leave the profession each year and the rate is almost double in poor schools compared to affluent schools. Indeed, nearly half of new teachers leave in their first five years.

 

Burnout frequently results from emotional exhaustion. This exhaustion not only affects the teachers personally, but also the students, as it produces a loss of enthusiasm, empathy, and compassion. Regardless of the reasons for burnout or its immediate presenting consequences, it is a threat to schools and their students. In fact, it is a threat to the entire educational systems as it contributes to the shortage of teachers. Hence, methods of reducing stress and improving teacher psychological health needs to be studied.

 

Mindfulness techniques are gaining increasing attention for the treatment of the symptoms of stress and burnout. They have been demonstrated to be helpful in reducing the psychological and physiological responses to stress and for treating and preventing burnout in a number of work environments including schools. Teachers, though, have very busy schedules and it is often difficult to find the time for mindfulness training. So, abbreviated programs may be very useful but their efficacy needs to be established.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of a Four-Day Mindfulness Intervention on Teachers’ Stress and Affect: A Pilot Study in Eastern China.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01298/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1373328_69_Psycho_20200709_arts_A) Song and colleagues recruited school teachers online and randomly assigned them to a wait-list or to receive a 4-day mindfulness training. The mindfulness training was based upon the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program (MBSR) that consists of discussion, meditation, yoga and body scan practices. They met for 8 hours per day for 4 days. They were measured before and after training for mindfulness, perceived stress, and positive and negative emotions.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list group, the teachers who received the mindfulness training had significantly higher levels of mindfulness and lower levels of perceived stress and negative emotions. Hence, a short-term, 4-day, mindfulness training is effective in reducing stress and negative emotions in school teachers.

 

The results demonstrate that a short-term intensive training can significantly increase mindfulness. Such a program is valuable in that it can be implemented before the start of a school year when the teachers have the available time to participate. In addition, it produces results that are similar to those observed in previous studies using trainings occurring over longer periods where mindfulness training decreases perceived stress and negative emotions. It will be important in future work to determine the long-term effectiveness of the training and whether it reduces burnout in teachers.

 

So, decrease teacher stress and improve mental health with a 4-day intensive mindfulness program.

 

“mindfulness training for teachers can help them cope better with stress on the job while also making the classroom environment more productive for learning.” – Jill Suttie

 

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

 

Song X, Zheng M, Zhao H, Yang T, Ge X, Li H and Lou T (2020) Effects of a Four-Day Mindfulness Intervention on Teachers’ Stress and Affect: A Pilot Study in Eastern China. Front. Psychol. 11:1298. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01298

 

Stress is becoming increasingly prevalent among teacher groups, and this is problematic for education. Mindfulness training (MT) is a well-supported way to help various populations cope with and reduce stress. In this study, a 4-day intensive MT program that aimed to increase teachers’ emotional health was developed and implemented into the existing post-service education for teachers in eastern China. A total of 161 teachers voluntarily enrolled in the course and were assigned to either the mindfulness group or the waitlist group. Participants completed measures of mindfulness, positive affect, negative affect, and perceived stress before and after the program. The results showed that MT had statistically significant positive effects on mindfulness, negative affect, and stress. The present findings indicate that a 4-day intensive MT program is a promising way to decrease teachers’ stress and improve their emotional health. The practical meaning of the short-term intensive MT program for teachers is discussed. It is easier for teachers to enroll such a short-term training program, as it may have higher acceptance and feasibility than an 8-week training program in some areas.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01298/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1373328_69_Psycho_20200709_arts_A

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Better Ability to Negotiate

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Better Ability to Negotiate

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness training increases empathy . . . enabling us to better appreciate the standpoint of the other parties to the negotiation. It makes it easier to reach a compromise and allows us to feel more connected with those we’re negotiating with – thus creating a sense of affiliation.” – Mindfulness Works

 

Negotiations are important not only in business but also in conflict resolution and mindfulness can help. It is important in negotiations to be sensitive to the nuances of behaviors. By being mindful the negotiator becomes more attentive and empathetic, making it easier to read the nonverbal cues from the other person. These cues are important for understanding their emotional reactions to each stage of the negotiations and can thereby assist the negotiator in understanding the needs of the other and thereby refining offers and counteroffers. Being attuned to another makes responses better aligned with what is needed for a successful negotiation.

 

Another way that mindfulness can be of help in negotiations is through improved emotion regulation. Mindfulness is associated with a heightened ability to recognize and manage one’s own emotions. In a negotiation it is easy to react to emotions and as a result respond inappropriately or ignore the most logical negotiating step. Mindfulness has also been shown to improve problem solving and creativity. A negotiation can be viewed as a problem-solving task to identify the optimum strategy to produce the desired outcome. Also, by applying greater creativity to the problem the negotiator can devise novel solutions, optimizing outcomes.

 

In today’s Research News article “Variables Associated With Negotiation Effectiveness: The Role of Mindfulness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01214/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1356251_69_Psycho_20200618_arts_A), Pérez-Yus and colleagues recruited adult non-meditators and meditators with a daily practice of at least 6 months in duration. They completed questionnaires measuring negotiation effectiveness, emotional intelligence, mindfulness, personality, motivation, negotiation style, and their meditation practice.

 

They found that the higher the level of negotiation effectiveness the higher the level of mindfulness, emotional intelligence, achievement motivation, extraversion, openness, and conscientiousness, the personality traits of extraversion, openness and conscientiousness, and the negotiation styles of integrating, dominating, and compromising, and the lower the levels of neuroticism. In comparison to non-meditators, the meditators had significantly greater levels of emotional intelligence clarity, mindfulness, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness, a greater tendency to acquire an integrating style in the negotiation, and a greater effectiveness of the negotiation and lower levels of neuroticism.

 

This study is correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. To establish causation, future research should examine the ability of mindfulness training to improve negotiation effectiveness. Nevertheless, the results suggest that meditation practice and mindfulness are associated with better negotiation effectiveness. Meditators are better negotiators. This is associated with emotional intelligence, and positive personality traits. Meditators had higher levels of integrating style of negotiations. In this style the negotiator is more attuned to the needs of everyone involved in the negotiation. So, meditators are better able to adjust the negotiation to satisfy everyone’s needs.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with better negotiation ability.

 

The results suggest that when a negotiation was more effective, mindfulness was a causal condition.” – Jamil Awaida

 

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

 

Pérez-Yus MC, Ayllón-Negrillo E, Delsignore G, Magallón-Botaya R, Aguilar-Latorre A and Oliván Blázquez B (2020) Variables Associated With Negotiation Effectiveness: The Role of Mindfulness. Front. Psychol. 11:1214. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01214

 

Negotiation is the main mean of conflict resolution. Despite its capital importance, little is known about influencing variables or effective interventions. Mindfulness has shown to improve subjects’ performance in different settings but until now, no study has shown its impact in negotiation. The aim of this study is to analyze which variables are associated with effectiveness and to determine if meditators are more effective in negotiation. A cross-sectional descriptive study was carried out. The study variables were: socio-demographic variables, negotiation effectiveness (Negotiation Effectiveness Questionnaire), mindfulness (Five Facets of Mindfulness Questionnaire), emotional intelligence (Trait Meta-Mood Scale Questionnaire), personality (NEO-FFI personality inventory), motivation (McClelland Questionnaire), and negotiation style (Rahim Organizational Conflict Inventory-II). A correlational study and a multivariate model were developed. Negotiation effectiveness was associated with age, mindfulness, emotional intelligence, extraversion, openness, conscientiousness, achievement motivation, integrating, dominating, and compromising negotiation styles and inversely correlated toward neuroticism. The effectiveness of the negotiation is explained by the variables clarity, age, conscientiousness, dominating, and compromising style. Meditators were found to be more effective than non-meditators.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01214/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1356251_69_Psycho_20200618_arts_A

 

Mindfulness Improves the Emotion Regulation in Patients with Schizophrenia

Mindfulness Improves the Emotion Regulation in Patients with Schizophrenia

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness treatments do not aim to decrease the occurrence or severity of the symptoms of psychosis, but by helping to reduce the distress people experience, many of these treatments help indirectly to alleviate psychotic symptoms as well.” – Tania Lecomte

 

Schizophrenia is the most common form of psychosis. It effects about 1% of the population worldwide. It appears to be highly heritable and involves changes in the brain. It is characterized by both positive and negative symptoms. Positive symptoms include hallucinations; seeing and, in some cases, feeling, smelling or tasting things that aren’t there, or delusions; unshakable beliefs that, when examined rationally, are obviously untrue. Negative symptoms include a reduced ability to function normally, neglect of personal hygiene, lack of emotion, blank facial expressions, speaking in a monotone, loss of interest in everyday activities, social withdrawal, an inability to experience pleasure, and a lack of insight into their symptoms. The symptoms of schizophrenia usually do not appear until late adolescence or early adulthood.

 

Schizophrenia is very difficult to treat with psychotherapy and is usually treated with antipsychotic drugs. These drugs, however, are not always effective, sometimes lose effectiveness, and can have some difficult side effects. Mindfulness training has been shown to be beneficial for a variety of mental health problems, including psychosis. Mindfulness has also been shown to associated with lower symptom severity of schizophrenia. Patients with schizophrenia have difficulty regulating emotions and mindfulness training improves emotion regulation. Hence, it makes sense to investigate the effectiveness of mindfulness training in improving emotion regulation in patients with schizophrenia.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effectiveness of a Mindfulness-Based Psychoeducation Programme for Emotional Regulation in Individuals with Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders: A Pilot Randomised Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7075335/), Lam and colleagues recruited adult patients diagnosed with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders and randomly assigned them to a treatment as usual control condition or to receive a 90 minute once a week for 8 weeks Mindfulness-Based Psychoeducation Program (MBPP) including “engagement and empowerment, mindfulness in daily living and problem solving, mindfulness in illness management and equip and prepare for the future.” Patients also performed daily mindfulness practice. They were measured before and after training and 3 months later for the emotion regulation processes of reappraisal and suppression, rumination, psychotic symptoms, mindfulness, anxiety, and depression.

 

Engagement in the Mindfulness-Based Psychoeducation Program (MBPP) was high with 85% of participants attending 6 or more sessions with average attendance of 6.88 sessions. The average amount of home practice was 31 minutes per week. Hence the program can be successfully implemented and is acceptable to the patients.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the treatment as usual group after Mindfulness-Based Psychoeducation Program (MBPP) there was a significant improvement in mindfulness and the emotion regulation strategy of reappraisal. These improvements were maintained for 3 months after the end of training. The results suggest that mindfulness training improves the emotion regulation strategy of reappraisal in patients diagnosed with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders.

 

Reappraisal is a cognitive strategy to reinterpret the origin and meaning of an emotional event to reduce its impact. This is an effective emotion regulation strategy to help the individual cope with emotions. Since, problems with emotions are common in schizophrenia, improving emotion regulation may be of great assistance to them in dealing with the symptoms of the disease.

 

So, mindfulness improves the emotion regulation in patients with schizophrenia.

 

“mindfulness-based psycho-educational intervention expressly designed for patients with schizophrenia can be well tolerated and result in better illness outcomes than either standard treatment alone or standard treatment supplemented by a more typical psycho-educational approach. This is an important finding because of the widely held belief that psychotic patients can neither tolerate nor benefit from mindfulness-based interventions.” – American Mindfulness Research 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

 

Lam, A., Leung, S. F., Lin, J. J., & Chien, W. T. (2020). The Effectiveness of a Mindfulness-Based Psychoeducation Programme for Emotional Regulation in Individuals with Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders: A Pilot Randomised Controlled Trial. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 16, 729–747. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S231877

 

Abstract

Background

Emotion dysregulation has emerged as a transdiagnostic factor that potentially exacerbates the risk of early-onset, maintenance, and relapse of psychosis. Mindfulness is described as the awareness that emerges from paying attention to the present moment without judgment. It gently pulls the mind out of the negative emotions induced by the disparity between expectation and reality by focusing on the present moment, instead of worrying about the future or regretting the past. However, only a few research has ever focused on the efficacy of using a mindfulness-based intervention to improve emotion regulation in schizophrenia spectrum disorders.

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of a Mindfulness-Based Psychoeducation Programme (MBPP) on the emotion regulation of individuals with schizophrenia, in particular, to access emotion regulation strategies. The objective of this study was to find out whether MBPP is feasible for improving emotion regulation strategies, in terms of rumination, cognitive reappraisal, and expressive suppression, with a sustainable effect at a three-month follow-up.

Patients and Methods

A single-blinded pilot randomised controlled trial with repeated-measures designs was adopted. Forty-six participants diagnosed with schizophrenia and its subtypes were randomised in either the 8-week mindfulness-based psychoeducation programme or treatment-as-usual (control) group.

Results

The results of the Generalised Estimating Equations test indicated that the MBPP group showed a significant improvement in reappraisal at a three-month follow-up (β = −6.59, Wald’s χ2=4.55, p=0.033), and a significant reduction in rumination across time. However, the Generalised Estimating Equations indicated no significant difference in rumination and expressive suppression in the MBPP group. Two participants reported having unwanted experiences, including feelings of terror and distress during the mindfulness practice.

Conclusion

The MBPP appeared to be effective for improving emotion regulation, which will contribute to future large-scale RCT to confirm the treatment effects in more diverse groups of schizophrenic patients.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7075335/

 

Lower Social Anxiety is Associated with Mindfulness in Nepalese Adolescents

Lower Social Anxiety is Associated with Mindfulness in Nepalese Adolescents

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

At the basic level, social anxiety refers to fear or worry related to interactions in social situations. It is normal for teens to get anxious about public speaking or going on a first date. However, for those with social anxiety, the fears and thoughts are too intense, cause high stress and make the person avoid activities of daily living that could bring joy into their life.” – Silvina Galperin

 

It is a common human phenomenon that being in a social situation can be stressful and anxiety producing. Most people can deal with the anxiety and can become quite comfortable. But many do not cope well and the anxiety is overwhelming, causing the individual to withdraw. Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is characterized by a persistent, intense, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others and feeling embarrassed or humiliated by their actions. This fear may be so severe that it interferes with work, school, and other activities and may negatively affect the person’s ability to form relationships.

 

Anxiety disorders have generally been treated with drugs. But there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. There are a number of psychological therapies for anxiety. But, about 45% of the patients treated do not respond to the therapy. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments. Recently, it has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disorders including Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).

 

Mindfulness training was examined as a treatment for emotional disorders in affluent western populations which are not necessarily representative of the unique situations, cultures, and education levels of diverse populations. Hence, there is a need to investigate the effectiveness of mindfulness with diverse populations. There are indications that mindfulness therapies may be effective in diverse populations. But there is a need for further investigation the associations of mindfulness with emotional disorders in different populations.

 

In today’s Research News article “Social support, emotion regulation and mindfulness: A linkage towards social anxiety among adolescents attending secondary schools in Birgunj, Nepal.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7117668/), Singh and colleagues recruited adolescents from schools in Nepal and measured them for social anxiety, social support, emotion regulation, and mindfulness.

 

They found that the higher the levels of social anxiety the lower the levels of the mindfulness facets of describing and acting with awareness, the emotion regulation facets of awareness, clarity, and acceptance, and social support especially from friends, relatives, and teachers. They also found that social anxiety levels were higher in females and older adolescents. Taken together, mindfulness, emotion regulation, social support, age, and gender explained 41% of the variance in social anxiety in the adolescents.

 

These results are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. The results also are similar to those observed in different ethnic groups with mindfulness associated with lower levels of social anxiety and greater levels of emotion regulation. This further suggests that mindfulness relationships with social anxiety in Nepal are similar to other cultures. This suggests that these association apply almost universally across cultures and ethnicities.

 

In many of the previous studies, mindfulness was trained and it was found to cause changes in social anxiety and emotion regulation. So, the current findings probably represent causal connections between these variables. They further imply that training in mindfulness may be helpful in lowering social anxiety and improving emotion regulation in Nepalese youth.

 

In the present study there was no attempt to determine mediation. Since mindfulness is associated with higher levels of emotion regulation and emotion regulation is associated with lower levels of social anxiety, it is possible that mindfulness decreases social anxiety directly and also indirectly by improving emotion regulation. In addition, social support is associated with higher mindfulness. So, it is possible that social support decreases social anxiety directly and also indirectly by improving mindfulness. It will remain for future research to explore these hypotheses.

 

So, lower social anxiety is associated with mindfulness in Nepalese adolescents.

 

If you are suffering with the symptoms of social anxiety disorder (SAD), regular practice will eventually improve your self-concept and ability to handle negative emotions. You will also learn how to better respond to troubling thoughts and treat yourself with more compassion.” – Arlin Cuncic

 

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

 

Singh, R., Singh, B., Mahato, S., & Hambour, V. K. (2020). Social support, emotion regulation and mindfulness: A linkage towards social anxiety among adolescents attending secondary schools in Birgunj, Nepal. PloS one, 15(4), e0230991. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0230991

 

Abstract

There has been a growing burden of anxiety among Nepalese adolescents. Social anxiety in particular is one of the commonly reported symptoms indicating mental health problem among adolescents. The purpose of this study was to assess social anxiety, and identify how social support, emotion regulation and mindfulness uniquely contribute to social anxiety among adolescents in Birgunj, Nepal. The study was conducted by using a self-administered questionnaire among 384 adolescents (65.4% boys; M = 16.05 years, SD = 1.39) studying at secondary schools of Birgunj. Results show that there was a positive correlation between social anxiety symptoms and age, and girls reported more symptoms. Traits such as non-acceptance of emotions, lack of clarity and lack of awareness of emotions were related to increased social anxiety; while acting with awareness, non-reactivity, and better ability to describe emotions was related to decreased social anxiety. Finally, more social support from close friends was related to lower social anxiety. These results suggest that improving emotion regulation, dispositional mindfulness, and social support may be helpful for adolescents who are at risk of, or are suffering from, social anxiety.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7117668/

 

Reduce the Risk of Major Depression Relapse with Mindfulness

Reduce the Risk of Major Depression Relapse with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

a growing body of research is pointing to an intervention that appears to help prevent relapse by altering thought patterns without side effects: mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or MBCT.” – Stacy Lu

 

Clinically diagnosed depression is the most common mental illness, affecting over 6% of the population. Major depression can be quite debilitating. Depression can be difficult to treat and is usually treated with anti-depressive medication. But, of patients treated initially with drugs only about a third attained remission of the depression. After repeated and varied treatments including drugs, therapy, exercise etc. only about two thirds of patients attained remission. But drugs often have troubling side effects and can lose effectiveness over time. In addition, many patients who achieve remission have relapses and recurrences of the depression.

 

Relapsing into depression is a terribly difficult situation. The patients are suffering and nothing appears to work to relieve their intense depression. Suicide becomes a real possibility. So, it is imperative that other treatments be identified that can relieve the suffering. Mindfulness training is an alternative treatment for depression. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and its recurrence and even in the cases where drugs failMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was specifically developed to treat depression. MBCT involves mindfulness training, containing sitting, walking and body scan meditations, and cognitive therapy that attempts to teach patients to distinguish between thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and behaviors, and to recognize irrational thinking styles and how they affect behavior.

 

There has been considerable research demonstrating that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is effective in treating depression.  In today’s Research News article “The effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy on risk and protective factors of depressive relapse – a randomized wait-list controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7275325/), Schanche and colleagues investigate the ability of  MBCT to reduce risk factors associated with relapse in patients with major depressive disorder.

 

They recruited adult patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder who had at least 3 depressive episodes and who were currently in remission. They were randomly assigned to be on a wait list or to receive 8 weekly 2-hour sessions of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). They were measured before and after training for rumination, emotion regulation, anxiety, self-compassion, mindfulness, and depression.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list group after Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) there were significant reductions in rumination, anxiety, emotional reactivity to stress and depression and significant increases in emotion regulation, self-compassion and mindfulness. Hence, MBCT significantly improved the psychological well-being of these patients.

 

These are interesting results that suggest that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) produces a reduction in the types of negative emotional symptoms that could promote a depressive relapse and an increase in factors that could promote resistance to relapse especially the ability to effectively cope with their emotions and compassion for themselves. Mindfulness training has been repeatedly shown in the past to reduce rumination, anxiety, emotional reactivity to stress and depression and increase emotion regulation and self-compassion. The present study demonstrates that these benefits occur in patients in remission from major depressive disorder. This suggests that MBCT is effective in improving the major depressive disorder patients psychological state in a way that suggests that they would be resistant to relapse in the future.

 

So, reduce the risk of major depression relapse with mindfulness.

 

MBCT and CT attempt to reduce the risk of relapse by promoting different skill sets. CT promotes challenging dysfunctional thinking and increasing physical activity level. MBCT promotes nonjudgmental monitoring of moment-by-moment experience, and decentering from thoughts or seeing thoughts as transient mental phenomena and not necessarily valid.” – American Mindfulness Research 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

 

Elisabeth Schanche, Jon Vøllestad, Endre Visted, Julie Lillebostad Svendsen, Berge Osnes, Per Einar Binder, Petter Franer, Lin Sørensen. The effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy on risk and protective factors of depressive relapse – a randomized wait-list controlled trial. BMC Psychol. 2020; 8: 57. Published online 2020 Jun 5. doi: 10.1186/s40359-020-00417-1

 

Abstract

Background

The aim of this randomized wait-list controlled trial was to explore the effects of Mindfulness–Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) on risk and protective factors for depressive relapse within the domains of cognition, emotion and self-relatedness.

Methods

Sixty-eight individuals with recurrent depressive disorder were randomized to MBCT or a wait-list control condition (WLC).

Results

Completers of MBCT (N = 26) improved significantly on measures assessing risk and protective factors of recurrent depression compared to WLC (N = 30) on measures of rumination (d = 0.59, p = .015), emotion regulation (d = 0.50, p = .028), emotional reactivity to stress (d = 0.32, p = .048), self-compassion (d = 1.02, p < .001), mindfulness (d = 0.59, p = .010), and depression (d = 0.40, p = .018). In the Intention To Treat sample, findings were attenuated, but there were still significant results on measures of rumination, self-compassion and depression.

Conclusions

Findings from the present trial contribute to evidence that MBCT can lead to reduction in risk factors of depressive relapse, and strengthening of factors known to be protective of depressive relapse. The largest changes were found in the domain of self-relatedness, in the form of large effects on the participants’ ability to be less self-judgmental and more self-compassionate.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7275325/

 

Improve Smoking Abstinence with Mindfulness

Improve Smoking Abstinence with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness training (MT) may decouple the association between craving and smoking, thus facilitating smoking cessation.” – J. Kim Pemberthy

 

Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States.” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). So, treating nicotine addiction and producing smoking cessation could greatly improve health. But smoking has proved devilishly difficult to treat. There are a wide variety of methods and strategies to quit smoking which are to only a very limited extent effective. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 40% of smokers who want to quit make a serious attempt to do so each year, but fewer than 5% actually succeed. Most people require three or four failed attempts before being successful.

 

One problem is that nicotine is one of the most addictive substances known and withdrawal from nicotine is very stressful, producing many physical and psychological problems, including negative emotional states and depression. In essence, the addict feels miserable without the nicotine. This promotes relapse to relieve the discomfort. Better methods to quit which can not only promote quitting but also prevent relapse are badly needed. Mindfulness practices have been found to be helpful in treating addictions, including nicotine addiction, and reducing the risk of relapse.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mechanisms linking mindfulness and early smoking abstinence: An ecological momentary assessment study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6483850/), Spears and colleagues recruited adult smokers desiring to quit and provided them with “six smoking cessation counseling sessions (10–20 minutes each).” They completed questionnaires on demographics and mindfulness. They were also asked to complete assessments at baseline and for 4 weeks after cessation of smoking on a smartphone of positive and negative emotions, smoking urges, and expectancy of regulating emotions whenever they had an urge to smoke, smoked a cigarette, and 4 randomly selected times per day prompted on their smartphone.

 

Of the participants 63% achieved smoking abstinence after treatment and 41% remained abstinent 7 days later. They found that on the day of smoking cessation and 7 days later, the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of negative emotions, stress, smoking urges, and expectancies that smoking would improve mood and the higher the levels of positive emotions. They also found that lower smoking urges were associated with higher levels of abstinence when the participants were low in mindfulness but not when they were high in mindfulness. In addition, the higher the levels of mindfulness, the higher the levels of positive emotions and the lower the levels of negative emotions which were in turn associated with higher levels of smoking abstinence.

 

Even though the smoking cessation therapy did not include a mindfulness component, the participant’s level of mindfulness was an important contributor to successful smoking abstinence. Mindfulness appeared to be associated with improved mood and lower stress levels and urges to smoke which were in turn associated with improved outcomes. Hence, mood and stress appear to mediate the association of mindfulness with successfully quitting smoking. Mindful people appear to have more positive moods which works to improve the likelihood of quitting smoking.

 

So, improve smoking abstinence with mindfulness.

 

stress is caused by craving. If you can let go of that craving, then your stress will dissolve, and practicing mindfulness is the way to do that.” – Judson Brewer

 

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

 

Spears, C. A., Li, L., Wu, C., Vinci, C., Heppner, W. L., Hoover, D. S., Lam, C., & Wetter, D. W. (2019). Mechanisms linking mindfulness and early smoking abstinence: An ecological momentary assessment study. Psychology of addictive behaviors : journal of the Society of Psychologists in Addictive Behaviors, 33(3), 197–207. https://doi.org/10.1037/adb0000451

 

Abstract

Research suggests that individuals with greater dispositional mindfulness (i.e., non-judgmental, present-focused attention) are more likely to quit smoking, but the underlying mechanisms are unclear. This study investigated mechanisms linking mindfulness and early smoking abstinence using ecological momentary assessment (EMA). Participants were 355 smokers (33% Caucasian, 33% African American, 32% Latino; 55% female) receiving smoking cessation treatment. Mindfulness was assessed at baseline and on the quit date. For 4 days pre-quit and 1 week post-quit, participants completed up to 4 EMAs per day indicating levels of negative affect (NA), positive affect (PA), smoking urges, and affect regulation expectancies. Mean, slope, and volatility were calculated for each pre-quit and post-quit EMA variable. Associations among mindfulness, EMA parameters, and abstinence on the quit day and 7 days post-quit, as well as indirect effects of mindfulness on abstinence through EMA parameters were examined. Mindfulness predicted higher odds of abstinence in unadjusted but not covariate-adjusted models. Mindfulness predicted lower NA, higher PA, and lower affective volatility. Lower stress mediated the association between mindfulness and quit-day abstinence. Higher ratings of happy and relaxed, and lower ratings of bored, sad and angry, mediated the association between mindfulness and post-quit abstinence. Mindfulness appeared to weaken the association between craving and post-quit abstinence. This study elucidates real-time, real-life mechanisms underlying dispositional mindfulness and smoking abstinence. During the early process of quitting smoking, more mindful individuals appear to have more favorable emotional profiles, which predicts higher likelihood of achieving abstinence 1 week after the quit date.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6483850/

 

Improve Borderline Personality Disorder with Mindfulness

Improve Borderline Personality Disorder with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness meditation training may help individuals with BPD be more effective in applying healthy coping skills in the midst of emotional pain. Mindfulness skills allow you to get just a little bit of space to be able to notice the emotion and be more strategic in terms of how you will act in the face of the emotion.” – Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault

 

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a very serious mental illness that is estimated to affect 1.6% of the U.S. population. It involves unstable moods, behavior, and relationships, problems with regulating emotions and thoughts, impulsive and reckless behavior, and unstable relationships. BPD is associated with high rates of co-occurring depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders, self-harm, suicidal behaviors, and completed suicides. Needless to say, it is widespread and debilitating.

 

One of the few treatments that appears to be effective for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). It is targeted at changing the problem behaviors characteristic of BPD through focusing on changing the thoughts and emotions that precede problem behaviors, as well as by solving the problems faced by individuals that contribute to problematic thoughts, feelings and behaviors. In DBT five core skills are practiced; mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, the middle path, and interpersonal effectiveness.

 

It is not known if Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is effective for a subset of patients with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) who are not suicidal or self-harming. In today’s Research News article “Dialectical behaviour therapy skills reconsidered: applying skills training to emotionally dysregulated individuals who do not engage in suicidal and self-harming behaviours.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6993331/), Kells and colleagues recruited patients with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) who had never attempted suicide or engaged in any self-harming and who had high levels of emotional dysregulation. They received a 24-week Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) program that met once a week for 2.5 hours. They were measured before, during, and after treatment and 6 months later for emotion regulation, mindfulness, and DBT skills.

 

There was a 49% drop-out rate. They found that for those that completed the program at each time point during and after treatment including the 6-month follow-up there were significant reductions in dysfunctional coping and increases in emotion regulation, mindfulness, and DBT skills. The effects were quite large with changes of 22% to 50% from baseline.

 

The study has a number of interpretive problems as there wasn’t a control condition. Previous controlled research, however, has demonstrated that Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is effective for the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). So. the present results were probably due to the treatment and not a confounding influence. The drop-out rate in this study was very high. BPD is a very difficult condition to treat and high drop-out rates are common. Hence it is reasonable to conclude that the present study successfully demonstrated that DBT is an effective treatment for BPD in patients without a history of suicide attempts or self-harming behaviors.

 

These findings suggest that Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) affects a core symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), an inability to cope with and regulate emotions. The patients improved markedly in their ability to regulate their emotions and cope with them. It is possible that the observed improvements in mindfulness may have been responsible for the improvements as mindfulness has been shown repeatedly to improve emotion regulation and coping behavior. It remains for future research to investigate this idea.

 

So, improve Borderline Personality Disorder with mindfulness.

 

Strong emotions disrupt a person’s ability to think and to be mindful. This is true for all of us. An inability to think can lead to even stronger and more dysregulated emotions. This is of particular concern in people with BPD, who often experience strong and difficult to control emotions.” = Blaise Aguirre

 

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

 

Kells, M., Joyce, M., Flynn, D., Spillane, A., & Hayes, A. (2020). Dialectical behaviour therapy skills reconsidered: applying skills training to emotionally dysregulated individuals who do not engage in suicidal and self-harming behaviours. Borderline personality disorder and emotion dysregulation, 7, 3. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40479-020-0119-y

 

Abstract

Background

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based intervention for borderline personality disorder (BPD) but is an intensive treatment with significant health service costs. Access to DBT can sometimes be restricted due to limited resources. Positive results have been reported for the use of DBT skills training (DBT-ST), one of the four modes of standard DBT, in the treatment of individuals with BPD who self-harm. This study evaluates DBT-ST for a subgroup of individuals attending community mental health services who may have a diagnosis of BPD (or emerging BPD traits) but who are not actively self-harming.

Methods

Participants in this study were 100 adults attending community mental health services with a diagnosis of BPD, emerging BPD traits or emotion dysregulation who were not actively self-harming. The majority of participants were female (71%), aged 25–34 years (32%), single (48%) and unemployed (34%). Participants partook in a 24-week DBT-ST intervention delivered by DBT therapists. Outcome measures included the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS), the DBT Ways of Coping Checklist (DBT-WCCL) and the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ). Measures were administered at pre-intervention, at the end of each skills module, and at post-intervention.

Results

Significant reductions in emotion dysregulation (DERS) and dysfunctional coping (DBT-WCCL) scores were reported from pre- to post-intervention (p < .001). A significant increase in mindfulness scores (FFMQ) and DBT skill use (DBT-WCCL) was also observed (p < .001). However, the drop-out rate was high (49% at post-intervention).

Discussion

The results of this uncontrolled study suggest that a standalone 24-week DBT-ST intervention may have a beneficial impact in terms of a reduction in emotion dysregulation and dysfunctional coping, and an increase in mindfulness and DBT skills use in patients with BPD/ emerging BPD traits who are not currently engaging in self-harm. Adequately powered randomised controlled trials are required to determine treatment efficacy in comparison to standard DBT for this population.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6993331/

 

Reduce Stress at Work with Mindfulness

Reduce Stress at Work with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“I think of mindfulness as the ability not to be yanked around by your own emotions. That can have a big impact on how you are in the workplace.” – Dan Harris

 

Work is very important for our health and well-being. We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. How we spend that time is immensely important for our psychological, social, and physical health. But, nearly 2/3 of employees worldwide are unhappy at work. This is partially due to work-related stress which is epidemic in the western workplace. Almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This stress can result in impaired health and can result in burnout; producing fatigue, cynicism, and professional inefficacy.

 

To help overcome unhappiness, stress, and burnoutmindfulness practices have been implemented in the workplace. Indeed, mindfulness practices have been shown to markedly reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, it has become very trendy for business to incorporate meditation into the workday to help improve employee well-being, health, and productivity. These programs attempt to increase the employees’ mindfulness at work and thereby reduce stress. It is not known, however, the amount of mindfulness training that is needed to improve employee well-being or whether the training affects moment-to-moment stress levels and the individual’s ability to cope with the stress in the actual work environment.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Training Reduces Stress At Work: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6433409/), Chin and colleagues recruited healthy adults at their workplace who had not received training in mindfulness or actively practiced mindfulness. They were provided a 4-hour mindfulness workshop and then randomly assigned to either a low- or high-dose mindfulness training. Low-dose participants received no further training while high-dose participants were provided 6 weekly instructions in mindfulness and also practiced at home for 25-minutes per day for 5 days per week with pre-recorded guided mindfulness instructions.

 

The participants were measured before and after training for perceived stress. They also completed momentary ecological assessments of stress, coping, and emotions. For these assessments they were prompted on their smartphones 4 times throughout the day for 3 days before and 3 days after treatment and were asked to rate on their smartphones their levels of momentary perceived stress, their ability to cope with the momentary stress, and the levels of positive or negative emotions experienced at that moment.

 

They found that after training, the high-dose but nor the low-dose participants had significant reductions in overall perceived stress after training. This was also true for the momentary positive emotions and perceived stress experienced including perceived stress severity, coping efficacy, and coping success, with high-dose participants having significantly greater changes in than low-dose participants after training. In addition, low-dose participants increased in their levels of negative emotions from baseline, while the high-dose participants did not.

 

These results are interesting and demonstrate, as has previous research, that mindfulness training reduces overall perceived stress. It is significant that the comparison condition also contained mindfulness training but at a low dose. This suggests that a small amount of mindfulness training is not sufficient to alter perceived levels of stress.

 

The present study also demonstrated that the effects of mindfulness training are not only on overall levels of perceived stress but also on these levels in momentary real-time work situations. They also show that during actual workplace stress mindfulness training improves the individuals’ ability to cope with the stress and experience more positive emotions and less negative emotions. This all suggests that mindfulness training doesn’t just work overall but moment-to-moment in the work environment to reduce stress levels and their impact on the worker. This should promote the overall psychological and physical health and well-being of the worker.

 

So, reduce stress at work with mindfulness.

 

Work is a very commonplace of stress, but with a few minutes of mindfulness each day, we can improve our feelings regarding these stressors, reduce their impact on our mental health, and improve our mood as well, leaving us ready for anything ahead.” – Paul Jozsef

 

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

 

Chin, B., Slutsky, J., Raye, J., & Creswell, J. D. (2019). Mindfulness Training Reduces Stress At Work: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Mindfulness, 10(4), 627–638. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-1022-0

 

Abstract

Mindfulness-based interventions have been suggested as one way to improve employee well-being in the workplace. Despite these purported benefits, there have been few well-controlled randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating mindfulness training in the workplace. Here we conducted a two-arm RCT at work among employees of a digital marketing firm comparing the efficacy of a high dose six-week mindfulness training to a low dose single-day mindfulness training for improving multiple measures of employee well-being assessed using ecological momentary assessment. High dose mindfulness training reduced both perceived and momentary stress, and buffered employees against worsened affect and decreased coping efficacy compared to low dose mindfulness training. These results provide well-controlled evidence that mindfulness training programs can reduce momentary stress at work, suggesting that more intensive mindfulness training doses (i.e., 6-weeks) may be necessary for improving workplace well-being outcomes. This RCT utilizes a novel experience sampling approach to measure the effects of a mindfulness intervention on employee well-being and considers potential dose-response effects of mindfulness training at work.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6433409/

 

Virtual Reality Enhances Online Mindfulness Training

Virtual Reality Enhances Online Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“I’ve done meditation before and I just zone out to what they are saying…because your mind’s working to picture something it then is working to daydream as well…Whereas, when it was just there in front of you, I think that it took a bit of pressure off of thinking, and you could be in the present.” – Study Participant

 

Over the last several decades, research and anecdotal experiences have accumulated an impressive evidential case that the development of mindfulness has positive benefits for the individual’s mental, physical, and spiritual life. Mindfulness appears to be beneficial both for healthy people and for people suffering from a myriad of illnesses. It appears to be beneficial across ages, from children to the elderly. And it appears to be beneficial across genders, personalities, race, and ethnicity. The breadth and depth of benefits is unprecedented.

 

There is no other treatment or practice that has been shown to come anyway near the range of mindfulness’ positive benefits. With impacts so great it is important to know how to promote the development of mindfulness even in individuals who dislike or avoid the discipline of practice. Technology has recently been applied to training in mindfulness. Indeed, mindfulness training carried out completely on-line has been shown to be effective for as number of conditions. There is evidence that virtual reality may be used to enhance the therapeutic effectiveness of mindfulness training. There is a need, however, to explore whether virtual reality enhances the development of mindfulness?

 

In today’s Research News article “Understanding How Virtual Reality Can Support Mindfulness Practice: Mixed Methods Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7113800/), Seabrook and colleagues recruited healthy adults online and trained them in mindfulness with a 15-minute virtual reality experience that included viewing forest scenes with a guided meditation voiceover. They were measured before and after training for mindfulness, anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and positive and negative emotions. They were also asked to evaluate the virtual reality with questionnaires on simulator sickness and general systems presence and were asked to engage in a semi-structured interview to assess the VR.

 

They found that after training there were significant increases in mindfulness and positive emotions. They also reported a strong sense of presence and very little simulator sickness during the VR. They rated it as very engaging and that it helped them focus on the present moment and practice mindfulness.

 

The study did not incorporate a comparison, control, condition. So, conclusions must be tempered with the knowledge that the results might reflect participant expectations or demand characteristics. It also had only a brief single session of training. So, it is unclear if virtual reality may be useful in sustained mindfulness training. Nevertheless, the results suggest that virtual reality may be a useful add on to mindfulness training to improve the development of mindfulness.

 

So, virtual reality enhances online mindfulness training.

 

If I were sitting in that same environment in reality I would be thinking…are there other people there… is the car there. But knowing that this environment was virtual, I was able to simply enjoy it.” -– Study Participant

 

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

 

Seabrook, E., Kelly, R., Foley, F., Theiler, S., Thomas, N., Wadley, G., & Nedeljkovic, M. (2020). Understanding How Virtual Reality Can Support Mindfulness Practice: Mixed Methods Study. Journal of medical Internet research, 22(3), e16106. https://doi.org/10.2196/16106

 

Abstract

Background

Regular mindfulness practice has been demonstrated to be beneficial for mental health, but mindfulness can be challenging to adopt, with environmental and personal distractors often cited as challenges. Virtual reality (VR) may address these challenges by providing an immersive environment for practicing mindfulness and by supporting the user to orient attention to the present moment within a tailored virtual setting. However, there is currently a limited understanding of the ways in which VR can support or hinder mindfulness practice. Such an understanding is required to design effective VR apps while ensuring that VR-supported mindfulness is acceptable to end users.

Objective

This study aimed to explore how VR can support mindfulness practice and to understand user experience issues that may affect the acceptability and efficacy of VR mindfulness for users in the general population.

Methods

A sample of 37 participants from the general population trialed a VR mindfulness app in a controlled laboratory setting. The VR app presented users with an omnidirectional video of a peaceful forest environment with a guided mindfulness voiceover that was delivered by a male narrator. Scores on the State Mindfulness Scale, Simulator Sickness Questionnaire, and single-item measures of positive and negative emotion and arousal were measured pre- and post-VR for all participants. Qualitative feedback was collected through interviews with a subset of 19 participants. The interviews sought to understand the user experience of mindfulness practice in VR.

Results

State mindfulness (P<.001; Cohen d=1.80) and positive affect (P=.006; r=.45) significantly increased after using the VR mindfulness app. No notable changes in negative emotion, subjective arousal, or symptoms of simulator sickness were observed across the sample. Participants described the user experience as relaxing, calming, and peaceful. Participants suggested that the use of VR helped them to focus on the present moment by using visual and auditory elements of VR as attentional anchors. The sense of presence in the virtual environment (VE) was identified by participants as being helpful to practicing mindfulness. Interruptions to presence acted as distractors. Some uncomfortable experiences were discussed, primarily in relation to video fidelity and the weight of the VR headset, although these were infrequent and minor.

Conclusions

This study suggests that an appropriately designed VR app can support mindfulness practice by enhancing state mindfulness and inducing positive affect. VR may help address the challenges of practicing mindfulness by creating a sense of presence in a tailored VE; by allowing users to attend to visual and auditory anchors of their choice; and by reducing the scope of the content in users’ mind-wandering. VR has the unique capability to combine guided mindfulness practice with tailored VEs that lend themselves to support individuals to focus attention on the present moment.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7113800/