Improve Empathy, Compassion, and Prosocial Behaviors with Meditation

Improve Empathy, Compassion, and Prosocial Behaviors with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“From the philosophical and religious traditions from which mindfulness comes, it’s been long understood that practicing meditation, and cultivating mindfulness, in particular, can conduce to virtuous action.” – Daniel Berry

 

Humans are social animals. This is a great asset for the species as the effort of the individual is amplified by cooperation. In primitive times, this cooperation was essential for survival. But in modern times it is also essential, not for survival but rather for making a living and for the happiness of the individual. This ability to cooperate is so essential to human flourishing that it is built deep into our DNA and is reflected in the structure of the human nervous system.

 

Mindfulness has been found to increase prosocial emotions such as compassion, and empathy and prosocial behaviors such as altruism. These changes in turn reduce antisocial behaviors such as violence and aggression. The research findings on the effectiveness of meditation practice in developing prosocial attitudes and behaviors is accumulating. So, it makes sense to take a step back and summarize what’s been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of the Effects of Meditation on Empathy, Compassion, and Prosocial Behaviors.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6081743/), Luberto and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis on the effects of meditation practice on procociality; “empathy, compassion, sympathy, love, altruism, and kindness.” They discovered 26 studies, 22 examined adults while 4 examined children.

 

They report that the published studies found that meditation practices produced significant increases in empathy, compassion, and prosocial behaviors. Mediation analyses suggest that meditation practice improves social-emotional functioning that in turn improves prosocial behaviors. It also suggests that this is in part due to meditation practice producing a physical and psychological relaxation response that counters stress effects. Regardless the published research literature makes it clear that meditation practice improves social emotions and behaviors. This may lead to a smoother and more effectively functioning society and to greater social cohesion and happiness.

 

So, improve empathy, compassion, and prosocial behaviors with meditation.

 

“the research shows that mindfulness increases empathy and compassion for others and for oneself, and that such attitudes are good for you.” – Shauna Shapiro

 

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

 

Luberto, C. M., Shinday, N., Song, R., Philpotts, L. L., Park, E. R., Fricchione, G. L., & Yeh, G. Y. (2018). A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of the Effects of Meditation on Empathy, Compassion, and Prosocial Behaviors. Mindfulness, 9(3), 708–724. doi:10.1007/s12671-017-0841-8

 

Abstract

Increased attention has focused on methods to increase empathy, compassion, and pro-social behavior. Meditation practices have traditionally been used to cultivate pro-social outcomes, and recently investigations have sought to evaluate their efficacy for these outcomes. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of meditation for pro-social emotions and behavior. A literature search was conducted in PubMed, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Embase, and Cochrane databases (inception-April 2016) using the search terms: mindfulness, meditation, mind-body therapies, tai chi, yoga, MBSR, MBCT, empathy, compassion, love, altruism, sympathy, or kindness. Randomized controlled trials in any population were included (26 studies with 1,714 subjects). Most were conducted among healthy adults (n=11) using compassion or loving kindness meditation (n=18) over 8–12weeks (n=12) in a group format (n=17). Most control groups were wait-list or no-treatment (n=15). Outcome measures included self-reported emotions (e.g., composite scores, validated measures) and observed behavioral outcomes (e.g., helping behavior in real-world and simulated settings). Many studies showed a low risk of bias. Results demonstrated small to medium effects of meditation on self-reported (SMD = .40, p < .001) and observable outcomes (SMD = .45, p < .001) and suggest psychosocial and neurophysiological mechanisms of action. Subgroup analyses also supported small to medium effects of meditation even when compared to active control groups. Clinicians and meditation teachers should be aware that meditation can improve positive pro-social emotions and behaviors.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6081743/

 

Improve Attentional Monitoring of Others Emotions with Mindfulness

Improve Attentional Monitoring of Others Emotions with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“experience with mindfulness meditation is associated with distinct reactions to emotional provocations in attention and social decision-making tasks, and have implications for understanding the relationship between mindfulness meditation and emotion regulation.” – Deidre Reis

 

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. 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.

 

There is evidence that mindfulness training improves emotion regulation by altering the brain. A common method to study the activity of the nervous system is to measure the electrical signal at the scalp above brain regions. Changes in this activity are measurable with mindfulness training. One method to observe emotional processing in the brain is to measure the changes in the electrical activity that occur in response to specific emotional stimuli. These are called event-related potentials or ERPs. The signal following a stimulus changes over time.

 

The fluctuations of the signal after specific periods of time are thought to measure different aspects of the nervous system’s processing of the stimulus. The N200 response in the evoked potential (ERP) is a negative going electrical response occurring between a 2.0 to 3.5 tenths of a second following the target stimulus presentation. The N200 component is thought to reflect attentional monitoring of conflict. The P300 response in the evoked potential (ERP) is a positive going electrical response occurring between a 3.5 to 6.0 tenths of a second following the target stimulus presentation. The P300 component is thought to reflect inhibitory processes.

 

In today’s Research News article “Brief mindfulness training enhances cognitive control in socioemotional contexts: Behavioral and neural evidence.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6641506/), Quaglia and colleagues recruited healthy adults and randomly assigned them to receive 4 20-minute sessions of either mindfulness training or book listening. They were measured before and after training for mindfulness and were tested with an emotional go no-go task in which they were asked to press a button when a picture of a face was presented that expressed a particular emotion and not respond to faces with other emotions. The pictures were of faces expression either anger, happiness, or neutral emotions. During the task the brain electrical activity was recorded with an electroencephalograph (EEG).

 

They found, as expected, that the group receiving mindfulness training, in comparison to the book listening group, had significantly higher mindfulness following training. They found that the mindfulness group, after training had significantly better scores, including both speed and accuracy, for facial emotion discrimination than the control group. With the evoked potentials, they found that on no-go trials, trials where the target facial emotion was not present. The mindfulness trained participants had significantly larger N200 amplitudes than the controls.

 

These results suggest that mindfulness training makes the individual more sensitive to emotional expressions by others. The evoked potentials in the EEGs suggest that mindfulness training did this by enhancing the brain’s ability to pay attention and monitor conflict allowing the individual to better withhold responses when appropriate. This could, in part, explain the improvement of emotion regulation with mindfulness training and may be the basis for the prior findings that mindfulness training improves responding in social contexts.

 

So, improve attentional monitoring of others emotions with mindfulness.

 

“our cognitive structures, as a developmental system, have the capacity to advance to a higher (more accurate) level of understanding about social and psychological reality, as the result of learning from the interacting experiences.” – Key Sun

 

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

 

Quaglia, J. T., Zeidan, F., Grossenbacher, P. G., Freeman, S. P., Braun, S. E., Martelli, A., … Brown, K. W. (2019). Brief mindfulness training enhances cognitive control in socioemotional contexts: Behavioral and neural evidence. PloS one, 14(7), e0219862. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0219862

 

Abstract

In social contexts, the dynamic nature of others’ emotions places unique demands on attention and emotion regulation. Mindfulness, characterized by heightened and receptive moment-to-moment attending, may be well-suited to meet these demands. In particular, mindfulness may support more effective cognitive control in social situations via efficient deployment of top-down attention. To test this, a randomized controlled study examined effects of mindfulness training (MT) on behavioral and neural (event-related potentials [ERPs]) responses during an emotional go/no-go task that tested cognitive control in the context of emotional facial expressions that tend to elicit approach or avoidance behavior. Participants (N = 66) were randomly assigned to four brief (20 min) MT sessions or to structurally equivalent book learning control sessions. Relative to the control group, MT led to improved discrimination of facial expressions, as indexed by d-prime, as well as more efficient cognitive control, as indexed by response time and accuracy, and particularly for those evidencing poorer discrimination and cognitive control at baseline. MT also produced better conflict monitoring of behavioral goal-prepotent response tendencies, as indexed by larger No-Go N200 ERP amplitudes, and particularly so for those with smaller No-Go amplitude at baseline. Overall, findings are consistent with MT’s potential to enhance deployment of early top-down attention to better meet the unique cognitive and emotional demands of socioemotional contexts, particularly for those with greater opportunity for change. Findings also suggest that early top-down attention deployment could be a cognitive mechanism correspondent to the present-oriented attention commonly used to explain regulatory benefits of mindfulness more broadly.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6641506/

 

Improve Adolescent Emotion Regulation and Mental Health with Mindfulness

Improve Adolescent Emotion Regulation and Mental Health with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

But a growing body of evidence suggests that mindfulness practice could be beneficial to teens, helping them cultivate empathy, as well as skills for concentration and impulse control. In short, mindfulness can help adolescents navigate the challenges of adolescence.” – Sarah Rudell Beach

 

Adolescence is a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. But adolescence can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required. Indeed, up to a quarter of adolescents suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, and an even larger proportion struggle with subclinical symptoms.

 

Mindfulness training in adults has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, and perceived stress levels and improve emotional regulation. In addition, in adolescents it has been shown to improve emotion regulation and to benefit the psychological and emotional health. There is a need to explore the relationship between these effects of mindfulness training in adolescents.

 

In today’s Research News article “Adolescents’ Mindfulness and Psychological Distress: The Mediating Role of Emotion Regulation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6567674/), Ma and Fang recruited middle school students between the ages of 12-18 years and had them complete scales measuring mindfulness, anxiety, depression, perceived stress, difficulties with emotion regulation, and emotion regulation.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness, the lower the levels of anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and difficulties with emotion regulation, including all subscales; “lack of emotional clarity (Clarity), difficulty in engaging in goal-directed behavior under negative emotions (Goals), loss of control under negative emotions (Impulse), limited strategies for emotion regulation (Strategies), and non-acceptance of emotional responses (Non-acceptance).” Using a mediation model, they found that high levels of mindfulness were related to lower levels of anxiety, depression, and perceived stress directly and indirectly as a results of mindfulness’ negative relationship with difficulties with emotion regulation. In other words, mindfulness was directly related to lower levels of psychological distress and also indirectly by its relationship with lower levels of difficulties with emotion regulation which were in turn related to less psychological distress.

 

The study is correlational and as such causation cannot be concluded. But prior research has demonstrated that mindfulness causes reductions in anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and difficulties with emotional regulation. Hence, it would be reasonable to conclude that the present findings were also due to the effects of mindfulness on psychological health.

 

Adolescence is a time of strong emotions that the adolescents have not yet learned how to effectively regulate. This makes this period of life very difficult with high levels of emotional distress. The finding though indicate that mindfulness may be a way to mitigate the emotional upheavals of adolescence of improve the psychological health of the teens by improving their ability to deal with their emotions.

 

So, improve adolescent emotion regulation and mental health with mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness teaches teenagers to recognize the downward spiral of thoughts before it gets out of hand, perhaps learning to label it as simply “worrying.” They can acknowledge the anxiety without getting caught up in it, without it leading to the rumination that ultimately ruins their mood.” – Sarah Rudell Beach

 

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

 

Ma, Y., & Fang, S. (2019). Adolescents’ Mindfulness and Psychological Distress: The Mediating Role of Emotion Regulation. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 1358. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01358

 

Abstract

Mindfulness has been widely linked with psychological well-being in general population. There are emerging studies supporting the relationship between adolescents’ mindfulness and their mental health. However, the mechanisms through which mindfulness may influence adolescents’ psychological distress have only recently been explored, and more related research is still needed. This study investigated the relationship between adolescents’ dispositional mindfulness and psychological symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. The mediating variables were also explored in perspective of two common emotion regulation theories, which were measured through Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS) and Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ). DERS has been used as a comprehensive assessment of emotion regulation difficulties. ERQ is also widely accepted to measure the emotion regulation process including dimensions of cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression. Measures assessing mindfulness, emotion regulation, and psychological distress were administered to 1067 adolescents in mainland China. The results confirmed that adolescents’ dispositional mindfulness was negatively associated with depression, anxiety, and stress. DERS, especially the sub-dimensions of Acceptance and Strategies, significantly mediated the relationship between mindfulness and symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. Whereas, ERQ including subscales of cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression exerted limited mediating effect. These findings provided insights for the potential underlying mechanism between adolescents’ mindfulness and psychological distress, demonstrating that DERS might be more pervasive than ERQ. Further research was suggested to explore other mediating variables underlying mindfulness and psychological distress among adolescents and develop mindfulness-based programs to improve adolescents’ mindfulness and emotion regulation ability.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6567674/

 

Increase Positive Emotions and Decrease Emotional Disturbance in Adolescents with Meditation

Increase Positive Emotions and Decrease Emotional Disturbance in Adolescents with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Adolescence is a time of change and growth. It is the period of life reserved for rebellion and self-discovery, but as the demands in life increase for teens, this time is often fraught with confusion, anxiety or depression. For many teens these challenges lead to disconnection and isolation.” – Making Friends with Yourself

 

Adolescence is a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. But adolescence can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required. Indeed, up to a quarter of adolescents suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, and an even larger proportion struggle with subclinical symptoms.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown in adolescents to improve emotion regulation and to benefit the psychological and emotional health. Since adolescent girls are more likely to have emotional issues than boys, it would seem reasonable to hypothesize that mindfulness would have greater psychological benefits for adolescent girls than for boys.

 

In today’s Research News article “Gender differences in response to a school-based mindfulness training intervention for early adolescents.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6174072/), Kang and colleagues recruited male and female 6th grade students and randomly assigned them to receive a school-based, 6-week program, 4-5 times per week for, on average, 5 minutes per day of either guided meditations or brief lessons on African history. Before and after training the students were measured for global emotional disturbance, positive emotions, mindfulness, and self-compassion.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the active controls, the adolescents who meditated had significantly higher positive emotions and significantly lower global emotional disturbance. For males there were significant increases in positive emotions for both groups while for females there were significant increases in positive emotions only for the meditation group. A similar trend was present for global emotional disturbance. In addition, they found that for females the higher the levels of self-compassion the higher the levels of positive emotions and the lower the levels of global emotional disturbance. This was not true for males.

 

The results appear to show that meditation training is particularly effective in improving emotions in female but not male adolescents. But the difference was not in the meditation condition but rather in the control condition. Whereas the female controls did not show any improvement in emotions while the meditation group improved. For the males, both groups improved. So, both males and female adolescents had improved emotions following 6-weeks of meditation practice. Adolescents is a turbulent time with strong emotions. The present results suggest that providing meditation training in school may be helpful in controlling and leveling these emotions.

 

So, increase positive emotions and decrease emotional disturbance in adolescents with meditation.

 

“Adolescence is a developmental moment of peak stress, and a teen’s heightened self-consciousness (“Do I look weird? Did I just sound stupid in class?”) cranks up the volume of the inner critic. Self-compassion encourages mindfulness, or noticing your feelings without judgment; self-kindness, or talking to yourself in a soothing way; and common humanity, or thinking about how others might be suffering similarly.” – Rachel Simmons

 

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., Rahrig, H., Eichel, K., Niles, H. F., Rocha, T., Lepp, N. E., … Britton, W. B. (2018). Gender differences in response to a school-based mindfulness training intervention for early adolescents. Journal of school psychology, 68, 163–176. doi:10.1016/j.jsp.2018.03.004

 

Abstract

Mindfulness training has been used to improve emotional wellbeing in early adolescents. However, little is known about treatment outcome moderators, or individual differences that may differentially impact responses to treatment. The current study focused on gender as a potential moderator for affective outcomes in response to school-based mindfulness training. Sixth grade students (N = 100) were randomly assigned to either the six weeks of mindfulness meditation or the active control group as part of a history class curriculum. Participants in the mindfulness meditation group completed short mindfulness meditation sessions four to five times per week, in addition to didactic instruction (Asian history). The control group received matched experiential activity in addition to didactic instruction (African history) from the same teacher with no meditation component. Self-reported measures of emotional wellbeing/affect, mindfulness, and self-compassion were obtained at pre and post intervention. Meditators reported greater improvement in emotional wellbeing compared to those in the control group. Importantly, gender differences were detected, such that female meditators reported greater increases in positive affect compared to females in the control group, whereas male meditators and control males displayed equivalent gains. Uniquely among females but not males, increases in self-reported self-compassion were associated with improvements in affect. These findings support the efficacy of school-based mindfulness interventions, and interventions tailored to accommodate distinct developmental needs of female and male adolescents.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6174072/

 

Reduce Stress and Improve Emotion Regulation with Mindfulness

Reduce Stress and Improve Emotion Regulation with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“By recognizing and identifying emotions as they arise, you are able to see how your thoughts can spiral you into agitated emotional states. . . Being mindful of your emotions will help you accept them and also stay in control of them. It’s from that place you will be able to refocus, rebalance, and recalibrate.” – Tris Thorpe

 

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. 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.

 

Mindfulness has also been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep. It is not known if stress reduction my be part of the mechanism by which mindfulness improves the control of emotions.

 

In today’s Research News article “Perceived stress mediates the relationship between mindfulness and negative affect variability: A randomized controlled trial among middle-aged to older adults.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6534144/), Colgan and colleagues recruited mildly stressed older adults aged 50 – 85 years and randomly assigned them to either receive a 6-week mindfulness meditation program or to a wait-list control condition. Meditation training occurred one-on-one for 1.5 hours weekly for 6 weeks and involved home practice. The participants were measured before and after training for perceived stress, positive and negative emotions, variability of negative emotions, and expectancies about the effects of meditation.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group the meditation group had significant decreases in perceived stress and negative emotion variability. In addition, the greater the change in perceived stress the greater the change in negative emotion variability. A mediation analysis revealed that meditation practice was reduced negative emotion variability directly and indirectly by reducing perceived stress which, in turn, reduced negative emotion variability.

 

It should be pointed out that there wasn’t an active control condition which opens up the possibility that placebo (subject expectancy) effects could be responsible for the results. But, the participants reported expectancies regarding the effects of meditation that were no different than the expectancies of control participants. This suggests that placebo effects were not responsible for the results.

 

Negative emotion variability can be viewed as an indicator of emotion regulation. If indeed an individual has better ability to deal with emotions then it would be expected that emotions would not build upon themselves and thereby be less variable. So, the present results are in line with previous research that meditation practice improves emotion regulation. They also suggest that it does so, in part, by its ability to reduce perceived stress.

 

So, reduce stress and improve emotion regulation with mindfulness.

 

Through mindfulness you can learn to turn your negative emotions into your greatest teachers and sources of strength. Instead of ‘turning away’ from pain in avoidance we can learn to gently ‘turn towards’ what we’re experiencing. We can bring a caring open attention towards the wounded parts of ourselves and make wise choices about how to respond to ourselves and to life. It’s a paradox that we all must understand: It is by turning towards negative emotions that we find relief from them – not by turning away.” – Melli O’Brien

 

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

 

Colgan, D. D., Klee, D., Memmott, T., Proulx, J., & Oken, B. (2019). Perceived stress mediates the relationship between mindfulness and negative affect variability: A randomized controlled trial among middle-aged to older adults. Stress and health : journal of the International Society for the Investigation of Stress, 35(1), 89–97. doi:10.1002/smi.2845

 

Abstract

Despite the interest in mindfulness over the past 20 years, studies have only recently begun to examine mindfulness in older adults. The primary aim of this study was to evaluate pretreatment to post-treatment change in negative affect variability (NAV) following a mindfulness training among 134 mildly stressed, middle-aged to older adults. The secondary aim was to assess if the effects of mindfulness training on NAV would be partially explained by pretreatment to post-treatment reductions in perceived stress, a trend that would be congruent with several stress models. In this randomized control trial, participants were assigned to either a 6-week mindfulness meditation training programme or to a wait list control. Ecological momentary assessment, a data capturing technique that queries about present moment experiences in real time, captured NAV. Mixed-model ANOVAs and a path analysis were conducted. Participants in the mindfulness meditation training significantly reduced NAV when compared with wait list control participants. Further, there was a significant indirect group effect on reductions in NAV through change in perceived stress. Few studies have tested mechanisms of action, which connect changes that occur during mindfulness training with psychological outcomes in older adults. Understanding the mechanisms by which mindfulness enhances well-being may optimize interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6534144/

 

Improve the Mental Health on Intensive Care Nurses with Mindfulness

Improve the Mental Health on Intensive Care Nurses with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Nurses are particularly vulnerable to stress and burnout, with little time in their schedule to commit to self-care or intensive stress reduction programs” . . . on-the-job mindfulness-based intervention is viable for this nursing population. In addition to reductions in stress and burnout, participants also reported improved job satisfaction and self-compassion.” Mindful USC

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations, like healthcare, burnout is all too prevalent. This is particularly acute in intensive care. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. It is estimated that over 45% of healthcare workers experience burnout. It not only affects the healthcare providers personally, but also the patients, as it produces a loss of empathy and compassion. Burnout, in fact, it is a threat to the entire healthcare system. Currently, over a third of healthcare workers report that they are looking for a new job. Hence, burnout contributes to the shortage of doctors and nurses.

 

Preventing burnout has to be a priority. Unfortunately, it is beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress and prevent burnout. So, it is important that methods be found to reduce the individual’s responses to stress; to make the individual more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Contemplative practices have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep. Hence, mindfulness may be a means to reduce burnout in medical professionals in high stress areas.

 

In today’s Research News article “Moderating Effect of Mindfulness on the Relationships Between Perceived Stress and Mental Health Outcomes Among Chinese Intensive Care Nurses.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6482227/), Lu and colleagues recruited intensive care nurses and had them complete measures of burnout, mindfulness, anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and subjective well-being. The measure of subjective well-being is a composite that includes a high level of satisfaction with life, more positive emotions, and fewer negative emotions.

 

They found that the higher the nurses’ levels of mindfulness the better the nurses’ mental health including lower levels of anxiety, depression, perceived stress, negative emotions and burnout and higher levels of subjective well-being, life satisfaction and positive emotions. They also found that the greater the levels of perceived stress the worse the nurses’ mental health including greater levels of burnout, negative emotions, anxiety, and depression, and lower levels of mindfulness, satisfaction with life, positive emotions, and life satisfaction. In addition, they found that mindfulness moderated the negative effects of perceived stress such that when mindfulness was high, perceived stress had a smaller relationship with emotional exhaustion, depression, anxiety, and negative affect and a larger relationship with positive affect.

 

In interpreting these results, it needs to be recognized that the study was correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. But previous research has already established that mindfulness produces reductions in burnout, anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and negative emotions and produces increases in life satisfaction, positive emotions, and subjective well-being. So, it is reasonable to conclude that the present findings were due to the causal effects of mindfulness. But the present findings add to this knowledge by showing that mindfulness not only directly improves the psychological state of the nurses but also acts to reduce the negative impact of stress.

 

These effects of mindfulness are important as burnout in high stress occupations like nursing is all too common. The results suggest that mindfulness training should be routinely administered to intensive care nurses to improve their well-being and mental health and reduce the likelihood that they will experience burnout.

 

So, improve the mental health on intensive care nurses with mindfulness.

 

Learning mindfulness also helped the ICU personnel to “become aware of what their individual stress response is” and to “practice flexibility in cultivating alternative ways” of dealing with chronic stress.” – Marianna Klatt

 

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

 

Lu, F., Xu, Y., Yu, Y., Peng, L., Wu, T., Wang, T., … Li, M. (2019). Moderating Effect of Mindfulness on the Relationships Between Perceived Stress and Mental Health Outcomes Among Chinese Intensive Care Nurses. Frontiers in psychiatry, 10, 260. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00260

 

Abstract

This study aimed to explore the potential moderating effect of mindfulness and its facets on the relationships among perceived stress and mental health outcomes (burnout, depression, anxiety, and subjective well-being) among Chinese intensive care nurses. A total of 500 Chinese intensive care nurses completed self-report measures of mindfulness, burnout syndromes, perceived stress, depression, anxiety, and subjective well-being. Correlation and hierarchical multiple regressions were applied for data analysis. Mindfulness moderated the effects of perceived stress on emotional exhaustion (the core component of burnout syndrome), depression, anxiety, positive affect, and negative affect but not on the other two dimensions of burnout and life satisfaction. Further analyses indicated that the ability to act with awareness was particularly crucial in improving the effects of perceived stress on depression. These results further broaden our understanding of the relationships between perceived stress and burnout, depression, anxiety, and subjective well-being by demonstrating that mindfulness may serve as a protective factor that alleviates or eliminates the negative effects of perceived stress on depression, anxiety, burnout syndrome, and subjective well-being and may instigate further research into targeted mindfulness interventions for Chinese intensive care nurses.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6482227/

 

Mindfulness Training and Cognitive Therapy Improves Social Anxiety Disorder

Mindfulness Training and Cognitive Therapy Improves Social Anxiety Disorder

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Using mindfulness, we can begin to notice what happens in the body when anxiety is present and develop strategies to empower clients to “signal safety” to their nervous system. Over time, clients feel empowered to slow down their response to triggers, manage their body’s fear response (fight-or-flight) and increase their ability to tolerate discomfort.” – Jeena Chi

 

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-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and also Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have been shown to be effective in treating Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).

 

In today’s Research News article “Emotional clarity and attention to emotions in cognitive behavioral group therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction for social anxiety disorder.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5879018/), Butler and colleagues recruited patients diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) and a healthy control group and randomly assigned them to receive 12 weekly 2.5 hour sessions of either Cognitive Behavioral Group Therapy (CBGT) or Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or to a wait-list control condition. They were measured before and after treatment and 12 months later for emotional clarity, attention to emotions, and social anxiety.

 

They found that at baseline the patients with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) had significantly greater social anxiety and lower emotional clarity than the healthy controls. After treatment the patients who had received either MBSR or CBGT had significantly higher levels of emotional clarity than the wait-list controls. The effect remained 12 months later. They also found that the greater the changes in emotional clarity observed after treatment and at the 12-month follow-up, the greater the improvement in Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). There were no significant effects on attention to emotions.

 

Emotional clarity is an aspect of emotional regulation which involves the ability to identify the emotion that is being experienced. The results suggest that this ability is enhanced by both Cognitive Behavioral Group Therapy (CBGT) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and that this improvement is related to the treatments ability to improve the symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). This is in line with the repeated finding that mindfulness training improves emotion regulation. The results further refine this understanding by identifying emotional clarity and not attention to emotions as the component of emotional regulation that’s important for improvements in SAD. So, being more sensitive to what is the identity of the emotion being experienced is helpful in dealing with social anxiety, but paying more attention to emotions is not. This further suggests that treatment focusing on emotional clarity may be even more effective in treating SAD.

 

So, improve social anxiety disorder with mindfulness training or cognitive therapy.

 

The power of a mindfulness practice, however, may come in the realization that one can live a meaningful life even with social anxiety. Schjerning, who participated in Fleming and Kocovski’s group, says that he still feels nervous in social situations but now feels compassion — not judgment — for himself, and sees that “I can be more the person I want to be.” – Jason Drwal

 

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

 

Butler, R. M., Boden, M. T., Olino, T. M., Morrison, A. S., Goldin, P. R., Gross, J. J., & Heimberg, R. G. (2018). Emotional clarity and attention to emotions in cognitive behavioral group therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction for social anxiety disorder. Journal of anxiety disorders55, 31–38. doi:10.1016/j.janxdis.2018.03.003

 

Highlights

We examined emotional clarity (EC) and attention to emotion in patients with social anxiety disorder (SAD).

  • Patients demonstrated lower levels of EC than healthy controls.
  • Cognitive-behavioral group therapy increased EC more than a waitlist.
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction did not increase EC more than a waitlist.
  • Changes in emotional clarity predicted changes in social anxiety.
  • Analyses involving attention to emotions were not significant.

Abstract

We examined (1) differences between controls and patients with social anxiety disorder (SAD) in emotional clarity and attention to emotions; (2) changes in emotional clarity and attention to emotions associated with cognitive-behavioral group therapy (CBGT), mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), or a waitlist (WL) condition; and (3) whether emotional clarity and attention to emotions moderated changes in social anxiety across treatment. Participants were healthy controls (n = 37) and patients with SAD (n=108) who were assigned to CBGT, MBSR, or WL in a randomized controlled trial. At pretreatment, posttreatment, and 12-month follow-up, patients with SAD completed measures of social anxiety, emotional clarity, and attention to emotions. Controls completed measures at baseline only. At pretreatment, patients with SAD had lower levels of emotional clarity than controls. Emotional clarity increased significantly among patients receiving CBGT, and changes were maintained at 12-month follow-up. Emotional clarity at posttreatment did not differ between CBGT and MBSR or between MBSR and WL. Changes in emotional clarity predicted changes in social anxiety, but emotional clarity did not moderate treatment outcome. Analyses of attention to emotions were not significant. Implications for the role of emotional clarity in the treatment of SAD are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5879018/

 

Improve Mental Well-Being with Mindfulness

Improve Mental Well-Being with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

Over the last several decades, research and anecdotal experiences have accumulated an impressive evidential case that the development of mindfulness has positive benefits for the individual’s mental, physical, and spiritual life. Mindfulness appears to be beneficial both for healthy people and for people suffering from a myriad of mental and physical illnesses. It appears to be beneficial across ages, from children to the elderly. And it appears to be beneficial across genders, personalities, race, and ethnicity. The breadth and depth of benefits is unprecedented. There is no other treatment or practice that has been shown to come anyway near the range of mindfulness’ positive benefits.

 

There is a vast array of techniques for the development of mindfulness. They include a variety of forms of meditationyogamindful movementscontemplative prayer, and combinations of practices. Some are recommended to be practiced for years while others are employed for only a few weeks. Regardless of the technique, they all appear to develop and increase mindfulness. One particularly effective mindfulness training program is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). The MBSR program consists of 8 weekly group sessions involving meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion. The patients are also encouraged to perform daily practice. It is unclear, however, exactly how the state of mindfulness of the participants at the beginning of training affect the effects of the MBSR program.

 

In today’s Research News article “The many facets of mindfulness and the prediction of change following mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5815955/), Gawrysiak and colleagues recruited participants in an 8-week, one 2.5-hour session per week of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. They were measured before and after treatments for perceived stress, positive and negative emotions, mindfulness, and decentering.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline, after the MBSR program there were large significant improvements in all measures including increases in mindfulness, positive emotions, and decentering and decreases in negative emotions, and perceived stress. They then examined the relationship of the levels of mindfulness facets at baseline and the changes in emotions and stress produced by the MBSR program. They found that in general, participants with high levels of mindfulness facets of awareness, acceptance, and decentering had significantly greater increases in positive emotions and decreases in negative emotions. On the other hand, participants with low levels of acceptance, and decentering had significantly greater decreases in stress, negative emotions.

 

These results clearly demonstrate that participating in an MBSR program produces improved mindfulness, emotional health, and stress reduction. These are in line with a number of previous findings that mindfulness training improves emotions and perceived stress levels. But, the results regarding baseline mindfulness facets on emotions and stress are complex and a bit counterintuitive. They suggest that participants who are already high in awareness, acceptance, and decentering benefited the most in regards to their emotions from the MBSR program. While, those low in acceptance, and decentering benefited the most in regards to their perceived stress levels. More research is needed to better understand these complex relationships.

 

So, improve mental well-being with mindfulness.

 

“The practice of mindfulness is an effective means of enhancing and maintaining optimal mental health and overall well-being, and can be implemented in every aspect of daily living.” – Rezvan Ameli

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Gawrysiak, M. J., Grassetti, S. N., Greeson, J. M., Shorey, R. C., Pohlig, R., & Baime, M. J. (2017). The many facets of mindfulness and the prediction of change following mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). Journal of clinical psychology, 74(4), 523–535. doi:10.1002/jclp.22521

 

Abstract

Objectives

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) promotes numerous psychological benefits, but few studies have identified for whom MBSR is most effective. The current study tested the hypothesis that lower baseline mindfulness invites more “room to grow” and, thus, predicts greater improvement during MBSR.

Design

We examined three facets of mindfulness (awareness, acceptance, decentering), among 131 MBSR participants prior to enrollment, to test the hypothesis that lower baseline mindfulness predicts greater improvements in perceived stress, positive affect (PA), and negative affect (NA) following MBSR.

Results

Lower acceptance and decentering predicted greater decreases in perceived stress. Higher awareness, acceptance, and decentering predicted greater increases in PA. Higher awareness predicted greater reductions in NA. Lower decentering predicted greater reductions in NA.

Conclusions

Findings partly supported the hypothesis that lower baseline mindfulness predicts greater improvement following MBSR and emphasize the importance of assessing multiple mindfulness facets given their unique, contrasting relations to outcomes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5815955/

 

Become More Sensitive to Others with Meditation

Become More Sensitive to Others with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“as we pay attention to our breath, our body, our lives, in this simple and gentle way, a natural consequence is the opening of the heart.” – Matthew Brensilver

 

Humans are social animals. This is a great asset for the species as the effort of the individual is amplified by cooperation. In primitive times, this cooperation was essential for survival. But in modern times it is also essential, not for survival but rather for making a living and for the happiness of the individual. This ability to cooperate is so essential to human flourishing that it is built deep into our DNA and is reflected in the structure of the human nervous system. This deep need for positive social interactions heightens the pain of social rejection.

 

Mindfulness has been found to increase prosocial behaviors such as altruism, compassion and empathy and reduce antisocial behaviors such as violence and aggression. In today’s Research News article “Exploring the Role of Meditation and Dispositional Mindfulness on Social Cognition Domains: A Controlled Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00809/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_963174_69_Psycho_20190416_arts_A), Campos and colleagues examine the relationship of mindfulness to social cognition, “the mental operations that underlie social interactions, including perceiving, interpreting, and generating responses to the intentions, dispositions, and behaviors of others”.

 

They recruited a group of healthy adult meditation practitioners and a group of non-meditators and had them complete measures of mindfulness, empathy, emotion recognition, theory of mind, attribution style, depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairment. Comparing the two groups they found that the meditators had significantly higher levels of mindfulness, interpersonal reactivity (empathy), emotion recognition, and theory of mind and significantly lower levels of cognitive impairment and lower levels of attribution style, including hostility bias intentionality bias, blame, anger bias, and aggressivity bias. They also found that the higher the levels of mindfulness, particularly the non-reactivity facet of mindfulness, the higher the levels of empathy.

 

This study is cross-sectional and has to be interpreted with caution. The results, however suggest that meditators have higher levels of social cognition. That is, that meditators are much more sensitive to others. This, in turn, improves their ability to understand and interact with others. They also suggest that meditators have a better ability to be non-reactive to what is transpiring in the present moment. This would make them better at responding empathetically to others. Hence, the study suggests that meditation practice may improve the individual’s sensitivity to others.

 

So, become more sensitive to others with meditation.

 

“Learning to communicate with empathy can go a long way toward building more positivity in your relationships and reducing your stress. If we all focused more on listening and understanding each other, the world would be a lot less stressful—and a lot happier—place to live.” – Arthur Ciamamicoli

 

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

 

Campos D, Modrego-Alarcón M, López-del-Hoyo Y, González-Panzano M, Van Gordon W, Shonin E, Navarro-Gil M and García-Campayo J (2019) Exploring the Role of Meditation and Dispositional Mindfulness on Social Cognition Domains: A Controlled Study. Front. Psychol. 10:809. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00809

 

Research suggests that mindfulness can induce changes in the social domain, such as enhancing emotional connection to others, prosocial behavior, and empathy. However, despite growing interest in mindfulness in social psychology, very little is known about the effects of mindfulness on social cognition. Consequently, the aim of this study was to explore the relationship between mindfulness and social cognition by comparing meditators with non-meditators on several social cognition measures. A total of 60 participants (meditators, n = 30; non-meditators, n = 30) were matched on sex, age, and ethnic group, and then asked to complete the following assessment measures: Mindful Awareness Attention Scale (MAAS), Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire Short Form (FFMQ-SF), Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI), Revised Eyes Test, Hinting Task, Ambiguous Intentions and Hostility Questionnaire (AIHQ), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), and Screening for Cognitive Impairment in Psychiatry (SCIP). The results showed that meditators reported higher empathy (except for the personal distress subscale), higher emotional recognition, higher theory of mind (ToM), and lower hostile attributional style/bias. The findings also demonstrated that dispositional mindfulness (both total score assessed with MAAS and mindfulness facets using the FFMQ) was associated with social cognition, although it was not equally correlated with all social cognition outcomes, and correlation patterns differ when analyses were conducted separately for meditators and non-meditators. In addition, results showed potential predictors for each social cognition variable, highlighting non-reactivity to inner experience as a key component of mindfulness in order to explain social cognition performance. In summary, the findings indicated that the meditator sample performed better on certain qualities (i.e., empathy, emotional recognition, ToM, hostile attributional style/bias) in comparison to non-meditators and, furthermore, support the notion that mindfulness is related to social cognition, which may have implications for the design of mindfulness-based approaches for use in clinical and non-clinical settings.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00809/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_963174_69_Psycho_20190416_arts_A

 

Improve Emotion Regulation with Emotional-Based Meditation

Improve Emotion Regulation with Emotional-Based Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness enables you to become a more cognizant observer of your experience, allowing you to become more “tuned in” to what you are feeling inside. When emotions feel confusing, overwhelming, or paralyzing, they are not serving the healthy and productive function that those very same emotions are able to serve when used constructively.” – Laura Chang

 

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.

 

Many forms of mindfulness training involve both attention training to thoughts and also internal attention to feelings and emotions. It is not known what components of mindfulness training are responsible for the improvements in emotion regulation. In today’s Research News article “A Positive Emotional-Based Meditation but Not Mindfulness-Based Meditation Improves Emotion Regulation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00647/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_951898_69_Psycho_20190404_arts_A), Valim and colleagues recruited healthy young adults who did not engage in mindfulness practices or yoga. They were randomly assigned to receive either a 20 minute guided meditation on observing thoughts, a 27 guided meditation instructing participants to concentrate on desiring “good things for the Earth and for all humanity”, similar to Loving Kindness Meditation practice, or a rest of similar duration.

 

The participants were measured before the brief practice for emotion regulation, anxiety, depression, mindfulness, and positive and negative emotions. After the practice they were again measured for positive and negative emotions and also performed an emotion regulation task in which the participants viewed emotion arousing pictures and were asked to affect their emotional reactions either by reappraising them to increase or decrease their responses, distract themselves by performing a mathematical problem, or simply look carefully at the pictures. While performing the task the electrocardiograph (ECG) was measured.

 

They found that both the groups who either observed thoughts or good feelings were better able to attend to the distraction and have lower emotional responses. With the reappraisal strategy, however, the participants who had the brief meditation on good feelings were better able to increase or decrease their reactions to either positive or negative emotion pictures than the participants who observed thoughts. The interbeat intervals in the ECG showed significant changes according to the positive or negative emotional valence of the pictures and also with the different strategies. But there were no significant differences between groups.

 

These results suggest that a brief guided meditation practice can alter emotion regulation in regard to both reappraisal and distraction strategies. But, surprisingly, the attention to good feelings strategy appeared to be superior to the attention to thoughts strategy in altering (amplifying or deadening) the emotional reactions to both positive and negative pictures.

 

It should be kept in mind that these were very brief practices and different results might occur with more prolonged practice. The attention to thoughts strategy was also unusual as most mindfulness techniques emphasize attention to breathing or external stimuli without judgment. It is possible that the attention to thoughts strategy was less effective because it actually decreased mindfulness by increasing attention to thinking. Nevertheless, the results suggest that it is important to study the components of mindfulness practices and their differing effects on emotion regulation.

 

So, improve emotion regulation with emotional-based meditation.

 

“Mindful emotion regulation represents the capacity to remain mindfully aware at all times, irrespective of the apparent valence or magnitude of any emotion that is experienced. It does not entail suppression of the emotional experience, nor any specific attempts to reappraise or alter it in any way. Instead, MM involves a systematic retraining of awareness and nonreactivity, leading to defusion from whatever is experienced, and allowing the individual to more consciously choose those thoughts, emotions and sensations they will identify with, rather than habitually reacting to them. In this way, it erodes the automatic process of appraisal that gives rise to disturbing emotions in the first place”  – Richard Chambers

 

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

 

Valim CPRAT, Marques LM and Boggio PS (2019) A Positive Emotional-Based Meditation but Not Mindfulness-Based Meditation Improves Emotion Regulation. Front. Psychol.10:647. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00647

 

Among the various strategies for modulating the components of the emotional responses, the cognitive reappraisal and distraction are highlighted in current researches. As indicated in recent studies, the capacity for emotional regulation can be improved by mindfulness meditation practicing. This practice usually offers benefits to people’s cognitive functioning and aims to improve a characteristic that is intrinsic to every human being: the ability to turn attention to the present moment. Importantly, positive emotions might also be effective on emotional regulation and several meditation practices make use of it. Thus, we aimed to compare two meditation modalities: one focused on attention only (mindfulness) and another focused-on attention toward positive emotions [Twin Hearts Meditation (THM)]. Ninety healthy subjects without any previous experience in meditation were enrolled in this experiment. Of these participants, 30 were submitted to the mindfulness practice with full attention on the observation of thoughts; 30 to the THM; and 30 to a control group (no meditation practice). After one session of meditation, all the participants completed emotional regulation task judging the valence and arousal of pictures with emotional content. In addition to the behavioral data, the participants’ psychophysiological measures were recorded via electrocardiography (ECG). The results demonstrate a greater efficacy of THM in suppressing the negative valence of the negative pictures and amplifying the valence of the positive ones. No effect of meditation was observed for the ECG. Our findings indicate that contemplative meditation (THM) can positively influence the emotion regulation ability, even when performed by non-meditators and only once. However, in mindfulness meditation this same immediate effect was not found. Our findings reveal that faster effects of meditation practices can be obtained by practices that considers either the attentional processing and the positive emotions.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00647/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_951898_69_Psycho_20190404_arts_A