Improve Depression with Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

Improve Depression with Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“MBCT encourages individuals with [Major Depressive Disorder] to become more aware of their internal events (ie, thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations) and to change the ways in which they relate to these thoughts. For example, individuals are encouraged to view their thoughts as passing events in the mind, rather than treat them as reality. Disengaging from automatic negative cognitive patterns, such as rumination, reduces the future risk of relapse.” – Meagan MacKenzie

 

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. Even after remission some symptoms of depression may still be present (residual symptoms).

 

Being depressed and not responding to treatment or relapsing 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 has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and its recurrence and even in the cases where drugs fail.

 

The most commonly used mindfulness technique for the treatment of depression is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).  MBCT involves mindfulness training, containing sitting and walking meditation and body scan, and cognitive therapy to alter how the patient relates to the thought processes that often underlie and exacerbate psychological symptoms. MBCT has been shown to be as effective as antidepressant drugs in relieving the symptoms of depression and preventing depression reoccurrence and relapse. In addition, it appears to be effective as either a supplement to or a replacement for these drugs. The research has been accumulating. So, it is reasonable to take an overall look at what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in patients with depression: current perspectives.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6018485/ ) MacKenzie and colleagues review and summarize the published research on the effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for depression.

 

They report that the published research studies demonstrate that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) produces significant decreases in current depression in patients with major depressive disorder and also significantly reduces the reoccurrence of depression in patients in remission. the research also found that MBCT produces these improvements in depression by increasing mindfulness, positive emotions and self-compassion and reducing rumination, negative emotions, and cognitive and emotional reactivity.

 

Hence, the published research has built a compelling case that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a safe and effective treatment for depression and its reoccurrence. It does so by altering a number of intermediaries that directly effect depression. MBCT should be recommended as a front-line treatment.

 

So, improve depression with Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).

 

meta-analyses have demonstrated the efficacy of MBCT for reducing depression symptoms in patients with current depression . . . MBCT has been shown to perform as well as other comparable evidence-based treatments.” – Alice Tickell

 

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

 

MacKenzie, M. B., Abbott, K. A., & Kocovski, N. L. (2018). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in patients with depression: current perspectives. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 14, 1599–1605. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S160761

 

Abstract

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) was developed to prevent relapse in individuals with depressive disorders. This widely used intervention has garnered considerable attention and a comprehensive review of current trends is warranted. As such, this review provides an overview of efficacy, mechanisms of action, and concludes with a discussion of dissemination. Results provided strong support for the efficacy of MBCT despite some methodological shortcomings in the reviewed literature. With respect to mechanisms of action, specific elements, such as mindfulness, repetitive negative thinking, self-compassion and affect, and cognitive reactivity have emerged as important mechanisms of change. Finally, despite a lack of widespread MBCT availability outside urban areas, research has shown that self-help variations are promising. Combined with findings that teacher competence may not be a significant predictor of treatment outcome, there are important implications for dissemination. Taken together, this review shows that while MBCT is an effective treatment for depression, continued research in the areas of efficacy, mechanisms of action, and dissemination are recommended.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6018485/

 

Yoga and Other Exercises Improve Body Image and Psychological Well-Being

Yoga and Other Exercises Improve Body Image and Psychological Well-Being

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Overall, practicing yoga can have a profound impact on improving body image, but it depends how it is approached by the individual. When you treat yoga as a tool for body appreciation, healthy movement, and inner reflection, it helps improve body image and mental health.” – Tara Caguait

 

The media is constantly presenting idealized images of what we should look like. These are unrealistic and unattainable for the vast majority of people. But it results in most everyone being unhappy with their body.  This can lead to problematic consequences. In a number of eating disorders there’s a distorted body image. This can and does drive unhealthy behaviors. As a treatment mindfulness has been shown to improve eating disorders.

 

In the media, yoga is portrayed as practiced by lithe beautiful people. This is, of course, unrealistic and potentially harmful. But yoga is also an exercise that tends to improve the body and it has been shown to improve body image and psychological health. It is unclear whether it is the exercise provided by yoga practice that promotes psychological health and a healthy body image or to components specific to yoga practice.

 

In today’s Research News article “Yoga, Dance, Team Sports, or Individual Sports: Does the Type of Exercise Matter? An Online Study Investigating the Relationships Between Different Types of Exercise, Body Image, and Well-Being in Regular Exercise Practitioners.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.621272/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1616048_69_Psycho_20210504_arts_A )  Marshin and colleagues recruited adults online and had them complete measures of amount and type of exercise, body size, body image, body dissatisfaction, eating disorders, physical efficacy, physical activity, positive and negative emotions, and depression.

 

They found that the participants who engaged in regular exercise had significantly lower body dissatisfaction, perceived body weight, and depression and significantly higher positive emotions than sedentary individuals. They also found that there were no significant differences in any of the outcome variables for regular exercise practitioners of yoga, ballroom dance, team sports, or individual sports.

 

These findings are correlational, so no conclusions can be reached regarding causation. But it is clear that people who exercise have a better image of their bodies and better mental health than sedentary individuals. The fact that there were no significant differences between practitioners of different types of exercise including yoga suggests that exercise of any type is associated with greater satisfaction with the body and better mood. Yoga practice has been shown to improve body image and positive emotions and lower depression. The present findings suggest that these benefits of yoga practice are due to the exercise and not to the other components of yoga practice.

 

So, yoga and other exercises improve body image and psychological well-being.

 

Individuals who are dissatisfied with their body image are at a higher risk for eating disorders, depression, and low self-esteem. When diversity and inclusivity are encouraged, yoga may have an important role to play in supporting healthy feelings toward body image.” – Lacey Gibson

 

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

 

Marschin V and Herbert C (2021) Yoga, Dance, Team Sports, or Individual Sports: Does the Type of Exercise Matter? An Online Study Investigating the Relationships Between Different Types of Exercise, Body Image, and Well-Being in Regular Exercise Practitioners. Front. Psychol. 12:621272. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.621272

 

Physical activity, specifically exercising, has been suggested to improve body image, mental health, and well-being. With respect to body image, previous findings highlight a general benefit of exercise. This study investigates whether the relationship between exercising and body image varies with the type of exercise that individuals preferentially and regularly engage in. In addition, physical efficacy was explored as a potential psychological mediator between type of exercise and body image. Using a cross-sectional design, healthy regular exercise practitioners of yoga, ballroom dance, team sports, or individual sports as well as healthy adults reporting no regular exercising were surveyed. Body image and its different facets were assessed by a set of standardized self-report questionnaires, covering perceptual, cognitive, and affective body image dimensions particularly related to negative body image. In addition, participants were questioned with regard to mental health. Participants were 270 healthy adults. Descriptive statistics, measures of variance (ANOVA), and multiple linear regression analysis with orthogonal contrasts were performed to investigate differences between the different exercise and non-exercise groups in the variables of interest. In line with the hypotheses and previous findings, the statistic comparisons revealed that body dissatisfaction (as one important factor of negative body image) was most pronounced in the non-exercise group compared to all exercise groups [contrast: no exercise versus exercise (all groups taken together)]. Physical efficacy, as assessed with a standardized questionnaire, mediated the difference between type of exercise (using contrasts) and body image including perceptual, cognitive, and affective body image dimensions. The findings shed light on so far less systematically investigated questions regarding the relationship between types of exercise, like yoga and ballroom dance, and body image. The results underscore the relevance of considering possible influencing factors in exercise research, such as the perception of one’s physical efficacy as a mediator of this relationship.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.621272/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1616048_69_Psycho_20210504_arts_A

 

Improve Attention, Memory, and Emotions with Meditation

Improve Attention, Memory, and Emotions with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

meditating can change the structure and function of the brain through relaxation, which can: Reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, Increase focus and learning concentration, Improve memory and attention span, Build stronger immune system and greater physical/psychological resilience, Allow better sleep” – Columbia University

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. Mindfulness also decreases the individual’s tendency to use tried and true solutions to problems and thereby improves cognitive flexibility. Mindfulness has also been shown to improve attention, memory, and emotions. This has led to an increasing adoption of these mindfulness techniques for the health and well-being of both healthy and ill individuals.There are, however, a large variety of meditation techniques and it is not known which types are best for which benefit.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Combining Meditation Techniques on Short-Term Memory, Attention, and Affect in Healthy College Students.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.607573/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1616048_69_Psycho_20210504_arts_A )  Pragya and colleagues recruited college students and randomly assigned them to one of three meditation groups or to a no-treatment control group. Meditation occurred in 3 25-minute sessions per week for 8 weeks and was either a sound meditation (Bee sound), color imagery (green) or the combination of the two. They were measured before and after training for short-term memory and positive and negative emotions. They also completed a continuous performance test to measure selective attention, sustained attention, and impulsivity.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control group the combined meditation groups had significantly greater short-term memory and positive emotions and significantly lower negative emotions, inattention, and impulsivity. The two types of meditation techniques and their combination had somewhat different magnitudes of effects. Sound meditation had greater improvements of attention and reductions in negative emotions, while the color focused meditation group had greater attentiveness and short-term memory. The combined color and sound meditation group had the greatest improvements.

 

These results demonstrate as has been previously reported that mindfulness practices produce greater short-term memory and positive emotions and significantly lower negative emotions, inattention, and impulsivity. The contribution of the present study is to demonstrate that different meditation techniques produce similar effects but differ in the magnitudes of those effects. This could help to determine which techniques work best for people with different weaknesses. Regardless, meditation appear to improve cognitive and emotional well-being.

 

So, improve attention, memory, and emotions with meditation.

 

A critical part of attention (and working memory capacity) is being able to ignore distraction. There has been growing evidence that meditation training (in particular mindfulness meditation) helps develop attentional control, and that this can start to happen very quickly.” – About memory

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

 

Pragya SU, Mehta ND, Abomoelak B, Uddin P, Veeramachaneni P, Mehta N, Moore S, Jean-Francois M, Garcia S, Pragya SC and Mehta DI (2021) Effects of Combining Meditation Techniques on Short-Term Memory, Attention, and Affect in Healthy College Students. Front. Psychol. 12:607573. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.607573

 

Meditation refers to a family of self-regulation practices that focuses on training attention and awareness to foster psycho-emotional well-being and to develop specific capacities such as calmness, clarity, and concentration. We report a prospective convenience-controlled study in which we analyzed the effect of two components of Preksha Dhyāna – buzzing bee sound meditation (Mahapran dhvani) and color meditation (leśyā dhyāna) on healthy college students. Mahapran and leśya dhyāna are two Preksha Dhyāna practices that are based on sound and green color, respectively. The study population represents a suitable target as college students experience different stress factors during the school year. This study measures the individual and combined effects of two techniques (one focusing on sound and one focusing on color), on short-term memory, attention, and affect, in novice meditators. We used a battery of cognitive, performance, and compared results with baseline and control values. We found improved cognition, especially attention, short-term memory, and affect in terms of positivity and reduced negativity. Overall, the two techniques produced variable benefits and subjects showed improved scores over baseline for short-term memory, cognitive function, and overall wellbeing. Further studies are required to understand underlying mechanisms for the observed differences between the two techniques and to elucidate mechanisms underlying the more pronounced and global benefits observed with the combined techniques. These results underscore a need to examine individual components of meditation practices in order to individualize treatment approaches for attention disorders in young adults.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.607573/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1616048_69_Psycho_20210504_arts_A

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Improved Mood and Lower Interpersonal Sensitivity

Mindfulness is Associated with Improved Mood and Lower Interpersonal Sensitivity

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness training may help reduce interpersonal sensitivity in college students. When college students have strong effectiveness/authenticity, lower negative emotions may be a protective factor to prevent interpersonal sensitivity.” – Xiaoqian Ding

 

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. Mindfulness has been found to increase prosocial emotions such as compassion, and empathy and prosocial behaviors such as altruism. So, being mindful socially is very important.

 

The importance of social interactions, however, can increase a person’s interpersonal sensitivity. This is associated with low self-esteem and a poor self-concept. At extremes, this can result in social anxiety disorders. Mindfulness training has been shown to help with the treatment of social anxiety disorders and to improve self-esteem. So, mindfulness may be effective in reducing interpersonal sensitivity. But there is little research on mindfulness and interpersonal sensitivity.

 

In today’s Research News article “Exploring the Relationship Between Trait Mindfulness and Interpersonal Sensitivity for Chinese College Students: The Mediating Role of Negative Emotions and Moderating Role of Effectiveness/Authenticity.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.624340/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1616048_69_Psycho_20210504_arts_A )  Ding and colleagues recruited college students and had them complete measures of mindfulness, mood states, mental health symptoms, interpersonal sensitivity, emotional effectiveness/authenticity, emotional novelty, and emotional preparedness.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of emotional effectiveness/authenticity and emotional preparedness and the lower the levels of negative emotions and interpersonal sensitivity. A mediation analysis revealed that mindfulness was negatively associated with interpersonal sensitivity directly and also indirectly by being associated with lower negative emotions which in turn was associated with lower interpersonal sensitivity. Finally, they found that the mindfulness’ association with lower negative emotions and in turn lower interpersonal sensitivity was stronger when the participants were also high in emotional effectiveness/authenticity.

 

These findings are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. In prior research, however, mindfulness training has been shown to decrease negative emotions. So, the observed relationship is likely due to a causal relationship between mindfulness and lower negative emotions. In addition, mindfulness has been shown to improve self-esteem and the self-concept. Hence, mindfulness improves mood and lowers emotional sensitivity.

 

Interpersonal sensitivity is a problem for everyone and especially college students. It suggests that the individual doesn’t think much of themselves and looks at themselves as a problem. This can produce maladaptive behaviors on the part of the individual compounding the problem. Negative emotions feed into this negative self-concept. But this can be disrupted by mindfulness which not only improves the self-concept, reducing interpersonal sensitivity, but also improves emotions that also lower this sensitivity. This all suggests that mindfulness training may be recommended for college students to improve their psychological health.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with improved mood and lower interpersonal sensitivity.

 

Mindfulness meditation could provide a healthy method of coping with interpersonal stress for college students and offer a valuable addition to traditional relaxation and imagery techniques.” – Lily Preer

 

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

 

Ding X, Zhao T, Li X, Yang Z and Tang Y-Y (2021) Exploring the Relationship Between Trait Mindfulness and Interpersonal Sensitivity for Chinese College Students: The Mediating Role of Negative Emotions and Moderating Role of Effectiveness/Authenticity. Front. Psychol. 12:624340. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.624340

 

Background: Interpersonal sensitivity is a prominent mental health problem facing college students today. Trait mindfulness is a potential positive factor that may influence interpersonal relationships. However, the precise relationship between trait mindfulness and interpersonal sensitivity remains elusive, which limits the optimization and further application of mindfulness-based intervention schemes targeting interpersonal sensitivity. This study aimed to explore (a) whether negative emotions mediate the relationship between trait mindfulness and interpersonal sensitivity and (b) whether the relationship among trait mindfulness, negative emotions, and interpersonal sensitivity is moderated by effectiveness/authenticity. We hypothesize that (a) negative emotions mediate the relationship between trait mindfulness and interpersonal sensitivity, and (b) effectiveness/authenticity moderates the indirect association between trait mindfulness and interpersonal sensitivity through negative emotions.

Methods: One thousand four hundred nineteen Chinese college students (1,023 females, 396 males), aged from 17 to 23 (SD = 0.86, mean = 18.38), participated in this study. Their trait mindfulness, negative emotions, the effectiveness/authenticity, and interpersonal sensitivity were measured using well-validated self-report questionnaires.

Results: Correlational analyses indicated that both trait mindfulness and effectiveness/authenticity were significantly and negatively associated with interpersonal sensitivity. Mediation analyses uncovered a partial mediating role of negative emotions in the relationship between trait mindfulness and interpersonal sensitivity. Moderated mediation analyses showed that in college students with high effectiveness/authenticity, the relationship between trait mindfulness and negative emotions was stronger, whereas the relationship between negative emotions and interpersonal sensitivity was weaker.

Conclusion: Negative emotion is a mediator of the relationship between trait mindfulness and interpersonal sensitivity, which in turn is moderated by effectiveness/authenticity. These findings suggest a potential mechanism through which trait mindfulness influences interpersonal sensitivity. Mindfulness-based interventions have the potential to decrease interpersonal sensitivity and offer a basis for predicting individual differences in response to mindfulness-based interventions among individuals.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.624340/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1616048_69_Psycho_20210504_arts_A

 

Improve Psychological Well-Being and Emotion Regulation with a Mindfulness Smartphone App

Improve Psychological Well-Being and Emotion Regulation with a Mindfulness Smartphone App

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

We know that the effect of this pandemic on people’s mental health is huge. . . Through the app . . You are led through a multi-sensory process of imagining yourself in a particular situation. . . Those techniques can in fact help people to reduce depression, reduce anxiety, and improve their mood,” – Judith Gordon

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health. But the vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, mindfulness training with smartphone apps has been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. In addition, research has indicated that mindfulness training via smartphone apps can be effective for improving the health and well-being of the participants.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Self-Compassion and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Mobile Intervention (Serene) for Depression, Anxiety, and Stress: Promoting Adaptive Emotional Regulation and Wisdom.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.648087/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1616048_69_Psycho_20210504_arts_A ) Al-Refae and colleagues recruited adults and assigned them to a wait-list control condition or to receive a 4-week program of mindfulness, self-compassion, and cognitive restructuring training delivered by a smartphone app (Serene). They were measured before and after training for depression, stress, anxiety, self-compassion, wisdom, psychological well-being, and subjective well-being.

 

They found that in comparison to the wait-list group, after the 4-weeks of training the participants that received the mindfulness training had significant decreases in depression, anxiety, perceived stress self-judgement, isolation, and overidentification and significant increases in self-compassion, common humanity, mindfulness, and emotion regulation. In other words, the participants had improvements in psychological health and well-being.

 

Previous research has established that mindfulness training decreases depression, anxiety, perceived stress, and self-judgement and increases self-compassion, and emotion regulation. The contribution of the present study was demonstrating that mindfulness training with a smartphone app was also capable of producing these same benefits. This improves the scalability and convenience of training and reduces the cost, expanding the number of people who can benefit from mindfulness training.

 

So, improve psychological well-being and emotion regulation with a mindfulness smartphone app.

 

The Serene app features support videos that introduce users to meditation and other safe activities. . . It offers more than 250 activities and provides link to . . . mental-health support services, including crisis centers. This app is for all ages and is meant to help track your emotions and mood swings.” – Fontaine Glenn

 

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

 

Al-Refae M, Al-Refae A, Munroe M, Sardella NA and Ferrari M (2021) A Self-Compassion and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Mobile Intervention (Serene) for Depression, Anxiety, and Stress: Promoting Adaptive Emotional Regulation and Wisdom. Front. Psychol. 12:648087. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.648087

 

Introduction: Many individuals and families are currently experiencing a high level of COVID-19-related stress and are struggling to find helpful coping mechanisms. Mindfulness-based interventions are becoming an increasingly popular treatment for individuals experiencing depression and chronic levels of stress. The app (Serene) draws from scholarly evidence on the efficacy of mindfulness meditations and builds on the pre-existing apps by incorporating techniques that are used in some therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.

Methods: Participants were randomly assigned to a 4-week mindfulness and self-compassion-based cognitive smartphone intervention (Serene) or a wait-list control group. They were instructed to engage in self-compassion and mindfulness practices and a cognitive restructuring task. They also completed measures that evaluated their levels of depression, stress, anxiety, self-compassion, wisdom, psychological well-being, and subjective well-being. The intervention group was also instructed to track their weekly engagement with the app. Standardized effect sizes for between-group differences were calculated using Cohen’s d for complete case analyses.

Results: Complete case analyses from baseline to the end of this randomized controlled trial demonstrated significant moderate between-group differences for depressive symptoms (d = −0.43) and decisiveness (d = 0.34). Moderate between-group differences were also found for self-compassion (d = 0.6) such that significant improvements in self-kindness, common humanity, mindfulness and decreases in self-judgement, isolation, and overidentification were observed. A small between-group difference was found for emotional regulation (d = 0.28). Moreover, a significant moderate within-group decrease in stress (d = −0.52) and anxiety symptoms (d = −0.47) was also observed in the intervention group.

Conclusions: Serene is an effective intervention that promotes increased levels of self-compassion and emotional regulation. Engaging with Serene may help reduce depressive symptoms through mindfulness, self-compassion, and cognitive restructuring which help reduce overidentification with one’s negative emotions. As individuals rebalance their thinking through cognitive restructuring, they can identify the varying stressors in their life, develop action plans and engage in adaptive coping strategies to address them. Serene may promote greater self-understanding which may provide one with a more balanced perspective on their current upsetting situations to positively transform their challenges during the pandemic.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.648087/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1616048_69_Psycho_20210504_arts_A

 

Mindfulness Training Reduces Posttraumatic Stress Among Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence

Mindfulness Training Reduces Posttraumatic Stress Among Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“People with PTSD may sometimes feel as though they have a hard time getting any distance from unpleasant thoughts and memories. . . Mindfulness may help people get back in touch with the present moment, as well as reduce the extent with which they feel controlled by unpleasant thoughts and memories.” – Matthew Tull

 

The human tendency to lash out with aggression when threatened was adaptive for the evolution of the species. It helped promote the survival of the individual, the family, and the tribe. In the modern world, however, this trait has become more of a problem than an asset. These violent and aggressive tendencies can lead to violence directed to intimate partners, including sexual and physical violence. In the U.S. there are over 5 million cases of domestic violence reported annually. Indeed, it has been estimated that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced physical violence and 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced sexual violence from an intimate partner.

 

Intimate partner violence frequently produces Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms in the survivors. Hence, there is a need to find ways to reduce the impact of intimate partner violence on the mental health of the survivors. Mindfulness training has been shown to reduce the symptoms of PTSD. Hence, mindfulness training may be effective in treating survivors of intimate partner violence.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of mindfulness training on posttraumatic stress symptoms from a community-based pilot clinical trial among survivors of intimate partner violence.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8052636/ ) In a small pilot study, Gallegos and colleagues recruited, through family court, women who were survivors of intimate partner violence. They were randomly assigned to receive either an 8-week program of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or wellness education. MBSR met once a week for 2 hours and consisted of meditation, body scan, and yoga practices along with discussion and home practice. For wellness education the participants were provided a manual that provided information on various aspects of health, including diet, physical activity, sleep, stress management, and communication. They received a weekly check-in phone calls regarding the use of the manual. The participants were measured before and after training and 4-weeks later for physical and sexual assault experiences, post-traumatic stress symptoms, emotion regulation, and attention. They also had their heart rate variability measured at rest and during exposure to positive, neutral, or negative (trauma related) pictures.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline, the women who received mindfulness training had significantly lower levels of post-traumatic stress symptoms and higher levels of emotion regulation, while the wellness education participants did not. This was true immediately after treatment and also 4 weeks later. There were also non-significant increases in heart rate variability while viewing trauma-related pictures in the mindfulness group and decreases in the wellness education group.

 

This is a pilot study of a small sample (29 women) and was not powered to detect significant differences between groups. The results, however were encouraging, suggesting that mindfulness training tends to relieve the symptoms of trauma, improve emotion regulation and produce relaxation of the autonomic nervous system in women who were survivors of intimate partner violence. In previous research it has been shown that mindfulness training reduces post-traumatic stress symptoms, improves emotion regulation, and relaxes the autonomic nervous system. The contribution of the present study is to suggest that mindfulness training might also be effective in the treatment of women who have survived intimate partner violence. The results, then, suggest that a large randomized controlled trial should be conducted,

 

So, reduce posttraumatic stress among survivors of intimate partner violence with mindfulness.

 

PTSD is really a different way of seeing the world, and is also seen at the level of physiology. But by going through a couple of months of making an effort to change thoughts and behaviors, that physiological syndrome can also change back again.” – Tony King

 

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

Gallegos, A. M., Heffner, K. L., Cerulli, C., Luck, P., McGuinness, S., & Pigeon, W. R. (2020). Effects of mindfulness training on posttraumatic stress symptoms from a community-based pilot clinical trial among survivors of intimate partner violence. Psychological trauma : theory, research, practice and policy, 12(8), 859–868. https://doi.org/10.1037/tra0000975

Abstract

Objective:

Exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) is a significant public health issue associated with deleterious mental and medical health comorbidities, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The hallmark symptoms of posttraumatic stress (PTS), even when not meeting the threshold for a diagnosis of PTSD, appear to be underpinned by poor self-regulation in multiple domains, including emotion, cognitive control, and physiological stress. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) holds promise for treating PTS symptoms because evidence suggests it targets these domains. The current study was a pilot randomized clinical trial designed to examine changes in emotion regulation, attentional function, and physiological stress dysregulation among women IPV survivors with elevated PTS symptoms after participation in a group-based, 8-week MBSR program.

Method:

In total, 29 participants were randomized to receive MBSR (n = 19) or an active control (n = 10). Assessments were conducted at study entry, as well as 8 and 12 weeks later.

Results:

Between-group differences on primary outcomes were nonsignificant; however, when exploring within groups, statistically significant decreases in PTS symptoms, F(1.37, 16.53) = 5.19, p < .05, and emotion dysregulation, F(1.31, 14.46) = 9.36, p < .01, were observed after MBSR but not after the control intervention. Further, decreases in PTSD and emotion dysregulation were clinically significant for MBSR participants but not control participants.

Conclusions:

These preliminary data signal that MBSR may improve PTS symptoms and emotion regulation and suggest further study of the effectiveness of PTSD interventions guided by integrative models of MBSR mechanisms and psychophysiological models of stress regulation.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8052636/

 

Reduce Negative Moods and Depression in Healthy Individuals and Patients with Mood Disorders with Psychedelic Drugs

Reduce Negative Moods and Depression in Healthy Individuals and Patients with Mood Disorders with Psychedelic Drugs

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“the therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs in psychotherapeutic settings represents a promising and integrative treatment with enduring effects for mental health patients.” – Genis Oña

 

Psychedelic substances such as peyote, mescaline, LSD, Bufotoxin, ayahuasca and psilocybin have been used almost since the beginning of recorded history to alter consciousness and produce spiritually meaningful experiences. People find these experiences extremely pleasant. eye opening, and even transformative. They often report that the experiences changed them forever. Psychedelics have also been found to be clinically useful as they markedly improve mood, increase energy and enthusiasm and greatly improve clinical depression.

 

The research on the effectiveness of psychedelic drugs on mood and clinical depression is accumulating. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what has been learned. In today’s Research News article “Classic serotonergic psychedelics for mood and depressive symptoms: a meta-analysis of mood disorder patients and healthy participants.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7826317/ )  Galvão-Coelho and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published research studies of the effectiveness of psychedelic drugs in improving mood and reducing depression with healthy individuals and patients with mood disorders.

 

They identified 12 published randomized controlled trials; 8 used psilocybin, 3 LSD, and 1 ayahuasca. They report that the research found that psychedelic treatment produced significant reductions in negative moods and depression in both healthy participants and in patients with mood disorders. In mood disorder patients the improvements were still significant 2 months after treatment. It should be recognized that the application of the psychedelics in these studies occur in highly structured controlled environments. This produces few if any troubling side effects with the exception of occasional slight anxiety. The safety of these drugs in uncontrolled non-clinical settings are not known.

 

The published research is clear that psychedelic drugs are effective in improving mood and reducing depression in both healthy individuals and those with mood disorders. Mood disorders including depression are by far the most common psychological problems in humans. The research is suggesting that controlled administration of psychedelic drugs is a safe and effective treatment relieving the suffering.

 

So, reduce negative moods and depression in healthy individuals and patients with mood disorders with psychedelic drugs.

 

People who had recently used psychedelics such as psilocybin report a sustained improvement in mood and feeling closer to others after the high has worn off.” – Bill Hathaway

 

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

 

Galvão-Coelho, N. L., Marx, W., Gonzalez, M., Sinclair, J., de Manincor, M., Perkins, D., & Sarris, J. (2021). Classic serotonergic psychedelics for mood and depressive symptoms: a meta-analysis of mood disorder patients and healthy participants. Psychopharmacology, 238(2), 341–354. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-020-05719-1

 

Abstract

Rationale

Major depressive disorder is one of the leading global causes of disability, for which the classic serotonergic psychedelics have recently reemerged as a potential therapeutic treatment option.

Objective

We present the first meta-analytic review evaluating the clinical effects of classic serotonergic psychedelics vs placebo for mood state and symptoms of depression in both healthy and clinical populations (separately).

Results

Our search revealed 12 eligible studies (n = 257; 124 healthy participants, and 133 patients with mood disorders), with data from randomized controlled trials involving psilocybin (n = 8), lysergic acid diethylamide ([LSD]; n = 3), and ayahuasca (n = 1). The meta-analyses of acute mood outcomes (3 h to 1 day after treatment) for healthy volunteers and patients revealed improvements with moderate significant effect sizes in favor of psychedelics, as well as for the longer-term (16 to 60 days after treatments) mood state of patients. For patients with mood disorder, significant effect sizes were detected on the acute, medium (2–7 days after treatment), and longer-term outcomes favoring psychedelics on the reduction of depressive symptoms.

Conclusion

Despite the concerns over unblinding and expectancy, the strength of the effect sizes, fast onset, and enduring therapeutic effects of these psychotherapeutic agents encourage further double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials assessing them for management of negative mood and depressive symptoms.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7826317/

 

University Leaders and Teachers Mindfulness are Associated with Lower Emotional Exhaustion in Teachers

University Leaders and Teachers Mindfulness are Associated with Lower Emotional Exhaustion in Teachers

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“leader mindfulness significantly reduces the emotional exhaustion of university teachers.” – Beini Liu

 

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 not only to productivity in the workplace but also to our psychological and physical health. Mindfulness practices have been implemented in the workplace and they have been shown to markedly reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. This, in turn, improves productivity and the well-being of the employees. As a result, many businesses have incorporated mindfulness practices into the workday.

 

Mindfulness may also help to promote leadership in the workplace. It can potentially do so by enhancing emotion regulation, making the individual better able to recognize, experience, and adaptively respond to their emotions, and making the leader better able to listen to and to understand the needs and emotion of the workers they lead. Hence, the mindfulness of the leader may well be associated with University teachers’ well-being.

 

In today’s Research News article “Influence of Leader Mindfulness on the Emotional Exhaustion of University Teachers: Resources Crossover Effect.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7959755/ ) Liu and colleagues recruited public university leaders and teachers and had them complete a questionnaire measuring leader mindfulness and teacher mindfulness, workplace telepressure, emotional exhaustion, self-efficacy, working hours, and years in current position.

 

They found that with gender, age, tenure, and hours worked statistically controlled that the higher the level of the leader’s mindfulness the lower the level of the teacher’s emotional exhaustion and the lower the levels of telepressure. A mediation analysis revealed the leader’s mindfulness was associated with lower teacher emotional exhaustion directly and also indirectly by being associated with lower telepressure and telepressure was associated with higher levels of teacher emotional exhaustion. This association between the leader’s mindfulness and the lower teacher’s emotional exhaustions was significantly stronger when the teachers had high levels of mindfulness. Finally, they found that the higher the levels of the teacher’s self-efficacy the weaker the relationship between telepressure and emotional exhaustion.

 

The study was correlational so no conclusions regarding causation can be reached. Nevertheless, the associations between the variables are interesting. It is clear that mindfulness is important both within the individual teacher and also in the leader for being associated with lower teacher emotional exhaustion. It has previously been shown that mindfulness decreases burnout. So, the relationships observed here probably results from a causal connection.

 

Workplace telepressure “is a psychological state in which employees are constantly concerned about urgently responding to work-related ICTs [Information and Communications Technologies] during non-working hours.” These communications appear to be associated with higher levels of emotional exhaustion and these, in part, appear to mediate the effects of mindfulness on emotional exhaustion. In addition, when the teachers had high self-efficacy, telepressure had less of an impact on emotional exhaustion.

 

Preventing teacher burnout is important not only for the teacher’s well-being but also for the students’ education. It is clear that mindful academic leadership is important, suggesting that mindfulness training for leaders may improve the workplace environment for the teachers. The teacher’s level of mindfulness and self-efficacy appear also to be important, suggesting that mindfulness and self-efficacy training for the teachers would also likely improve their well-being. The results also suggest that communications to the teachers should be limited and less urgent. Being cognizant of the importance of these relationships can help to improve the environment, psychological health, and performance of university teachers.

 

So, university leaders’ and teachers’ mindfulness are associated with lower emotional exhaustion in teachers.

 

administrators and school leaders can increase retention and efficacy by seeking out ways to support teachers’ self-care and learning of mindfulness techniques.” – Kelsey Milne

 

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

 

Liu, B., Zhang, Z., & Lu, Q. (2021). Influence of Leader Mindfulness on the Emotional Exhaustion of University Teachers: Resources Crossover Effect. Frontiers in psychology, 12, 597208. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.597208

 

Abstract

This study combined conservation of resources theory with the job demands-resources model to explore the influence of leader mindfulness on the emotional exhaustion of university teachers Using a time-lagged research design, 388 paired data sets were gathered. Multiple regression and bootstrapping were used to test each hypothesis. The results showed that first, leader mindfulness significantly reduces the emotional exhaustion of university teachers. Second, the results showed that workplace telepressure partially mediates the relationship between leader mindfulness and the emotional exhaustion of university teachers. Third, university teacher mindfulness positively moderates the relationship between leader mindfulness and workplace telepressure. Finally, the results of this study indicate that self-efficacy in managing negative emotions negatively moderates the relationship between workplace telepressure and the emotional exhaustion of university teachers. This study empirically examined the interpersonal influence of leader mindfulness and the initial resources effect of university teacher mindfulness and self-efficacy in managing negative emotions from the bilateral perspective of leaders and university teachers.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7959755/

 

Improve Sleep Quality in People with Insomnia with Mindfulness

Improve Sleep Quality in People with Insomnia with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“If you suffer from insomnia, mindfulness helps you be more accepting of your experience when you have difficulty sleeping. It may seem paradoxical, but this willingness to accept the experience of poor sleep can lead to less anxiety and better rest.” – Polan Orzech

 

Modern society has become more around-the-clock and more complex producing considerable pressure and stress on the individual. The advent of the internet and smart phones has exacerbated the problem. The resultant stress can impair sleep. Indeed, it is estimated that over half of Americans sleep too little due to stress. As a result, people today sleep 20% less than they did 100 years ago. Not having a good night’s sleep has adverse effects upon the individual’s health, well-being, and happiness. It has been estimated that 30 to 35% of adults have brief symptoms of insomnia, 15 to 20% have a short-term insomnia disorder, and 10% have chronic insomnia

 

Insomnia is more than just an irritant. Sleep deprivation is associated with decreased alertness and a consequent reduction in performance of even simple tasks, decreased quality of life, increased difficulties with memory and problem solving, increased likelihood of accidental injury including automobile accidents, and increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It also can lead to anxiety about sleep itself. This is stressful and can produce even more anxiety about being able to sleep. About 4% of Americans revert to sleeping pills. But these do not always produce high quality sleep and can have problematic side effects. So, there is a need to find better methods to treat insomnia. Mindfulness-based practices have been reported to improve sleep amount and quality and help with insomnia.

 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a mindfulness-based psychotherapy technique that is employs many of the techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). ACT focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes. It would seem reasonable to expect that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) might improve sleep and relieve insomnia.

 

In today’s Research News article “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Improves Sleep Quality, Experiential Avoidance, and Emotion Regulation in Individuals with Insomnia-Results from a Randomized Interventional Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7916154/ ) Zakiei and colleagues recruited adults with clinical insomnia and randomly assigned them to receive 8 weekly sessions of 70 minutes of either Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) or group meetings to discuss daily activities and daily problems (active control condition). They were measured before and after treatment and 12 weeks later for experiential avoidance, sleep quality, sleep characteristics, dysfunctional thoughts on sleep, sleep problem acceptance, and emotion regulation.

 

They found that over training and the 12-week follow-up in comparison to the active control condition, the group that received Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) had significant reductions in experiential avoidance, dysfunctional thoughts on sleep, and significant increases in sleep quality, total sleep time, feelings of being restored by sleep, sleep problem acceptance, and emotion regulation. In addition, the greater the reduction in experiential avoidance the lower the levels of dysfunctional thoughts on sleep and the higher the levels of emotion regulation, sleep quality, and sleep problem acceptance.

 

These results demonstrate that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) provided to patients with insomnia produces large improvements in sleep and decreases in cognitive-emotional processes related to insomnia. Although not demonstrated in the study, the results suggest that the improvements in sleep may occur due to ACT’s ability to alter dysfunctional thought processes and strengthen adaptive thinking. Mindfulness-based practices have been previously reported to improve sleep amount and quality and help with insomnia. The fact that ACT works so well for insomnia suggests that correcting dysfunctional thinking about sleep adds to the effectiveness of mindfulness in improving sleep. The effects were large, significant, and lasting suggesting that ACT should be prescribed for patients with clinical insomnia.

 

So, improve sleep quality in people with insomnia with mindfulness.

 

mindfulness improves regulation of stress and increases a sense of calm that results in a better ability to sleep.” – 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

Zakiei, A., Khazaie, H., Rostampour, M., Lemola, S., Esmaeili, M., Dürsteler, K., Brühl, A. B., Sadeghi-Bahmani, D., & Brand, S. (2021). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Improves Sleep Quality, Experiential Avoidance, and Emotion Regulation in Individuals with Insomnia-Results from a Randomized Interventional Study. Life (Basel, Switzerland), 11(2), 133. https://doi.org/10.3390/life11020133

 

Abstract

Insomnia is a common problem in the general population. To treat insomnia, medication therapies and insomnia-related cognitive-behavioral interventions are often applied. The aim of the present study was to investigate the influence of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) on sleep quality, dysfunctional sleep beliefs and attitudes, experiential avoidance, and acceptance of sleep problems in individuals with insomnia, compared to a control condition. A total of 35 participants with diagnosed insomnia (mean age: 41.46 years old; 62.9% females) were randomly assigned to the ACT intervention (weekly group therapy for 60–70 min) or to the active control condition (weekly group meetings for 60–70 min without interventional and psychotherapeutic character). At baseline and after eight weeks (end of the study), and again 12 weeks later at follow-up, participants completed self-rating questionnaires on sleep quality, dysfunctional beliefs and attitudes about sleep, emotion regulation, and experiential avoidance. Furthermore, participants in the intervention condition kept a weekly sleep log for eight consecutive weeks (micro-analysis). Every morning, participants completed the daily sleep log, which consisted of items regarding subjective sleep duration, sleep quality, and the feeling of being restored. Sleep quality, dysfunctional beliefs and attitudes towards sleep, emotion regulation, and experiential avoidance improved over time, but only in the ACT condition compared to the control condition. Improvements remained stable until follow-up. Improvements in experiential avoidance were related to a favorable change in sleep and cognitive-emotional processing. Micro-analyses showed that improvements occurred within the first three weeks of treatment. The pattern of results suggests that ACT appeared to have improved experiential avoidance, which in turn improved both sleep quality and sleep-related cognitive-emotional processes at longer-term in adults with insomnia.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7916154/

 

Increase the Energy Metabolism of the Brain with Meditation

Increase the Energy Metabolism of the Brain with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

As a form of mental training, meditation improves core physical and psychological assets, including energy, motivation, and strength. Studies on the neurophysiological concomitants of meditation have proved that commitment to daily practice can bring promising changes for the mind and the body.” –  Madhuleena Roy Chowdhury

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with reducing the physical and psychological reactions to stress. There are a number of ways that meditation practices produce these benefits, including changes to the brain and physiology. The nervous system changes in response to how it is used and how it is stimulated in a process called neuroplasticity. Highly used areas grow in size, metabolism, and connectivity. Mindfulness practices in general are known to produce these kinds of changes in the structure and activity of the brain.

 

In today’s Research News article “Short-term meditation training influences brain energy metabolism: A pilot study on 31 P MR spectroscopy.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7821578/ ) Gizewski and colleagues recruited healthy adult meditation naïve yoga students and provided them with 7 weeks of twice a week 45-minute training in Raja yoga meditation. This focused meditation training emphasizes the cessation of thinking and includes meditation and breathing exercises. They were measured before and after training for meditative depth, health history, lifestyle, anxiety, depression, and angst. Before and after training they also underwent brain scanning with structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and for brain energy metabolism (31P-MRS).

 

They found that in comparison to baseline after Raja yoga meditation training there were significant increases overall mental health and decreases in anxiety and dysthymia. There were also significant increases in brain energy metabolism particularly in the right hemisphere in the occipital and temporal lobes and the basal ganglia.

 

This study did not contain a comparison, control, condition which opens the results up to some alternative interpretations. But ignoring these possible contaminants, the study suggests that 7 weeks of meditation training can alter the brain. This has been demonstrated with numerous studies of changes in the structure, connectivity, and electrical activity of the brain produced by mindfulness training. The present study adds to this understanding by demonstrating the focused meditation training increases the energy metabolism in the brain particularly in the posterior cerebral cortex and the motor control areas. Meditation training is thought to be relaxing and the technique used here is one that emphasizes reduction in mental activity. But the present study suggests that the brain can get very active. This suggests that there is considerable mental activity going on during meditation.

 

So, increase the energy metabolism of the brain with meditation.

 

Meditation is thought to work via its effects on the sympathetic nervous system, which increases heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure during times of stress. Yet meditating has a spiritual purpose, too. “True, it will help you lower your blood pressure, but so much more: it can help your creativity, your intuition, your connection with your inner self,” –  Burke Lennihan,

 

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

 

Gizewski, E. R., Steiger, R., Waibel, M., Pereverzyev, S., Sommer, P., Siedentopf, C., Grams, A. E., Lenhart, L., & Singewald, N. (2021). Short-term meditation training influences brain energy metabolism: A pilot study on 31 P MR spectroscopy. Brain and behavior, 11(1), e01914. https://doi.org/10.1002/brb3.1914

 

Abstract

Background

Meditation is increasingly attracting interest among neuroimaging researchers for its relevance as a cognitive enhancement technique and several cross‐sectional studies have indicated cerebral changes. This longitudinal study applied a distinct and standardized meditative technique with a group of volunteers in a short‐term training program to analyze brain metabolic changes.

Methods

The effect of 7 weeks of meditation exercises (focused attention meditation, FAM) was assessed on 27 healthy volunteers. Changes in cerebral energy metabolism were investigated using 31P‐MR spectroscopy. Metabolite ratios were compared before (T1) and after training (T2). Additional questionnaire assessments were included.

Results

The participants performed FAM daily. Depression and anxiety scores revealed a lower level of state anxiety at T2 compared to T1. From T1 to T2, energy metabolism ratios showed the following differences: PCr/ATP increased right occipitally; Pi/ATP decreased bilaterally in the basal ganglia and temporal lobe on the right; PCr/Pi increased in occipital lobe bilaterally, in the basal ganglia and in the temporal lobe on the right side. The pH decreased temporal on the left side and frontal in the right side. The observed changes in the temporal areas and basal ganglia may be interpreted as a higher energetic state, whereas the frontal and occipital areas showed changes that may be related to a down‐regulation in ATP turnover, energy state, and oxidative capacity.

Conclusions

The results of the current study indicate for the first time in a longitudinal study that even short‐term training in FAM may have considerable effects on brain energy state with different local energy management in specific brain regions. Especially higher energetic state in basal ganglia may represent altered function in their central role in complex cerebral distributed networks including frontal and temporal areas. Further studies including different forms of relaxation techniques should be performed for more specific and reliable insights.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7821578/