Mindfulness is Associated with Stable and Flexible Personalities

Mindfulness is Associated with Stable and Flexible Personalities

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness meditation, may help shape a person’s personality traits and promote a healthier self-concept.” – April McDowell

 

Personality characteristics are thought to be relatively permanent traits that form an individual’s distinctive character. Current psychological research and theorization on personality has suggested that there are five basic personality characteristics. The so called “Big 5” are Extraversion, Agreeableness, Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, and Emotional Stability. The enduring trait of mindfulness has a positive relationship with all of the “Big 5” characteristics.

 

Recently, these characteristics have been organized into two overarching metatraits; stability and flexibility. The relationship of trait mindfulness to these two metatraits has not been explored.

In today’s Research News article “The Mindful Personality II: Exploring the Metatraits from a Cybernetic Perspective.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5979271/), Hanley and colleagues examine the relationship of the enduring characteristic of mindfulness with the stability and flexibility metatraits. The researchers recruited adult participants online and had them complete measures of the Big 5 Personality Traits, mindfulness, and psychological well-being. From the Big 5 they extracted measures of the metatraits stability and flexibility.

 

They found, as have others, that the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of each of the Big 5 personality traits. Using structural modelling they found that mindfulness was positively associated with both metatraits of stability and flexibility and these, in turn, were positively associated with psychological well-being. In other words, the higher the levels of dispositional mindfulness, the higher the levels of stability and flexibility, the better the psychological health of the individual. This was also true for all of the five facets of mindfulness; observing, describing, acting with awareness, non-reactivity, and non-judging.

 

This study is correlational and causation cannot be concluded. But these results are in line with previous findings of the positive relationship of mindfulness with the Big 5 personality traits. The findings extend this positive relationship to the two stability and flexibility, the metatraits derived from the Big 5 traits. They suggest that mindfulness is associated with stable and flexible personalities. Mindful individuals do not overreact to distractions, interference, unexpected events and at the same time are more open and able to respond differently and creatively to situations. Hence, mindful people have personalities better able to deal with the ups and downs and twists and turns of life.

 

Overall, the findings . . . expand upon previous mindfulness-related research by demonstrating a strong relationship between mindfulness and enhanced level of some personality characteristics including openness, theory of mind, suggestibility and pro-social behaviour.” – Hossein Kaviani

 

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

 

Hanley, A. W., Baker, A. K., & Garland, E. L. (2018). The Mindful Personality II: Exploring the Metatraits from a Cybernetic Perspective. Mindfulness, 9(3), 972–979. doi:10.1007/s12671-017-0836-5

 

Abstract

Relationships between dispositional mindfulness and the personality metatraits, stability and plasticity, remain unexplored despite continued efforts to more accurately characterize associations between dispositional mindfulness and personality. The metatraits are theorized to constitute basic requirements for biological survival and their expression is believed to be a strong determinant of well-being. As such, this study used path analysis to explore associations between dispositional mindfulness, the metatraits and psychological well-being in a sample of 403 American adults. Results indicate that dispositional mindfulness is principally associated with stability, or the capacity to sustain currently operative schemas and goals. Results further suggest a positive relationship between dispositional mindfulness and plasticity, or the tendency to flexibly adapt to changing circumstances. A more granular investigation of these associations demonstrated that the facets of dispositional mindfulness are differentially related with the metatraits. Ultimately, the metatraits were found to fully mediate the relationship between dispositional mindfulness and psychological well-being.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5979271/

 

Improve Physical and Mental Well-Being in the Elderly with Yoga

Improve Physical and Mental Well-Being in the Elderly with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga is incredible for an older population to help them maintain their balance, keep their joints flexible, maintain bone health and muscle mass, as well as learn how to cope with their mental state as they witness their bodies aging. Yoga is great for focus, concentration, and emotional wellbeing. Seniors can benefit tremendously from the practice and it gives them a place to quiet their mind and start to slow down in life.” – Kristin McGee

We celebrate the increasing longevity of the population. But aging is a mixed blessing. The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline of the body and the brain. Every system in the body deteriorates including motor function with a decline in strength, flexibility, and balance. It is inevitable. In addition, many elderly experience withdrawal and isolation from social interactions and depression. There is some hope as there is evidence that these declines can be slowed. For example, a healthy diet and a regular program of exercise can slow the physical decline of the body with aging. Also, contemplative practices such as meditation, yoga, and tai chi or qigong have all been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline.

 

Yoga practice has been shown to have a myriad of benefits for psychological and physical health. It is both an exercise and a mind-body practice that stresses both mental attention to present moment movements, breath control, and flexibility, range of motion, and balance. It has been shown to improve balance and flexibility in older individuals.  It is safe and can be practiced by anyone from children to seniors. Recently, there have been a number of high profile athletes who have adopted a yoga practice to improve their athletic performance. But it is not known whether yoga practice is as good as traditional exercise programs in improving the overall functional fitness of sedentary older adults and slow the age related physical decline.

 

In today’s Research News article “The effects of yoga compared to active and inactive controls on physical function and health related quality of life in older adults- systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6451238/), Sivaramakrishnan and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of yoga practice for the well-being of aging individuals. They identified 22 randomized controlled trials of yoga practice effects on the physical function and health related quality of life in older (> 60 years) individuals.

 

They report that the research literature found that yoga practice in comparison to both active and inactive controls produced significant improvements in physical function including lower limb strength and lower body flexibility. In comparison to inactive controls yoga practice also produced a significant improvement in balance. Additionally, they report that yoga practice in comparison to both active and inactive controls produced significant improvement in depression levels. In comparison to inactive controls yoga practice also produced significant improvements in perceived mental health, perceived physical health, sleep quality, and vitality.

 

In looking at the research findings in general, it appears that yoga practice has significant benefits for older adults for physical and mental health. The benefits appear the greatest when yoga practice is compared to no activity, but are still present but to a lesser extent when compared to individuals practicing other activities such as walking, Tai Chi, or stretching exercises. Hence, it appears that many of the benefits of yoga practice are due to the exercise provided by yoga rather than the mind-body components of the practice.

 

But yoga practice still has some important benefits in comparison to older individuals engaging in other activities. These benefits would appear to be independent of the exercise and are likely due to the contemplative practice provided by yoga. The antidepressant effects are particularly important as depression is a major problem for the elderly. The improvements in strength and flexibility are also important as these physical abilities deteriorate with aging and contribute to musculoskeletal problems.

 

The current research literature findings, the, suggest that yoga may be an excellent practice for the slowing of age-related decline. It would appear to be superior to many other activities and should be routinely recommended for physical and mental health of the elderly.

 

So, improve physical and mental well-being in the elderly with Yoga.

 

The research on yoga is preliminary, however, initial studies have found a yoga practice to positively correlate with both physical and mental wellness. It’s uncontroversial that yoga can improve strength, flexibility, and endurance, but studies have also found that regular practice may help: Lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, Recovery from strokes and surgery, prevent falls, manage arthritis, pain and inflammation, manage diabetes, manage digestive issues like IBS, improve sleep quality, facilitate the grieving process, and manage depression and anxiety.” – Yoga for Seniors

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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Study Summary

 

Sivaramakrishnan, D., Fitzsimons, C., Kelly, P., Ludwig, K., Mutrie, N., Saunders, D. H., & Baker, G. (2019). The effects of yoga compared to active and inactive controls on physical function and health related quality of life in older adults- systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. The international journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity, 16(1), 33. doi:10.1186/s12966-019-0789-2

 

Abstract

Background

Yoga has been recommended as a muscle strengthening and balance activity in national and global physical activity guidelines. However, the evidence base establishing the effectiveness of yoga in improving physical function and health related quality of life (HRQoL) in an older adult population not recruited on the basis of any specific disease or condition, has not been systematically reviewed. The objective of this study was to synthesise existing evidence on the effects of yoga on physical function and HRQoL in older adults not characterised by any specific clinical condition.

Methods

The following databases were systematically searched in September 2017: MEDLINE, PsycInfo, CINAHL Plus, Scopus, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, EMBASE, SPORTDiscus, AMED and ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. Study inclusion criteria: Older adult participants with mean age of 60 years and above, not recruited on the basis of any specific disease or condition; yoga intervention compared with inactive controls (example: wait-list control, education booklets) or active controls (example: walking, chair aerobics); physical function and HRQoL outcomes; and randomised/cluster randomised controlled trials published in English. A vote counting analysis and meta-analysis with standardised effect sizes (Hedges’ g) computed using random effects models were conducted.

Results

A total of 27 records from 22 RCTs were included (17 RCTs assessed physical function and 20 assessed HRQoL). The meta-analysis revealed significant effects (5% level of significance) favouring the yoga group for the following physical function outcomes compared with inactive controls: balance (effect size (ES) = 0.7), lower body flexibility (ES = 0.5), lower limb strength (ES = 0.45); compared with active controls: lower limb strength (ES = 0.49), lower body flexibility (ES = 0.28). For HRQoL, significant effects favouring yoga were found compared to inactive controls for: depression (ES = 0.64), perceived mental health (ES = 0.6), perceived physical health (ES = 0.61), sleep quality (ES = 0.65), and vitality (ES = 0.31); compared to active controls: depression (ES = 0.54).

Conclusion

This review is the first to compare the effects of yoga with active and inactive controls in older adults not characterised by a specific clinical condition. Results indicate that yoga interventions improve multiple physical function and HRQoL outcomes in this population compared to both control conditions. This study provides robust evidence for promoting yoga in physical activity guidelines for older adults as a multimodal activity that improves aspects of fitness like strength, balance and flexibility, as well as mental wellbeing.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6451238/

 

Improve Well-Being and Psychological Flexibility with Mindfulness Practice

Improve Well-Being and Psychological Flexibility with Mindfulness Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“There are an endless variety of ways to meditate and practice mindfulness. . . specific types of mindfulness-meditation seem to have specific benefits. Fine-tuning which type of mindfulness or meditation someone uses as a prescriptive to treat a specific need will most likely be the next big advance in the public health revolution of mindfulness and meditation.” – Christopher Bergland

 

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

 

Mindfulness practice, however, is a complex involving formal and informal practices, and great differences in the frequency and duration of practice. It is not known which of these facets or which combinations of facets are responsible for the beneficial effects of mindfulness. In addition, learning and implementing mindfulness practices can be difficult with a number of impediments and problems present. Hence there is a need to investigate the characteristics of mindfulness practices and the impediments to and supports for practicing mindfulness and their relationship to the well-being and psychological flexibility of the participants.

 

In today’s Research News article “An Exploration of Formal and Informal Mindfulness Practice and Associations with Wellbeing.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6320743/  ), Birtwell and colleagues recruited mindfulness practitioners and had them complete a questionnaire on their mindfulness practice, difficulties encountered with practice, and factors that supported their practice. They also completed scales measuring mental well-being and psychological flexibility.

 

They found 37% of the participants learned mindfulness practice through a formal course while the rest learned on their own through books, the internet, or through therapists. Most practiced several times per week or daily for 10 to 45 minutes. 57% of the participants indicated that falling asleep during practice was an impediment to practice and many indicated that finding time to practice was a problem. In support of their practice they reported that it was helpful to set up particular times for practice, to practice with others in groups, and having an accepting and kind attitude toward themselves, particularly during lapses in practice.

 

Correlating practice factors with mental well being and psychological flexibility they found that the greater the frequency and duration of formal and informal practice the greater the levels of mental well-being and psychological flexibility. But, when all of the practice factors were considered they found that the frequency of informal practice was the only one that significantly predicted improved mental well-being and psychological flexibility.

 

Informal practices involved everyday mindful moments such as being mindful while engaged in everyday activities such as “washing the dishes, eating, driving, brushing teeth, walking the dog, drinking coffee, and watching a wild bird or flower.” Hence, it would appear that integrating mindfulness into everyday life is essential for mindfulness to be associated with good mental well-being and psychological flexibility. In other words, feeling psychologically better and being able to approach psychological issues with acceptance and flexibly is best supported by engaging in daily activities mindfully.

 

It needs to be kept in mind that these findings are correlational and conclusions regarding causation cannot be reached. It is possible that people who are flexible and have mental well-being are those who engage in informal practices or some other factor may be responsible for both. There is a need for future manipulative research to determine causation.

 

So, improve well-being and psychological flexibility with mindfulness practice.

 

“Daily meditation is a powerful tool for managing your stress and enhancing your health. But bringing present-moment awareness to all your daily activities is important.” Melissa Young

 

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

 

Birtwell, K., Williams, K., van Marwijk, H., Armitage, C. J., & Sheffield, D. (2018). An Exploration of Formal and Informal Mindfulness Practice and Associations with Wellbeing. Mindfulness, 10(1), 89-99.

 

Abstract

Mindfulness has transdiagnostic applicability, but little is known about how people first begin to practice mindfulness and what sustains practice in the long term. The aim of the present research was to explore the experiences of a large sample of people practicing mindfulness, including difficulties with practice and associations between formal and informal mindfulness practice and wellbeing. In this cross-sectional study, 218 participants who were practicing mindfulness or had practiced in the past completed an online survey about how they first began to practice mindfulness, difficulties and supportive factors for continuing to practice, current wellbeing, and psychological flexibility. Participants had practiced mindfulness from under a year up to 43 years. There was no significant difference in the frequency of formal mindfulness practice between those who had attended a face-to-face taught course and those who had not. Common difficulties included finding time to practice formally and falling asleep during formal practice. Content analysis revealed “practical resources,” “time/routine,” “support from others,” and “attitudes and beliefs,” which were supportive factors for maintaining mindfulness practice. Informal mindfulness practice was related to positive wellbeing and psychological flexibility. Frequency (but not duration) of formal mindfulness practice was associated with positive wellbeing; however, neither frequency nor duration of formal mindfulness practice was significantly associated with psychological flexibility. Mindfulness teachers will be able to use the present findings to further support their students by reminding them of the benefits as well as normalising some of the challenges of mindfulness practice including falling asleep.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6320743/

 

Improve Movement and Flexibility in Older Women with Tai Chi

Improve Movement and Flexibility in Older Women with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Practising the ancient martial art of Tai Chi is so beneficial to elderly people’s health that it should be “the preferred mode of training” – The Telegraph

 

The process of aging affects every aspect of the physical and cognitive domains. Every system in the body deteriorates including motor function with a decline in strength, flexibility, and balance. Impaired balance is a particular problem as it can lead to falls. In the U.S. one third of people over 65 fall each year and 2.5 million are treated in emergency rooms for injuries produced by falls. About 1% of falls result in deaths making it the leading cause of death due to injury among the elderly. It is obviously important to discover methods to improve balance and decrease the number of fall in the elderly.

 

Tai Chi training is designed to enhance and regulate the functional activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. It includes balance training and has been shown to improve balance and coordination. Because it is not strenuous, involving slow gentle movements, and is safe, having no appreciable side effects, it is appropriate for an elderly population. So, it would seem that tai chi practice would be well suited to improving balance and coordination in seniors and thereby reduce the likelihood of falls.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of Yang-Style Tai Chi on Gait Parameters and Musculoskeletal Flexibility in Healthy Chinese Older Women.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968961/ ), Zou and colleagues recruited elderly women (> 65 years of age) and randomly assigned them to either a Tai Chi practice or no-treatment control conditions. Tai Chi was practiced under the supervision of a Tai Chi master for 90 minutes, 3 times per week for 8 weeks. They were measured before and after practice for physical activity and hip and foot flexibility. They also walked a short distance and their movements of the knee, hip, and ankle were analyzed through a kinematic analysis.

 

They found that the Tai Chi group and not the control group after the 8-week practice period had significant improvements in their walking including stride length, gait speed, stance phase, swing phase, and double support time. They also had significant improvements in their hip and foot flexibility and range of motion of the knee, hip, and ankle. No adverse events as a result of Tai Chi practice were reported by the participants.

 

These findings conclusively document the ability of Tai Chi practice to help maintain the flexibility and range of motion of elderly women. This is particularly important as it suggests that these women would be less likely to fall and maintain a high quality of life. In addition, as Tai Chi is gentle and safe, is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion, is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it can be practiced in social groups. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. So, Tai Chi practice would appear to be an almost ideal gentle exercise to maintain the health and well-being of the elderly.

 

So, improve movement and flexibility in older women with Tai Chi.

 

“Unlike other exercises, TCE may contribute to improving the quality of life and reducing depression in patients with chronic diseases.” – X. Wang

 

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

 

Zou, L., Wang, C., Tian, Z., Wang, H., & Shu, Y. (2017). Effect of Yang-Style Tai Chi on Gait Parameters and Musculoskeletal Flexibility in Healthy Chinese Older Women. Sports, 5(3), 52. http://doi.org/10.3390/sports5030052

 

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to examine the effect of Yang-style Tai chi (TC) on gait parameters and musculoskeletal flexibility in healthy Chinese female adults. Sixty-six female adults aged >65 years were randomly assigned to either an experimental group (67.9 ± 3.2 years of age) receiving three 90-min simplified 24-form TC sessions for eight weeks, or a control group (67.4 ± 2.9 years of age) who maintained their daily lifestyles. All study participants were instructed to perform a selected pace walking for recording gait parameters (stride length, gait speed, swing cycle time, stance phase, and double support times) at both baseline and after the experiment. Low-limb flexibility and range of motion at specific musculoskeletal regions (hip flexion, hip extension, and plantar flexion, as well as anterior and lateral pelvic tilts, pelvic rotation, and joint range of motion (hip, knee, and ankle)) were also assessed in the present study. Multiple separate 2 × 2 Factorial Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) with repeated measures were used to examine the effects of TC on the abovementioned outcomes between baseline and posttest in the two groups. When compared to those in the control group, older female adults who experienced the 8-week Tai chi intervention demonstrated significant improvements in most of the outcome measures. More specifically, positive changes in the TC group were found, including gait parameter (p < 0.001 for all; stride length (1.12 to 1.24, +8.6%), gait speed (1.06 to 1.21, +13.9%), stance phase (66.3 to 61.8, −5.5%), swing phase (33.7 to 38.4, +10.1%), double support time (0.33 to 0.26, −21.1%)), flexibility-related outcomes (hip flexion (90.0 to 91.9, 22.6%, p < 0.0001), single hip flexor (6.0 to 2.0, −61.5%, p = 0.0386), and plantar flexion (41.6 to 49.7, +17.5%, p < 0.0001)), and range of motion (anterior pelvic tilt (9.5 to 6.2, −34.7%, p < 0.0001), lateral pelvic tilt (6.6 to 8.3, +23.8%, p = 0.0102), pelvic rotation (10.3 to 14.7, 28.2%, p < 0.0001), hip range of motion (29.8 to 32.9, +13.5%, p = 0.001), and ankle range of motion (28.0 to 32.6, +11.1%, p < 0.0001)). The present study supports the notion that the practice of TC has a positive effect on healthy older female adults in improving gait parameters and flexibility, counteracting the normal functional degeneration due to age.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968961/

 

Improve Arthritis with Qigong

Improve Arthritis with Qigong

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Qigong techniques are simple and do not need to be carried out precisely to bring about its great benefits. Qigong practice is known for preventing disease, strengthening immunity and producing better health and well-being. However it is under-appreciated, even in China, that Qigong therapy can be effective for relieving pain and treating arthritis.” – Kellen Chia

 

Arthritis is a chronic disease that most commonly affects the joints. There are over 100 different types of arthritis. Depending on the type of arthritis symptoms may include pain, stiffness, swelling, redness, and decreased range of motion. It affects an estimated 52.5 million adults in the United States. It is associated with aging as arthritis occurs in only 7% of adults ages 18–44, while 30% adults ages 45–64 are affected, and 50% of adults ages 65 or older. The pain, stiffness, and lack of mobility associate with arthritis produce fatigue and markedly reduce the quality of life of the sufferers. Arthritis can have very negative psychological effects diminishing the individual’s self-image and may lead to depression, isolation, and withdrawal from friends and social activities Arthritis reduces the individual’s ability to function at work and may require modifications of work activities which can lead to financial difficulties. It even affects the individual’s physical appearance. In addition, due to complications associated with rheumatoid arthritis, particularly cardiovascular disease, the lifespan for people with rheumatoid arthritis may be shortened by 10 years.

 

It is obvious that there is a need for a safe and effective treatment to help rheumatoid arthritis sufferers cope with the disease and its consequences. Increasing exercise has been shown to increase flexibility and mobility but many form of exercise are difficult for the arthritis sufferer to engage in and many drop out. But all that may be needed is gentle movements of the joints. Qigong or Tai Chi training are designed to enhance and regulate the functional activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. They have been shown to have many physical and psychological benefits, especially for the elderly. Because They are not strenuous, involving slow gentle movements, and are safe, having no appreciable side effects, they are appropriate for an elderly population. So, it would seem that Qigong or Tai Chi practice would be well suited to treat arthritis in seniors.

 

In today’s Research News article “Qigong Exercise and Arthritis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5750595/ ), Marks reviewed and summarized the published research on the effectiveness of Qigong practice for the treatment of arthritis. He found that Qigong practice produced significant improvements in the musculoskeletal system including increased strength, joint flexibility, posture, balance motor function, and motor coordination, and improvements in quality of life and cognitive function. In addition, the research reported decreased pain, fatigue, and blood pressure and improved immune function, metabolic function, circulation, aerobic capacity, and reduced falls, improved psychological health, mood, and sleep.

 

These are impressive results. Scientific research suggests that Qigong practice produces  widespread improvements in mental and physical health in arthritis sufferers. In addition, it is inexpensive, convenient, appropriate for individuals of all ages and health condition and is safe to practice, making it an almost ideal treatment for the symptoms of arthritis.

 

So, improve arthritis with Qigong.

 

“Qigong focuses on relaxing the body, which over time, allows the joints and muscles to loosen up, improving the circulation of fluids and blood. The practice focuses on rebuilding overall health and strengthening the spirit, while encouraging one to change the way one looks at life in general, and at the illness affecting you.” – 1MD

 

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

 

Ray Marks. Qigong Exercise and Arthritis. Medicines (Basel) 2017 Dec; 4(4): 71. Published online 2017 Sep 27. doi: 10.3390/medicines4040071

 

Abstract

Background: Arthritis is a chronic condition resulting in considerable disability, particularly in later life. Aims: The first aim of this review was to summarize and synthesize the research base concerning the use of Qigong exercises as a possible adjunctive strategy for promoting well-being among adults with arthritis. A second was to provide related intervention directives for health professionals working or who are likely to work with this population in the future. Methods: Material specifically focusing on examining the nature of Qigong for minimizing arthritis disability, pain and dependence and for improving life quality was sought. Results: Collectively, despite almost no attention to this topic, available data reveal that while more research is indicated, Qigong exercises—practiced widely in China for many centuries as an exercise form, mind-body and relaxation technique—may be very useful as an intervention strategy for adults with different forms of painful disabling arthritis. Conclusion: Health professionals working with people who have chronic arthritis can safely recommend these exercises to most adults with this condition with the expectation they will heighten the life quality of the individual, while reducing pain and depression in adults with this condition.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5750595/

Mindfulness is Associated with Reduced Inflexibility and Psychopathology in Adolescents

Mindfulness is Associated with Reduced Inflexibility and Psychopathology in Adolescents

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“As present-moment focused, mindfulness, acceptance, and defusion interventions alter the context, behavioral flexibility emerges and, with it, increased sensitivity to context, including that aspect of context we call consequences.” – Kelly Wilson

 

Adolescence should be a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. It is during this time that higher levels of thinking, sometimes called executive function, develops. These executive functions are an important foundation for success in the complex modern world. 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.

 

Making these profound changes successfully requires a good deal or flexibility, adapting and changing with the physical, psychological, and social changes of adolescence. In today’s Research News article “Inflexible Youngsters: Psychological and Psychopathological Correlates of the Avoidance and Fusion Questionnaire for Youths in Nonclinical Dutch Adolescents.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5605724/, Muris and colleagues examined the relationships between mindfulness, inflexibility and mental health in adolescents. They recruited youths aged 12 to 16 years and had them complete measures of mindfulness, psychological inflexibility, thought suppression self-compassion, self-worth, self-efficacy, somatization, psychopathological symptoms, anxiety, depression, and aggression.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of inflexibility, thought suppression, somatization, anxiety, depression, emotional problems, aggression, oppositional conduct, and the higher the levels of self-worth and self-efficacy. They also found that psychological inflexibility was inversely related to the same variables, with higher levels of inflexibility associated with higher levels of thought suppression, somatization, anxiety, depression, emotional problems, aggression, oppositional conduct, and the lower the levels of self-worth and self-efficacy. In other words, mindfulness was associated with positive mental health while inflexibility was associated with negative mental health in these youths.

 

They further investigated the effectiveness of psychological inflexibility to affect the mental health of the adolescents while holding mindfulness mathematically constant. They found that each had independent contributions to the levels of anxiety and depression, with mindfulness associated with lower values and inflexibility associated with higher values. So, mindfulness and psychological inflexibility appear to be independently associated with emotional health in adolescents.

 

It is important to keep in mind that this study was correlational and did not manipulate the levels of any variables. So, causal connections cannot be determined between the variables. The associations though suggest that both mindfulness and psychological flexibility are important contributors to the psychological development of adolescents. It will be interesting to investigate in future research whether training in mindfulness and flexibility will help to promote healthy mental health in youths.

 

“While psychological inflexibility was most strongly associated with Neuroticism , as expected, mindfulness demonstrated the strongest association with consciousness, a trait reflecting impulse control abilities and attention to detail.” – Robert Latzman

 

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

 

Muris, P., Meesters, C., Herings, A., Jansen, M., Vossen, C., & Kersten, P. (2017). Inflexible Youngsters: Psychological and Psychopathological Correlates of the Avoidance and Fusion Questionnaire for Youths in Nonclinical Dutch Adolescents. Mindfulness, 8(5), 1381–1392. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0714-1

 

Abstract

The present study examined psychological and psychopathological correlates of psychological inflexibility as measured by the Avoidance and Fusion Questionnaire for Youth (AFQ-Y) in two independent samples of nonclinical Dutch adolescents aged between 12 and 18 years (Ns being 184 and 157). Participants completed a survey containing the AFQ-Y and scales assessing mindfulness, thought suppression, self-compassion, self-worth, self-efficacy, and internalizing/externalizing symptoms. In both samples, the AFQ-Y was found to be a reliable measure of psychological inflexibility that correlated in a theoretically meaningful way with other psychological constructs. Most importantly, AFQ-Y scores correlated positively with internalizing and externalizing symptoms, and in most cases, these associations remained significant when controlling for other measures. These findings suggest that psychological inflexibility is an important factor in youth psychopathology that needs to be further investigated in future research.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5605724/

Improve Health with Qigong

Improve Health with Qigong

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Qigong is an ancient Chinese system of exercise and meditation that makes the mind and spirit tranquil, improves performance in sports, and cultivates health, well-being, and long life.” – Annie Bond

 

Qigong and Tai Chi have been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevityQigong and Tai Chi trainings are designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through controlled breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. Only recently though have the effects of these practices been scrutinized with empirical research. This research has found that they are effective for an array of physical and psychological issues. They appear to strengthen the immune systemreduce inflammation and increase the number of cancer killing cells in the bloodstream, improve cardiovascular healthreduce arthritis painimprove balance and reduce falls. They also appear to improve attentional ability and relieve depression.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Baduanjin Qigong for Health Benefits: Randomized Controlled Trials.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5359459/

Zou and colleagues review the published research literature on the effects of one particular Qigong practice, Baduanjin Qigong, on health.  Baduanjin Qigong involves only 8 simple movements and “is characterized by interplay between symmetrical physical postures and movements, mind, and breathing exercise in a harmonious manner.” They discovered 19 published randomized controlled trials employing adults. About 1/3 of the participants were healthy and 2/3 were ill with a variety of diseases including “type 2 diabetes mellitus, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, hypertension, knee osteoarthritis, and chronic fatigue syndrome-like illness.”

 

The published research revealed that Baduanjin Qigong produced significant improvements in quality of life (6 studies), sleep quality (6 studies), balance (6 studies), handgrip strength (5 studies), trunk and hip flexibility (4 studies), leg power (2 studies), walking performance (2 studies), systolic and diastolic blood pressures (9 studies), respiratory efficiency (6 studies), and cardiorespiratory endurance (4 studies). The small number of studies (2) that measured leg power and walking performance makes conclusions about these improvements tentative. But, the rest of the improvements would appear to be solid findings of a magnitude to be considered of clinical significance.

 

These are exciting results. The range of different areas of physical improvement produced by Baduanjin Qigong and the range of illnesses improved are impressive. Since, this ancient gentle practice is completely safe, can be used with the elderly and sickly, is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility or even public park, and can be quickly learned as only 8 movements are involved, it would appear to be an excellent treatment for sickly individuals, especially the elderly. It remains to be seen how effective Baduanjin Qigong might be for mental and emotional problems.

 

So, improve health with qigong.

 

“Sometimes Qigong and Tai Chi are called a moving meditation in which the mind and body are led to a state of balance and equilibrium also known as homeostasis. A Harvard medical publication said it should also be called “moving medication.” The advantages of improving strength, flexibility and balance are pretty obvious but the advantages of peace that comes from the moving flowing meditative aspect of Qigong and Tai Chi are equally important.” – Denise Nagel

 

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

Zou, L., SasaKi, J. E., Wang, H., Xiao, Z., Fang, Q., & Zhang, M. (2017). A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Baduanjin Qigong for Health Benefits: Randomized Controlled Trials. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM, 2017, 4548706. http://doi.org/10.1155/2017/4548706

 

Abstract

Objective. To investigate the effects of practicing Baduanjin Qigong on different health outcomes. Methods. Six electronic databases were used for literature search through entering the following key words: Baduanjin Qigong, quality of life, sleep quality, and health-related outcomes. Results. Nineteen randomized controlled trials were used for meta-analysis. The aggregated results from this systematic review have shown significant benefits in favour of Baduanjin Qigong on quality of life (SMD, −0.75; 95% CI −1.26 to −0.24; P = 0.004), sleep quality (SMD, −0.55; 95% CI −0.97 to −0.12; P = 0.01), balance (SMD, −0.94; 95% CI −1.59 to 0.30; P = 0.004), handgrip strength (SMD, −0.69; 95% CI −1.2 to −0.19; P = 0.007), trunk flexibility (SMD, −0.66; 95% CI −1.13 to −0.19; P = 0.006), systolic (SMD, −0.60; 95% CI −0.94 to −0.27; P = 0.0004) and diastolic blood pressure (SMD, −0.46; 95% CI −0.73 to −0.20; P = 0.0005), and resting heart rate (SMD, −0.87; 95% CI −1.47 to −0.27; P = 0.005). The aggregated results of meta-analyses examining the effect of Baduanjin Qigong on leg power, cardiopulmonary endurance, and pulmonary function remain unclear because of a small number of studies. Conclusions. The aggregated results from this systematic review show that Baduanjin Qigong practice is beneficial for quality of life, sleep quality, balance, handgrip strength, trunk flexibility, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and resting heart rate. Further studies are necessary to confirm the effects of Baduanjin Qigong on leg power, cardiopulmonary endurance, and pulmonary function (e.g., vital capacity), while considering a long-term follow-up.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5359459/

ACT to Improve Psychological Flexibility and Chronic Pain

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Hence, the ultimate goal of ACT is not to reduce symptoms or pain (although other simultaneous therapies may well be aimed at achieving this). Instead, its goal is to improve functioning by increasing psychological flexibility and the ability to act according to personal values, even in the presence of negative experiences, like pain.” – Painfocus

 

We all have to deal with pain. It’s inevitable, but hopefully mild and short lived. For many, however, pain is a constant in their lives. Chronic pain affects a wide swath of humanity.  At least 100 million adult Americans have common chronic pain conditions. It affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. Chronic pain accompanies a number of conditions. The most common forms are low back pain, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia.

 

The most common treatment for chronic pain is drugs. These include over-the-counter analgesics and opioids. But opioids are dangerous and prescription opioid overdoses kill more than 14,000 people annually. Fortunately, there are alternative treatments. Mindfulness and yoga practices have been shown to improve pain. A therapeutic technique that includes mindfulness training called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has been shown to be effective in treating a number of physical and psychological disorders and has been shown to successfully improve acceptance of chronic pain, pain intensity, satisfaction with life, and physical functioning in patients with chronic pain.

 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a mindfulness based psychotherapy technique that focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. Additionally, it teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes. At its core, ACT is targeted at increasing psychological flexibility, which is an ability to modify behavior based upon conscious and open contact with thoughts, feelings, and sensory experiences, and in a manner that reflects the individual’s values and goals.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Comprehensive Examination of Changes in Psychological Flexibility Following Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Chronic Pain.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1336953456328577/?type=3&theater

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

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4917588/

Scott and colleagues examine the relationship of changes in psychological flexibility to improvements in chronic pain produced by Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). They recruited patients who suffered from chronic pain of various types, with lower back pain the most common (43%). They were treated 4 days per week for four weeks with a group based ACT therapy. Before and after treatment they were measured for pain intensity, pain acceptance, daily functioning, depression, cognitive fusion, decentering, and goal directed activity.

 

They found that ACT was quite effective in improving chronic pain symptoms. It produced a large significant improvement in depression, moderate improvements in pain intensity, physical and social functioning, and chronic pain acceptance, and small improvements in goal directed activity and decentering. They further found that the processes of psychological flexibility, including chronic pain acceptance, cognitive fusion, and goal directed activity significantly predicted the magnitude of the improvements in the chronic pain symptoms. Hence, it appears that ACT increases psychological flexibility and as a result improves chronic pain.

 

It is important to identify how a particular therapy has its effects upon the disorder. This allows for improvements in the techniques and maximization of its effects. The fact that psychological flexibility was the key change produced by ACT suggests that future efforts should be to modify ACT to maximize its impact on psychological flexibility.

 

So, ACT to improve psychological flexibility and chronic pain.

 

“Mindfulness teaches people with chronic pain to be curious about the intensity of their pain, instead of letting their minds jump into thoughts like “This is awful.” It also teaches individuals to let go of goals and expectations. When you expect something will ease your pain, and it doesn’t or not as much as you’d like, your mind goes into alarm- or solution-mode. You start thinking thoughts like “nothing ever works.” “What we want to do as best as we can is to engage with the pain just as it is.” It’s not about achieving a certain goal – like minimizing pain – but learning to relate to your pain differently.” – Elisha Goldstein

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

Scott, W., Hann, K. E. J., & McCracken, L. M. (2016). A Comprehensive Examination of Changes in Psychological Flexibility Following Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Chronic Pain. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 46, 139–148. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10879-016-9328-5

 

Abstract

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for chronic pain aims to improve patient functioning by fostering greater psychological flexibility. While promising, ACT treatment process research in the context of chronic pain so far has only focused on a few of the processes of psychological flexibility. Therefore, this study aimed to more comprehensively examine changes in processes of psychological flexibility following an ACT-based treatment for chronic pain, and to examine change in these processes in relation to improvements in patient functioning. Individuals with chronic pain attending an interdisciplinary ACT-based rehabilitation program completed measures of pain, functioning, depression, pain acceptance, cognitive fusion, decentering, and committed action at pre- and post-treatment and during a nine-month follow-up. Significant improvements were observed from pre- to post-treatment and pre-treatment to follow-up on each of the treatment outcome and process variables. Regression analyses indicated that change in psychological flexibility processes cumulatively explained 6–27 % of the variance in changes in functioning and depression over both assessment periods, even after controlling for changes in pain intensity. Further research is needed to maximize the effectiveness of ACT for chronic pain, and to determine whether larger improvements in the processes of psychological flexibility under study will produce better patient outcomes, as predicted by the psychological flexibility model.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4917588/

Improve Athletic Flexibility and Balance with Yoga

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“She was injury-free because of yoga, stretching her body into difficult positions. “I’ve never seen such an improvement in my game, the difference it makes. I’m quicker, more nimble. Instead of being tighter, I’m more relaxed, more comfortable.” – Brenna Wise

 

Yoga practice has been shown to have a myriad of benefits for psychological and physical health. It is a mind-body practice that stresses both mental attention to present moment movements, breath control, and flexibility, range of motion, and balance. It can be practiced by anyone from children to seniors. Recently, there have been a number of high profile athletes who have adopted a yoga practice to improve their athletic performance. But, does yoga actually help elite athletes to perform at an even higher level? The ability of yoga to improve balance would seem to be a natural help for the athlete and the improvement in flexibility could well help the athlete resist injury.

 

In today’s Research News article “Impact of 10-weeks of yoga practice on flexibility and balance of college athletes.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1222473291109928/?type=3&theater

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

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4728955/

Polsgrove, Eggleston, and Lockyer randomly assigned male college soccer and baseball players to yoga training or control groups. Both groups received their typical athletic workouts throughout the study. But, in addition, the yoga group were trained in yoga postures twice a week in one-hour sessions.

 

The yoga group had significant improvements in both flexibility and balance. Flexibility increased 21% in tests of shoulder flexibility and sit-reach. Balance was improved 32% in the stork-stand, a common yoga pose. In contrast, the control group declined in all measures. Joint angle measurements revealed that the yoga group had significant improvement in ankle dorsiflexion, hip and knee extension, and shoulder and knee flexion. Hence, yoga training appeared to produce significant improvements in balance, flexibility, and the range of joint movement.

 

These are important changes in the physical abilities of the athletes. Although logically, these improvements would be expected to translate to improved athletic performance and lower occurrence of sports injuries, this was not investigated in the present study and remains for future research. It should be mentioned that the yoga training used emphasized the physical aspects of yoga. Mental discipline is also very important for athletic performance. It seems reasonable that future research should also include various aspects of the mental training that occurs in a typical yoga training.

 

Regardless, improve athletic flexibility and balance with yoga.

 

“I wanted my body to feel that way all the time. I became looser, and I only missed one game due to injury. It helped me remain injury-free, and helped my agility and athleticism.” – Eric Stutz

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

Study Summary

Polsgrove, M. J., Eggleston, B. M., & Lockyer, R. J. (2016). Impact of 10-weeks of yoga practice on flexibility and balance of college athletes. International Journal of Yoga, 9(1), 27–34. http://doi.org/10.4103/0973-6131.171710

 

Abstract

Background:

With clearer evidence of its benefits, coaches, and athletes may better see that yoga has a role in optimizing performance.

Aims:

To determine the impact of yoga on male college athletes (N = 26).

Methods:

Over a 10-week period, a yoga group (YG) of athletes (n = 14) took part in biweekly yoga sessions; while a nonyoga group (NYG) of athletes (n = 12) took part in no additional yoga activity. Performance measures were obtained immediately before and after this period. Measurements of flexibility and balance, included: Sit-reach (SR), shoulder flexibility (SF), and stork stand (SS); dynamic measurements consisted of joint angles (JA) measured during the performance of three distinct yoga positions (downward dog [DD]; right foot lunge [RFL]; chair [C]).

Results:

Significant gains were observed in the YG for flexibility (SR, P = 0.01; SF, P = 0.03), and balance (SS, P = 0.05). No significant differences were observed in the NYG for flexibility and balance. Significantly, greater JA were observed in the YG for: RFL (dorsiflexion, l-ankle; P = 0.04), DD (extension, r-knee, P = 0.04; r-hip; P = 0.01; flexion, r-shoulder; P = 0.01) and C (flexion, r-knee; P = 0.01). Significant JA differences were observed in the NYG for: DD (flexion, r-knee, P = 0.01: r-hip, P = 0.05; r-shoulder, P = 0.03) and C (flexion r-knee, P = 0.01; extension, r-shoulder; P = 0.05). A between group comparison revealed the significant differences for: RFL (l-ankle; P = 0.01), DD (r-knee, P = 0.01; r-hip; P = 0.01), and C (r-shoulder, P = 0.02).

Conclusions:

Results suggest that a regular yoga practice may increase the flexibility and balance as well as whole body measures of male college athletes and therefore, may enhance athletic performances that require these characteristics.

 

Promote Physical and Mental Well-Being with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Tai Chi exercise had positive effects on the self-assessed physical and mental health of college students. Scores on the mental health dimension appeared to be particularly sensitive to change. Colleges/universities might consider offering Tai Chi as a component of their ongoing physical activity programs available to students.” – Y. T. Wang

 

Many people have fond memories of their college years. It is likely, however, that they forgot about the stress and angst of those years. The truth is that college is generally very stressful for most students, from the uncertainty of freshman year, to the social stresses of emerging adulthood, to the anxiety of launching into a career after senior year. Evidence for the difficulties of these years can be found in college counseling centers which are swamped with troubled students. In fact, it’s been estimated that half of all college students report significant levels of anxiety and depression.

 

Being able to perform at an optimum level is important in college. It would be very helpful if a

safe and effective way could be found to reduce stress, depression and anxiety in college students. Mindfulness training has been shown to reduce anxiety, stress, and depression . So, mindfulness training would appear to be well suited to deal with the problems of college students. The ancient eastern practice of mindful movement Tai Chi has been shown to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety. Hence, it would make sense to investigate whether Tai Chi practice might be effective for improving college student angst.

 

In today’s Research News article “A systematic review of the health benefits of Tai Chi for students in higher education”

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1180406471983277/?type=3&theater

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4733099/

Webster and colleagues review the published literature on the effectiveness of Tai Chi practice in improving college student physical and psychological states. They found that that the preponderance of evidence in the literature reported that Tai Chi practice significantly improved muscular flexibility. But the most interesting effects were in the psychological domain with Tai Chi practice significantly reducing depression, anxiety, symptoms of compulsion, somatization symptoms, hostility, and symptoms of phobia, and improved interpersonal sensitivity.

 

Hence, the published scientific literature suggests that Tai Chi practice can be of significant benefit for college students, improving them physically and improving their psychological well-being. Tai Chi practice is a gentle mindful movement practice. It is safe, having few if any adverse consequences, and effective with college students. This suggests that the engagement in Tai Chi practice should be encouraged in college promoting the physical and mental well-being of the students.

.

 

“Of all the exercises, I should say that T’ai Chi is the best. It can ward off disease, banish worry and tension, bring improved physical health and prolong life. It is a good hobby for your whole life, the older you are, the better. It is suitable for everyone – the weak, the sick, the aged, children, the disabled and blind. It is also an economical exercise. As long as one has three square feet of space, one can take a trip to paradise and stay there to enjoy life for thirty minutes without spending a single cent.” ~T.T. Liang

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies