Mindfulness Improves Flexibility Which Improves Residual Symptoms of Depression

Mindfulness Improves Flexibility Which Improves Residual Symptoms of Depression

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Living resiliently represents a whole new way of being and doing. It isn’t just for the hard times — it’s for all times. Empowering us to live, love, and work adventurously in the face of change, it builds a well from which we can draw for the rest of our lives.” – Lynda Klau

 

Depression affects over 6% of the population. Depression can be difficult to treat. It is usually treated with antidepressant medication. But, of patients treated initially with drugs only about a third attained remission of the depression. Even after remission there are a number of symptoms that remain. These include lingering dysphoria, impaired psychosocial functioning, fatigue, and decreased ability to work. These residual symptoms can lead to relapse.

 

Mindfulness training is an alternative treatment for depression. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and its recurrence and even in the cases where drugs failAcceptance 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 is not known how Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) might affect the residual symptoms in individuals in remission from depression. In today’s Research News article “Psychological Flexibility in Depression Relapse Prevention: Processes of Change and Positive Mental Health in Group-Based ACT for Residual Symptoms.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7119364/), Østergaard and colleagues recruited patients in remission from major depressive disorder and provided them with 8 weekly sessions of group based Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). They were measured before and after ACT and 6 months and 1 year later for psychiatric symptoms, mental health depression, cognitive defusion, flexibility, values, engaged living and mindfulness.

 

They found that after treatment and for the year following there were significant reductions in depression and increases in positive mental health. Mediation analysis revealed that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) decreased depression and increased positive mental health directly and indirectly by increasing psychological flexibility. That is ACT not only directly decreased depression and increased positive mental health but also increased psychological flexibility which in turn decreased depression and increased positive mental health. They also showed that ACT had these effects by changing acceptance, cognitive defusion, values, and committed action, all of which increased psychological flexibility.

 

Psychological flexibility is the ability to make changes in behavior in order to produce positive effects. It’s the individual’s ability to avoid rumination and brooding over negative emotions that contribute to depression. In this way psychological flexibility contributes to maintaining positive mental health. The study shows that ACT directly reduces residual symptoms and also increases psychological flexibility which in turn reduces residual symptoms in patients in remission from major depressive disorder. It is important to note that these benefits produced by ACT were enduring lasting over the year of testing. Hence, treatment with ACT  should reduce the likelihood of future depressive episodes.

 

So, mindfulness improves flexibility which improves residual symptoms of depression.

 

Mindfulness is a shallow description of a much larger process that makes us resilient when bad things happen.” – Michael Unger

 

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

 

Østergaard, T., Lundgren, T., Zettle, R. D., Landrø, N. I., & Haaland, V. Ø. (2020). Psychological Flexibility in Depression Relapse Prevention: Processes of Change and Positive Mental Health in Group-Based ACT for Residual Symptoms. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 528. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00528

 

Abstract

Relapse rates following a depressive episode are high, with limited treatments available aimed at reducing such risk. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a cognitive-behavioral approach that has gained increased empirical support in treatment of depression, and thus represents an alternative in relapse prevention. Psychological flexibility (PF) plays an important role in mental health according to the model on which ACT is based. This study aimed to investigate the role of PF and its subprocesses in reducing residual symptoms of depression and in improving positive mental health following an 8-week group-based ACT treatment. Adult participants (75.7% female) with a history of depression, but currently exhibiting residual symptoms (N = 106) completed measures before and after intervention, and at 6 and 12-month follow-up. A growth curve model showed that positive mental health increased over 12-months. Multilevel mediation modeling revealed that PF significantly mediated these changes as well as the reduction of depressive symptoms, and that processes of acceptance, cognitive defusion, values and committed action, in turn, mediated increased PF.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7119364/

 

Spirituality is Associated with Better Physical and Mental Health

Spirituality is Associated with Better Physical and Mental Health

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Spirituality is a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves. . . Spirituality also incorporates healthy practices for the mind and body, which positively influences mental health and emotional wellbeing.” – Luna Greestein

 

Religion and spirituality have been promulgated as solutions to the challenges of life both in a transcendent sense and in a practical sense. What evidence is there that these claims are in fact true? The transcendent claims are untestable with the scientific method. But the practical claims are amenable to scientific analysis. There have been a number of studies of the influence of religiosity and spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Private religion/spirituality, self-rated health, and mental health among US South Asians.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7297387/), Kent and colleagues recruited U.S. adults over 40 years of age of south Asian descent. They completed questionnaires on their health, daily spiritual experiences, gratitude, anxiety, anger, religious service attendance, religious affiliation, yoga practice, belief in God, closeness to God, positive religious coping, and divine hope. They were separated into a theistic group who believed in god and a non-theistic group who did not.

 

They found that in the total sample that the health of the participants was positively related to yoga practice, daily spiritual experiences and gratitude. Emotional functioning was positively related to gratitude and daily spiritual experiences. In addition, anxiety and anger were negatively associated with gratitude and daily spiritual experiences.

 

In the theistic subsample there were significant positive relationships between health and closeness to god and positive religious coping. There were significant positive relationships between emotional functioning and daily spiritual experiences, closeness to god and positive religious coping and negative relationships with negative religious coping. Anxiety and anger were related to negative religious coping and religious/spiritual struggles.

 

The results make it clear that religion and spirituality are associated with better physical and mental health. It should be noted that these results are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. It is equally likely that spirituality promotes mental and physical health, that people with better mental and physical health tend to be more religious and spirituality, or that a third factor is related to both. These results also have limited generalizability as they were obtained from a community sample of people in the U.S. of south Asian descent. They may not apply to other ethnic or religious groups.

 

Nevertheless, the results present a positive picture of religion and spirituality and its relationships to physical and mental health. Positive religious coping to stress involves the belief that god is guiding the individual for good reasons and this type of coping is associated with better mental health. On the other hand, negative religious coping to stress which involves belief that god is, for some reason, punishing the individual, has negative emotional consequences. So, religion and spirituality are double edged swords depending on how the individual interprets and employs them.

 

So, spirituality is associated with better physical and mental health.

 

positive associations have been found between some styles of religion/spirituality and general wellbeing, marital satisfaction and general psychological functioning.” – Deborah Cornah

 

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

 

Kent, B. V., Stroope, S., Kanaya, A. M., Zhang, Y., Kandula, N. R., & Shields, A. E. (2020). Private religion/spirituality, self-rated health, and mental health among US South Asians. Quality of life research : an international journal of quality of life aspects of treatment, care and rehabilitation, 29(2), 495–504. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11136-019-02321-7

 

Abstract

Purpose:

Connections between private religion/spirituality and health have not been assessed among U.S. South Asians. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between private religion/spirituality and self-rated and mental health in a community-based sample of U.S. South Asians.

Methods:

Data from the Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America (MASALA) study (collected 2010–2013 and 2015–2018) and the attendant Study on Stress, Spirituality, and Health (n=881) were analyzed using OLS regression. Self-rated health measured overall self-assessed health. Emotional functioning was measured using the Mental Health Inventory-3 index (MHI-3) and Spielberger scales assessed trait anxiety and trait anger. Private religion/spirituality measures included prayer, yoga, belief in God, gratitude, theistic and non-theistic spiritual experiences, closeness to God, positive and negative religious coping, divine hope, and religious/spiritual struggles.

Results:

Yoga, gratitude, non-theistic spiritual experiences, closeness to God, and positive coping were positively associated with self-rated health. Gratitude, non-theistic and theistic spiritual experiences, closeness to God, and positive coping were associated with better emotional functioning; negative coping was associated with poor emotional functioning. Gratitude and non-theistic spiritual experiences were associated with less anxiety; negative coping and religious/spiritual struggles were associated with greater anxiety. Non-theistic spiritual experiences and gratitude were associated with less anger; negative coping and religious/spiritual struggles were associated with greater anger.

Conclusion:

Private religion/spirituality are associated with self-rated and mental health. Opportunities may exist for public health and religious care professionals to leverage existing religion/spirituality for well-being among U.S. South Asians.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7297387/

 

Improve Resilience and Inner Peace to Reduce Negative Views of the Past with Mindfulness

Improve Resilience and Inner Peace to Reduce Negative Views of the Past with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness promotes a more balanced time perspective, with a reduced focus on negative aspects of the past and negative anticipations of the future.” – Michael Rönnlund

 

Mindfulness stresses present moment awareness, minimizing focus on past memories and

future planning. Depression is characterized by a focus on the past while anxiety is characterized by focus on the future. This is representative of a past-negative time perspective which is a pessimistic negative view of what transpired in the past. Although awareness of the past and future are important, focus on the present moment generally leads to greater psychological health and well-being. This is generally characterized by inner peach which is a mild positive state with calmness and harmony in the mind. Although these concepts are well known, their interrelationships and the effect of meditation practice on them, have not been well studied.

 

In today’s Research News article “Dispositional Mindfulness and Past-Negative Time Perspective: The Differential Mediation Effects of Resilience and Inner Peace in Meditators and Non-Meditators.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7212969/), Ge and colleagues recruited adults over the internet who regularly meditated and those who did not. They completed questionnaires measuring their meditation experience, mindfulness, resilience, inner peace, and past-negative time perspective.

 

They found that mindfulness, resilience, and inner peace were all significantly and positively inter-related and negatively related to past-negative time perspective. They also found that the meditators had significantly higher levels of mindfulness and inner peace and lower levels of past-negative time perspective than the non-meditators. Structural equation modelling revealed that the negative relationship between mindfulness and past-negative time perspective was mediated by the relationships of mindfulness with resilience and inner peace. That is the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of resilience and inner peace which in turn were related to lower levels of past-negative time perspective. Non-meditators also had an additional direct negative relationship between mindfulness and past-negative time perspective.

 

It should be kept in mind that these results are correlational and causation cannot be determined. But they suggest that mindfulness is associated with greater ability to cope with difficulties, resilience, greater calmness and mental harmony, inner peace, and a less negative pessimistic perspective of past events. In addition, mindfulness’ relationship with less past-negative time perspective, in part, occurs due to mindfulness’ relationship with resilience and inner peace.

 

It can be postulated that mindfulness produces a positive state that is resistant to disruption by events and this produces a more positive assessment of what occurred in the past. This, in turn, prevents the emergence of negative emotional states such as anxiety and depression. This may represent a mechanism whereby mindfulness alters the individual’s psychological makeup resulting in greater psychological health and well-being.

 

So, improve resilience and inner peace to reduce negative views of the past with mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness is about being fully aware of each moment in your life. Each thought, feeling, sensation and experience are accepted for what it is. There’s no battle going on in your head and heart. You are open to it ALL.” – Bev Janisch

 

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

 

Ge, J., Yang, J., Song, J., Jiang, G., & Zheng, Y. (2020). Dispositional Mindfulness and Past-Negative Time Perspective: The Differential Mediation Effects of Resilience and Inner Peace in Meditators and Non-Meditators. Psychology research and behavior management, 13, 397–405. https://doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S229705

 

Abstract

Purpose

Past-negative time perspective (PNTP) can affect our everyday lives and is associated with negative emotions, unhealthy behaviors, rumination, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Dispositional mindfulness may be able to reduce the negative effects of PNTP; however, few studies have investigated their relationship. Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore the effect dispositional mindfulness has on PNTP, as well as the mediating role of resilience and inner peace in this regard.

Methods

This study investigated the cross-sectional relationship between self-reported mindfulness, resilience, inner peace, and PNTP. In order to further explore the relationship between mindfulness and PNTP, this study specially selected and analyzed the samples of 185 meditators and 181 non-meditators.

Results

Correlation analysis revealed that mindfulness is significantly positively correlated with resilience and inner peace. Conversely, PNTP is significantly negatively correlated with mindfulness, resilience, and inner peace. Structural equation model analysis revealed that resilience and inner peace partially mediated the relationship between mindfulness and PNTP. Furthermore, a multi-group analysis showed that the mediating effects are different between meditators and non-meditators. For meditators, the effect of mindfulness on PNTP was fully mediated by resilience and inner peace. For non-meditators, the effect of mindfulness on PNTP was only partially mediated by resilience and inner peace.

Conclusion

Based on the significant differences between the mediational models of meditators and non-meditators, we believe that dispositional mindfulness can negatively predict PNTP, and practicing meditation consistently improves dispositional mindfulness, resilience and inner peace and effectively reduces PNTP. Our findings indicate that a combination of mindfulness and PNTP could be used to design new psychological interventions to reduce the symptoms of mental health concerns such as negative bias, rumination, depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7212969/

 

Yoga Practitioners have Better Physical and Psychological Health

Yoga Practitioners have Better Physical and Psychological Health

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Multiple studies have confirmed the many mental and physical benefits of yoga. Incorporating it into your routine can help enhance your health, increase strength and flexibility and reduce symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety.” – Rachel Link

 

Yoga practice has been shown to have a myriad of benefits for psychological and physical health, social, and spiritual well-being. 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. One way to look at the benefits of yoga practice is to look at the mental and physical health of yoga practitioners.

 

In today’s Research News article “Yoga practice in the UK: a cross-sectional survey of motivation, health benefits and behaviours.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7044896/ ), Cartwright and colleagues performed an online survey of yoga practitioners in the UK. They were asked to answer questions regarding yoga practice, meditation practice, body size, health, well-being, psychological health, smoking, diet, alcohol intake, fruit/vegetable intake, exercise apart from yoga, satisfaction with life, perceived stress, yoga impacts on health, and yoga related injuries.

 

They found that in comparison to the norms for the UK the yoga practitioners were higher in overall health, fruit/vegetable intake, exercise apart from yoga, happiness, and satisfaction with life, and lower in body size, smoking, alcohol intake, and perceived stress. The yoga practitioners believed that yoga practice improved their physical and mental health, stress levels, strength, flexibility, and sleep. Correlation analysis revealed that the higher the frequency of yoga practice the higher the levels of well-being, satisfaction with life, and happiness and the lower the levels of perceived stress.

 

These are interesting results but it should be kept in mind that the findings may represent differences in the people who chose to engage in a yoga practice rather than due to yoga practice itself. Regardless, the survey revealed that yoga practitioners are generally physically and psychologically healthy, engage in healthier behaviors, and believe that yoga practice is responsible for these benefits. Previous controlled studies have revealed that yoga practice improves the physical and psychological health of the participants. So, it is reasonable to conclude that the survey results are due, at least in part, to the beneficial effects of yoga practice.

 

So, improve physical and psychological health with yoga practice.

 

“On a physical level, yoga helps improve flexibility, strength, balance, and endurance. And on a psychological level, yoga can help you cultivate mindfulness as you shift your awareness to the sensations, thoughts, and emotions that accompany a given pose or exercise.” – Linda Schlamadinger McGrath

 

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

 

Cartwright, T., Mason, H., Porter, A., & Pilkington, K. (2020). Yoga practice in the UK: a cross-sectional survey of motivation, health benefits and behaviours. BMJ open, 10(1), e031848. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2019-031848

 

Abstract

Objectives

Despite the popularity of yoga and evidence of its positive effects on physical and mental health, little is known about yoga practice in the UK. This study investigated the characteristics of people who practise yoga, reasons for initiating and maintaining practice, and perceived impact of yoga on health and well-being.

Design, setting and participants

A cross-sectional online anonymous survey distributed through UK-based yoga organisations, studios and events, through email invites and flyers. 2434 yoga practitioners completed the survey, including 903 yoga teachers: 87% were women, 91% white and 71% degree educated; mean age was 48.7 years.

Main outcome measures

Perceived impact of yoga on health conditions, health outcomes and injuries. Relationships between yoga practice and measures of health, lifestyle, stress and well-being.

Results

In comparison with national population norms, participants reported significantly higher well-being but also higher anxiety; lower perceived stress, body mass index and incidence of obesity, and higher rates of positive health behaviours. 47% reported changing their motivations to practise yoga, with general wellness and fitness key to initial uptake, and stress management and spirituality important to current practice. 16% of participants reported starting yoga to manage a physical or mental health condition. Respondents reported the value of yoga for a wide range of health conditions, most notably for musculoskeletal and mental health conditions. 20.7% reported at least one yoga-related injury over their lifetime. Controlling for demographic factors, frequency of yoga practice accounted for small but significant variance in health-related regression models (p<0.001).

Conclusion

The findings of this first detailed UK survey were consistent with surveys in other Western countries. Yoga was perceived to have a positive impact on physical and mental health conditions and was linked to positive health behaviours. Further investigation of yoga’s role in self-care could inform health-related challenges faced by many countries.

Strengths and limitations of this study:

  • This is the first comprehensive survey to assess the practice and perceived impact of yoga on health, lifestyle-related behaviours and well-being in the UK.
  • The survey design captures the significant number of practitioners who take up yoga to manage a physical or mental health condition, and identifies health conditions for which yoga is rated as most helpful in self-management.
  • Despite the large sample, it was self-selected and unlikely to be representative of all yoga practitioners.
  • The results relied on retrospective and self-report data which may be subject to memory bias and social desirability.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7044896/

 

Improve Physical and Mental Health in Trauma Victims with Bikram Yoga

Improve Physical and Mental Health in Trauma Victims with Bikram Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The steamy temps “allow you to increase their range of motion and stretch deeper within each pose,” since heat makes muscles more pliable, says Numbers. Unlike stretching it out in a standard cool yoga studio, the heat will have you feeling like a pro and extending further than you thought you could.” – Aryelle Siclait

 

Experiencing trauma is quite common. It has been estimated that 60% of men and 50% of women will experience a significant traumatic event during their lifetime. Trauma can produce troubling physical and psychological symptoms that need to be addressed. There are a number of therapies that have been developed to treat the effects of trauma. One of which, mindfulness training has been found to be particularly effective. Yoga practice is a mindfulness practice that has been shown to be helpful for trauma survivors.

 

Yoga is a mindfulness practice that has been shown to improve physical well-being and cardiovascular health. Bikram Yoga is somewhat unique yoga practice as it employs a set sequence of 26 poses (asanas) and two breathing exercises. It is practiced in a heated environment (105°F, 40.6°C, 40% humidity) and there is a unique programmed instructional dialogue. The hot environment is thought to soften the muscles making them more pliable and loosen the joints making them more flexible allowing the practitioner to go deeper into poses. The sweating that occurs is thought to help remove toxins and impurities.

 

In today’s Research News article “#MindinBody – feasibility of vigorous exercise (Bikram yoga versus high intensity interval training) to improve persistent pain in women with a history of trauma: a pilot randomized control trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6714085/), Flehr and colleagues recruited adult pre-menopausal women who had persistent pain and who had experienced trauma. They were randomly assigned to receive 8 weeks of 3 sessions per week of Bikram Yoga (90 minutes) or High Intensity Interval Training (45 minutes). The women were measured before and after training for pain severity, pain interference with quality of life, health, anxiety, depression, perceived stress, disorders of extreme stress, self-efficacy, life stressors, mindfulness, body size, and electrocardiogram (EKG) measures.

 

They found that pain significantly decreased for both groups. On the other hand, Bikram Yoga produced significantly greater improvements in physical functioning, mental health, and heart rate variability with moderate to large effect sizes. No intervention related injuries were reported. Heart rate variability has been shown to measure greater parasympathetic nervous system activity reflecting better overall health.

 

The results suggest that although both programs produced decreased pain intensity, Bikram Yoga was superior to a comparable high intensity exercise in improving the physical and mental health of trauma survivors with persistent pain. A strength of the study is that the Bikram Yoga intervention was compared to another high intensity exercise program, thus reducing the likelihood of participant expectancy effects. Hence Bikram Yoga appears to be a safe and effective treatment for women who have experienced trauma. It would be interesting in the future to compare the Bikram Yoga program to a comparable yoga program practiced at room temperature.

 

So, improve physical and mental health in trauma victims with Bikram Yoga.

 

Hot yoga addresses all aspects of physical fitness including muscular strength, endurance, flexibility and weight loss. . . . There is no other style of yoga that addresses the overall health of the body in such a comprehensive way.” – Peter Mason

 

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

 

Flehr, A., Barton, C., Coles, J., Gibson, S. J., Lambert, G. W., Lambert, E. A., … Dixon, J. B. (2019). #MindinBody – feasibility of vigorous exercise (Bikram yoga versus high intensity interval training) to improve persistent pain in women with a history of trauma: a pilot randomized control trial. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 19(1), 234. doi:10.1186/s12906-019-2642-1

 

Abstract

Background

The neurobiology of persistent pain shares common underlying psychobiology with that of traumatic stress. Modern treatments for traumatic stress often involve bottom-up sensorimotor retraining/exposure therapies, where breath, movement, balance and mindfulness, are used to target underlying psychobiology. Vigorous exercise, in particular Bikram yoga, combines many of these sensorimotor/exposure therapeutic features. However, there is very little research investigating the feasibility and efficacy of such treatments for targeting the underlying psychobiology of persistent pain.

Methods

This study was a randomized controlled trail (RCT) comparing the efficacy of Bikram yoga versus high intensity interval training (HIIT), for improving persistent pain in women aged 20 to 50 years. The participants were 1:1 randomized to attend their assigned intervention, 3 times per week, for 8 weeks. The primary outcome measure was the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) and further pain related biopsychosocial secondary outcomes, including SF-36 Medical Outcomes and heart rate variability (HRV), were also explored. Data was collected pre (t0) and post (t1) intervention via an online questionnaire and physiological testing.

Results

A total of 34 women were recruited from the community. Analyses using ANCOVA demonstrated no significant difference in BPI (severity plus interference) scores between the Bikram yoga (n = 17) and the HIIT (n = 15). Women in the Bikram yoga group demonstrated significantly improved SF-36 subscale physical functioning: [ANCOVA: F(1, 29) = 6.17, p = .019, partial eta-squared effect size (ηp2) = .175 and mental health: F(1, 29) = 9.09, p = .005, ηp2 = .239; and increased heart rate variability (SDNN): F(1, 29) = 5.12, p = .013, ηp2 = .150, scores compared to the HIIT group. Across both groups, pain was shown to decrease, no injuries were experienced and retention rates were 94% for Bikram yoga and 75% for HIIT .

Conclusions

Bikram yoga does not appear a superior exercise compared to HIIT for persistent pain. However, imporvements in quality of life measures and indicator of better health were seen in the Bikram yoga group. The outcomes of the present study suggest vigorous exercise interventions in persistent pain cohorts are feasible.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6714085/

 

High Frequency of Yoga Practice Produces Greater Benefits

High Frequency of Yoga Practice Produces Greater Benefits

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness; increases body awareness; relieves chronic stress patterns; relaxes the mind; centers attention; and sharpens concentration. Body- and self-awareness are particularly beneficial, because they can help with early detection of physical problems and allow for early preventive action.” – Natalie Nevins

 

Yoga practice has been shown to have a myriad of benefits for psychological and physical health, social, and spiritual well-being. 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. There has, however, not been much attention paid to the characteristics of practice that are important for producing maximum benefits.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Yoga Asana Practice Approach on Types of Benefits Experienced.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6746050/), Wiese and colleagues emailed a questionnaire to a large sample of yoga practitioners. They were asked for demographic information and to describe their yoga practice and physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and relational benefits of yoga.

 

They found that the higher the frequency of practice the greater the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and relational benefits. Weaker relationships were found between consistency of practice, teaching yoga, and teacher experience and the benefits. In addition, there was a relationship between the frequency of practice without a teacher and self-confidence. Evening practice was found to be a negative predictor of benefits.

 

These findings suggest, as has been previously reported, that yoga practice produces myriad of benefits for psychological and physical health, social, and spiritual well-being. The characteristic of practice that was most highly related to these benefits was how many times per week yoga was practiced, particularly when the practice occurred 5 or more times per week; the more practice, the greater the benefits. Also associated with benefits were consistency of practice, teaching yoga, and teacher experience, while evening practice was associated with less benefit.

 

It should be noted that these results are correlations and caution must be exercised in assigning causation. But the findings are consistent with finding from controlled studies, suggesting that yoga practice produces great benefit.

 

So, practice frequently to obtain the greatest benefits from yoga practice.

 

Multiple studies have confirmed the many mental and physical benefits of yoga. Incorporating it into your routine can help enhance your health, increase strength and flexibility and reduce symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety. Finding the time to practice yoga just a few times per week may be enough to make a noticeable difference when it comes to your health.” – Rachel Link

 

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

 

Wiese, C., Keil, D., Rasmussen, A. S., & Olesen, R. (2019). Effects of Yoga Asana Practice Approach on Types of Benefits Experienced. International journal of yoga, 12(3), 218–225. doi:10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_81_18

 

Abstract

Context:

Modern science and the classic text on hatha yoga, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, report physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and relational benefits of yoga practice. While all have specific suggestions for how to practice, little research has been done to ascertain whether specific practice approaches impact the benefits experienced by practitioners.

Aims:

Our aim was to relate the experience level of the practitioner, the context of practice approaches (time of day, duration of practice, frequency of practice, etc.), and experience level of the teacher, to the likelihood of reporting particular benefits of yoga.

Methods:

We conducted a cross-sectional descriptive survey of yoga practitioners across levels and styles of practice. Data were compiled from a large voluntary convenience sample (n = 2620) regarding respondents’ methods of practice, yoga experience levels, and benefits experienced. Multiple logistic regression was used to identify approaches to yoga practice that positively predicted particular benefits.

Results:

Frequency of practice, either with or without a teacher, was a positive predictor of reporting nearly all benefits of yoga, with an increased likelihood of experiencing most benefits when the practitioner did yoga five or more days per week. Other aspects of practice approach, experience level of the practitioner, and the experience level of the teacher, had less effect on the benefits reported.

Conclusions:

Practice frequency of at least 5 days per week will provide practitioners with the greatest amount of benefit across all categories of benefits. Other practice approaches can vary more widely without having a marked impact on most benefits experienced.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6746050/

 

Mindfulness Training is Effective with Widely Diverse Populations

Mindfulness Training is Effective with Widely Diverse Populations

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“In the last two decades, references to mindfulness-based treatments have proliferated. Its benefits are touted for many medical conditions and seem to be universally accepted as a technique to improve mental health across diverse populations.” – Sara Davin

 

Disadvantaged populations have a disproportionate share of mental health issues. Indeed, the lower the socioeconomic status of an individual the greater the likelihood of a mental disorder. It is estimated that major mental illnesses are almost 3 times more likely in the disadvantaged, including almost double the incidence of depression, triple the incidence of anxiety disorders, alcohol abuse, and eating disorders. These higher incidences of mental health issues occur, in part, due to mental health problems leading to unemployment and poverty, but also to the stresses of life in poverty.

 

Most psychotherapies were developed to treat disorders in affluent western populations and are not affordable or sensitive to the unique situations and education levels of the diverse populations. Hence, there is a great need for alternative treatments for diverse populations. One increasingly popular alternative is mindfulness practices. These include meditationtai chi, qigongyoga, guided imagery, prayer, etc. The research on the effectiveness of mindfulness practices with diverse populations is accumulating, so it makes sense to stop and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Addressing Diversity In Mindfulness Research On Health: A Narrative Review Using The Addressing Framework.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6746558/),Chin and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies on the effectiveness of mindfulness practice for various populations.

 

They report that the published studies found that mindfulness practice was beneficial regardless of age, being effective in children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly, regardless of ethnicity, including black, Hispanic, native American, and Asian populations, and regardless of sexual orientation, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender participants. Mindfulness training was also found to improve the well-being of patients with acquired disabilities including Alzheimer’s disease, diabetic peripheral neuropathy, traumatic brain injury, and multiple sclerosis. Mindfulness appears to be effective regardless of socioeconomic status, being beneficial in both affluent and poor participants and regardless of nationality, being beneficial for European Americans, Taiwanese, South Africans, British and Swedes. Finally, there’s only a small number of studies that compare the effectiveness of mindfulness practice for males versus females. In general, mindfulness practice appears to be beneficial for both genders, but possibly more beneficial for women than men.

 

These findings are quite striking and suggest that mindfulness training is beneficial for a wide variety of people with a wide variety of conditions. It is no wonder that mindfulness practice appears to be spreading rapidly, with meditation practice increasing from 4% to 14% of the US population over the last 5 years.

 

Hus, mindfulness training is effective with widely diverse populations.

 

“The application of mindfulness to diversity and inclusion is about opening and appreciating rather than rejecting difference.” – Joshua Ehrlich

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Chin, G., Anyanso, V., & Greeson, J. (2019). Addressing Diversity In Mindfulness Research On Health: A Narrative Review Using The Addressing Framework. Cooper Rowan medical journal, 1(1), 2.

 

INTRODUCTION

Over the past 5 years, the number of Americans practicing meditation has more than tripled, rising from 4% of adults in 2010 to 14% in 2017.1 This rise is likely related to the increasing focus on preventive and integrative approaches to healthcare in the United States, such as meditation, which is often used to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and pain in conjunction with improving health and well-being.2 While many different meditative practices exist, mindfulness meditation emphasizes nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment. Although substantial research supports mindfulness-related improvements in patient-reported mental and physical health,3 the replication crisis in social science and medicine, alongside numerous methodological concerns about extant mindfulness studies,4 invites questions regarding the generalizability of research on the reported health-promoting effects of mindfulness meditation and mindfulness as an innate, dispositional quality (trait mindfulness). Moreover, as much of mindfulness research over-samples middle-to-upper class, Caucasian, women,5 the extent to which results generalize to a broader, more diverse population is unclear. One possible reason for this overrepresentation could be that this population has the time and/or finances to participate in mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) from which researchers draw samples.

In 2001, Dr. Pamela Hays published Addressing Cultural Complexities in Practice,6 introducing the ADDRESSING framework as a guide to help clinicians better identify and understand the relevant cultural identities of their clients. According to Dr. Hays, the facets of identity include: Age, Developmental and acquired Disabilities, Religion, Ethnicity, Socioeconomic status, Sexual orientation, Indigenous heritage, National origin, and Gender. This framework allows room for intersectionality between identity facets and does not inherently exclude non-minority individuals. As such, the ADDRESSING framework, with its attention to multiple aspects of identity, provides an effective structure for organizing research published on different populations and identifying 1) which populations are represented and underrepresented in various categories and 2) what is known about underrepresented groups in research. The main purpose of this review, therefore, was to use the ADDRESSING framework to highlight mindfulness research conducted on historically underrepresented groups as both a method to summarize what has been done and to point out gaps for future research.

Overall, mindfulness can reduce stress and improve mental health in diverse populations. Given the unique stressors and mental health disparities individuals in diverse groups experience, mindfulness-related changes in mental health likely support improvements in health-related behavior, QoL and well-being.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6746558/

 

Improve Mindfulness Training with Natural Settings

Improve Mindfulness Training with Natural Settings

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Our deepest origins lie in the natural world and time in the great outdoors can be calming, invigorating, beautiful… and lots of fun! Mindfulness is paying attention without judgement to the present moment and it’s the perfect way to enhance our connection with nature.”- Claire Thompson

 

Modern living is stressful, perhaps, in part because it has divorced us from the natural world that our species was immersed in throughout its evolutionary history. Modern environments may be damaging to our health and well-being simply because the species did not evolve to cope with them. This suggests that returning to nature, at least occasionally, may be beneficial. Indeed, researchers are beginning to study nature walks or what the Japanese call “Forest Bathing” and their effects on our mental and physical health.

 

Mindfulness practices have been found routinely to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress and improve mood. People have long reported that walking in nature elevates their mood. It appears intuitively obvious that if mindfulness training occurred in a beautiful natural place, it would greatly improve the effectiveness of mindfulness practice. Pictures in the media of meditation almost always show a practitioner meditating in a beautiful natural setting. But there is little systematic research regarding the effects of mindfulness training in nature. It’s possible that the combination might magnify the individual benefits of each.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Nature-Based Mindfulness: Effects of Moving Mindfulness Training into an Outdoor Natural Setting.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6747393/), Diernis and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the effects of combining mindfulness training with natural environments. They found 26 published studies.

 

They report that the published research studies found that mindfulness practice in nature produced greater improvements in psychological, social, and physical well-being with moderate to small effect sizes. These effects were present regardless of whether the study employed a no-treatment or active control condition. In addition, natural environments that were wild and/or forested tended to produce greater effects than natural environments that were garden or park environments.

 

The meta-analysis suggests that mindfulness training in the natural environment, especially in wild environments, produces greater benefits than similar training in non-natural settings. It is not clear why this would be true. Perhaps, removing the individual from the environments that their accustomed to, potentiates mindfulness training. Or perhaps, returning the individual to the type of environments that reflect their evolutionary history, reduces stress and produces greater relaxation and improved attention. Regardless, it’s clear that practicing mindfulness in nature is very beneficial.

 

So, improve mindfulness training with natural settings.

 

During my first mindfulness-in-nature retreat, when my hand touched the sun-warmed ground, I felt a connection to the Earth I didn’t know was possible. It was as if the energy of the Earth connected with my own. There was no separation. It was grounding, warm, and it felt like home.” – Sara Overton

 

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

 

Djernis, D., Lerstrup, I., Poulsen, D., Stigsdotter, U., Dahlgaard, J., & O’Toole, M. (2019). A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Nature-Based Mindfulness: Effects of Moving Mindfulness Training into an Outdoor Natural Setting. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(17), 3202. doi:10.3390/ijerph16173202

 

Abstract

Research has proven that both mindfulness training and exposure to nature have positive health effects. The purpose of this study was to systematically review quantitative studies of mindfulness interventions conducted in nature (nature-based mindfulness), and to analyze the effects through meta-analyses. Electronic searches revealed a total of 25 studies to be included, examining 2990 participants. Three analyses were conducted: Nature-based mindfulness interventions evaluated as open trials (k = 13), nature-based mindfulness compared with groups in non-active control conditions (k = 5), and nature-based mindfulness compared with similar interventions but without contact with nature (k = 7). The overall combined psychological, physiological, and interpersonal effects from pre- to post-intervention were statistically significant and of medium size (g = 0.54, p < 0.001). Moderation analyses showed that natural environments characterized as forests/wild nature obtained larger numerical effects than environments characterized as gardens/parks, as did informal mindfulness compared with formal mindfulness. The small number of studies included, as well as the heterogeneity and generally low quality of the studies, must be taken into consideration when the results are interpreted

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6747393/

 

Spirituality is Associated with Better Psychological Well-Being but also Cognitive Distortions

Spirituality is Associated with Better Psychological Well-Being but also Cognitive Distortions

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

No causal link has been established, but higher levels of spirituality have been linked to increased compassion, strengthened relationships, and improved self-esteem.” – Psychology Today

 

Spirituality is defined as “one’s personal affirmation of and relationship to a higher power or to the sacred. There have been a number of studies of the influence of spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health. Hence, it makes sense to study the relationships of spirituality with the individual’s characteristics to better understand how spirituality might influence psychological well-being.

 

In today’s Research News article “Spirituality, dimensional autism, and schizotypal traits: The search for meaning.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6407781/), Crespi and colleagues recruited undergraduate students and had them complete questionnaires measuring spirituality including subscales measuring belief in God, search for meaning, mindfulness, and security, and also autism traits including social skills, communication, attention to detail, attention switching, and imagination subscales, and also schizotypal traits including constricted affect, social anxiety, magical thinking, unusual perceptions, ideas of reference, eccentric behavior, and odd speech.

 

They found that the higher the total levels of spirituality the lower the levels of autism traits and the higher the levels of positive schizotypal traits. Of the spirituality subscales they found that the higher the belief in God the higher the levels of positive schizotypal traits, including magical thinking and unusual perceptions. Of the spirituality subscales they found that the higher the search for meaning the lower the levels of autism traits and the higher the levels of positive schizotypal traits, including magical thinking and unusual perceptions. Of the spirituality subscales they found that the higher the mindfulness the lower the levels of autism traits.

 

It should be kept in mind that the results are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. The findings suggest that spirituality, especially search for meaning and mindfulness, is associated with less autism traits suggesting healthier personalities. But they also suggest that spirituality, especially belief in God and search for meaning, is associated with greater positive schizotypal traits, particularly with magical thinking and unusual perceptions. These findings suggest that belief in God and search for meaning are associated with distorted cognitive processes.

 

In total, the findings suggest that spirituality is associated with some strengths in the personality but also with cognitive distortions. It is possible that adherence to particular religions (religiosity) may be the reason for the opposing findings. Indeed, this idea is supported by the fact that belief in God was associated with the cognitive distortions. Unfortunately, the present study did not measure religiosity. Hopefully, future research will include measurement of religiosity.

 

So, spirituality is associated with better psychological well-being but also cognitive distortions.

 

There’s a lot of research linking health and more contentment with life, and having a regular spiritual practice. I personally can’t imagine getting through each day without connecting with my spiritual self, especially when life feels overwhelming or when I’m feeling a bit lost.” – Cara Howell

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available at the Contemplative Studies Blog http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/

They are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Crespi, B., Dinsdale, N., Read, S., & Hurd, P. (2019). Spirituality, dimensional autism, and schizotypal traits: The search for meaning. PloS one, 14(3), e0213456. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0213456

 

Abstract

The relationships of spirituality with human social cognition, as exemplified in autism spectrum and schizophrenia spectrum cognitive variation, remain largely unstudied. We quantified non-clinical levels of autism spectrum and schizotypal spectrum traits (using the Autism Quotient and the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire-Brief Revised) and dimensions of spirituality (using the Hardt Spirituality Questionnaire) in a large sample of undergraduate students. We tested in particular the hypothesis, based on the diametrical model of autism and psychosis, that autism should be negatively associated, and positive schizotypal traits should be positively associated, with spirituality. Our primary findings were threefold. First, in support of the diametric model, total Spirituality score was significantly negatively correlated with total Autism Quotient score, and significantly positively correlated with Positive Schizotypal traits (the Schizotypal Personality Cognitive-Perceptual subscale), as predicted. Second, these associations were driven mainly by opposite patterns regarding the Search for Meaning Spirituality subscale, which was the only subscale that was significantly negatively associated with autism, and significantly positively associated with Positive Schizotypal traits. Third, Belief in God was positively correlated with Positive Schizotypal traits, but was uncorrelated with autism traits. The opposite findings for Search for Meaning can be interpreted in the contexts of well-supported cognitive models for understanding autism in terms of weak central coherence, and understanding Positive Schizotypal traits in terms of enhanced salience.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6407781/

 

Improve the Psychological and Physical Health of Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Patients with a Smartphone Mindfulness App

Improve the Psychological and Physical Health of Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Patients with a Smartphone Mindfulness App

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Even with an app, mindfulness takes practice. Like playing an instrument or a sport, the more you practice, the better you get and the more you get out of it. . . Whatever you try, mindfulness training is considered very safe, and has a good chance of increasing your happiness and peacefulness, and reducing your depression, anxiety, and stress.” – James Cartreine

 

Myeloproliferative Neoplasms (MPNs) are blood cancers that occur when the body makes too many white or red blood cells, or platelets” (Cancer Support Community). It typically occurs in older adults and is fairly rare (1-2 cases/100,000 per year) and has a very high survival rate. It produces a variety of psychological and physical symptoms including fatigue, anxiety, depression, pain, and sleep disturbance, reduced physical, social, and cognitive functioning resulting in a reduced quality of life.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health including fatigue, anxiety, depression, pain, and sleep disturbance, and improves physical, social, and cognitive functioning as well as quality of life in cancer patients. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a trained therapist. This results in costs that many patients 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, Apps for smartphones have 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. But the question arises as to the effectiveness of these Apps in relieving the psychological and physical symptoms of cancer and improving their quality of life.

 

In today’s Research News article “Smartphone-Based Meditation for c: Feasibility Study to Inform Future Trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6658299/), Huberty and colleagues recruited Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Patients and randomly assigned them to either to receive 4 weeks of mindfulness training including 10 minutes of meditation per day via a smartphone app (“Calm”) followed by mindfulness training via another smartphone app (“10% Happier App”), the 2 apps in reverse order, education about Myeloproliferative Neoplasm followed by “10% Happier App”, or education followed by “Calm” app. They were measured before and after training and for Myeloproliferative Neoplasm symptoms, fatigue, anxiety, depression, pain, sleep disturbance, sexual function, health, and quality of life.

 

They found that the participants used the “Calm” App to a significantly greater extent and enjoyed it more than the “10% Happier” App. But following mindfulness training with both apps there were significant improvements. For the “10% Happier” App after training there were significant increases in health, and mental health and decreases in fatigue, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbance. For the “Calm” App after training there were significant increases in health, and decreases in Myeloproliferative Neoplasm symptoms, fatigue, depression, vaginal discomfort, and sleep disturbance.

 

This was a relatively small pilot study that demonstrated the feasibility and efficacy of mindfulness training smartphone apps for the treatment of Myeloproliferative Neoplasm patients. It would appear that the “Calm” App is the preferred app. But both were effective in producing benefits. The improvements were significant and helpful in relieving the suffering of the patients. This is important as the use of smartphone apps makes it easier, more convenient, and more cost effective to provide mindfulness training to a wide swath of Myeloproliferative Neoplasm patients thus maximizing the utilization of mindfulness training for the improvement of the symptoms of patients with Myeloproliferative Neoplasm.

 

So, improve the psychological and physical health of myeloproliferative neoplasm patients with a smartphone mindfulness app.

 

“So how can this practice of mindfulness help people with cancer? . . . Routinely, we see large and meaningful improvements in mood, stress levels, depression, anger, worry, and rumination. We also see people having an increased sense of meaning and purpose in life, better sleep, and more energy, as well as displaying biological changes like a healthier pattern of stress hormones and less inflammation in the immune system.” – Linda Carlson

 

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

 

Jennifer Huberty, Ryan Eckert, Linda Larkey, Jonathan Kurka, Sue A Rodríguez De Jesús, Wonsuk Yoo, Ruben Mesa. Smartphone-Based Meditation for Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Patients: Feasibility Study to Inform Future Trials. JMIR Form Res. 2019 Apr-Jun; 3(2): e12662. Published online 2019 Apr 29. doi: 10.2196/12662

 

 

Abstract

Background

Myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) patients often report high symptom burden that persists despite the best available pharmacologic therapy. Meditation has gained popularity in recent decades as a way to manage cancer patient symptoms.

Objective

The aim of this study was to examine the feasibility of 2 different consumer-based meditation smartphone apps in MPN patients and to examine the limited efficacy of smartphone-based meditation on symptoms compared with an educational control group.

Methods

Patients (n=128) were recruited nationally through organizational partners and social media. Eligible and consented patients were enrolled into 1 of 4 groups, 2 of which received varying orders of 2 consumer-based apps (10% Happier and Calm) and 2 that received one of the apps alone for the second 4 weeks of the 8-week intervention after an educational control condition. Participants were asked to perform 10 min of meditation per day irrespective of the app and the order in which they received the apps. Feasibility outcomes were measured at weeks 5 and 9 with a Web-based survey. Feasibility outcomes were acceptability, demand, and limited efficacy for depression, anxiety, pain intensity, sleep disturbance, sexual function, quality of life, global health, and total symptom burden.

Results

A total of 128 patients were enrolled across all 4 groups, with 73.4% (94/128) patients completing the intervention. Of the participants who completed the 10% Happier app, 61% (46/76) enjoyed it, 66% (50/76) were satisfied with the content, and 77% (59/76) would recommend to others. Of those who completed the Calm app, 83% (56/68) enjoyed it, 84% (57/68) were satisfied with the content, and 97% (66/68) would recommend to others. Of those who completed the educational control, 91% (56/61) read it, 87% (53/61) enjoyed it, and 71% (43/61) learned something. Participants who completed the 10% Happierapp averaged 31 (SD 33) min/week; patients completing the Calm app averaged 71 (SD 74) min/week. 10% Happier app participants saw small effects on anxiety (P<.001 d=−0.43), depression (P=.02; d=−0.38), sleep disturbance (P=.01; d=−0.40), total symptom burden (P=.13; d=−0.27), and fatigue (P=.06; d=−0.30), and moderate effects on physical health (P<.001; d=0.52). Calm app participants saw small effects on anxiety (P=.29; d=−0.22), depression (P=.09; d=−0.29), sleep disturbance (P=.002; d=−0.47), physical health (P=.005; d=0.44), total symptom burden (P=.13; d=−0.27), and fatigue (P=.13; d=−0.27). Educational control participants (n=61) did not have effects on any patient-reported outcome except for a moderate effect on physical health (P<.001; d=0.77).

Conclusions

Delivering meditation via the Calm app is feasible and scored higher in terms of feasibility when compared with the 10% Happier app. The Calm app will be used to implement a randomized controlled trial, testing the effects of meditation on symptom burden in MPNs.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6658299/