Improve the Physical and Mental Health of Older Patients with Hypertension and Type 2 Diabetes with Meditation

Improve the Physical and Mental Health of Older Patients with Hypertension and Type 2 Diabetes with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Though diabetes is a heterogenous disorder, with multiple clinical manifestations, its chronic complications occur due to vascular (endothelial) dysfunction. Mindfulness Meditation helps by improving the autonomic and endocrine regulation of vascular tone, thus leading to better cardiovascular health.” – Sanjay Kalra

 

Diabetes is a major health issue. It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States and nearly 600 million people worldwide have diabetes and the numbers are growing. Type II Diabetes is heavily associated with other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, hypertension, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, and circulatory problems leading to amputations. As a result, diabetes doubles the risk of death of any cause compared to individuals of the same age without diabetes.

 

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is also a very common disorder with about 70 million American adults (29%) having high blood pressure and only about half (52%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control. It is an insidious disease because there are no overt symptoms. The individual feels fine. But it can be deadly as more than 360,000 American deaths per year have high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. In addition, hypertension markedly increases the risk heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.

 

Type 2 diabetes and hypertension are common and increasingly prevalent illnesses, especially in older individual. But they are treatable with medications and largely preventable with lifestyle changes. Recently, mindfulness practices have been shown to be helpful in managing diabetes and also in reducing hypertension. This suggests that there is a need for further research on the effects of meditation training for the treatment of hypertension and Type II diabetes.

 

In today’s Research News article “Brain education-based meditation for patients with hypertension and/or type 2 diabetes: A pilot randomized controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6531095/), Lee and colleagues recruited older participants (57-87 years of age) with hypertension and/or Type 2 diabetes and were under medication. The participants were randomly assigned to receive either health education or meditation training twice a week for 8 weeks. Before and after training blood was drawn for biochemical, RNA, and c-DNA analysis and completed questionnaires on their mental and physical health.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and health education control group, after meditation training there were significant reductions in blood low-density lipoprotein (LDL), inflammatory gene expression, and levels of fatigue, and significant increases in mental health, including significant increases in relaxation, focus, happiness, and confidence, and significant decreases in anger and loneliness. These results suggest that meditation training is effective in treating older patients with hypertension and/or Type 2 diabetes who are already being treated with medication. Hence meditation practice supplements the benefits of medications.

 

The reductions in LDL cholesterol have been previously reported with mindfulness training and are very important as LDL cholesterol is a significant marker for cardiovascular disease. The reduction in inflammatory gene expression has also been previously reported and is very important as inflammation is a marker for a variety of disease conditions. In addition, the improvements in mental health have been previously reported and are significant as the elderly have higher levels of mental health difficulties than younger people.

 

It appears from these results that meditation training as a supplement to medication can be very beneficial for the mental and physical health of older patients suffering from hypertension and/or Type 2 diabetes. It would appear reasonable to recommend meditation training for these patients in addition to their medications.

 

So, improve the physical and mental health of older patients with hypertension and type 2 diabetes with meditation.

 

“Recent research showed meditation can also help people with diabetes control their blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.” – Roberta Kleinman

 

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

 

Lee, S. H., Hwang, S. M., Kang, D. H., & Yang, H. J. (). Brain education-based meditation for patients with hypertension and/or type 2 diabetes: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Medicine, 98(19), e15574. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000015574

 

Abstract

Background:

Hypertension and type 2 diabetes are chronic diseases, which generally require lifetime care. Meditation and yoga can be complementary to pharmacological therapies according to the scientific evidences so far. Brain education-based meditation (BEM) is a technique, which has been known to change brain structure, psychology, and physiology of healthy adult participants. This randomized, nonblinded pilot trial aimed to examine whether BEM affects the conditions of patients with hypertension and/or type 2 diabetes compared with health education classes.

Methods:

We randomly allocated 48 patients with hypertension and/or type 2 diabetes to BEM (n = 24) or health education (n = 24) classes in the Ulsan Junggu Public Health Center in Korea, where the classes were run during the same period and explored the impact of 8-week practice on the serum glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase, serum glutamic pyruvic transaminase, gamma glutamyl transpeptidase, creatinine, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Total RNA was extracted to examine inflammatory gene expressions from the whole blood using PAXgene blood RNA System. In addition, self-reports on mental/physical health were evaluated. The Student’s t test, chi-squared test, and analysis of covariance were used for statistical analysis.

Results:

The number of people who participated until the completion of the study was 14 in the control and 21 in the BEM group. After 8 weeks, LDL cholesterol level was significantly decreased in the BEM group after the intervention (13.82 mg/dL reduction, P < .05), while it was not significantly altered in the control group. The expression of inflammatory genes was significantly reduced after 8 weeks of the BEM training (0.3-, 0.5-, and 0.2-fold change for NFKB2, RELA, and IL1B, respectively, all P < .05). In the item analysis of mental/physical health self-reports, a significant improvement was confirmed as follows: increases in focus, confidence, relaxation, and happiness; decreases in fatigue, anger, and loneliness (all P < .05). There were no important adverse events or side-effects by BEM intervention.

Conclusion:

Compared to health education, BEM helps lower LDL cholesterol level and the inflammatory gene expression in the patients with hypertension and/or type 2 diabetes. Moreover, BEM induces positive effects on the self-reported mental/physical states, warranting further study.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6531095/

 

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Better Mental Health in Firefighters

Mindfulness is Associated with Better Mental Health in Firefighters

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness practices work at both a preventative and remedial level by assisting them to maintain higher levels of resilience to deal with their emergency responder roles and helping to reduce and cease distressing reactions after difficult personal and traumatic incidents.” – Mark Molony

 

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 with 7%-8% of the population developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). First responders such as firefighters and police experience traumatic events as part of their jobs and many develop symptoms of PTSD. This is responsible for the fact that wore firefighters and police officers die by suicide than all line-of-duty deaths combined. 103 firefighters and 140 police officers died by suicide in 2017, compared to 93 firefighter and 129 officer line-of-duty deaths.

 

Obviously, stress and trauma effects are troubling problems for firefighters that need to be addressed. There are a number of therapies that have been developed to treat PTSD. One of which, mindfulness training has been found to be particularly effective.  Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to has been shown to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress, to reduce suicidality and to reduce the impact of trauma on the individual. So, a firefighter’s level of mindfulness may be associated with better mental health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mental health and mindfulness amongst Australian fire fighters.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6570940/), Counson and colleagues recruited healthy firefighters who had experienced trauma in the last 6 months. The firefighters completed measures of mindfulness, anxiety, depression, and psychological well-being.

 

They found that the higher the firefighters’ levels of mindfulness, the lower the levels of anxiety and depression and the higher the levels of psychological well-being. Hence, mindfulness was found to be associated with better mental health in these firefighters who are exposed to trauma. This study is correlational and no conclusions regarding causation can be reached. But previous research has demonstrated that mindfulness has causal effects on anxiety, depression, and psychological well-being. So, it is likely that the associations seen here were due to causal connections.

 

These results suggest that mindful firefighters are resistant to the effects of trauma. It has been shown the mindfulness is effective in treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The present results then combined with these previous findings suggest that mindfulness may help to protect firefighters from trauma making it less likely that they’ll develop PTSD.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with better mental health in firefighters.

 

targeted mindfulness training program increases some aspects of firefighter resilience (distress tolerance, positive adjustment, and perseverance). . . . The more lessons firefighters completed, the greater their improvements in both mindfulness and resilience.” – AMRA

 

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

 

Counson, I., Hosemans, D., Lal, T. J., Mott, B., Harvey, S. B., & Joyce, S. (2019). Mental health and mindfulness amongst Australian fire fighters. BMC psychology, 7(1), 34. doi:10.1186/s40359-019-0311-2

 

Abstract

Background

While extensive research has highlighted the positive mental health outcomes associated with mindfulness, little work has examined how mindfulness may protect the mental health of first responders exposed to trauma. This is important as there is increasing evidence that mindfulness skills, if protective, can be taught to groups of at-risk workers. The purpose of the current research was to examine the potential role mindfulness may have in supporting the mental health of Australian fire fighters.

Methods

The sample consisted of 114 professional fire fighters who completed demographic and job-related questions followed by measures of mindfulness (FMI-14), well-being (WHO-5), depression (HADS-D) and anxiety (HADS-A). Hierarchical multiple linear regressions were performed to determine whether levels of mindfulness were associated with anxiety, depression and wellbeing after accounting for age and number of years of fire service.

Results

High levels of mindfulness were associated with decreased depression (p ≤ .001) and anxiety (p ≤ .001) as well as increased psychological well-being (p ≤ .001). Measures of mindfulness were able to explain a substantial amount of the variability in well-being (26.8%), anxiety (23.6%) and depression (22.4%), regardless of age and years of fire service.

Conclusions

The present study provides evidence for robust associations between dispositional mindfulness and mental health markers of depression, anxiety and well-being in Australian fire fighters recently exposed to trauma. Mindfulness is a psychological characteristic that may be able to be modified, although further research is required to substantiate these findings and to formally test mindfulness interventions. Such studies would allow greater insight into the underlying mechanisms through which mindfulness may exert its beneficial effects.

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (10.1186/s40359-019-0311-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6570940/

 

Improve Relationships with the Self and Others with Yoga Practice

Improve Relationships with the Self and Others with Yoga Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Cultivating mindfulness can help you face the inevitable difficulties and disappointments that arise in relationship with equanimity, compassion, and loving-kindness.” – Phillip Moffit

 

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

 

It is not only important to develop relationships with others but to also develop relationship with the self. There is a widespread problem in the West that many people don’t seem to like themselves. The antidote to self-dislike is self-compassion. Self-compassion is “treating oneself with kindness and understanding when facing suffering, seeing one’s failures as part of the human condition, and having a balanced awareness of painful thoughts and emotions” – Kristin Neff.  Unfortunately, there has been little systematic research of the effectiveness of yoga practice in developing relationships with the self and others.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Daily Influences of Yoga on Relational Outcomes Off of the Mat.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6521757/), Kishida and colleagues recruited adult yoga practitioners. They had the participants report their yoga practice characteristics and then maintained an online 21-day diary of yoga practice, mindfulness, self-compassion, compassion, social connectedness, psychological health, and physical health.

 

They found that across days that the higher the level of mindfulness the higher the level of psychological health, self-compassion, compassion, and social connectedness. They also found that the greater the amount of yoga practice the higher the level of mindfulness and self-compassion. A mediation analysis revealed that yoga practice was associated with greater compassion and social connectedness in part directly and in part through its relationship with mindfulness, where yoga practice was associated with greater mindfulness which in turn was associated with greater compassion and social connectedness. In addition, daily yoga practice was associated with compassion both directly and indirectly through its relationship with self-compassion, where yoga practice was associated with greater self-compassion which in turn was associated with greater compassion.

 

This is a correlational study, so causation cannot be concluded, But previous studies have clearly shown that mindfulness practices such as yoga produce improvements in psychological health, self-compassion, compassion, and social connectedness. So, it is likely that yoga practice was the cause of the benefits reported in the present study.

 

Yoga is a mindfulness practice. The results suggest that yoga practice produces direct benefits for the psychological and social well-being of the practitioner in a direct manner. But the results also suggest that yoga practice improves mindfulness which in turn improves the practitioners psychological and social well-being. So, yoga practice by improving mindfulness produces benefits and yoga practice by itself also has its own benefits. These results suggest that practicing yoga make an individual happier with themselves and better able to engage with others.

 

So, improve relationships with the self and others with yoga practice.

 

“In the same way as yoga requires knowledge and skills for the perfection of the practice, relationships require relational skills in order for them to grow and unfold over time.” – Joel Feldman

 

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

 

Kishida, M., Mogle, J., & Elavsky, S. (2019). The Daily Influences of Yoga on Relational Outcomes Off of the Mat. International journal of yoga, 12(2), 103–113. doi:10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_46_18

 

Abstract

Background:

Despite the wide array of health benefits that have been evidenced with yoga, a clear gap exists examining how yoga impacts connections with oneself and to others.

Aims:

The objectives of the present study were twofold: (1) to describe the day-to-day (in)variability in daily yoga practice and relational outcomes and (2) to examine the direct and indirect effects of yoga practice on relational outcomes.

Methods:

Community-dwelling yoga practitioners (n = 104, age range: 18–76 years) with a yoga practice of at least once a week were recruited for a 21-day daily diary study. Practitioners were asked to complete daily Internet surveys at the end of the day which included questions with respect to one’s yoga practice and relational domains (i.e., mindfulness, [self-]compassion, and social connectedness).

Results:

Multilevel analyses revealed yoga and relational outcomes to be dynamic phenomena, indicated by substantial variation (intraclass correlations = 0.34–0.48) at the within-person level. On days when an individual practiced more yoga than their usual, greater mindfulness (b = 2.93, standard error [SE] = 0.39, P < 0.05) and self-compassion (b = 1.45, SE = 0.46, P < 0.05) were also reported. 1-1-1 multilevel mediation models demonstrated that yoga has an indirect effect on both compassion and social connectedness through increases in mindfulness at the within- and between-person levels. In models testing self-compassion as the mediator, the indirect effect of daily yoga practice on compassion was significant, although limited to the within-person level.

Conclusions:

These findings suggest that a routine yoga practice could positively impact how a practitioner relates to theirselves and to others, both on a day-to-day basis, and with accumulated practice.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6521757/

 

Improve the Mental Health on Intensive Care Nurses with Mindfulness

Improve the Mental Health on Intensive Care Nurses with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

Abstract

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

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

 

Improve Mental Well-Being with Mindfulness

Improve Mental Well-Being with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

So, improve mental well-being with mindfulness.

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

Abstract

Objectives

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

Design

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

Results

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

Conclusions

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

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

 

Improve Mental Health and Well-Being of College Students with Mindfulness

Improve Mental Health and Well-Being of College Students with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Student life can be stressful, but that doesn’t mean students have to let stress take over their lives. By incorporating mindfulness and meditation into daily routines, students can not only relieve the pressure, but also improve their memory, focus and ultimately their grades.” – Todd Braver

 

In the modern world education is a key for success. Where a high school education was sufficient in previous generations, a college degree is now required to succeed in the new knowledge-based economies. There is a lot of pressure on students to excel so that they can be admitted to the best universities and there is a lot of pressure on university students to excel so that they can get the best jobs after graduation. This stress might in fact be counterproductive as the increased pressure can actually lead to stress and anxiety which can impede the student’s physical and mental health, well-being, and school performance.

 

It is, for the most part, beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress, so it is important that methods be found to reduce the college students’ responses to stress; to make them more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Contemplative practices including meditationmindfulness training, and yoga practice have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. Indeed, these practices have been found to reduce stress and improve psychological health in college students. So, it would seem important to examine various techniques to relieve the stress and its consequent symptoms in college students.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effects of Meditation, Yoga, and Mindfulness on Depression, Anxiety, and Stress in Tertiary Education Students: A Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6491852/), Breedvelt and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled trials of the effectiveness of mindfulness practices for the mental health and well-being of college students. They identified 23 published studies employing a total of 1373 students.

 

They found that the published research reported that in comparison to baseline and no-treatment or wait-list control conditions mindfulness practices including meditation, mindfulness, and yoga practice produced significant reductions in anxiety, depression, and perceived stress. The effects were still present as much as 24 months later. They did not find any significant differences in the effectiveness of the various practices. These effects were most evident when mindfulness practices were compared to no-treatment or wait-list control conditions. When compared to active controls (drugs, exercise, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) the effects were much smaller and non-significant.

 

The results suggest that there are many practices including mindfulness, exercise, or other therapies that are effective in improving the mental health of college students. Mindfulness practices are safe and effective treatments but so are other treatments. It would appear that it doesn’t matter so much what treatment is employed, but that some treatment occurs.

 

So, improve mental health and well-being of college students with mindfulness.

 

“a mindfulness intervention can help reduce distress levels in college students during a stressful exam week, as well as increase altruistic action in the form of donating to charity.” – J. Galante–

 

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

 

Breedvelt, J., Amanvermez, Y., Harrer, M., Karyotaki, E., Gilbody, S., Bockting, C., … Ebert, D. D. (2019). The Effects of Meditation, Yoga, and Mindfulness on Depression, Anxiety, and Stress in Tertiary Education Students: A Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 10, 193. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00193

 

Abstract

Background: Meditation, yoga, and mindfulness are popular interventions at universities and tertiary education institutes to improve mental health. However, the effects on depression, anxiety, and stress are unclear. This study assessed the effectiveness of meditation, yoga, and mindfulness on symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress in tertiary education students.

Methods: We searched Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), PubMed, PsycINFO and identified 11,936 articles. After retrieving 181 papers for full-text screening, 24 randomized controlled trials were included in the qualitative analysis. We conducted a random-effects meta-analysis amongst 23 studies with 1,373 participants.

Results: At post-test, after exclusion of outliers, effect sizes for depression, g = 0.42 (95% CI: 0.16–0.69), anxiety g = 0.46 (95% CI: 0.34–0.59), stress g = 0.42 (95% CI: 0.27–0.57) were moderate. Heterogeneity was low (I2 = 6%). When compared to active control, the effect decreased to g = 0.13 (95% CI: −0.18–0.43). No RCT reported on safety, only two studies reported on academic achievement, most studies had a high risk of bias.

Conclusions: Most studies were of poor quality and results should be interpreted with caution. Overall moderate effects were found which decreased substantially when interventions were compared to active control. It is unclear whether meditation, yoga or mindfulness affect academic achievement or affect have any negative side effects.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6491852/

 

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

 

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

 

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 Psychological Well-Being with Mindfulness Regardless of the Amount of Practice

Improve Psychological Well-Being with Mindfulness Regardless of the Amount of Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“No matter what stage of life you are in, the goal of meditating is to find that silence within you, of letting go of external stressors, and accessing calm, tranquility, and feeling that all is well from within. You will reap the benefits of feeling better. And when you feel better, you can be your best self.” – Carol Melnick

 

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

 

In today’s Research News article “Adherence to Practice of Mindfulness in Novice Meditators: Practices Chosen, Amount of Time Practiced, and Long-Term Effects Following a Mindfulness-Based Intervention.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6419774/), Ribeiro and colleagues recruited healthy older adults, aged 50 to 80 years, who had not engaged in mindfulness practices and were moderately stressed. They were randomly assigned to either a wait-list control group or to receive a 6-week mindfulness training based upon the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) program. They met once a week for 60-90 minutes and were instructed to practice at home for 30-45 minutes daily. They were measured before and after training and 8 weeks later for neuroticism, perceived stress, expectancy, mindfulness, quality of life, depression, and adherence to mindfulness practice.

 

They found that the participants continued meditation after the training averaging 23 minutes per day for 76% of days and 8 weeks later significantly less averaging 16 minutes per day for 55% of days. Their preferred practice was body scan meditation, followed by sitting meditation and the most popular sitting meditation was breath following. In comparison to the baseline and the wait-list control group, mindfulness practice produced significant improvements in well-being including reductions in perceived stress, depression, and neuroticism and increases in mindfulness and the quality of life. These effects persisted from the end of training to the 8-week follow-up. There were no significant effects of expectancy, amount of practice, or type of practice on the results.

 

These results are similar to previous reports that mindfulness practice reduces perceived stress, depression, and neuroticism and increases in mindfulness and quality of life that continue beyond the end of training. Unlike previous research, however, they did not find any influence of the types, amounts, or patterns of practice on well-being. This may be due to a ceiling effects as the adherence and amount of practice was relatively high. It could also be due to the age of participants. Future studies may clarify these possibilities. Nevertheless, it is clear that mindfulness practice improves well-being in older adults.

 

So, improve psychological well-being with mindfulness regardless of the amount of practice.

 

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

 

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

 

Ribeiro, L., Atchley, R. M., & Oken, B. S. (2017). Adherence to Practice of Mindfulness in Novice Meditators: Practices Chosen, Amount of Time Practiced, and Long-Term Effects Following a Mindfulness-Based Intervention. Mindfulness, 9(2), 401–411.

 

Abstract

In this study, we objectively tracked the duration, frequency, and the preferred practices chosen by novice mindfulness practitioners following a mindfulness meditation (MM) intervention. A sample of 55 mildly stressed participants, aged 50 to 80 years old, underwent an individual 6-week MM intervention and had their guided meditation home practice electronically recorded during the intervention and the 8-week post-intervention period. Participants’ psychological well-being was assessed through self-report measures of mindfulness, quality of life, and symptoms of depression and stress. Results evidenced a high adherence to practice, with an average of ~23 minutes per day during the intervention and ~16 minutes per day in the follow-up period. Body scan, sitting meditation, and breathing space were the most popular meditation practices among participants. Our results showed significant alterations in self-reported measures over time, suggesting improvements in stress and overall quality of life. Changes in the self-report measures did not correlate with MM practice time, which suggests that other psychological phenomena, including quality of meditation practice, influence these outcomes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6419774/

 

Improve Mental Health in Older Adults with Mental Health Problems with Mindfulness

Improve Mental Health in Older Adults with Mental Health Problems with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“You can think of emotional regulation like stopping a train—it works better if you can stop before the train (your emotions) starts rolling too fast.  It also helps when your brakes work immediately, without interference. Mindfulness lets you know right away that you need to stop and keeps thoughts and emotions from interfering.” – University of Minnesotta

 

As we age, there are systematic progressive declines in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our mental abilities and results in impairments in memory, attention, and problem-solving ability. Aging also results in changes in mental health. Depression is very common in the elderly. The elderly cope with increasing loss of friends and family, deteriorating health, as well as concerns regarding finances on fixed incomes. In addition, many elderly experience withdrawal and isolation from social interactions producing increased loneliness, worry and anxiety.

 

Mindfulness appears to be effective for an array of psychological issues that occur with aging. It has also been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging. and improve cognitive processes. It has also been shown to reduce anxietyworry, and depression and improve overall mental health. But not everyone responds to mindfulness training with improvement. Identifying who will respond and who won’t is important in determining the best treatment option for each individual.

 

In today’s Research News article “Predictors of Improvements in Mental Health From Mindfulness Meditation in Stressed Older Adults.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5802968/ ), Oken and colleagues recruited generally healthy, meditation naïve, older individuals aged 50 to 85 years who reported high levels of perceived stress. They were randomly assigned to a wait-list control group or to receive a 6-week program of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) including home practice. MBCT training occurred once a week for 60 to 90 minutes and involves mindfulness training, containing sitting, walking and body scan meditations, and cognitive therapy That is designed to alter how the patient relates to the thought processes that often underlie and exacerbate psychological symptoms.

 

The participants were measured before and after treatment and 2 months later for perceived stress, life experience stressors, neuroticism, positive and negative emotions, depression, health-related quality of life, sleep quality, fatigue, self-efficacy, and mindfulness. The researchers separated the participants by their response to the treatment with responders (half the participants) showing significant improvement in mental health.

 

They found that the responders had poorer mental health at the beginning (baseline) including greater levels of negative emotions, lower health related quality of life, and greater fatigue. One interpretive difficulty here is a phenomenon called regression to the mean. This occurs when extremes are selected. On retest they are almost always significantly better. It is possible that the observed effects were not due to the treatment but to people who were struggling getting spontaneously better.

 

These results, however, suggest that MBCT training is best suited to older individuals who have existing mental health issues and is little value to those who are relatively stable psychologically. This makes sense and implies that MBCT training is not particularly useful for psychologically healthy individuals but can help those with difficulties.

 

So, improve mental health in older adults with mental health problems with mindfulness.

 

“The research is strong for mindfulness’ positive impact in certain areas of mental health, including stress reduction, emotion and attention regulation, reduced rumination, for reducing mild to moderate depression and anxiety, and preventing depressive relapse.” – Kelle Walsh

 

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

 

Oken, B. S., Goodrich, E., Klee, D., Memmott, T., & Proulx, J. (2018). Predictors of Improvements in Mental Health From Mindfulness Meditation in Stressed Older Adults. Alternative therapies in health and medicine, 24(1), 48-55.

 

Abstract

Context

The benefits of a mindfulness meditation (MM) intervention are most often evidenced by improvements in self-rated stress and mental health. Given the physiological complexity of the psychological stress system, it is likely that some people benefit significantly, while others do not. Clinicians and researchers could benefit from further exploration to determine which baseline factors can predict clinically significant improvements from MM.

Objectives

The study intended to determine: (1) if the baseline measures for participants who significantly benefitted from MM training were different from the baseline measures of participants who did not and (2) whether a classification analysis using a decision-tree, machine-learning approach could be useful in predicting which individuals would be most likely to improve.

Design

The research team performed a secondary analysis of a previously completed randomized, controlled clinical trial.

Setting

Oregon Health & Science University and participants’ homes.

Participants

Participants were 134 stressed, generally healthy adults from the metropolitan area of Portland, Oregon, who were 50 to 85 years old.

Intervention

Participants were randomly assigned either to a six-week MM intervention group or to a waitlist control group, who received the same MM intervention after the waitlist period.

Outcome Measures

Outcome measures were assessed at baseline and at two-month follow-up intervals. A responder was defined as someone who demonstrated a moderate, clinically significant improvement on the Mental Health Component (MHC) of the SF-36, Short Form Health-related Quality of Life (SF-36), ie, a change ≥4. The MHC had demonstrated the greatest effect size in the primary analysis of the above-mentioned randomized, controlled clinical trial. Potential predictors were demographic information and baseline measures related to stress and affect. Univariate statistical analyses were performed to compare the values of predictors in the responder and nonresponder groups. In addition, predictors were chosen for a classification analysis using a decision tree approach.

Results

Of the 134 original participants, 121 completed the MM intervention. As defined above, 61 were responders and 60 were nonresponders. Analyses of the baseline measures demonstrated significant differences between the 2 groups in several measures: (1) the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule negative sub-scale (PANAS-neg), (2) the SF-36 MHC, and (3) the SF-36 Energy/Fatigue, with clinically worse scores being associated with greater likelihood of being a responder. Disappointingly, the decision-tree analyses were unable to achieve a classification rate of better than 65%.

Conclusions

The differences in predictor variables between responders and nonresponders to an MM intervention suggested that those with worse mental health at baseline were more likely to improve. Decision-tree analysis was unable to usefully predict who would respond to the intervention.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5802968/

 

Mindfulness Practice Quality not Quantity Predicts Psychological Improvement

Mindfulness Practice Quality not Quantity Predicts Psychological Improvement

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

In today’s Research News article “The secret ingredient in mindfulness interventions? A case for practice quality over quantity.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6333205/ ), Goldberg and colleagues recruited adults for a “Quit Smoking Trial” and had them participate in an 8 week, once a week for 1.5 hours, mindfulness training program based upon the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program but targeting smoking cessation. They also practiced at home for 30 minutes per day. In addition, for the first 4 weeks they also received nicotine patches. They were measured before and after the program and 5 months later for smoking, mindfulness, psychological functioning, emotion regulation, negative emotions, and quality of life. At each of the 8 practice sessions the participants also reported on the amount of time they practiced during the week and quality of these practices. The measure of practice quality was “composed of two dimensions: perseverance (e.g., “During practice, I attempted to return to my present-moment experience, whether unpleasant, pleasant, or neutral”) and receptivity (e.g., “During practice I was actively avoiding or ‘pushing away’ certain experiences”).”

 

They found that after treatment there was a significant relationship between practice time and the change in practice quality and the psychological functioning of the individuals with small to moderate effect sizes. In particular, the greater the amount of time spent practicing and also the greater the change in the quality of practice, the greater the improvement in psychological function in the participants. At the 5-month follow-up, however, only the change in quality of practice was associated with improved psychological function. Neither the amount of time spent practicing or the quality of practice was associated with smoking cessation at the end of treatment or 5 months later.

 

These results are interesting and suggest the importance of quality of practice in influencing the effectiveness of mindfulness practice on the psychological function of the individual. The quality measure components of perseverance and receptivity reflect exactly what is taught in mindfulness training where the meditator is asked to return to mindfulness whenever they detect mind wandering and to simply let things be as they are without attempts to change or control them. How well these skills are mastered, as evidenced by their change over the 8 weeks of training appears to be very important for maintaining the benefits.

 

This is an unusual study as most research on mindfulness training do not measure either amount or quality of the trained practice, while only a few, monitor the amount of time spent practicing. The current study underlines the importance of measuring quality. It appears to be important for assessing benefits but also may be used to examine practice methods that maximize the quality and quantity of practice and their importance for their benefits.

 

“Mindfulness is an important part of mental wellbeing; it can help us take stock of the fast-paced world around us and understand our emotions and feelings better. Practising mindfulness regularly can help reduce stress and improve mood; it can also help people to become more emotionally alert, to listen more attentively, communicate more clearly, and can increase self-awareness and the awareness of others.” – Fit for Work

 

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

 

Goldberg, S. B., Del Re, A. C., Hoyt, W. T., & Davis, J. M. (2014). The secret ingredient in mindfulness interventions? A case for practice quality over quantity. Journal of counseling psychology, 61(3), 491-7.

 

Abstract

As mindfulness-based interventions become increasingly widespread, interest has grown in better understanding which features of these treatments produce beneficial effects. The present study examined the relative contribution of mindfulness practice time and practice quality in predicting psychological functioning (negative affect, emotion regulation, quality of life, mindfulness). Data were drawn from a randomized clinical trial of mindfulness training for smokers and assessed outcomes at posttreatment (n = 43) and 5-month follow-up (n = 38). The intervention included instruction in mindfulness techniques targeted to smoking cessation and relapse prevention and was composed of 10 group meetings over 8 weeks. Data from 8 treatment groups were used. Mindfulness practice quality was measured weekly over the course of treatment, and multilevel modeling was used to estimate trajectories of change in practice quality. The measure of practice quality was shown to be valid and reliable, with change in practice quality predicting change in psychological functioning at both posttreatment (β= .31, 95% CI =[0.04, 0.56], p = .022) and follow-up (β= .45 [0.16, 0.73], p = .002), even when controlling for practice time. Practice time predicted outcomes at posttreatment (β= .31 [0.05, 0.57], p = .019) but not at follow-up (β= .16 [[H11002]0.14, 0.47], p = .293). Neither practice time nor change in practice quality predicted smoking abstinence at 1 month or 6 months postquit. Results support the importance of practice quality as a relevant aspect of mindfulness interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6333205/