Personality Modulates the Effectiveness and Continued Use of Mindfulness Training

Personality Modulates the Effectiveness and Continued Use of Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is a formal eight-week program with a daylong intensive. This program is in over 250 hospitals around the country and many more around the world supporting people with stress, anxiety, depressionchronic pain, alleviating stress related to medical conditions and much more.” – Will Baum

 

Personality characteristics are thought to be relatively permanent traits that form an individual’s distinctive character. Current psychological research and theorization on personality has suggested that there are five basic personality characteristics. The so called “Big 5” are Extraversion, Agreeableness, Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, and Neuroticism. Extraversion involves engagement with the external world, particularly other people. Agreeableness involves trust and helpfulness and a positive temperament. Openness to Experience is intellectual curiosity and is associated with creativity and a preference for novelty and variety. Conscientiousness involves planning, organization, dependability and self-discipline. Finally, Neuroticism involves moodiness, negative emotions, and a tendency to perceive even minor things as threatening or impossible. It is thought that most individual personalities can be captured by these five characteristics.

 

Measuring personality traits is only useful if it can predict the future behavior of the individual. Engaging in mindfulness training has been shown to have a large number of beneficial effects on the psychological, emotional, and physical health of the individual and is helpful in the treatment of mental and physical illness. It would be useful to be able to predict who would be most likely to participate fully and thereby benefit most from mindfulness training. It is possible that personality traits are good predictors of successful participation. So, it would be important to look to see if people high in some of these “Big 5” traits are more likely to engage in the program and continue practice even after the end of the formal program.

 

In today’s Research News article “Personality Predicts Utilization of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction During and Post-Intervention in a Community Sample of Older Adults “.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4860670/ ), Barkan and colleagues recruited elderly adults over the age of 60 years. They received a standard 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program that met once a week for 2 hours and near the end of the program for a 7-hour intensive retreat. They were also encouraged to practice at home during training and to continue practice after the end of the formal training. MBSR contains meditation, body scan, and yoga training. The participants were measured prior to training for “Big 5” personality traits, perceived stress, and cognitive functioning. They maintained logs of their engagement in the MBSR sessions and activities throughout the program and 6 months after the end of the program.

 

Barkan and colleagues found that attendance at the MBSR training sessions was high at 94%. Further, they found that during the MBSR intervention, average weekly at home participation varied from 2.19 days/week for yoga to 3.56 days/week for body scanning. Importantly, they found that participants high in the “Big 5” personality trait of openness participated more frequently at home during the 8-week instruction period in meditation and body scanning and during the 6 months after in yoga, meditation and body scanning practices. Those participants who were high in agreeableness participated more frequently at home during the instruction period in meditation. None of the other three “Big 5” personality traits predicted participation rates.

 

Employing a sophisticated regression analysis to the data, they found that the combination of openness and agreeableness predicted both participation during and following the end of formal training and participation during training predicted participation in the following 6 months. Hence, openness and agreeableness were associated with higher participation after training both directly and because they promoted participation during training that, in turn, was associated with increased later participation.

 

It is interested that the personality characteristics of the participant were associated with their rates of participation in MBSR both during and after training. This suggests that participants high in openness to experience would be most likely to participate in and benefit from the practice. The “Big 5” personality trait of openness to experience is associated with creativity and a preference for novelty and variety. Certainly, participation in MBSR would be novel for this elderly group. So, it is not surprising that openness to experience predicted participation.

 

“Do you have neurotic tendencies? You might give mindfulness a try. The practice has been shown to help quell the voice of the “obnoxious roommate” in your head. One of the “Big Five” personality traits, neuroticism is characterized by negative affect, rumination on the past and worry about the future, moodiness and loneliness. Practicing mindfulness may be a powerful way for people to detach from common characteristics of neuroticism, including obsessive negative thoughts and worries, and challenges regulating one’s emotions and behavior.” – Carolyn Gregoire

 

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

 

Barkan, T., Hoerger, M., Gallegos, A. M., Turiano, N. A., Duberstein, P. R., & Moynihan, J. A. (2016). Personality Predicts Utilization of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction During and Post-Intervention in a Community Sample of Older Adults. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 22(5), 390–395. http://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2015.0177

 

Abstract

Objectives: Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a promising intervention for older adults seeking to improve quality of life. More research is needed, however, to determine who is most willing to use the four techniques taught in the program (yoga, sitting meditation, informal meditation, and body scanning). This study evaluated the relationship between the Big Five personality dimensions (neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, conscientiousness, and agreeableness) and use of MBSR techniques both during the intervention and at a 6-month follow-up. The hypothesis was that those with higher levels of openness and agreeableness would be more likely to use the techniques.

Methods: Participants were a community sample of 100 older adults who received an 8-week manualized MBSR intervention. Personality was assessed at baseline by using the 60-item NEO Five-Factor Inventory. Use of MBSR techniques was assessed through weekly practice logs during the intervention and a 6-month follow-up survey. Regression analyses were used to examine the association between each personality dimension and each indicator of MBSR use both during and after the intervention.

Results: As hypothesized, openness and agreeableness predicted greater use of MBSR both during and after the intervention, while controlling for demographic differences in age, educational level, and sex. Openness was related to use of a variety of MBSR techniques during and after the intervention, while agreeableness was related to use of meditation techniques during the intervention. Mediation analysis suggested that personality explained postintervention MBSR use, both directly and by fostering initial uptake of MBSR during treatment.

Conclusions: Personality dimensions accounted for individual differences in the use of MBSR techniques during and 6 months after the intervention. Future studies should consider how mental health practitioners would use these findings to target and tailor MBSR interventions to appeal to broader segments of the population.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4860670/

Mindfulness Training Benefits Neurotic Individuals the Most

Mindfulness Training Benefits Neurotic Individuals the Most

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Do you have neurotic tendencies? You might give mindfulness a try. The practice has been shown to help quell the voice of the “obnoxious roommate” in your head. One of the “Big Five” personality traits, neuroticism is characterized by negative affect, rumination on the past and worry about the future, moodiness and loneliness. Practicing mindfulness may be a powerful way for people to detach from common characteristics of neuroticism, including obsessive negative thoughts and worries, and challenges regulating one’s emotions and behavior.” – Carolyn Gregoire

 

We know that people differ in how they interact with the environment and other people. We call these differences personality. Personality characteristics are thought to be relatively permanent traits that form an individual’s distinctive character. Different personalities predict different behaviors and different responses to the environment. This suggests that different personality types might respond differently to mindfulness training.

 

Current psychological research and theorization on personality has suggested that there are five basic personality characteristics. The so called “Big 5” are Extraversion, Agreeableness, Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, and Neuroticism. Extraversion involves engagement with the external world, particularly other people. Agreeableness involves trust and helpfulness and a positive temperament. Openness to Experience is intellectual curiosity and is associated with creativity and a preference for novelty and variety. Conscientiousness involves planning, organization, dependability and self-discipline. Finally, Neuroticism involves moodiness, negative emotions, and a tendency to perceive even minor things as threatening or impossible. It is thought that most individual personalities can be captured by these five characteristics.

 

It has been shown that people high in mindfulness are also high in the “Big 5” traits of Conscientiousness, and Neuroticism.  It is possible that people high in these traits are more susceptible to the effects of mindfulness training. In today’s Research News article “For Whom Does Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Work? Moderating Effects of Personality.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5506177/, Nyklíček, I., & Irrmischer examine whether the effectiveness of mindfulness training is affected by the individual’s personality. They recruited adults and provided them with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. MBSR consists of meditation, yoga and body scan and training occurs over 8 weeks in 2.5-hour weekly sessions with daily homework assignments. Before training their personality was measured and before and after training and 3-months later, they were measured for anxiety and depression.

 

They found that as has been previously demonstrated MBSR resulted in substantial significant reductions in anxiety and depression after training and these mood states continued to improve and were even lower 3 months later. They then tested for mediation effects to determine if personality characteristics affected the MBSR reductions in anxiety and depression. They found that the personality characteristic of neuroticism accentuated the effect such that the higher the levels of neuroticism the greater the reductions in anxiety and depression produced by MBSR. This mediation effect, however, was in part due to the fact that high neuroticism was related to higher depression and anxiety. When they controlled for the levels of depression and anxiety present when the study began, the mediation effect for depression was no longer significant while neuroticism continued to mediate the effect of MBSR on anxiety.

 

So, they found that MBSR training produces a long-lasting reduction in anxiety and depression. The effect of MBSR on depression occurs equally regardless of personality characteristics. On the other hand, MBSR training reduces anxiety to a greater extent in people high in neuroticism. By focusing attention more on the present moment, MBSR training reduces the past orientation that energizes depression and the future orientation that fuels anxiety. It appears to have its effect on anxiety magnified in highly neurotic people. Neuroticism involves a tendency to perceive even minor things as threatening. Focusing on the present moment interrupts seeing future threat and thereby may make the neuroticism less impactful.

 

So, mindfulness training benefits neurotic individuals the most.

 

“By the posture, by the action,
By eating, seeing, and so on,
By the kind of states occurring,
May temperament be recognized.” – Path of Purification

 

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

 

Nyklíček, I., & Irrmischer, M. (2017). For Whom Does Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Work? Moderating Effects of Personality. Mindfulness, 8(4), 1106–1116. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0687-0

 

Abstract

The aim of the present study was to examine potentially moderating effects of personality characteristics regarding changes in anxious and depressed mood associated with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), controlling for socio-demographic factors. Meditation-naïve participants from the general population self-presenting with psychological stress complaints (n = 167 participants, 70% women, mean age 45.8 ± 9.3 years) were assessed in a longitudinal investigation of change in mood before and after the intervention and at a 3-month follow-up. Participants initially scoring high on neuroticism showed stronger decreases in both anxious and depressed mood (both p < 0.001). However, when controlled for baseline mood, only the time by neuroticism interaction effect on anxiety remained significant (p = 0.001), reflecting a smaller decrease in anxiety between pre- and post-intervention but a larger decrease in anxiety between post-intervention and follow-up in those with higher baseline neuroticism scores. Most personality factors did not show moderating effects, when controlled for baseline mood. Only neuroticism showed to be associated with delayed benefit. Results are discussed in the context of findings from similar research using more traditional cognitive-behavioral interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5506177/

What are the Characteristics of the Mindful Personality

What are the Characteristics of the Mindful Personality

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Scientific research has shown that there are things you can do to change your personality. First, changing a large number of habits is basically the same as changing your personality, but there’s a new method that has become very popular in psychology because it works: Meditation.” – Antonio Centeno

 

Personality characteristics are thought to be relatively permanent traits that form an individual’s distinctive character. Current psychological research and theorization on personality has suggested that there are five basic personality characteristics. The so called “Big 5” are Extraversion, Agreeableness, Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, and Neuroticism. Extraversion involves engagement with the external world, particularly other people. Agreeableness involves trust and helpfulness and a positive temperament. Openness to Experience is intellectual curiosity and is associated with creativity and a preference for novelty and variety. Conscientiousness involves planning, organization, dependability and self-discipline. Finally, Neuroticism involves moodiness, negative emotions, and a tendency to perceive even minor things as threatening or impossible. It is thought that most individual personalities can be captured by these five characteristics.

 

Mindfulness is subject to change from moment, but, recently it has been established that there is also an enduring trait of mindfulness with some people inherently more mindful than others. It is not clear whether this is incorporated in the “Big 5” or is a separate characteristic. In today’s Research News article “The Mindful Personality: a Meta-analysis from a Cybernetic Perspective.” (See summary below). Hanley & Garland summarize and interpret the published research literature on the relationship of mindfulness and the “Big 5” personality characteristics. They found 37 relevant published studies that included measures of mindfulness and the “Big 5” personality characteristics to include in the meta-analysis.

 

They report that the published research indicates that the enduring trait of mindfulness has a positive relationship with the “Big 5” characteristics of Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, and Agreeableness, and a negative relationship with Neuroticism. By far the strongest relationships seen were between mindfulness and Conscientiousness and Neuroticism and the weakest between mindfulness and Extraversion and Openness to Experience. This indicates that the higher the level of enduring mindfulness in the individual the greater the conscientiousness and the lower the neuroticism. These results suggest that the mindful personality is one with high levels of Conscientiousness and Agreeableness and low levels of Neuroticism.

 

The literature summarized here suggests that mindful people are self-disciplined, emotionally stable, and positive. Although this study did not look at the effects of mindfulness training, it has been previously shown that mindfulness training produces more stable and positive emotions, improved concentration and attention, greater cooperativeness, and better mental health. So, it appears that the emotional stability and self-discipline of mindful people can be produced with mindfulness training. This may explain why mindfulness is so beneficial for the physical and mental health of the individual. It appears from the research that mindfulness contributes very positively to our overall mental health and well-being.

 

“mindfulness can reduce feelings of anger and depression among people disposed to neuroticism. Other studies by Robinson and colleagues found that while negative feelings tend to lower self-control because they reduce mindfulness, practicing mindfulness can actually increase self-control” – Carolyn Gregoire

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Hanley, A.W. & Garland, E.L. The Mindful Personality: a Meta-analysis from a Cybernetic Perspective. Mindfulness (2017). doi:10.1007/s12671-017-0736-8

 

Abstract

Dispositional mindfulness (DM), or the tendency to attend to present moment experience, may have important implications for the structure of human personality. However, relationships between DM and the Big Five Model of Personality (BF) have not been definitively established. Therefore, the purpose of this meta-analysis was to extend previous investigations of the relationship between DM and the BF, utilizing a larger sample of studies, attending to relational inconsistencies potentially associated with alternative methods of operationalizing DM, conducting the first meta-analysis of the DM subdomains in relation to the BF, and situating the results in a cybernetic model. Results indicate that neuroticism evidenced the strongest, negative relationship with DM and conscientiousness evidenced the strongest, positive relationship with DM, suggesting the mindful personality may be characterized principally by emotional stability and conscientious self-regulation—potentially reflective of an inclination towards the personality metatrait stability. Measurement differences were also observed, with the mindful personality arrived at through the FFMQ differing to some extent from the mindful personality emerging from the MAAS. Broadly, the mindful personality associated with the FFMQ appears to reflect greater personality complexity, with the FFMQ evidencing associations with all five personality factors while the MAAS appears primarily linked with only three personality factors (neuroticism, conscientiousness, and agreeableness). Examination of the relationships between the BF and DM at the facet level also suggests unique patterns of association between the DM facets and each of the personality factors.

 

Improve Personality and Well-being with a Meditation Retreat

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Improve Personality and Well-being with a Meditation Retreat

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Even if you’re terrified, even if you have no interest in being a monk and you’re not an extremist by nature, I know that sitting in silence for 10 days will blow your mind.” – MeiMei Fox

 

Retreat can be a powerful experience. But, in some ways, is like being on vacation. Everything is taken care of, beds made, towels and linens provided, all meals prepared, and time is dictated by a detailed schedule of meditations, talks, question and answer periods, and reflective time. All the individual has to do is show up, meditate, relax, contemplate and listen. The retreatants are terribly spoiled! That seeming ease, however, is deceptive. Retreat is actually quite difficult and challenging. It can be very tiring as it can run from early in the morning till late at night every day. It can also be physically challenging as engaging in sitting meditation repeatedly over the day is guaranteed to produce many aches and pains in the legs, back, and neck. But the real challenges are psychological, emotional, and spiritual. Retreat can be a real test.

 

Retreat isn’t all relaxation and fun. Far from it. The darkness can descend. During silent retreat, deep emotional issues can emerge and may even overwhelm the individual. Many participants will spontaneously burst out in tears. Others may become overwhelmed with fear and anxiety and break out in cold sweats, and still others are sleepless and tormented. How can this be, that something so seemingly peaceful as silent retreat can be so emotionally wrenching? The secret is that the situation removes the minds ability to hide and distract.

 

Humans have done a tremendous job of providing distractions for the mind including books, movies, magazines, music, television, sports, amusement parks, surfing the internet, tweeting, texting, etc. Any time troubling thoughts or memories of traumatic experiences begin to emerge in everyday life, the subject can easily be changed by engaging in a distraction. So, the issues never have to truly be confronted. But, in silent retreat there is no escape. Difficult issues emerge and there is no place to hide. They must be confronted and experienced. For some people this may be the first time in their entire life that they’ve had to directly face themselves and their darkest thoughts. It’s no wonder that retreat can be so wrenching.

 

With all these difficulties, why would anyone want to put themselves through such an ordeal and go on a meditation retreat? People go because retreat has many profound and sometimes life altering benefits. The benefits of retreat were investigated in today’s Research News article “Psychological Effects of a 1-Month Meditation Retreat on Experienced Meditators.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1469065896450665/?type=3&theater

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

http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01935/full?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Psychology-w51-2016

Montero-Marin and colleagues recruited experienced meditators who participated in a 1-month Vipassana meditation retreat, with 8-9 hours of meditation and 1-2 hours of teaching each day, and compared them to a control group of experienced meditators matched on gender, age, ethnicity, educational, and type of meditation practice. They were measured before and after the retreat for non-attachment, decentering, mindfulness, loving kindness, compassion, joy, and acceptance toward both the self and others, positive and negative affect, satisfaction with life, temperament, and character.

 

They found that following the retreat participants, compared to controls, showed increased non-attachment, observing, mindfulness, positive-affect, balance-affect, and cooperativeness; and decreased describing, negative-others, reward-dependence and self-directedness. Employing a sophisticated statistical technique, they were able to show that non-attachment had a mediating role in decentring, acting aware, non-reactivity, negative-affect, balance-affect and self-directedness; and a moderating role in describing and positive others, with both mediating and moderating effects on satisfaction with life. Hence, attending a 1-month retreat produced improvements in non-attachment, which, in turn, produced improvements in mindfulness, positive emotions, temperament and character.

 

These are important results demonstrating the ability of participation in retreat to powerfully affect an individual beyond what is accomplished by long-term experience meditating. Concentrated practice over an extended period during retreat appears to magnify the effects of meditation, producing even greater positive benefits to the individual. Hence, even though retreat can be difficult, physically and emotionally, it is clear that its benefits, for many, far exceed its costs. This isn’t even considering the powerful spiritual experiences that can occur during retreat. This might account for the popularity of retreat and why it has been seen as an essential component of practice over hundreds of years.

 

So, improve personality and well-being with a meditation retreat.

 

“The retreat helped me realize that I’m full of desire, of longings for raw experience, and unbelievably controlling of how my life is lived. It sounds simple, but one week of silence may give you a hint, maybe more reliably than almost anything else, of who you are.”Tim Wu

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

Montero-Marin J, Puebla-Guedea M, Herrera-Mercadal P, Cebolla A, Soler J, Demarzo M, Vazquez C, Rodríguez-Bornaetxea F and García-Campayo J (2016) Psychological Effects of a 1-Month Meditation Retreat on Experienced Meditators: The Role of Non-attachment. Front. Psychol. 7:1935. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01935

 

Background: There are few studies devoted to assessing the impact of meditation-intensive retreats on the well-being, positive psychology, and personality of experienced meditators. We aimed to assess whether a 1-month Vipassana retreat: (a) would increase mindfulness and well-being; (b) would increase prosocial personality traits; and (c) whether psychological changes would be mediated and/or moderated by non-attachment.

Method: A controlled, non-randomized, pre-post-intervention trial was used. The intervention group was a convenience sample (n = 19) of experienced meditators who participated in a 1-month Vipassana meditation retreat. The control group (n = 19) comprised matched experienced meditators who did not take part in the retreat. During the retreat, the mean duration of daily practice was 8–9 h, the diet was vegetarian and silence was compulsory. The Experiences Questionnaire (EQ), Non-attachment Scale (NAS), Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS), Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS), Temperament Character Inventory Revised (TCI-R-67), Five Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), Self-Other Four Immeasurables (SOFI) and the MINDSENS Composite Index were administered. ANCOVAs and linear regression models were used to assess pre-post changes and mediation/moderation effects.

Results: Compared to controls, retreatants showed increases in non-attachment, observing, MINDSENS, positive-affect, balance-affect, and cooperativeness; and decreases in describing, negative-others, reward-dependence and self-directedness. Non-attachment had a mediating role in decentring, acting aware, non-reactivity, negative-affect, balance-affect and self-directedness; and a moderating role in describing and positive others, with both mediating and moderating effects on satisfaction with life.

Conclusions: A 1-month Vipassana meditation retreat seems to yield improvements in mindfulness, well-being, and personality, even in experienced meditators. Non-attachment might facilitate psychological improvements of meditation, making it possible to overcome possible ceiling effects ascribed to non-intensive practices.

http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01935/full?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Psychology-w51-2016

Mindfulness Interacts with the Genes in Producing Personality Change

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“It had been traditionally assumed that personality traits are relatively stable entities, but more recent research demonstrates that personality, including disposition towards mindfulness, can change over time as a result of life experiences or through mindfulness practice.” – Yi‑Yuan Tang

 

The genes dictate all of the chemical processes in our bodies including brain development and plasticity. One gene, in particular, encodes the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). It is a protein found in the brain and spinal cord that promotes the survival of nerve cells by playing a role in the growth, maturation, and maintenance of these cells. In the brain, the BDNF protein is active at the connections between nerve cells (synapses), where cell-to-cell communication occurs. The synapses can change and adapt over time in response to experience, a characteristic called neuroplasticity. The BDNF protein helps regulate neuroplasticity, which is important for learning and memory.

 

Since BDNF is involved in the development of the nervous system, and the nervous system, in part, determines our personality characteristics, it would seem reasonable to suspect that the genes underlying BDNF production would be associated with personality. In addition, since BDNF is involved in the plasticity of the nervous system, its ability to change and adapt to the environment and experience, it would seem reasonable to suspect that the genes underlying BDNF production would be associated with variations in brain neuroplasticity. The genes underlying BDNF production have a major variant that is present in approximately 25% of the population. It is possible that this variant may be responsible, in part, for differences between people in personality and neuroplasticity.

 

This reasoning taken together with the facts that mindfulness practices, including meditation, yoga, tai chi, qigong, are known to change the nervous system through neuroplasticity and are known to change some aspects of personality, it would seem reasonable to suspect that different variants of the genes underlying BDNF production would be associated with differences in the ability of mind body practices to change the brain and personality. This complex logic leads to the idea that differences in BDNF gene variants may produce different personality changes in response to mind-body practices.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Mind-Body Training on Personality and Behavioral Activation and Inhibition System According to BDNF Val66Met Polymorphism.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1276252265732030/?type=3&theater

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

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4878969/

Jung and colleagues examine this hypothesis. They recruited a group of participants who regularly practiced Brain Wave Vibration, a practice that is a movement based meditation resembling yoga, martial arts, and meditation. They also recruited a group who did not engage in mind-body practices. Both groups were separated into subgroups based upon whether they carried the normal or the variant of the BDNF gene. All participants were measured for personality and behavioral activation/inhibition.

 

They found that the BDNF gene variant affected personality with control participants who had the variant higher in neuroticism and lower in extroversion. Neuroticism is known to be associated with personality problems and mental illness. So, these results suggest that the BDNF gene variant produces personality problems. On the other hand, those participants who engaged in mind-body practices and had the BDNF gene variant were higher in extroversion and openness to experience than the control participants who also had the BDNF gene variant. These results are complex but indicate firstly that the genes are involved in the determination of personality characteristics and secondly that they modify the ability of mind-body practices to change personality. They also show that engagement in mind-body practices can, to some extent, help to correct personality problems resulting from the individual’s inheritance.

 

So, practice mindfulness and improve personality characteristics regardless of your genetic inheritance.

 

“All the benefits of meditation arise from experiencing our mind as more workable. We can focus and guide it better and we can also let it go. More dance, less straitjacket.” – Barry Boyce

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

Jung, Y.-H., Lee, U. S., Jang, J. H., & Kang, D.-H. (2016). Effects of Mind-Body Training on Personality and Behavioral Activation and Inhibition System According to BDNF Val66Met Polymorphism. Psychiatry Investigation, 13(3), 333–340. http://doi.org/10.4306/pi.2016.13.3.333

 

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: It has been known that mind-body training (MBT) can affect personality and behavior system as well as emotional well-being, but different effects of MBT on them has not been reported according to BDNF genetic polymorphism.

METHODS: Healthy subjects consisted of 64 subjects and the MBT group who practiced meditation regularly consisted of 72 practitioners. Participants completed neuroticism-extraversion-openness (NEO) Five-Factor Inventory and Behavioral Activation System/Behavioral Inhibition System (BAS/BIS) scales. All subjects were genotyped for the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism.

RESULTS: In the same genotypes of the BDNF Val/Val+Val/Met group, MBT group showed the increased Extraversion (p=0.033) and the increased Openness to Experience (p=0.004) compared to the control group. Also, in the same Met/Met carriers, MBT group exhibited the increase of Extraversion (p=0.008), the reduction of Neuroticism (p=0.002), and the increase of Openness to Experience (p=0.008) compared to the control group. In the same genotypes of the BDNF Val/Val+Val/Met group, MBT group showed the decreased BAS-Reward Responsiveness (p=0.016) and the decrease of BIS (p=0.004) compared to the control group. In the BDNF Met/Met group, MBT group increased BAS-Fun Seeking (p=0.045) and decreased BIS (p=0.013) compared to the control group.

CONCLUSION: MBT would differently contribute to NEO personality and BAS/BIS according to BDNF genetic polymorphism, compensating for different vulnerable traits based on each genotype.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4878969/