Change the Brain to Improve Resilience with Meditation

Change the Brain to Improve Resilience with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindful people … can better cope with difficult thoughts and emotions without becoming overwhelmed or shutting down (emotionally). Pausing and observing the mind may (help us) resist getting drawn into wallowing in a setback.” – Badri Bajaj

 

Psychological well-being is sometimes thought of as a lack of mental illness. But it is more than just a lack of something. It is a positive set of characteristics that lead to happy, well-adjusted life. These include the ability to be aware of and accept one’s strengths and weaknesses, to have goals that give meaning to life, to truly believe that your potential capabilities are going to be realized, to have close and valuable relations with others, the ability to effectively manage life issues especially daily issues, and the ability to follow personal principles even when opposed to society. But stress can interfere with the individual’s ability to achieve these goals.  When highly stressed, resilience is required to cope with the stress and continue on the path to psychological well-being.

 

One way that mindfulness practices such as meditation may improve resilience is by altering the brain. The nervous system is a dynamic entity, constantly changing and adapting to the environment. It will change size, activity, and connectivity in response to experience. These changes in the brain are called neuroplasticity. Over the last decade neuroscience has been studying the effects of contemplative practices on the brain and has identified neuroplastic changes in widespread areas. In other words, mindfulness practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits. The changes in the brain, however, that are responsible for increased resilience are unknown.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Immediate and Sustained Positive Effects of Meditation on Resilience Are Mediated by Changes in the Resting Brain.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6448020/), Kwak and colleagues recruited healthy adults to participate in a 4-day retreat. They were randomly assigned to a meditation retreat or a relaxation retreat. They were measured before and after the retreat and 3 months later for mindfulness, resilience, and religious preference. Also, before and after the retreat the participants underwent functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (f-MRI) of their brains.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the relaxation retreat participants, the meditation retreat participants at the 3-month follow-up had significant increases in both mindfulness and resilience. They also found that the meditation group had significantly increased functional connectivity between the left rostral anterior cingulate cortex and the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, precuneus, and angular gyrus. In addition, the greater the increase in the functional connectivity in the meditation retreat group the greater the increases in resilience and mindfulness. The increase in resilience was associated with the increase in mindfulness and this association was found to be partially mediated by the change in functional connectivity. In other words, increased mindfulness was associated with increased resilience directly and also indirectly by its association with the increased functional connectivity which was in turn associated with greater resilience.

 

The results are interesting and suggest that the effect of meditation on resilience is due to increases in mindfulness that change the brain to produce greater resilience. In particular, meditation appears to increase the functional connectivity between brain regions, the cingulate cortex and the prefrontal cortex and the precuneus, and angular gyrus, and thus is partially responsible for increased resilience.

 

Resilience is very important for the individual to be able to withstand the stress and negative events in life. Meditation appears to change the brain to help people better cope with the stresses of life. This may underlie, at least in part, the psychological and physical benefits of meditation practice.

 

So, change the brain to improve resilience with meditation.

 

The emotional soup that follows a stressful event can whip up negative stories about yourself or others that goes on and on, beyond being useful. Mindfulness reduces this rumination and, if practiced regularly, changes your brain so that you’re more resilient to future stressful events.” – Shamash Alidina

 

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

 

Kwak, S., Lee, T. Y., Jung, W. H., Hur, J. W., Bae, D., Hwang, W. J., … Kwon, J. S. (2019). The Immediate and Sustained Positive Effects of Meditation on Resilience Are Mediated by Changes in the Resting Brain. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 13, 101. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2019.00101

 

Abstract

While recent studies have explored the maintenance of the effect of meditation on stress resilience, the underlying neural mechanisms have not yet been investigated. The present study conducted a highly controlled residential study of a 4-day meditation intervention to investigate the brain functional changes and long-term effects of meditation on mindfulness and resilience. Thirty participants in meditation practice and 17 participants in a relaxation retreat (control group) underwent magnetic resonance imaging scans at baseline and post-intervention and completed the Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale (CAMS) and Resilience Quotient Test (RQT) at baseline, post-intervention, and the 3-month follow-up. All participants showed increased CAMS and RQT scores post-intervention, but only the meditation group sustained the enhancement after 3 months. Resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) between the left rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) and the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC), precuneus, and angular gyrus was significantly increased post-intervention in the meditation group compared with the relaxation group. The changes in rACC-dmPFC rsFC mediated the relationship between the changes in the CAMS and RQT scores and correlated with the changes in the RQT score both immediately and at 3 months post-intervention. Our findings suggest that increased rACC-dmPFC rsFC via meditation causes an immediate enhancement in resilience that is sustained. Since resilience is known to be associated with the preventative effect of various psychiatric disorders, the improvement in stress-related neural mechanisms may be beneficial to individuals at high clinical risk.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6448020/

 

Heighten Mental and Physical Well-Being with Mindfulness Training

Heighten Mental and Physical Well-Being with Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others. If greater well-being isn’t enough of an incentive, scientists have discovered that mindfulness techniques help improve physical health in a number of ways. Mindfulness can: help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, , improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties.” – Harvard Health

 

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

 

This research suggests that engaging in mindfulness practices can make you a better human being, with greater mental and physical well-being. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Training: Can It Create Superheroes?” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00613/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_951898_69_Psycho_20190404_arts_A), Jones and colleagues review and summarize the published research on the effects of mindfulness training on psychological and physical well-being.

 

They found that the published research presented substantial findings that mindfulness training enhanced physical functioning including improved health, decreased heart rate, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood cortisol and resistance to disease, including improved stress responding, increased immune system response, and decreased inflammatory responses. They also report the mindfulness training produces tended to protect against the mental and physical effects of aging, including reduced cognitive decline and reduced brain deterioration. In addition, they report that mindfulness training produces improved cognitive processing, including improved heightened attentional ability, improved neural processing, and alterations of brain systems underlying consciousness. Mindfulness training also produced greater resilience and fearlessness, including improved emotion regulation, reduced responding to negative stimuli, lower pain responding, and lower fear conditioning. Mindfulness training also produced more self-less and pro-social behaviors, including increased altruism, increased kindness, and compassion. Finally, they report that mindfulness training can produce some control over autonomic responses.

 

This review suggests that people who engage in mindfulness training become superior in mental and physical health to non-practitioners and have superior cognitive abilities particularly in regard to attention and higher-level thinking. This doesn’t exactly make them “superheroes” but rather better versions of themselves.

 

So, heighten mental and physical well-being with mindfulness training.

 

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

 

Jones P (2019) Mindfulness Training: Can It Create Superheroes? Front. Psychol. 10:613. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00613

 

With the emergence of the science of heroism there now exists both theoretical and empirical literature on the characteristics of our everyday hero. We seek to expand this inquiry and ask what could be the causes and conditions of a superhero. To address this we investigate the origins of mindfulness, Buddhist psychology and the assertion that its practitioners who have attained expertise in mindfulness practices can develop supernormal capabilities. Examining first their foundational eight “jhana” states (levels of attention) and the six consequent “abhinnas” (siddhis or special abilities) that arise from such mental mastery, we then explore any evidence that mindfulness practices have unfolded the supernormal potential of its practitioners. We found a growing base of empirical literature suggesting some practitioners exhibit indicators of enhanced functioning including elevated physical health and resistance to disease, increased immunity to aging and improved cognitive processing, greater resilience and fearlessness, more self-less and pro-social behaviors, some control over normally autonomic responses, and possibly some paranormal functionality. These improvements in normal human functioning provide some evidence that there are practices that develop these abilities, and as such we might want to consider adopting them to develop this capability. There are however insufficient studies of expert meditators and more research of adepts is called for that explores the relationship between levels of attentional skill and increases in functionality. We propose in search of the superhero, that if conventional mindfulness training can already augment mental and physical capabilities, a more serious inquiry and translation of its advanced methods into mainstream psychological theory is warranted.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00613/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_951898_69_Psycho_20190404_arts_A

Improve Resilience in First-Responders with a Smartphone Mindfulness App

Improve Resilience in First-Responders with a Smartphone Mindfulness App

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The 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

 

First responders such as firefighters and police experience a great deal of stress and frequent traumatic events and as a part of their jobs. The first-responders need to be resilient in the face of these difficult circumstances to cope with the stress. It is possible that mindfulness training might help. Mindfulness has been shown to increase resilience and reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. So, it is reasonable to infer that mindfulness training may help to develop resilience in first-responders and be of benefit to their mental health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Resilience@Work Mindfulness Program: Results From a Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial With First Responders.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6399574/), Joyce and colleagues examine the ability of mindfulness training delivered with a smartphone app to increase the levels of resilience in first-responders. They recruited Primary Rescue and Hazmat firefighters and randomly assigned their stations to either receive 6, 20-25 minute, sessions  of mindfulness training or to an Healthy Living control condition. The mindfulness training was based upon Acceptance and Compassion Therapy (ACT) and emphasized mindfulness, self-acceptance, and compassion. Both programs were delivered through a smartphone app. The first-responders were measured before and after training and 6 months later for mindfulness, resilience, cognitive fusion, experiential avoidance and psychological inflexibility, self-compassion, optimism, coping orientation, and life purpose.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control condition, participation in the mindfulness training resulted in a significant increase in adaptive resilience and mindfulness which continued to increase over the 6-month follow-up period. Significant differences in optimism, and the use of instrumental and emotional support were present at the end of training but were not sustained at follow-up. Interestingly, there were no significant differences in “bounce-back” resilience.

 

Adaptive resilience involves the ability to adapt to stressful life circumstances and events. It involves the “individual’s ability to tolerate experiences such as change, personal problems, illness, pressure, failure, and painful feelings.” On the other hand, “bounce-back” resilience involves the ability to recover from stressful events. Since mindfulness focuses the individual on the present moment, it would be expected that it would influence the experience and coping with stressful events as they’re occurring. This is the case with adaptive resilience. On the other hand, mindfulness moves attention away from past events and would thus not be expected to influence coping with past stressful events as is the case with “bounce-back” resilience. Hence, it makes sense that mindfulness training would affect adaptive resilience and not “bounce-back” resilience.

 

It is important for the well-being of first responders that they be able to cope with the, at times, intense stress and trauma involved in their jobs. Hence, mindfulness training may be very beneficial as the present results suggest. This may help to prevent illness, burnout, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition, the fact that mindfulness was taught with a smartphone app is important as it makes the training convenient and adaptable to the individual’s schedule. It is also highly scalable allowing for inexpensive widespread availability of the training.

 

So, Improve Resilience in First-Responders with a Smartphone Mindfulness App.

 

“Because PTSD is an anxiety disorder, episodes of distress occur when a person begins to worry about the future based on previous painful, intense or stressful memories. Meditation can help bring that person’s attention back to the current moment, which reduces or eliminates anxiety.” – Erin Fletcher

 

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

 

Joyce, S., Shand, F., Lal, T. J., Mott, B., Bryant, R. A., & Harvey, S. B. (2019). Resilience@Work Mindfulness Program: Results From a Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial With First Responders. Journal of medical Internet research, 21(2), e12894. doi:10.2196/12894

 

Abstract

Background

A growing body of research suggests that resilience training can play a pivotal role in creating mentally healthy workplaces, particularly with regard to protecting the long-term well-being of workers. Emerging research describes positive outcomes from various types of resilience training programs (RTPs) among different occupational groups. One specific group of workers that may benefit from this form of proactive resilience training is first responders. Given the nature of their work, first responders are frequently exposed to stressful circumstances and potentially traumatic events, which may impact their overall resilience and well-being over time.

Objective

This study aimed to examine whether a mindfulness-based RTP (the Resilience@Work [RAW] Mindfulness Program) delivered via the internet can effectively enhance resilience among a group of high-risk workers.

Methods

We conducted a cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) comprising 24 Primary Fire and Rescue and Hazmat stations within New South Wales. Overall, 12 stations were assigned to the 6-session RAW Mindfulness Program and 12 stations were assigned to the control condition. A total of 143 active full-time firefighters enrolled in the study. Questionnaires were administered at baseline, immediately post training, and at 6-month follow-up. Measurements examined change in both adaptive and bounce-back resilience as well as several secondary outcomes examining resilience resources and acceptance and mindfulness skills.

Results

Mixed-model repeated measures analysis found that the overall test of group-by-time interaction was significant (P=.008), with the intervention group increasing in adaptive resilience over time. However, no significant differences were found between the intervention group and the control group in terms of change in bounce-back resilience (P=.09). At 6-month follow-up, the group receiving the RAW intervention had an average increase in their resilience score of 1.3, equating to a moderate-to-large effect size compared with the control group of 0.73 (95% CI 0.38-1.06). Per-protocol analysis found that compared with the control group, the greatest improvements in adaptive resilience were observed among those who completed most of the RAW program, that is, 5 to 6 sessions (P=.002).

Conclusions

The results of this RCT suggest that mindfulness-based resilience training delivered in an internet format can create improvements in adaptive resilience and related resources among high-risk workers, such as first responders. Despite a number of limitations, the results of this study suggest that the RAW Mindfulness Program is an effective, scalable, and practical means of delivering online resilience training in high-risk workplace settings. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time a mindfulness-based RTP delivered entirely via the internet has been tested in the workplace.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6399574/

 

Improve Psychological Well-Being with a Smartphone Mindfulness App

 

Improve Psychological Well-Being with a Smartphone Mindfulness App

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness mediation apps can be useful for some people, but for others, when unwell, using these apps or even engaging in mediation its self can be quite difficult,” – Kym Jenkins

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress and resilience in the face of stress. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a certified trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, Apps for smartphones have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. But the question arises as to the effectiveness of these Apps in inducing mindfulness and improving psychological health.

 

In today’s Research News article “The efficacy of a brief app-based mindfulness intervention on psychosocial outcomes in healthy adults: A pilot randomised controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6312207/ ), Champion and colleagues recruited over the internet healthy adults who were not mindfulness practitioners and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive mindfulness training via a smartphone app (Headspace). They practiced once a day for 10 minutes for 30 days. “The program is intended to introduce the key principles behind mindfulness, and how one can apply mindfulness to their daily life, using technique such as breath awareness, body scanning, and noting. . . The audio content is supplemented with educational videos and animations.” The participants completed questionnaires over the internet measuring general health, satisfaction with life, perceived stress, resilience, and engagement and experience with the app.

 

They found in comparison to baseline and to the wait-list controls that the participants who used the app had significant improvements in satisfaction with life, perceived stress, and resilience. The increases in psychological health were greatest between baseline and day 10 of practice but continued to increase over the next 20 days. This suggests that the benefits are available relatively rapidly but continued practice produces greater benefits. It remains to be determined whether these effects are enduring or are only present in the immediate aftermath of training.

 

These effects of mindfulness training are well established. This study adds to the accumulating evidence of the effectiveness of mindfulness training over the internet or with smartphone apps. The present study demonstrates that a widely available commercial smartphone app is also effective. This is important as it suggests that training in mindfulness can be made widely and inexpensively available without the presence of a trained therapist and at the convenience of the participant. This may allow for the benefits of mindfulness practice to spread far and wide to tremendous numbers of people. In this regard the Headspace app has already been downloaded 30 million times.

 

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

 

“A good number of new meditators begin sitting with the hope that the holistic benefits of meditation will make themselves felt in a matter of days. They expect meditation to act as a quick fix – like swallowing a pain relief tablet. It isn’t a reasonable expectation. Most genuine meditation teachers say that while a fortunate few newbies experience benefits very quickly, for the rest of us, meditation has to be practiced regularly over time before its beneficial effects can be appreciated.” – Mindworks

 

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

 

Champion, L., Economides, M., & Chandler, C. (2018). The efficacy of a brief app-based mindfulness intervention on psychosocial outcomes in healthy adults: A pilot randomised controlled trial. PloS one, 13(12), e0209482. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0209482

 

Abstract

Background

Previous evidence suggests that mindfulness training may improve aspects of psychosocial well-being. Whilst mindfulness is traditionally taught in person, consumers are increasingly turning to mindfulness-based smartphone apps as an alternative delivery medium for training. Despite this growing trend, few studies have explored whether mindfulness delivered via a smartphone app can enhance psychosocial well-being within the general public.

Methods

The present pilot randomised controlled trial compared the impact of engaging with the self-guided mindfulness meditation (MM) app ‘Headspace’ (n = 38) for a period of 10 or 30 days, to a wait-list (WL) control (n = 36), using a cohort of adults from the general population. The Satisfaction with Life Scale, Perceived Stress Scale, and Wagnild Resilience Scale were administered online at baseline and after 10 and 30 days of the intervention.

Results

Twelve participants (MM n = 9, WL n = 3) were lost to follow-up for unknown reasons. Relative to the WL control, the MM app positively impacted self-reported satisfaction with life, stress, and resilience at day 10, with further improvements emerging at day 30 (Cohen’s d = 0.57, 1.42, 0.63 respectively). The rate of improvement was largest at the 10-day assessment point, dropping moderately by day 30. Participants that rated the MM app as easy to engage with experienced the largest self-reported benefits. Moreover, the MM app was able to protect against an unexpected increase in perceived stress that emerged in the control group.

Conclusions

This pilot randomised controlled trial shows that self-reported improvements in psychosocial outcomes can be achieved at low cost through short-term engagement with a mindfulness-based smartphone app, and should be followed up with more substantive studies.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6312207/

 

8-Week Mindfulness Training Produces Greater Benefits than a 4-Week Training

8-Week Mindfulness Training Produces Greater Benefits than a 4-Week Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“adaptations of MBSR that include less class time than the traditional format may be worthwhile for populations for whom reduction of psychological distress is an important goal and for whom a lesser time commitment may be an important determinant of their ability or willingness to participate” – James Carmody

 

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.

 

Mindfulness is defined as the “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally” (John Kabat-Zinn). This is the goal of mindfulness training. There are, however, 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. It is unclear exactly how much training is essential to producing maximum benefits.

 

In today’s Research News article “Efficacy of 8- and 4-Session Mindfulness-Based Interventions in a Non-clinical Population: A Controlled Study.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01343/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_368025_69_Psycho_20170822_arts_A, Demarzo and colleagues recruited college students and randomly assigned them to a no-treatment control condition or to receive either a 4-week or 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs that met once a week for 2 hours. MBSR consists of body scan, meditation, and mindful movement practice. Participants were also request to practice at home each day. Participants were measured before and after training and 6 months later for mindfulness, self-compassion, anxiety, depression, positive and negative emotions, and resilience.

 

They found that both the 4-week and 8-week mindfulness training groups in comparison to the control condition had, after training and at the 6-month follow-up, significantly improved mindfulness overall and in the mindfulness facets of describing, observing, acting with awareness, non-judging, and non-reacting, and in positive and negative emotions. On the other hand, only the 8-week mindfulness training produced a significant increase in self-compassion and decreases in anxiety and depression.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown in prior studies to improve mindfulness, emotions, anxiety, depression, self-compassion, and resilience. So, the benefits found in this study are not surprising. But the results on the amount of practice are interesting and suggest that considerable benefits accrue to participants in a short, 4-week, mindfulness training but for the full benefits an 8-week program is needed. Hence, unless an abbreviated program is needed for pragmatic reasons, training should be conducted for the full 8-week training period.

 

“people who have been mindfulness meditators for several decades have structural features in their brains that are proportional to their number of hours of practice.” – Daniel Segal

 

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

 

Demarzo M, Montero-Marin J, Puebla-Guedea M, Navarro-Gil M, Herrera-Mercadal P, Moreno-González S, Calvo-Carrión S, Bafaluy-Franch L and Garcia-Campayo J (2017) Efficacy of 8- and 4-Session Mindfulness-Based Interventions in a Non-clinical Population: A Controlled Study. Front. Psychol. 8:1343. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01343

 

Background: Many attempts have been made to abbreviate mindfulness programmes in order to make them more accessible for general and clinical populations while maintaining their therapeutic components and efficacy. The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy of an 8-week mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) programme and a 4-week abbreviated version for the improvement of well-being in a non-clinical population.

Method: A quasi-experimental, controlled, pilot study was conducted with pre-post and 6-month follow-up measurements and three study conditions (8- and 4-session MBI programmes and a matched no-treatment control group, with a sample of 48, 46, and 47 participants in each condition, respectively). Undergraduate students were recruited, and mindfulness, positive and negative affect, self-compassion, resilience, anxiety, and depression were assessed. Mixed-effects multi-level analyses for repeated measures were performed.

Results: The intervention groups showed significant improvements compared to controls in mindfulness and positive affect at the 2- and 6-month follow-ups, with no differences between 8- vs. 4-session programmes. The only difference between the abbreviated MBI vs. the standard MBI was found in self-kindness at 6 months, favoring the standard MBI. There were marginal differences in anxiety between the controls vs. the abbreviated MBI, but there were differences between the controls vs. the standard MBI at 2- and 6-months, with higher levels in the controls. There were no differences in depression between the controls vs. the abbreviated MBI, but differences were found between the controls vs. the standard MBI at 2- and 6-months, favoring the standard MBI. There were no differences with regard to negative affect and resilience.

Conclusion: To our knowledge, this is the first study to directly investigate the efficacy of a standard 8-week MBI and a 4-week abbreviated protocol in the same population. Based on our findings, both programmes performed better than controls, with similar effect size (ES). The efficacy of abbreviated mindfulness programmes may be similar to that of a standard MBI programme, making them potentially more accessible for a larger number of populations. Nevertheless, further studies with more powerful designs to compare the non-inferiority of the abbreviated protocol and addressing clinical populations are warranted.

http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01343/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_368025_69_Psycho_20170822_arts_A

Improve resilience in Spouses of Schizophrenia Patients with Mindfulness

Improve resilience in Spouses of Schizophrenia Patients with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Most of life’s stressors are subjective and with mindfulness (seeing things as they are in this present moment), we have the ability to respond with wisdom vs. react in a harmful way. When we see our thoughts and feelings clearly and can offer compassion for the hardship we are experiencing, we increase our resilience.” – Carley Hauck

 

Psychological well-being is sometimes thought of as a lack of mental illness. But, it is more than just a lack of something. It is a positive set of characteristics that lead to happy, well-adjusted life. These include the ability to be aware of and accept one’s strengths and weaknesses, to have goals that give meaning to life, to truly believe that your potential capabilities are going to be realized, to have close and valuable relations with others, the ability to effectively manage life issues especially daily issues, and the ability to follow personal principles even when opposed to society. But, stress can interfere with the individual’s ability to achieve these goals.  When highly stressed, resilience is required to cope with the stress and continue on the path to psychological well-being.

 

Schizophrenia is the most common form of psychosis, affecting about 1% of the population worldwide. In many cases it is so debilitating that institutionalization is required. But, the symptoms of psychoses often do not appear until early adulthood. So, many carry on relatively normal lives including marriage prior to the onset of debilitating symptoms. This can result in wives having to cope with the institutionalization of their husbands, having to live alone, replace lost income, and withstand the societal stigma of having a mentally ill spouse. The resultant stress can exacerbate an already difficult situation.

 

Mindfulness has been shown to increase resilience and reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. So, it is reasonable to infer that mindfulness training may help increase resilience in the wives of institutionalized individuals with schizophrenia. In today’s Research News article “The Efficacy of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy on Resilience among the Wives of Patients with Schizophrenia.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5449888/,  Solati recruited wives whose husbands were diagnosed with schizophrenia and institutionalized and randomly assigned them to a no-treatment control group or to receive and 8-week, once a week for 90 minutes, program of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).  MBCT involves mindfulness training, containing sitting and walking meditation and body scan, and cognitive therapy to alter how the patient relates to the thought processes that often underlie difficult emotions. The women were measured before and after training for resilience.

 

They found that following the intervention the women who received Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) had a significant, 10%, increase in resilience in comparison to the control group. There is a need to conduct a randomized controlled trial with an active control condition to verify these findings. Nevertheless, mindfulness training appeared to improve resilience. This suggests that MBCT may assist wives whose husbands are diagnosed with schizophrenia and institutionalized to better cope with the resultant stress. This may better equip the women to withstand their difficulties and retain their own well-being.

 

So, improve resilience in spouses of schizophrenia patients with mindfulness.

 

“The emotional soup that follows a stressful event can whip up negative stories about yourself or others that goes on and on, beyond being useful. Mindfulness reduces this rumination and, if practiced regularly, changes your brain so that you’re more resilient to future stressful events.” – Shamash Alidina

 

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

 

Solati, K. (2017). The Efficacy of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy on Resilience among the Wives of Patients with Schizophrenia. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research : JCDR, 11(4), VC01–VC03. http://doi.org/10.7860/JCDR/2017/23101.9514

 

Abstract

Introduction

The wives of patients with schizophrenia experience high levels of stress due to their spouses’ disease, which leads to certain problems and decreased adaptability and efficiency in them.

Aim

This study investigated the efficacy of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) on resilience in schizophrenia patients.

Materials and Methods

In this quasi-experimental study, 40 wives of patients with schizophrenia (20 assigned to experimental group and 20 to control group) whose husbands were kept in rehabilitation centers for mental disorders were enrolled according to convenience sampling. In the experimental group, the therapeutic protocol of MBCT was conducted. Accordingly, the patients were encouraged to process the experiences in a non-judgmental manner as they have been formed, and to change their relationship with and embrace challenging thoughts and feelings. Meanwhile, the control group underwent no intervention. The research instrument was Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale. Data were analysed by ANCOVA in SPSS 16.

Results

At post-test, mean resilience score of the experimental group (77.95±4.71) was much higher than that of the control group (71.75±5.81). There was a significant difference in the mean resilience score at post-test between the experimental and control groups (p<0.05).

Conclusion

Training MBCT strategies was effective on resilience in the wives of schizophrenia patients. Therefore, this approach can be incorporated into mental health-related interventions for the families of patients with psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5449888/

Spring Back from Stress with Mindfulness

Spring Back from Stress with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Among healthcare professionals, mindfulness training can reduce psychological and physiologic stress, emotional distress, and burnout while improving empathy, job satisfaction, and sense of well-being.” – Lois Howland

 

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. It is estimated that over 45% of healthcare workers experience burnout. Currently, over a third of healthcare workers report that they are looking for a new job. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. It not only affects the healthcare providers personally, but also the patients, as it produces a loss of empathy and compassion. Burnout it is a threat to the healthcare providers and their patients. In fact, it is a threat to the entire healthcare system as it contributes to the shortage of doctors and nurses.

 

Preventing burnout has to be a priority. But, 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.

 

Working early in healthcare careers to improve resilience could work to prevent burnout. So, it makes sense to investigate how mindfulness training during healthcare education may promote resilience and lower the likelihood of future burnout in healthcare workers. In today’s Research News article “Correlates and Predictors of Resilience among Baccalaureate Nursing Students.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5376833/, Mathad and colleagues recruited nursing students who completed measures of mindfulness, resilience, empathy and perseverative thinking.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of resilience even in a multiple regression model considering the other measures. They also found that higher levels of resilience were, in turn, associated with higher levels of empathy and lower levels of repeated negative thinking and unproductive negative thinking. This is a correlative study so causation cannot be determined. But, the findings fit with previous research where mindfulness was manipulated through training and caused an increase in resilience. So, it is reasonable to conclude that the current findings were probably due to mindfulness improving resilience.

 

Hence, it appears that mindfulness increases resilience and this in turn reduces negative thinking and improves empathy. This all suggests that mindfulness would tend to protect healthcare providers from the effects of stress, making the individuals more resilient and less likely to experience burnout.

 

So, spring back from stress with mindfulness.

 

By being in the present moment we help ourselves as health care providers to moderate the challenges of stress, even having the opportunity to transform previously overwhelming situations into ones of challenge and mastery. This presence also helps us to be better clinicians. We are more present, more available, and better able to access empathy, compassion, and caring skills.” – Arnie Kozak

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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Study Summary

Mathad, M. D., Pradhan, B., & Rajesh, S. K. (2017). Correlates and Predictors of Resilience among Baccalaureate Nursing Students. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research : JCDR, 11(2), JC05–JC08. http://doi.org/10.7860/JCDR/2017/24442.9352

 

Abstract

Introduction

A growing body of literature recognizes the importance of resilience in the nursing profession. Both mindfulness and resilience aid in handling stress, stress increases the risk of rumination and/or worry especially in females and they are more empathetic than other healthcare students.

Aim

To identify correlates and predictors of the resilience among nursing students.

Materials and Methods

This is a descriptive correlation study and we have recruited 194 participants (1-4th year B.Sc Nursing) from Government College of Nursing and NIMHANS College of Nursing in Bangalore, India. The following instruments were used to collect the data, Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory (FMI), Toronto Empathy Questionnaire (TEQ), Perseverative Thinking Questionnaire (PTQ) and Connor–Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC). Data was analysed using Pearson’s correlation test and multiple regression analysis.

Results

Resilience is significantly correlated with mindfulness, perseverative thinking and empathy in nursing students. Based on regression analysis this model accounted for almost 33% of variance in resilience. This result is of interest as mindfulness alone explained 23% of the variance and unproductive Repeated Negative Thinking (RNT) and RNT consuming mental capacity predicted 8% and 2% respectively.

Conclusion

These results support the importance of resilience and mindfulness in nursing students. Hence, resilience and/or mindfulness enhancing interventions should be inculcated in nursing education.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5376833/

Spirituality is Related to Resilience in Older Women

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“An improved understanding and respect for individual spiritual practices can help shape personalized medical care for older adults, and improve health outcomes.” – Helen Lavretsky

 

Psychological well-being is sometimes thought of as a lack of mental illness. But, it is more than just a lack of something. It is a positive set of characteristics that lead to happy, well-adjusted life. These include the ability to be aware of and accept one’s strengths and weaknesses, to have goals that give meaning to life, to truly believe that your potential capabilities are going to be realized, to have close and valuable relations with others, the ability to effectively manage life issues especially daily issues, and the ability to follow personal principles even when opposed to society. But, the aging process to some extent interferes with the individual’s ability to achieve these goals as a result of a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included, producing declines in mental abilities including impairments in memory, attention, and problem solving ability.

 

Religion and spirituality have been promulgated as solutions to the challenges of life both in a transcendent sense and in a practical sense. What evidence is there that these claims are in fact true? The transcendent claims are untestable with the scientific method. But, the practical claims are amenable to scientific analysis. There have been a number of studies of the influence of religiosity and spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health. Research from this body of work has shown that spirituality and religiosity serve as protective factors against a variety of psychiatric conditions, including depressive disordersanxiety disorderssuicideburnouteating disorderssubstance-related disorders and addiction recovery.

 

Perhaps spirituality counteracts the challenges to well-being produced by aging. In today’s Research News article “Correlates of Spirituality in Older Women.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3017739/

Vahia and colleagues examine the relationships between religiosity/spirituality and well-being in aging women. They examined measures obtained in 2005 from the “Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), a large NIH-funded multi-center study of the predictors of morbidity and mortality among post-menopausal women.” These included measures of successful aging, religiosity/spirituality, resilience, stressful life events, optimism, attitude toward aging, depression, and physical and mental functioning. They analyzed these measures with bivariate and multivariate regression analyses.

 

They found that high levels of religiosity/spirituality were directly associated with high levels of morale toward aging, resilience, and optimism and low levels of stressful life events. Applying a multiple regression, however, they found that religiosity/spirituality was only significantly associated with higher resilience, and demographic issues of lower income, lower education, and lower likelihood of being in a committed relationship. Hence, in these postmenopausal women, spirituality appeared to be associated with resilience and negative life circumstances. It should be emphasized, though, the results are correlational and therefore do not demonstrate causal connections.

 

The association with resilience is particularly interesting. It suggests that aging women who have high levels of spirituality are also highly resilient and are therefore better able to cope with problematic life circumstances. It remains for future research to investigate whether being spiritual promotes resilience, the other way around, or some third factor may be responsible for the covariation.

 

“Seniors are always somewhere in the grief process. For most, their experience is dominated by losses such as the deaths of loved ones, decreases in physical functioning, and reductions in income. The accumulation of such losses – and the increasing awareness of their own deaths – can lead seniors to an exploration of spiritual issues.” – NAP411

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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Study Summary

Vahia, I. V., Depp, C. A., Palmer, B. W., Fellows, I., Golshan, S., Thompson, W., … Jeste, D. V. (2011). Correlates of Spirituality in Older Women. Aging & Mental Health, 15(1), 97–102. http://doi.org/10.1080/13607863.2010.501069

 

Abstract

Introduction

The role of spirituality in the context of mental health and successful aging is not well understood. In a sample of community-dwelling older women enrolled at the San Diego site of the Women’s Health Initiative study, we examined the association between spirituality and a range of variables associated with successful cognitive and emotional aging, including optimism, resilience, depression, and health-related quality of life (HRQoL).

Methods

A detailed cross-sectional survey questionnaire on successful aging was completed by 1,973 older women. It included multiple self-reported measures of positive psychological functioning (e.g., resilience, optimism,), as well as depression and HRQoL. Spirituality was measured using a 5-item self report scale constructed using two items from the Brief Multidimensional Measure of Religiosity/Spirituality and three items from Hoge’s Intrinsic Religious Motivation Scale

Results

Overall, 40% women reported regular attendance in organized religious practice, and 53% reported engaging in private spiritual practices. Several variables were significantly related to spirituality in bivariate associations; however, using model testing, spirituality was significantly associated only with higher resilience, lower income, lower education, and lower likelihood of being in a marital or committed relationship.

Conclusions

Our findings point to a role for spirituality in promoting resilience to stressors, possibly to a greater degree in persons with lower income and education level. Future longitudinal studies are needed to confirm these associations.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3017739/

Improve Resilience with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The emotional soup that follows a stressful event can whip up negative stories about yourself or others that goes on and on, beyond being useful. Mindfulness reduces this rumination and, if practiced regularly, changes your brain so that you’re more resilient to future stressful events.” – Richard Davidson

 

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. It is estimated that over 45% of healthcare workers experience burnout. Currently, over a third of healthcare workers report that they are looking for a new job. Nearly half plan to look for a new job over the next two years and 80% expressed interest in a new position if they came across the right opportunity.

 

Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. It not only affects the healthcare providers personally, but also the patients, as it produces a loss of empathy and compassion. Sleep disruption is an important consequence of the stress. “Poor or inadequate sleep can contribute to poor personal health and burnout and adversely affect the quality of care” (Kemper et al. 2016).

Burnout it is a threat to the healthcare providers and their patients. In fact, it is a threat to the entire healthcare system as it contributes to the shortage of doctors and nurses.

 

Preventing burnout has to be a priority. But, 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 including yoga practice 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.

 

So, it makes sense to investigate how mindfulness training during healthcare education may promote resilience and lower the likelihood of future burnout in healthcare workers. In today’s Research News article “Dispositional mindfulness and employment status as predictors of resilience in third year nursing students: a quantitative study.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1398515100172412/?type=3&theater

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

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5050545/

Chamberlain and colleagues recruited third-year nursing students and had them complete measures of mindfulness, resilience, compassion, and burnout. They found that for these nursing students the single best predictor of resilience was mindfulness, particularly acceptance; accepting without judging things just as they are. The next most powerful predictor was expectancy for a successful next career step. High levels of mindfulness were also associated with increased compassion and reduced fatigue in compassion.

 

The results are encouraging, but must be interpreted with caution. The study was correlational and nothing was manipulated, so causation cannot be determined. But the results suggest that mindfulness is very important for resilience. In particular the ability to take what comes and accept it without judgement helps to maintain the individual’s resilience. Since resilience is important for being able to cope with and bounce back from the stress of the occupation, mindfulness may be important for preventing burnout. In addition, the results suggest that mindfulness is associated with persistence of compassion, an important capacity for nurses.

 

These results need to be followed up with a randomized controlled trial in which these nursing students are trained in mindfulness, to determine if mindfulness is causally responsible for these important benefits. If this was confirmed it would strongly suggest that mindfulness training be included in the nursing curriculum; improving resilience and compassion, making them better nurses who are less likely to burn out.

 

So, improve resilience with mindfulness.

 

“The findings provide support for universities to develop strategies that promote mindfulness. Mindfulness training could provide a practical means of enhancing resilience, and personality characteristics like optimism, zest, and patience.” – Badri Bajaj

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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Study Summary

Chamberlain, D., Williams, A., Stanley, D., Mellor, P., Cross, W., & Siegloff, L. (2016). Dispositional mindfulness and employment status as predictors of resilience in third year nursing students: a quantitative study. Nursing Open,3(4), 212–221. http://doi.org/10.1002/nop2.56

 

Abstract

Background: Nursing students will graduate into stressful workplace environments and resilience is an essential acquired ability for surviving the workplace. Few studies have explored the relationship between resilience and the degree of innate dispositional mindfulness, compassion, compassion fatigue and burnout in nursing students, including those who find themselves in the position of needing to work in addition to their academic responsibilities.

Aim: This paper investigates the predictors of resilience, including dispositional mindfulness and employment status of third year nursing students from three Australian universities.

Design: Participants were 240 undergraduate, third year, nursing students. Participants completed a resilience measure (Connor–Davidson Resilience Scale, CD‐RISC), measures of dispositional mindfulness (Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale Revised, CAMS‐R) and professional quality of life (The Professional Quality of Life Scale version 5, PROQOL5), such as compassion satisfaction, compassion fatigue and burnout.

Method: An observational quantitative successive independent samples survey design was employed. A stepwise linear regression was used to evaluate the extent to which predictive variables were related each to resilience.

Results: The predictive model explained 57% of the variance in resilience. Dispositional mindfulness subset acceptance made the strongest contribution, followed by the expectation of a graduate nurse transition programme acceptance, with dispositional mindfulness total score and employment greater than 20 hours per week making the smallest contribution. This was a resilient group of nursing students who rated high with dispositional mindfulness and exhibited hopeful and positive aspirations for obtaining a position in a competitive graduate nurse transition programme after graduation.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5050545/

 

Improve Employee Well-being with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Toxic emotions disrupt the workplace, and mindfulness increases your awareness of these destructive patterns, helping you recognize them before they run rampant. It’s a way of reprogramming your mind to think in healthier, less stressful, ways.” – Drew Hanson

 

Work is very important for our health and well-being. We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. How we spend that time is immensely important for our psychological and physical health. Indeed, the work environment has even become an important part of our social lives, with friendships and leisure time activities often attached to the work environment. But, more than half of employees in the U.S. and nearly 2/3 worldwide are unhappy at work. This is partially due to work-related stress which is epidemic in the western workplace. Almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This stress can result in impaired health and can result in burnout; producing fatigue, cynicism, and professional inefficacy.

 

To help overcome unhappiness, stress, and burnout, mindfulness practices have been implemented in the workplace. In fact, it has become very trendy for business to incorporate meditation into the workday to help improve productivity. For example, Google offers “Search Inside Yourself” classes to teach mindfulness at work. But, although there is a lot of anecdotal evidence of meditation improving work performance, there is actually very little systematic research on its effectiveness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Systematic review: complementary therapies and employee well-being.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1305498966140693/?type=3&theater

or see summary below. Ravalier and colleagues reviewed the published research literature on the effects of mindfulness practices implemented in the work environment. They included only full-length peer-reviewed journal articles published since 2000. They found that mindfulness practices produced significant reductions in perceived stress and improvements in vigor, psychological health, and resilience in the employees. In other words, they found very promising research findings, suggesting marked improvements in employee psychological well-being produced by mindfulness practices. They point out, however, that there is a need for longer-term follow-up studies to ascertain whether mindfulness practices have lasting effects in the workplace.

 

These results complement the research findings of mindfulness effects in many other contexts. It has been shown in general to reduce the psychological and physical responses to stress and to improve mental and physical health. This suggests that mindfulness practices may improve health and productivity and reduce burnout in modern workers. Beyond overcoming the negative effects of the work environment, the workplace has been postulated to be an excellent environment to practice the Buddha’s Eightfold Path for spiritual development and the relief of suffering.

 

So, improve employee well-being with mindfulness.

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

“By improving the way people relate to one another, ideally it can change corporate culture for the better, creating a more supportive, friendlier workplace with better relationships. In many organizations, there are bigger, systemic changes that need to be made, but I don’t think that instituting a mindfulness program will prevent those changes from happening. At the least, a mindfulness program provides workers with some relief from stress and anxiety while they campaign for systemic changes; at best, it helps to catalyze those bigger systemic changes.”Jason Marsh

 

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Study Summary

  1. M. Ravalier, P. Wegrzynek and S. Lawton Systematic review: complementary therapies and employee well-being. Occup Med (Lond) April 4, 2016, doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqw047

 

Abstract

Background A variety of workplace-based interventions exist to reduce stress and increase productivity. However, the efficacy of these interventions is sometimes unclear.

Aims To determine whether complementary therapies offered in the workplace improve employee well-being.

Methods We performed a systematic literature review which involved an electronic search of articles published between January 2000 and July 2015 from the databases Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PsycINFO, MEDLINE, AMED, CINAHL Plus, EMBASE and PubMed. We also undertook a manual search of all applicable article reference lists to ensure that no relevant studies were missed. We only selected published, full-length, English-language, peer-reviewed journal articles. Articles had to address the research objective using valid and reliable measures. We excluded articles concerning return to work or whose populations had been adversely affected by work resulting in the development of health issues.

Results We included 10 articles in the review from 131 identified. Mindfulness and meditation-based interventions were most effective in improving workplace health and work performance; the latter demonstrating some evidence of maintaining gains up to 3 months later. The evidence for relaxation interventions was inconclusive.

Conclusions Mindfulness and meditation interventions may be helpful in improving both psychosocial workplace health and work performance, but long-term efficacy has yet to be fully determined.