Reduce Perceived Stress with Mindfulness

Reduce Perceived Stress with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness not only reduces stress but also gently builds an inner strength so that future stressors have less impact on our happiness and physical well-being.” – Shamash Alidina

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in improving physical and psychological health. One reason for these benefits is that mindfulness training improves the individual’s physical and psychological reactions to stress. Stress is an integral part of life, that is actually essential to the health of the body. In moderation, it is healthful, strengthening, and provides interest and fun to life. If stress, is high or is prolonged, however, it can be problematic. It can significantly damage our physical and mental health and even reduce our longevity, leading to premature deaths. So, it is important that we develop methods to either reduce or control high or prolonged stress or reduce our responses to it.

 

Mindfulness practices have been found routinely to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. The research, however, at times, involves weak research designs and suffers from lack of control for social support and experimenter and participant expectancy effects. In addition, it is not known how mindfulness training influences levels of perceived stress. In today’s Research News article “Investigating the Specific Effects of an Online Mindfulness-Based Self-Help Intervention on Stress and Underlying Mechanisms.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6061241/ ),  Gu and colleagues examined the effects of mindfulness training on stress levels in a well controlled experimental design.

 

They recruited university students and staff and randomly assigned them to one of three conditions; online Mindfulness-Based Self-Help training, listening to classical music online, or to a wait list. The Mindfulness training occurred over 2 weeks with 4 times per week 10-minute online recordings and home practice. The online listening to classical music conditions paralleled the mindfulness condition in being presented over 2 weeks with 4 times per week 10-minute recorded instructions and home practice. The participants were measured before during and after the training for mindfulness, self-compassion, worry, perceived stress, how engaged was the participant in practice, and participant expectancies.

 

They found that in comparison to before training and the music and wait list conditions, the mindfulness group had significantly lower levels of perceived stress and worry and significantly higher levels of mindfulness and self-compassion. They also performed a mediation analysis to investigate whether the effects of stress may have been mediated by the effects on mindfulness, worry, and or self-compassion. They found that higher mindfulness scores produced by the mindfulness intervention were associated with lower perceived stress. Similarly, lower worry scores produced by the mindfulness intervention were associated with lower perceived stress and higher self-compassion or scores produced by the mindfulness intervention were associated with lower perceived stress. Importantly, there were no significant differences between the conditions in engagement or expectancy effects.

 

These results demonstrate that mindfulness training lowers perceived stress levels and this could not be accounted for by expectancy or engagement effects. They further demonstrated that a mindfulness intervention lowers perceived stress by increasing mindfulness and self-compassion and lowers worry. Previous research has demonstrated that mindfulness training decreases perceived stress and worry, and increases mindfulness and self-compassion. The contribution of the current study is to demonstrate that the effects were not due to experimental contaminants and that the effects on perceived stress are due to effects on all three of these variables.

 

So, reduce perceived stress with mindfulness.

 

“There is nothing a busy man is less busied with than living; there is nothing harder to learn.” — Seneca

 

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

 

Gu, J., Cavanagh, K., & Strauss, C. (2018). Investigating the Specific Effects of an Online Mindfulness-Based Self-Help Intervention on Stress and Underlying Mechanisms. Mindfulness, 9(4), 1245–1257. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0867-y

 

Abstract

Previous research examining the effects of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) and their mechanisms of change has been hampered by failure to control for non-specific factors, such as social support and interaction with group members, facilitator contact and expectation of benefit, meaning that it remained possible that benefits of MBIs could have been attributable, perhaps entirely, to non-specific elements. This experimental study examined the effects of a 2-week online mindfulness-based self-help (MBSH) intervention compared to a well-matched classical music control condition and a waitlist control condition on perceived stress. This study also tested mindfulness, self-compassion and worry as mechanisms of the effects of MBSH versus both control conditions on stress. University students and staff (N = 214) were randomised to MBSH, classical music, or waitlist conditions and completed self-report measures pre-, mid- and post-intervention. Post-intervention, MBSH was found to significantly reduce stress compared to both control conditions. Bootstrapping-based mediation analyses used standardised residualised change scores for all variables, with mediators computed as change from baseline to mid-intervention, and the outcome computed as change from baseline to post-intervention. Changes in mindfulness, self-compassion and worry were found to significantly mediate the effects of MBSH versus both control conditions on changes in stress. Findings suggest that cultivating mindfulness specifically confers benefits to stress and that these benefits may occur through improving theorised mechanisms.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6061241/

 

Improve Psychological Health with Mindfulness

Improve Psychological Health with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness exercises are ways of paying attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing, and yoga. Training helps people to become more aware of their thoughts, feelings, and body sensations so that instead of being overwhelmed by them, they are better able to manage them. Practising mindfulness can give more insight into emotions, boost attention and concentration, and improve relationships.” – Mental Health Foundation

 

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. 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, online mindfulness training programs 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.

 

One difficulty with understanding the effects of mindfulness training is that they often contain multiple components such as training on the ideas of mindfulness, practicing mindfulness in everyday activities, meditation, chanting, body scanning, yoga, etc. It cannot be determined then what component or combination of components are responsible for the effects. It would be helpful to compare one form of training with the same training minus single components to begin to isolate what components are necessary and sufficient for the benefits.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Randomised Controlled Trial of a Brief Online Mindfulness-Based Intervention in a Non-clinical Population: Replication and Extension.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6061247/ ), Cavanagh and colleagues compared a 2-week online mindfulness training containing meditation with the same training without meditation. They recruited university students and staff to participate in a “Learning Mindfulness online” course and randomly assigned them to receive either mindfulness training, mindfulness training without meditation, or a wait-list control condition.

 

The mindfulness training consisted of a 5-minute mindfulness video and a 2000-word teaching on mindfulness that recommended performing one activity per week mindfully. The training also had a daily guided walking exercise. When meditation was included it consisted of instructions on meditation and a daily 10-minute guided meditation. The participants were measured before and after training for mindfulness, perceived stress, anxiety, depression, perseverative thinking, and a daily questionnaire on the use of training components.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control, both mindfulness training groups had significantly higher levels of mindfulness and significantly lower levels of perceived stress, anxiety, depression, and perseverative thinking. They also found that perseverative thinking mediated the effects of mindfulness on perceived stress, anxiety, and depression. That is mindfulness was associated with decreased perseverative thinking (worry, rumination) which was, in turn, associated with lower perceived stress, anxiety, and depression.

 

The primary findings that mindfulness training decreases perseverative thinking, perceived stress, anxiety, and depression and that rumination (perseverative thinking is an important mediator http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/index.php/category/research-news/anxiety/of the effects, are not new as have been documented repeatedly elsewhere. What is new is that a relatively brief, online, training is sufficient to produce these benefits. The fact that it could be taught exclusively online is important and suggests that mindfulness training can be implemented broadly, at low cost, and great convenience.

 

It was surprising that the inclusion of meditation in the mindfulness training did not add any extra benefits. This may suggest that training on the application of mindfulness to day to day living is the most important component of mindfulness training for producing improvements in the psychological state of otherwise healthy individuals. This suggests that it is using mindfulness in ongoing day to day activities is very important for the training to be effective.

 

So, improve psychological health with mindfulness.

 

“Their analysis indicated that one skill—the ability to consciously focus on moment-to-moment experiences—fully predicted the benefits of mindfulness for work-related maladies.” – Adam Hoffman

 

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

 

Cavanagh, K., Churchard, A., O’Hanlon, P., Mundy, T., Votolato, P., Jones, F., … Strauss, C. (2018). A Randomised Controlled Trial of a Brief Online Mindfulness-Based Intervention in a Non-clinical Population: Replication and Extension. Mindfulness, 9(4), 1191–1205. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0856-1

 

Abstract

Building on previous research, this study compared the effects of two brief, online mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs; with and without formal meditation practice) and a no intervention control group in a non-clinical sample. One hundred and fifty-five university staff and students were randomly allocated to a 2-week, self-guided, online MBI with or without mindfulness meditation practice, or a wait list control. Measures of mindfulness, perceived stress, perseverative thinking and anxiety/depression symptoms within were administered before and after the intervention period. Intention to treat analysis identified significant differences between groups on change over time for all measured outcomes. Participation in the MBIs was associated with significant improvements in all measured domains (all ps < 0.05), with effect sizes in the small to medium range (0.25 to 0.37, 95% CIs 0.11 to 0.56). No significant changes on these measures were found for the control group. Change in perseverative thinking was found to mediate the relationship between condition and improvement on perceived stress and anxiety/depression symptom outcomes. Contrary to our hypotheses, no differences between the intervention conditions were found. Limitations of the study included reliance on self-report data, a relatively high attrition rate and absence of a longer-term follow-up. This study provides evidence in support of the feasibility and effectiveness of brief, self-guided MBIs in a non-clinical population and suggests that reduced perseverative thinking may be a mechanism of change. Our findings provide preliminary evidence for the effectiveness of a mindfulness psychoeducation condition, without an invitation to formal mindfulness meditation practice. Further research is needed to confirm and better understand these results and to test the potential of such interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6061247/

Relaxation and Mindfulness Training Have Differing Psychological and Neural Effects

Relaxation and Mindfulness Training Have Differing Psychological and Neural Effects

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“this practice of nonjudgmental self-awareness is one of the most effective ways to improve mood and anxiety.” – Neda Gould

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. As a result, mindfulness training has been called the third wave of therapies. One problem with understanding mindfulness training effects is that there are, a wide variety of mindfulness techniques and it is not known which work best for improving different conditions.

 

There are a number of different types of meditation. Many can be characterized on a continuum with the degree and type of attentional focus. In focused attention meditation, the individual practices paying attention to a single meditation object, learns to filter out distracting stimuli, including thoughts, and learns to stay focused on the present moment, filtering out thoughts centered around the past or future. In open monitoring meditation, the individual opens up awareness to everything that’s being experienced regardless of its origin. These include bodily sensations, external stimuli, and even thoughts.

 

These techniques have common properties of restful attention on the present moment, but there are large differences. These differences are likely to produce different effects on the practitioner. One way to distinguish between the effects of these different meditation techniques is to observe the effects of each technique on the brain.  In today’s Research News article “Common and Dissociable Neural Activity After Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Relaxation Response Programs.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5976535/ ), Sevinc and colleagues recruited adults and randomly assigned them to receive 8 weekly 2-hour group sessions with 20 minutes of daily home practice with guided recordings of either a Relaxation Response program or a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program.

 

In the Relaxation Response program, the participants practiced a body scan with emphasis on relaxation and focused meditation on the breath in a 20-minute session. In the MBSR program the participants practiced body scan with focus on awareness of the sensations from the body for 2 weeks, yoga for 2 weeks, and open monitoring meditation for 2 weeks. The last 2 weeks the participants could chose whichever of the practices they wanted to perform. They were measured before and after training for perceived stress, mindfulness, self-compassion, rumination, and life stressors. They also underwent Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) while they listened to a guided recording for the body scan from their home practices.

 

They found that both practices equivalently reduced perceived stress and increased mindfulness. But the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program also significantly increased self-compassion and decreased rumination. Interestingly, although both practices produced increases functional connectivity between the prefrontal cortex and motor cortex, the two practices also produced different connectivities. When the body scan was practiced with emphasis on relaxation there was increased functional connectivity was with the right inferior frontal gyrus. This is an area that’s involved in behavioral inhibition. On the other hand, when the body scan was practiced with emphasis on awareness of sensations there was increased functional connectivity between the Insula and Cingulate Cortex, areas associated with sensory awareness.

 

Hence, although both practices were beneficial, the MBSR program appears to create better psychological well-being. In addition, the body scan technique used in the MBSR program, emphasizing sensory awareness, appears to increase the connectivity between brain areas that are involved in sensory awareness. On the other hand, a relaxation instruction with the body scan appears to produce increased brain systems devoted to restraining responses. Different mindfulness techniques produced different psychological and neural outcomes. Both appear to improve stress responding and mindfulness, but the MBSR program also produces better compassion for the self and less repetitive negative thinking, rumination.

 

So, there may be a place for the relaxation response program, but with these otherwise healthy adults, the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program appears to produce superior results.

 

 “If you have unproductive worries,” you can train yourself to experience those thoughts completely differently. “You might think ‘I’m late, I might lose my job if I don’t get there on time, and it will be a disaster!’ Mindfulness teaches you to recognize, ‘Oh, there’s that thought again. I’ve been here before. But it’s just that—a thought, and not a part of my core self,’” – Elizabeth Hoge

 

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

 

Sevinc, G., Hölzel, B. K., Hashmi, J., Greenberg, J., McCallister, A., Treadway, M., … Lazar, S. W. (2018). Common and Dissociable Neural Activity After Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Relaxation Response Programs. Psychosomatic Medicine, 80(5), 439–451. http://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0000000000000590

 

ABSTRACT

Objective

We investigated common and dissociable neural and psychological correlates of two widely used meditation-based stress reduction programs.

Methods

Participants were randomized to the Relaxation Response (RR; n = 18; 56% female) or the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR; n = 16; 56% female) programs. Both programs use a “bodyscan” meditation; however, the RR program explicitly emphasizes physical relaxation during this practice, whereas the MBSR program emphasizes mindful awareness with no explicit relaxation instructions. After the programs, neural activity during the respective meditation was investigated using functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Results

Both programs were associated with reduced stress (for RR, from 14.1 ± 6.6 to 11.3 ± 5.5 [Cohen’s d = 0.50; for MBSR, from 17.7 ± 5.7 to 11.9 ± 5.0 [Cohen’s d = 1.02]). Conjunction analyses revealed functional coupling between ventromedial prefrontal regions and supplementary motor areas (p < .001). The disjunction analysis indicated that the RR bodyscan was associated with stronger functional connectivity of the right inferior frontal gyrus—an important hub of intentional inhibition and control—with supplementary motor areas (p < .001, family-wise error [FWE] rate corrected). The MBSR program was uniquely associated with improvements in self-compassion and rumination, and the within-group analysis of MBSR bodyscan revealed significant functional connectivity of the right anterior insula—an important hub of sensory awareness and salience—with pregenual anterior cingulate during bodyscan meditation compared with rest (p = .03, FWE corrected).

Conclusions

The bodyscan exercises in each program were associated with both overlapping and differential functional coupling patterns, which were consistent with each program’s theoretical foundation. These results may have implications for the differential effects of these programs for the treatment of diverse conditions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5976535/

 

Rumination and Worry Interfere with the Development of Mindfulness

Rumination and Worry Interfere with the Development of Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Worry and rumination are forms of persistent negative thinking. They involve a predominance of verbal thoughts, and can be likened to a negative inner-speech. Worry is concerned with the possibility of threats in the future and ways to effectively avoid or deal with them whilst rumination is concerned more with things that happened in the past.” – MCT Institute

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving the physical and psychological condition of otherwise healthy people and also treating the physical and psychological issues of people with illnesses. Techniques such as 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 particularly effective. This has led to an increasing adoption of these mindfulness techniques for the health and well-being of both healthy and ill individuals.

 

Worry (concern about the future) and rumination (repetitive thinking about the past) are associated with mental illness. One way they may do this is by disrupting the development of mindfulness. In today’s Research News article “Barriers to Mindfulness: a Path Analytic Model Exploring the Role of Rumination and Worry in Predicting Psychological and Physical Engagement in an Online Mindfulness-Based Intervention.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968050/ ), Banerjee and colleagues had adult volunteers participate in a 2-week, once a day, online Mindfulness-based self-help program. They were measured before and after the program for mindfulness, including the observe, describe, acting with awareness, non-judging, and non-reacting facets, rumination, worry, beliefs about rumination, beliefs about worry, physical engagement, and psychological engagement. The measures were intercorrelated and their relationships were assessed with a path analysis.

 

They found that the higher the levels of both rumination and worry, the lower the levels of physical and psychological engagement in the mindfulness program. The path models revealed that rumination and worry were associated with reduced physical and psychological engagement in the program and these were, in turn, associated with reductions in four of the mindfulness facets of describe, acting with awareness, non-judging, and non-reacting.

 

These results are interesting and suggest that the individual’s levels of worry and rumination before engaging in mindfulness training tend to interfere with the development of mindfulness. They appear to do so by interfering with the individual’s engagement in the program, that is by promoting disengagement. It should be kept in mind that these findings are correlational, so no conclusions about causation are warranted. But, the results suggest that training in mindfulness should take into consideration the psychological state of the participant at the beginning of the program. Perhaps, programs can be tailored for the participants state taking into consideration their levels of worry and rumination. They may, thereby, be more effective in promoting mindfulness and all of its benefits.

 

repeated practice in noticing, observing with curiosity and compassion, and shifting perspective helps participants to realise that their thoughts, emotions and sensations are just thoughts, emotions and sensations, rather than ‘truth’ or ‘me’. They learn to see more clearly the patterns of the mind, and to recognise when mood is beginning to dip without adding to the problem by falling into analysis and rumination – to stand on the edge of the whirlpool and watch it go round, rather than disappearing into it.” – B. J. Bidushi

 

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

 

Banerjee, M., Cavanagh, K., & Strauss, C. (2018). Barriers to Mindfulness: a Path Analytic Model Exploring the Role of Rumination and Worry in Predicting Psychological and Physical Engagement in an Online Mindfulness-Based Intervention. Mindfulness, 9(3), 980–992. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0837-4

 

Abstract

Little is known about the factors associated with engagement in mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs). Moreover, engagement in MBIs is usually defined in terms of class attendance (‘physical engagement’) only. However, in the psychotherapy literature, there is increasing emphasis on measuring participants’ involvement with interventions (‘psychological engagement’). This study tests a model that rumination and worry act as barriers to physical and psychological engagement in MBIs and that this in turn impedes learning mindfulness. One hundred and twenty-four participants were given access to a 2-week online mindfulness-based self-help (MBSH) intervention. Self-report measures of mindfulness, rumination, worry, positive beliefs about rumination, positive beliefs about worry and physical and psychological engagement were administered. A path analysis was used to test the linear relationships between the variables. Physical and psychological engagement were identified as two distinct constructs. Findings were that rumination and worry both predicted psychological disengagement in MBSH. Psychological engagement predicted change in the describe, act with awareness, non-judge and non-react facets of mindfulness while physical engagement only predicted changes in the non-react facet of mindfulness. Thus, rumination and worry may increase risk of psychological disengagement from MBSH which may in turn hinder cultivating mindfulness. Future suggestions for practice are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968050/

 

Improve Mental Health in Medical Residents with Mindfulness

Improve Mental Health in Medical Residents with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“increasing physician resilience, or the ability to “bounce back” from experiences such as burnout, has been shown to have a significant positive impact on patient care and physician wellbeing. . . benefits include improved quality of care, reduced errors and minimized attrition . . . mindfulness-influenced wellness programs for residents can improve self-compassion, empathy, burnout and stress reactions. Mindfulness meditation introduces a way of cultivating awareness of one’s relationship with the present moment. With practice, it may lead to healthier ways of working with stressful life experiences, including those inherent to residency training.” – Vincent Minichiello

 

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

 

Preventing burnout has to be a priority. Unfortunately, it is beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress and prevent burnout, so it is important that methods be found to reduce the individual’s responses to stress; to make the individual more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Contemplative practices have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep. It would be best to provide techniques to combat burnout early in a medical career. Medical residency is an extremely stressful period and many express burnout symptoms. This would seem to be an ideal time to intervene.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Residents: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5880763/ ), Verweij and colleagues examined the ability of a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program to treat the symptoms of burnout in medical residents. They recruited medical residents and randomly assigned them to either receive an 8-week, once a week, 2,5 hour session of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or be assigned to a wait-list control condition. MBSR consists of a combination of meditation, yoga, and body scan practice in combination with discussion and home practice. The residents were measured before the program and 3 weeks later for emotional exhaustion, worry, home-work interference, mindfulness, self-compassion, positive mental health, physician empathy, and medical errors.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and to the wait-list control condition, the residents who received MBSR training had significantly higher mindfulness, self-compassion, personal accomplishment, and perspective taking empathy, and significantly lower worry. These outcomes were all of moderate effect sizes. There were no significant effects on the primary measure of burnout, emotional exhaustion. But, the residents who had the highest levels of emotional exhaustion did show a significant improvements in emotional exhaustion after treatment.

 

These results suggest that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) maybe an effective treatment to improve the mental health of medical residents and perhaps reduce the tendency toward burnout. It should be noted, however, that medical residents are very restricted for time and MBSR training requires a considerable investment of time both in the training sessions and in home practice, making participation difficult. Future research should include an active control condition such as aerobic exercise to help control for potential sources of confounding and bias.

 

So, improve mental health in medical residents with mindfulness.

 

“I experienced burnout as a resident, and meditation was a key aspect to my recovery. My mother advised me to meditate, and afterwards, I felt like my brain had been rebooted.” – Louise Wen

 

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

 

Verweij, H., van Ravesteijn, H., van Hooff, M. L. M., Lagro-Janssen, A. L. M., & Speckens, A. E. M. (2018). Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Residents: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 33(4), 429–436. http://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-017-4249-x

 

Abstract

Background

Burnout is highly prevalent in residents. No randomized controlled trials have been conducted measuring the effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on burnout in residents.

Objective

To determine the effectiveness of MBSR in reducing burnout in residents.

Design

A randomized controlled trial comparing MBSR with a waitlist control group.

Participants

Residents from all medical, surgical and primary care disciplines were eligible to participate. Participants were self-referred.

Intervention

The MBSR consisted of eight weekly 2.5-h sessions and one 6-h silent day.

Main Measures

The primary outcome was the emotional exhaustion subscale of the Dutch version of the Maslach Burnout Inventory–Human Service Survey. Secondary outcomes included the depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment subscales of burnout, worry, work–home interference, mindfulness skills, self-compassion, positive mental health, empathy and medical errors. Assessment took place at baseline and post-intervention approximately 3 months later.

Key Results

Of the 148 residents participating, 138 (93%) completed the post-intervention assessment. No significant difference in emotional exhaustion was found between the two groups. However, the MBSR group reported significantly greater improvements than the control group in personal accomplishment (p = 0.028, d = 0.24), worry (p = 0.036, d = 0.23), mindfulness skills (p = 0.010, d = 0.33), self-compassion (p = 0.010, d = 0.35) and perspective-taking (empathy) (p = 0.025, d = 0.33). No effects were found for the other measures. Exploratory moderation analysis showed that the intervention outcome was moderated by baseline severity of emotional exhaustion; those with greater emotional exhaustion did seem to benefit.

Conclusions

The results of our primary outcome analysis did not support the effectiveness of MBSR for reducing emotional exhaustion in residents. However, residents with high baseline levels of emotional exhaustion did appear to benefit from MBSR. Furthermore, they demonstrated modest improvements in personal accomplishment, worry, mindfulness skills, self-compassion and perspective-taking. More research is needed to confirm these results.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5880763/

 

Improve Psychological Well-Being and Productivity with Work-Place Mindfulness

Improve Psychological Well-Being and Productivity with Work-Place Mindfulness

 

“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 Hansen

 

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 physical and mental health and can result in burnout; producing fatigue, cynicism, and professional inefficacy.

 

To help overcome unhappiness, stress, and burnoutmindfulness practices have been implemented in the workplace. Indeed, mindfulness practices have been shown to markedly reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, it has become very trendy for business to incorporate meditation into the workday to help improve employee well-being, health, and productivity. There is a need, however, to better document the benefits of these programs.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Workplace Mindfulness Intervention May Be Associated With Improved Psychological Well-Being and Productivity. A Preliminary Field Study in a Company Setting.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00195/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_568639_69_Psycho_20180313_arts_A ), Kersemaekers and colleagues recruited employees in major European corporations and provided them with a workplace mindfulness program that consisted of 2 day-long training days plus eight 2.5 h-long sessions implemented in a group setting and included trainings in mindfulness meditation, walking meditation, pausing meditation, body scan and compassion meditation. They were also encouraged to practice at home. Participants were measured one month before, just before, and after the program for burnout, perceived stress, mindfulness, well-being, team environment; including organizational climate, team climate and personal performance, and program feasibility and satisfaction.

 

They compared the changes during the one-month baseline period to those occurring during the mindfulness training period and found that after training there were significantly greater reductions in burnout, perceived stress, particularly tension and worry, and organizational stress, and significantly greater improvements in psychological well-being and mindfulness, including presence and acceptance. There were also significant improvements in the participants perceptions of the organizational culture, including team decision making and cooperation, of the organizational climate, including atmosphere and respect, and of personal performance and productivity. There were high compliance and participation rates in the program. Hence, the workplace mindfulness program appeared to be feasible, safe, and effective.

 

The results have to be interpreted with caution as there wasn’t a control group. But, the fact that there was a one-month baseline where reactivity, bias, and time-based changes could be assessed, the conclusion would appear to be guardedly valid. Workplace mindfulness training improved the psychological well-being and mindfulness of the workers, the organizational climate, and the workers productivity. This suggests that workplace mindfulness programs can be of substantial benefit to the workers and the organization.

 

So, Improve Psychological Well-Being and Productivity with work-Place mindfulness.

 

“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond winning.” – Lao Tzu

 

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

 

Kersemaekers W, Rupprecht S, Wittmann M, Tamdjidi C, Falke P, Donders R, Speckens A and Kohls N (2018) A Workplace Mindfulness Intervention May Be Associated With Improved Psychological Well-Being and Productivity. A Preliminary Field Study in a Company Setting. Front. Psychol. 9:195. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00195

 

Background: Mindfulness trainings are increasingly offered in workplace environments in order to improve health and productivity. Whilst promising, there is limited research on the effectiveness of mindfulness interventions in workplace settings.

Objective: To examine the feasibility and effectiveness of a Workplace Mindfulness Training (WMT) in terms of burnout, psychological well-being, organizational and team climate, and performance.

Methods: This is a preliminary field study in four companies. Self-report questionnaires were administered up to a month before, at start of, and right at the end of the WMT, resulting in a pre-intervention and an intervention period. There was no separate control group. A total of 425 participants completed the surveys on the different time points. Linear mixed model analyses were used to analyze the data.

Results: When comparing the intervention period with the pre-intervention period, significantly greater improvements were found in measures of burnout (mean difference = 0.3, p < 0.001), perceived stress (mean difference = -0.2, p < 0.001), mindfulness [mean difference = 1.0 for the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory (FMI) and 0.8 for the Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), both p < 0.001], and well-being (mean difference = 0.4, p < 0.001). Additionally, greater increases in team climate, organizational climate and personal performance were reported during the intervention compared to the pre-intervention period with largest improvements in team cooperation (mean difference = 0.3, p < 0.001), productivity (mean difference = 0.5, p < 0.001), and stress (mean difference = -0.4, p < 0.001). Effect sizes were large for mindfulness (d > 0.8), moderate for well-being, burnout and perceived stress (d = 0.5–0.8), and ranged from low to moderate for organizational and team climate and personal performance (d = 0.2–0.8).

Conclusion: These preliminary data suggest that compared to the pre-intervention period, the intervention period was associated with greater reductions in burnout and perceived stress, improvements in mindfulness, well-being, and increases in team and organizational climate and personal performance. Due to design limitations, no conclusions can be drawn on the extent to which the WMT or non-specific factors such as time have contributed to the findings. Further studies, preferably using randomized controlled designs with longer follow up periods are needed to evaluate whether the associations found can be attributed to the WMT and whether these sustain after the training.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00195/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_568639_69_Psycho_20180313_arts_A

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Lower Aggression by Lowering Rumination

Mindfulness is Associated with Lower Aggression by Lowering Rumination

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness may restore the emotional resources needed to maintain self-control, and thus may have an important role to play in anger management by helping people to mindfully respond to provocation rather than react with anger.”- AMRA

 

The human tendency to lash out with aggression when threatened was adaptive for the evolution of the species. It helped promote the survival of the individual, the family, and the tribe. In the modern world, however, this trait has become more of a problem than an asset. It results in individual violence and aggression such as physical abuse, fights, road rage, and even murders, and in societal violence such as warfare. It may even be the basis for the horrors of terrorism and mass murder. Obviously, there is a need in modern society to control these violent and aggressive urges.

 

Aggression may, at least in part, be amplified by anger rumination; an uncontrollable, repetitive thinking about anger and its sources. This can produce a downward spiral where people repeatedly think about their anger which, in turn, reinforces the anger making it worse and worse. It is like a record that’s stuck and keeps repeating the same lyrics. It’s replaying a dispute in the individual’s mind. It’s going over their anger, again and again. Fortunately, rumination may be interrupted by mindfulness. This may, in part, be a mechanism by which mindfulness training reduces aggression and hostility. Hence, mindfulness may be an antidote to violent and aggressive urges by interrupting anger rumination.

 

In today’s Research News article “Both trait and state mindfulness predict lower aggressiveness via anger rumination: A multilevel mediation analysis.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4943669/, Eisenlohr-Moul and colleagues recruited college students and had them complete measures of overall and daily levels of mindfulness, anger, anger rumination, anger expression, aggressive inclinations, and aggressive behaviors. Daily measures were collected for 35 consecutive days. They analyzed the responses with sophisticated statistical modelling techniques.

 

They found that the higher the levels of daily the mindfulness facets of acting with awareness and non-judging the lower the levels of daily aggression, daily anger, and daily anger rumination. They also found that the higher the levels of daily anger and daily anger rumination the higher the levels of daily aggression. Hence, mindfulness predicted lower aggression while anger and anger rumination predicted higher aggression. When all three were used to predict aggression, the effects of mindfulness disappeared. With a mediation model, they were able to demonstrate that mindfulness was associated with lower aggression indirectly by mindfulness’ effects on anger and anger rumination which in turn effected aggression. So, mindfulness acted on aggression by the intermediaries of reduced anger and anger rumination.

 

These results are correlational and thus causation cannot be determined. There is a need to investigate whether mindfulness training can produce similar effects. Nevertheless, the findings suggest that the ability of mindfulness to lower anger and interrupt anger rumination may be the keys to the effectiveness of mindfulness in lowering aggression. By focusing on the present moment and not on past transgressions or worries about the future, rumination is disrupted. This in turn, lowers the likelihood of aggressive behavior. In this way mindfulness may be a means to lower the levels of aggression and violence in the modern world.

 

So, lower aggression by lowering rumination with mindfulness.

 

“The first step to managing your anger is to sit with it long enough to hear what it wants to tell you. To do this, you must turn to your body. Your body contains an abundance of information, and it never lies. By listening carefully to your body, you can build new habits for approaching your feelings. A new response strategy will replace the passive-aggressive pattern that may have dominated your life. And mindfulness is the key.” – Andrea Brandt

 

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

 

Eisenlohr-Moul, T. A., Peters, J. R., Pond, R. S., & DeWall, C. N. (2016). Both trait and state mindfulness predict lower aggressiveness via anger rumination: A multilevel mediation analysis. Mindfulness, 7(3), 713–726. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0508-x

 

Abstract

Trait mindfulness, or the capacity for nonjudgmental, present-centered attention, predicts lower aggression in cross-sectional samples, an effect mediated by reduced anger rumination. Experimental work also implicates state mindfulness (i.e., fluctuations around one’s typical mindfulness) in aggression. Despite evidence that both trait and state mindfulness predict lower aggression, their relative impact and their mechanisms remain unclear. Higher trait mindfulness and state increases in mindfulness facets may reduce aggression-related outcomes by (1) limiting the intensity of anger, or (2) limiting rumination on anger experiences. The present study tests two hypotheses: First, that both trait and state mindfulness contribute unique variance to lower aggressiveness, and second, that the impact of both trait and state mindfulness on aggressiveness will be uniquely partially mediated by both anger intensity and anger rumination. 86 participants completed trait measures of mindfulness, anger intensity, and anger rumination, then completed diaries for 35 days assessing mindfulness, anger intensity, anger rumination, anger expression, and self-reported and behavioral aggressiveness. Using multilevel zero-inflated regression, we examined unique contributions of trait and state mindfulness facets to daily anger expression and aggressiveness. We also examined the mediating roles of anger intensity and anger rumination at both trait and state levels. Mindfulness facets predicted anger expression and aggressiveness indirectly through anger rumination after controlling for indirect pathways through anger intensity. Individuals with high or fluctuating aggression may benefit from mindfulness training to reduce both intensity of and rumination on anger.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4943669/

Mindfulness is Associated with Improved Athletic Psychology in Elite Athletes

Mindfulness is Associated with Improved Athletic Psychology in Elite Athletes

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Meditation is becoming popular for many reasons, especially related to health. Athletes are also taking up the practice more and more because research has shown that meditation can be used as a tool to manage pain, decrease anxiety and improve focus.” – Kris Eiring

 

Athletic performance requires the harmony of mind and body. Excellence is in part physical and in part psychological. Without inheriting an athletic body and without many hours of training the individual will never reach an elite level. But, once there, the difference between winning and losing is psychological. That is why an entire profession of Sports Psychology has developed. “In sport psychology, competitive athletes are taught psychological strategies to better cope with a number of demanding challenges related to psychological functioning.” They use a number of techniques to enhance performance including anxiety or energy management, attention and concentration control (focusing), communication, goal setting, imagery, visualization, mental practice, self-talk, controlling negative emotions, team building, time management/organization.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to enhance a number of the characteristics that are taught by Sports Psychologists. Mindfulness training improves attention and concentration and emotion regulation and reduces anxiety and worry and rumination, and the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, mindfulness training, including meditation and yoga practices, have been employed by elite athletes and even by entire teams to enhance their performance. There have been, however, very few empirical tests of the efficacy of mindfulness training to enhance elite athletes’ performance or the mechanism of action.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Mechanisms in Sports: Mediating Effects of Rumination and Emotion Regulation on Sport-Specific Coping.” (See summary below), Josefsson and colleagues examined the relationship of mindfulness effects on rumination and emotion regulation on athletic performance. They recruited a large sample of elite High School athletes from a variety of sports and requested that they complete measures of mindfulness, rumination, emotion regulation, and athletic coping skills. They analyzed the obtained data with correlation techniques and a sophisticated statistical technique called path analysis.

 

They found that, as has previous studies, that the higher the levels of mindfulness of the athletes the lower the levels of rumination and the higher the levels of emotion regulation. They also found with path analysis that mindfulness levels were associated with better athletic coping skills in two ways, directly and indirectly through mindfulness’ relationships with rumination and emotion regulation. In other words, the higher the levels of mindfulness the better the athletic coping skills. This occurred by a direct relationship of mindfulness on athletic coping skills and also due to the mindfulness’ association with lower rumination and improved emotion regulation and their relationships with improved athletic coping skills.

 

This study was correlational and causation cannot be determined. But the results suggest that mindfulness is an important asset for the elite athlete. They further suggest that mindfulness may enhance athletic performance by improving the athletes ability to cope with their emotions and by decreasing worry and rumination. It remains for future studies to actively train athletes in mindfulness skills and determine if emotion regulation, rumination, athletic coping skills, and athletic performance are enhanced. Regardless, it is clear that mindfulness skills help and athlete cope with the psychological demands of elite athletic performance.

 

“The application of mindfulness to sport performance has recently become a popular research endeavor. By enhancing current moment awareness, a critical component of peak sport performance, some research has suggested that mindfulness exercises can help to generate “flow”, or a state of complete focus on the task or event at hand . . . mindfulness-based interventions for sports are effective because they help athletes direct their attention to the current athletic task, while minimizing external distractions.” – Mitch Plemmons

 

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

Torbjörn Josefsson, Andreas Ivarsson, Magnus Lindwall, Henrik Gustafsson, Andreas Stenling, Jan Böröy, Emil Mattsson, Jakob Carnebratt, Simon Sevholt, Emil Falkevik. Mindfulness Mechanisms in Sports: Mediating Effects of Rumination and Emotion Regulation on Sport-Specific Coping. Mindfulness (2017). doi:10.1007/s12671-017-0711-4

 

Abstract

The main objective of the project was to examine a proposed theoretical model of mindfulness mechanisms in sports. We conducted two studies (the first study using a cross-sectional design and the second a longitudinal design) to investigate if rumination and emotion regulation mediate the relation between dispositional mindfulness and sport-specific coping. Two hundred and forty-two young elite athletes, drawn from various sports, were recruited for the cross-sectional study. For the longitudinal study, 65 elite athletes were recruited. All analyses were performed using Bayesian statistics. The path analyses showed credible indirect effects of dispositional mindfulness on coping via rumination and emotion regulation in both the cross-sectional study and the longitudinal study. Additionally, the results in both studies showed credible direct effects of dispositional mindfulness on rumination and emotion regulation. Further, credible direct effects of emotion regulation as well as rumination on coping were also found in both studies. Our findings support the theoretical model, indicating that rumination and emotion regulation function as essential mechanisms in the relation between dispositional mindfulness and sport-specific coping skills. Increased dispositional mindfulness in competitive athletes (i.e. by practicing mindfulness) may lead to reductions in rumination, as well as an improved capacity to regulate negative emotions. By doing so, athletes may improve their sport-related coping skills, and thereby enhance athletic performance.

Improve the Symptoms of Stress with Mindfulness

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Improve the Symptoms of Stress with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Through mindfulness, individuals start to see their thoughts as less powerful. These distorted thoughts – such as “I always make mistakes” or “I’m a horrible person” – start to hold less weight. We ‘experience’ thoughts and other sensations, but we aren’t carried away by them. We just watch them come and go.” – William Marchand

 

Stress is universal. We are constantly under some form of stress. In fact, if we don’t have enough stress, we seek out more. Moderate stress can be a good thing promoting growth and flourishing. But, it must be moderate or what is called the optimum level of stress. Too little or too much stress can be damaging. Unfortunately for many of us living in a competitive, multitasking, modern environment stress is all too often higher than desirable. In addition, many of the normal mechanisms for dealing with stress have been eliminated. The business of modern life removes opportunities for rest, extra sleep, and leisure activities. Instead people are working extra hours and limiting or passing up entirely vacations to stay competitive. Persistently high levels of stress are damaging and can directly produce disease or debilitation increasing susceptibility to other diseases. Indeed, chronic stress has been associated with depression, anxiety, burnout, suicide attempts, poor immune functioning, and cardiovascular disorders.

 

It is beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress, 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 meditation practice have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. Because of their ability to relieve stress, mindfulness trainings are increasingly being practiced by individuals and are even being encouraged in some workplaces. But, some other treatments such as exercise or biofeedback may also be effective.

 

In today’s Research News article “A RCT Comparing Daily Mindfulness Meditations, Biofeedback Exercises, and Daily Physical Exercise on Attention Control, Executive Functioning, Mindful Awareness, Self-Compassion, and Worrying in Stressed Young Adults.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1466297833394138/?type=3&theater

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

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5010624/

de Bruin and colleagues recruited young adults, aged 18-40 years, who were high in perceived stress and randomly assigned them to either a daily mindfulness meditations, daily heart rate variability biofeedback, or daily physical exercise groups. The participants were provided a 2-hour orientation instruction and then practiced daily over 5 weeks for 10 to 20 minutes per day on an individualized practice plan. They were measured before and after treatment and 6-weeks later for attention control, executive function, mindfulness, self-compassion, and worry.

 

They found that all three interventions produced significant improvement from the pretest to posttest in attention control, executive function, mindfulness, self-compassion, and worry. These effects remained significant at the 6-week follow-up, suggesting lasting effects. All practices had moderate to large effects sizes. Surprisingly there were no significant differences between the three different practices as all produced significant improvements in the measures.

 

It is interesting that all three practices produced significant increases in mindfulness. This would be expected for the mindfulness meditation group but is somewhat surprising for the heart rate variability biofeedback and physical exercise groups. This fact may explain why all of the practices were beneficial. It suggests that improved mindfulness is responsible for the improvements in attention control, executive function, self-compassion, and worry. This seems reasonable, give that mindfulness training has been shown previously to improve attention control, executive function, self-compassion, and worry. Hence it appears that there are a number of practices that can improve the psychological conditions of stressed young adults and that they act by increasing mindfulness.

 

So, improve the symptoms of stress with mindfulness.

 

“mindfulness meditation promotes metacognitive awareness, decreases rumination via disengagement from perseverative cognitive activities and enhances attentional capacities through gains in working memory. These cognitive gains, in turn, contribute to effective emotion-regulation strategies.” Daphne Davis

 

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

De Bruin, E. I., van der Zwan, J. E., & Bögels, S. M. (2016). A RCT Comparing Daily Mindfulness Meditations, Biofeedback Exercises, and Daily Physical Exercise on Attention Control, Executive Functioning, Mindful Awareness, Self-Compassion, and Worrying in Stressed Young Adults. Mindfulness, 7(5), 1182–1192. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0561-5

 

Abstract

Our Western society is characterized by multitasking, competition, and constant time pressure. Negative effects of stress for the individual (anxiety, depression, somatic complaints) and for organizations and society (costs due to work absence) are very high. Thus, time-efficient self-help interventions to address these issues are necessary. This study assessed the effects of daily mindfulness meditations (MM) versus daily heart rate variability biofeedback (HRV-BF) and daily physical exercise (PE) on attention control, executive functioning, mindful awareness, self-compassion, and worrying. Young adults (n = 75, age range 18 to 40) with elevated stress levels were randomized to MM, HRV-BF, or PE, and measurements were taken at pre-test, post-test, and follow-up. Interventions in all three groups were self-guided and lasted for 5 weeks. Generalized estimating equation analyses showed that overall, all three interventions were effective and did not differ from each other. However, practice time differed between groups, with participants in the PE group practicing much more than participants in the other two groups. Therefore, additional analyses were carried out in two subsamples. The optimal dose sample included only those participants who practiced for at least 70 % of the total prescribed time. In the equal dose sample, home practice intensity was equal for all three groups. Again, the effects of the three interventions did not differ. In conclusion, MM, HRV-BF, and PE are all effective self-help methods to improve attention control, executive functioning, mindful awareness, self-compassion, and worrying, and mindfulness meditation was not found to be more effective than HRV-biofeedback or physical exercise for these cognitive processes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5010624/

 

Get Mindful On-Line and Get Feeling Better

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness exercises delivered in face-to-face settings or remotely via the Internet seem to yield similar changes in symptoms. The remote delivery does not seem to lessen the efficacy of mindfulness interventions.”– Johanna Boettcher

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving the physical and psychological condition of otherwise healthy people and also treating the physical and psychological issues of people with illnesses. Techniques such as 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 particularly effective. This has led to an increasing adoption of these mindfulness techniques for the health and well-being of both healthy and ill individuals.

 

The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, adopted so far, require a certified trained therapist. This produces 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. As a results, there has been attempts to develop on-line mindfulness training programs. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs and making training schedules much more flexible. But, the question arises as to whether these programs are as effective as their traditional counterparts. Many believe that the presence of a therapist is a crucial component to the success of the programs and the lack of an active therapist in on-line programs may greatly reduce their effectiveness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Interventions Delivered by Technology Without Facilitator Involvement: What Research Exists and What Are the Clinical Outcomes?” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1362554723768450/?type=3&theater

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

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5010616/

Fish and colleagues review the published research literature on the effectiveness of technology-based mindfulness training programs that did not include an active facilitator’s participation. They found 10 studies published, 9 of which were web-based programs. They found that, in general, the mindfulness programs produced increases in mindfulness and reductions in perceived stress, depression, anxiety, and rumination and these effects were maintained at follow-ups occurring as much as 6-months later. Unfortunately, compliance was relatively low and drop-out rates were relatively high.

 

These are encouraging findings and suggest that mindfulness can be effectively trained with web-based materials and that this can produce psychologically beneficial results. But, there were no direct comparisons to traditional programs. So, it cannot be determined if the web-based programs are as effective as traditional programs. In addition, there methods need to be developed to help maintain compliance and decrease dropping out of web-based programs. Regardless, the benefits are substantial and the results are sufficiently positive to encourage further research.

 

So, get mindful on-line and get feeling better.

 

“Internet delivery of mindfulness training may be a viable alternative if an evidence base can be established. It can be self-paced, less costly, and more accessible while additionally allowing for participant anonymity. “ – David Messer

 

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

Fish, J., Brimson, J., & Lynch, S. (2016). Mindfulness Interventions Delivered by Technology Without Facilitator Involvement: What Research Exists and What Are the Clinical Outcomes? Mindfulness, 7(5), 1011–1023. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0548-2

 

Abstract

New cost-effective psychological interventions are needed to contribute to treatment options for psychiatric and physical health conditions. This systematic review aims to investigate the current literature on one potentially cost-effective form of mindfulness-based therapy, those delivered through technological platforms without any mindfulness facilitator input beyond the initial design of the programme. Three electronic databases (Ovid Medline, PsychINFO and Embase) were searched for relevant keywords, titles, medical subject headings (MeSH) and abstracts using search terms derived from a combination of two subjects: ‘mindfulness’ and ‘technology’. Overall, ten studies were identified. The majority of studies were web-based and similar in structure and content to face-to-face mindfulness-based stress reduction courses. Clinical outcomes of stress (n = 5), depression (n = 6) and anxiety (n = 4) were reported along with mindfulness (n = 4), the supposed mediator of effects. All eight studies that measured significance found at least some significant effects (p < .05). The highest reported effect sizes were large (stress d = 1.57, depression d = .95, both ps > .005). However, methodological issues (e.g. selection bias, lack of control group and follow-up) which reflect the early nature of the work mean these largest effects are likely to be representative of maximal rather than average effects. Whilst there are important differences in the construction, length and delivery of interventions, it is difficult to draw firm conclusions about the most effective models. Suggestions of key characteristics are made though, needing further investigation preferably in standardised interventions. Given the existing research and the speed at which technology is making new platforms and tools available, it seems important that further research explores two parallel lines: first, refinement and thorough evaluation of already established technology-based mindfulness programmes and second, exploration of novel approaches to mindfulness training that combine the latest technological advances with the knowledge and skills of experienced meditation teachers.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5010616/