Improve Psychological Adjustment with Meditation

Improve Psychological Adjustment with Meditation

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Fine-tuning which type of mindfulness or meditation someone uses as a prescriptive to treat a specific need will most likely be the next big advance in the public health revolution of mindfulness and meditation.” – Christopher Bergland

 

Meditation 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, meditation training has been called the third wave of therapies. One problem with understanding meditation effects is that there are, a wide variety of meditation techniques and it is not known which work best for improving different conditions.

 

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. The meditator just observes these thoughts and lets them arise and fall away without paying them any further attention. Loving Kindness Meditation is designed to develop kindness and compassion to oneself and others. The individual systematically pictures different individuals from self, to close friends, to enemies and wishes them happiness, well-being, safety, peace, and ease of well-being.

 

These techniques have common properties of restful attention on the present moment. They are also similar to many religious and spiritual practices. There are large differences between these practices that are likely to produce different effects on the practitioner. But what those differences are is not known. In today’s Research News article “Religiosity and Meditation Practice: Exploring Their Explanatory Power on Psychological Adjustment.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00630/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_951898_69_Psycho_20190404_arts_A), Montero-Marin and colleagues explore the different effects of these practices on the psychological well-being of practitioners.

 

They recruited adult participants online and had them complete measures of happiness, depression, positive and negative emotions, and negative psychological adjustment. They were also asked to indicate the amount of prayer, and the types and amounts of meditation practices engaged in, including open monitoring, focused, and compassion meditation types.

 

They found that positive psychological states were associated with the amount of the various meditation practices and not particularly with religiosity or prayer. They found that the amount of focused meditation practice was significantly related to all measures of psychological adjustment, including happiness, depression, positive and negative emotions, and negative psychological adjustment. On the other hand, open monitoring practice was significantly associated with self-regulation of negative emotions and compassion meditation was significantly related to positive emotions and happiness.

 

These are interesting results that are cross-sectional and correlative. So, care must be taken in concluding causation. Nevertheless, the results suggest that meditation practice has positive benefits for the psychological state of the practitioner that are superior to religious practices. It appears that focused meditation practice has the greatest benefits while compassion meditation may help increase happiness and open monitoring meditation may help with dealing with negative emotions. Previous research has indicated some additional benefits of religiosity, prayer, and focused, open monitoring, and compassion meditation techniques. It remains for future research to better clarify the advantages and disadvantages of each of these meditation types.

 

So, improve psychological adjustment with meditation.

 

”For someone who meditates, the practice offers a chance to improve physical wellbeing, as well as emotional health. However, there is no “right way” to meditate, meaning people can explore the different types until they find one that works for them.” – Zawn Villines

 

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

 

Montero-Marin J, Perez-Yus MC, Cebolla A, Soler J, Demarzo M and Garcia-Campayo J (2019) Religiosity and Meditation Practice: Exploring Their Explanatory Power on Psychological Adjustment. Front. Psychol. 10:630. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00630

 

There has been increased interest in the relationships between religiosity, meditation practice and well-being, but there is lack of understanding as to how specific religious components and distinct meditation practices could influence different positive and negative psychological adjustment outcomes. The aim of this study was to assess the explanatory power of religious beliefs and the practice of prayer, focused attention (FA), open monitoring (OM), and compassion meditation (CM) on psychological adjustment, taking into consideration a number of practice-related variables such as session length, frequency of practice and lifetime practice. Psychological adjustment was assessed by means of happiness, positive affect, depression, negative affect, and emotional overproduction. A cross-sectional design was used, with a final sample comprising 210 Spanish participants who completed an online assessment protocol. Hierarchical regressions were performed, including age, sex and psychotropic medication use in the first step as possible confounders, with the addition of religious beliefs and the practice of prayer, FA, OM, and CM in the second step. FA session length was related to all psychological adjustment outcomes: happiness (ΔR2 = 0.09, p = 0.002; β = 0.25, p = 0.001), positive affect (ΔR2 = 0.09, p = 0.002; β = 0.18, p = 0.014), depression (ΔR2 = 0.07, p = 0.004; β = -0.27, p < 0.001), negative affect (ΔR2 = 0.08, p = 0.007; β = -0.27, p < 0.001) and emotional overproduction (ΔR2 = 0.07, p = 0.013; β = -0.23, p = 0.001). CM session length was related to positive affect (β = 0.18, p = 0.011). CM practice frequency was associated with happiness (ΔR2 = 0.06, p = 0.038; β = 0.16, p = 0.041). Lifetime practice of FA was related to happiness (ΔR2 = 0.08, p = 0.007; β = 0.21, p = 0.030) and OM to emotional overproduction (ΔR2 = 0.08, p = 0.037; β = -0.19, p = 0.047). Religious beliefs and prayer seemed to be less relevant than meditation practices such as FA, OM, and CM in explaining psychological adjustment. The distinct meditation practices might be differentially related to distinct psychological adjustment outcomes through different practice-related variables. However, research into other forms of institutional religiosity integrating social aspects of religion is required.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00630/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_951898_69_Psycho_20190404_arts_A

 

Promote Well-Being in Adolescents with Spirituality

Promote Well-Being in Adolescents with Spirituality

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Call it faith. Call it spirituality. Call it zealotry. Our consciousness creates the reality that reflects it. If we feel apart, other, afraid, and deadened, we will live in a world that reflects and perpetuates these energies.” – Kelly Brogan

 

Spirituality is defined as “one’s personal affirmation of and relationship to a higher power or to the sacred. ”Spirituality has been promulgated as a solution to the challenges of life both in a transcendent sense and in a practical sense. 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 spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health.

 

Adolescence is a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. It is during this time that higher levels of thinking, sometimes called executive function, develops. But adolescence can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required. Indeed, up to a quarter of adolescents suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, and an even larger proportion struggle with subclinical symptoms.

 

It makes sense, then, to investigate the influence of spirituality on the ability of youths to navigate this difficult time and develop positive qualities and better mental health. In today’s Research News article “A Longitudinal Study of Spirituality, Character Strengths, Subjective Well-Being, and Prosociality in Middle School Adolescents.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00377/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_925884_69_Psycho_20190305_arts_A ), Kor and colleagues recruited adolescents aged 13 to 17 years and had them complete scales at baseline and 3 and 14 months later measuring character strength, optimism, spirituality, religiosity, transcendence, devotion, positive and negative emotions, life satisfaction, and prosociality.

 

They found that spirituality in adolescents was composed of spirituality, religiosity, transcendence, and devotion and was relatively stable over the 14-month measurement period. They found that the higher the levels of spirituality, the greater the levels of character strength, life satisfaction, positive emotions, and prosocial behaviors over all three measurement time points.

 

These findings are interesting but correlational. So, conclusions regarding causation cannot be reached. But the findings suggest that, surprisingly, spirituality does not fluctuate greatly over time in adolescents. They also suggest that spirituality is associated with a relatively satisfying and happy life that is engaged positively with other people. Hence, spirituality would appear to be a positive factor that is helpful to youths in maintaining well-being over the turbulent time of adolescence.

 

So, promote well-being in adolescents with spirituality.

 

“Both religion and spirituality can have a positive impact on mental health. In some ways, they provide the same impact. For example: Both religion and spirituality can help a person tolerate stress by generating peace, purpose and forgiveness.” – Laura Greenstein

 

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

 

Kor A, Pirutinsky S, Mikulincer M, Shoshani A and Miller L (2019) A Longitudinal Study of Spirituality, Character Strengths, Subjective Well-Being, and Prosociality in Middle School Adolescents. Front. Psychol. 10:377. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00377

 

Using data from 1,352 middle-school Israeli adolescents, the current study examines the interface of spirituality and character strengths and its longitudinal contribution to subjective well-being and prosociality. Participants were approached three times over a 14-months period and completed measures of character strengths, spirituality, subjective well-being (positive emotions, life satisfaction), and prosociality. Findings revealed a fourth-factor structure of character strengths that included the typical tripartite classification of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and intellectual strengths together with spirituality emerging as a statistically autonomous factor. Spirituality was stable over time and contributed to higher subjective well-being and prosociality both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Discussion focuses on spirituality as a fundamental character strength and an important aspect of positive development.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00377/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_925884_69_Psycho_20190305_arts_A

 

Quality of Life of Patients with Cardiovascular Disease is Higher with Spirituality

Quality of Life of Patients with Cardiovascular Disease is Higher with Spirituality

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Positive beliefs, comfort, and strength gained from religion, meditation, and prayer can contribute to well being. It may even promote healing. Improving your spiritual health may not cure an illness, but it may help you feel better. It also may prevent some health problems and help you cope better with illness, stress, or death.” – FamilyDoctor

 

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack.” (Centers for Disease Control). A myriad of treatments has been developed for heart disease including a variety of surgical procedures and medications. In addition, lifestyle changes have proved to be effective including quitting smoking, weight reduction, improved diet, physical activity, and reducing stresses. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, 60% of heart failure patients decline participation, making these patients at high risk for another attack.

 

Safe and effective alternative treatments for cardiovascular disease are contemplative practices, such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have also been shown to be helpful for heart health. These practices have also been shown to be helpful for producing the kinds of lifestyle changes needed to prevent heart disease such as smoking cessationweight reduction, and stress reduction. Indeed, yoga practice is both a mindfulness training technique and a physical exercise.

 

Spirituality is defined as “one’s personal affirmation of and relationship to a higher power or to the sacred.” Spirituality has been promulgated as a solution to the challenges of life both in a transcendent sense and in a practical sense. 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 relationship of spirituality with the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality related to greater personal growth and mental health. So, it would make sense to review what is known regarding the relationship of spirituality and religiosity to the psychological state of patients with cardiovascular disease.

 

In today’s Research News article “Association of religiosity and spirituality with quality of life in patients with cardiovascular disease: a systematic review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6196107/  ), Abu and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the relationship of spirituality and religiosity to the quality of life of patients with cardiovascular disease. They found and reviewed 15 published studies that assessed spirituality and/or religiosity and global, mental, physical, or disease-related quality of life. All studies were correlational in nature without any active manipulations. Eleven of the studies included patients with heart failure, 2 with acute myocardial infarction, 1 with congenital heart disease, and 1 with multiple diagnoses.

 

They report that 10 of the 15 reviewed studies reported significant positive associations between spirituality and/or religiosity and quality of life in patients with cardiovascular disease; the greater the levels of spirituality and/or religiosity, the higher the quality of life. These results are correlational and conclusions regarding causality cannot be confidently made. Even reverse causation is possible such that a higher quality of life with heart disease produces greater spirituality and/or religiosity. In addition, only 2/3 of the studies reported significant results suggesting that the relationships are not highly robust.

 

The findings, though, regardless of causality suggest that spirituality and/or religiosity is related to better quality of life in patients with cardiovascular disease. Spirituality and/or religiosity have been shown to be related to resilience and low levels of stress, greater mental health, and better adherence to pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic therapy. These relationships with spirituality and/or religiosity would tend to predict better outcomes and quality of life in the patients. It is also possible that the social relationships and support supplied by spiritual or religious communities are responsible for the relationship. Regardless, it would appear that spirituality and/or religiosity are associated with better quality of life in patients with cardiovascular disease.

 

There are more than 50 studies in which religious practices were found to be protective against cardiovascular disease, including death due to heart attacks and strokes as well as against numerous risk factors such as high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels.” – Michael Murray

 

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

 

Hawa O. Abu, Christine Ulbricht, Eric Ding, Jeroan J. Allison, Elena Salmoirago-Blotcher, Robert J. Goldberg, Catarina I. Kiefe. Association of religiosity and spirituality with quality of life in patients with cardiovascular disease: a systematic review. Qual Life Res. 2018; 27(11): 2777–2797.

 

Abstract

Purpose

This review systematically identified and critically appraised the available literature that has examined the association between religiosity and/or spirituality (R/S) and quality of life (QOL) in patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Methods

We searched several electronic online databases (PubMed, SCOPUS, PsycINFO, and CINAHL) from database inception until October 2017. Included articles were peer-reviewed, published in English, and quantitatively examined the association between R/S and QOL. We assessed the methodological quality of each included study.

Results

The 15 articles included were published between 2002 and 2017. Most studies were conducted in the US and enrolled patients with heart failure. Sixteen dimensions of R/S were assessed with a variety of instruments. QOL domains examined were global, health-related, and disease-specific QOL. Ten studies reported a significant positive association between R/S and QOL, with higher spiritual well-being, intrinsic religiousness, and frequency of church attendance positively related with mental and emotional well-being. Approximately half of the included studies reported negative or null associations.

Conclusions

Our findings suggest that higher levels of R/S may be related to better QOL among patients with CVD, with varying associations depending on the R/S dimension and QOL domain assessed. Future longitudinal studies in large patient samples with different CVDs and designs are needed to better understand how R/S may influence QOL. More uniformity in assessing R/S would enhance the comparability of results across studies. Understanding the influence of R/S on QOL would promote a holistic approach in managing patients with CVD.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6196107/

 

Increase Pain Tolerance and Spirituality with a Brief Meditation

Increase Pain Tolerance and Spirituality with a Brief Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

“Bit by bit, as I sat noticing my breath and body sensations, I began to feel the deep knots of pain in my body start to untie themselves.” – Avi Craimer

We all have to deal with pain. It’s inevitable, but hopefully it’s mild and short lived. For a wide swath of humanity, however, pain is a constant in their lives. At least 100 million adult Americans have chronic pain conditions. The most common treatment for chronic pain is drugs. These include over-the-counter analgesics and opioids. But opioids are dangerous and highly addictive. Prescription opioid overdoses kill more than 14,000 people annually. So, there is a great need to find safe and effective ways to lower the psychological distress and improve the individual’s ability to cope with the pain.

 

Pain involves both physical and psychological issues. The stress, fear, and anxiety produced by pain tends to elicit responses that actually amplify the pain. So, reducing the emotional reactions to pain may be helpful in pain management. There is an accumulating volume of research findings to demonstrate that mind-body therapies have highly beneficial effects on the health and well-being of humans. Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve emotion regulation producing more adaptive and less maladaptive responses to emotions. Indeed, mindfulness practices are effective in treating pain in adults.

 

In today’s Research News article “Spirituality in pain medicine: A randomized experiment of pain perception, heart rate and religious spiritual well-being by using a single session meditation methodology.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6128533/ ), Sollgruber and colleagues recruited adults and randomly assigned them to receive either a 20-minute guided meditation or a 20-minute relaxation. They were measured before and after the brief meditation or relaxation for symptoms of psychological disorders and spirituality, including hope, immanent, forgiveness, experience of sense and meaning, hope transcendent, general religiosity and connectedness. They were measured for perception of cold and warmth and cold and warmth pain, their threshold for pain, and their heart rate. They were also asked to rate their subjective religious faith, dimension of religious faith, dimension of spirituality and attachment to an ecclesiastical community and also stress, pain, relaxation and spirituality.

 

They found that the meditation group reported a greater sense of spirituality as a result of the brief meditation while both groups reported increased relaxation. The meditation group in comparison to the relaxation group also showed a greater increase in pain tolerance and intensity of heat pain. and a significant increase in religious spiritual well-being including general religiosity, forgiveness, and connectedness. These effects were of moderate effect sizes.

 

These are relatively remarkable results that suggest that even a one-time, very brief meditation can significantly improve pain tolerance and increase spirituality. It has been previously demonstrated that much greater amounts of meditation training decrease pain perception and increase spirituality. But, the fact that a single 20-minute meditation is sufficient to produce these changes, at least on the very short-term, is quite impressive.

 

The results are also impressive as they were demonstrated in comparison to a comparable relaxation control condition which produced equivalent relaxation to meditation. This suggests that it was the meditation and not simple relaxation that was responsible for the effects. Further research is needed to see if these changes endure beyond the immediate aftermath of the meditation and are applicable to patients with chronic pain.

 

So, increase pain tolerance and spirituality with a brief meditation

 

“Mindful mediation is an appealing option for treating your pain because it has an unusual benefit; it places you in a position of control. Unlike pain medications or surgical procedures, meditation is not done to you—but rather it is something you do for yourself.” – Stephanie Burke

 

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

 

Sollgruber, A., Bornemann-Cimenti, H., Szilagyi, I. S., & Sandner-Kiesling, A. (2018). Spirituality in pain medicine: A randomized experiment of pain perception, heart rate and religious spiritual well-being by using a single session meditation methodology. PloS one, 13(9), e0203336. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0203336

 

Abstract

The aim of this study is to investigate different effects on pain perception among randomly assigned volunteers practicing meditation compared to a relaxation condition. The study examines whether participants of the experimental conditions (meditation versus relaxation) differ in the change of pain perception and heart rate measurement and in religious and spiritual well-being after an intervention. Method: 147 volunteers (long-term practitioners and novices) were randomly assigned to the experimental conditions with a headphone guided 20-minute single session intervention. The change in their pre- and post-intervention pain perception was measured using Quantitative Sensory Testing and Cold Pressor Testing (CPTest), their stress-level was compared by monitoring heart rate, and their religious and spiritual well-being by using the Multidimensional Inventory for Religious/Spiritual Well-Being (MI-RSB48). Additionally, dimensions of the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) measured the psychological resilience of the participants; pain and stress experience, and the state of relaxation and spirituality experience were assessed. Five persons were excluded due to failure in measuring the heart rate and 29 participants had to be excluded because of high values on the BSI. Results: The meditation group showed an increase in their pain tolerance on the CPTest and a decrease in their pain intensity for heat after the experimental condition, in contrast to the relaxation group. Futhermore, the meditation group showed a higher level of religious spiritual well-being (MI-RSB48 Total score) as well as in the sub-dimensions General Religiosity, Forgiveness, and Connectedness after the experimental condition, compared to the relaxation group. Our data is consistent with the hypothesis that meditation increases pain tolerance and reduces pain intensity, however, further work is required to determine whether meditation contains similar implications for pain patients.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6128533/

 

Improve Eating Regulation and Emotions in the Obese with Mindfulness

Improve Eating Regulation and Emotions in the Obese with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Researchers are learning that teaching obese individuals mindful eating skills—like paying closer attention to their bodies’ hunger cues and learning to savor their food—can help them change unhealthy eating patterns and lose weight. And, unlike other forms of treatment, mindfulness may get at the underlying causes of overeating—like craving, stress, and emotional eating—which make it so hard to defeat.” – Jill Suttie

 

Obesity has become an epidemic in the industrialized world. In the U.S. the incidence of obesity, has more than doubled over the last 35 years to currently around 35% of the population, while two thirds of the population are considered overweight or obese (Body Mass Index; BMI > 25). Although the incidence rates have appeared to stabilize, the fact that over a third of the population is considered obese is very troubling. This is because of the health consequences of obesity. Obesity has been found to shorten life expectancy by eight years and extreme obesity by 14 years. This occurs because obesity is associated with cardiovascular problems such as coronary heart disease and hypertension, stroke, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and others.

 

Obviously, there is a need for effective treatments to prevent or treat obesity. But, despite copious research and a myriad of dietary and exercise programs, there still is no safe and effective treatment. Mindfulness is known to be associated with lower risk for obesityalter eating behavior and improve health in obesity. Mindfulness training is also known to increase spirituality. This suggests that mindfulness training may be an effective treatment for overeating, overweight, and obesity. The relationship of spirituality to mindfulness and eating has not been previously explored.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindful Eating: Connecting With the Wise Self, the Spiritual Self.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01271/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_755938_69_Psycho_20180904_arts_A ), Kristeller and colleagues recruited obese adults (BMI>35) and randomly assigned them to either receive Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training (MB-Eat) or to a wait-list control condition. Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training (MB-Eat) was delivered in 12, 2-hour sessions, once a week for 10 weeks and 2 monthly booster sessions. The participants were trained in meditation, including general mindfulness meditation, guided eating meditations, and “mini-meditations” used at meal time and throughout the day. They also received instructions on recognizing inner experiences related to hunger and food intake and also on nutritional and healthy eating. Participants were measured before, during and immediately after training and also at 1, 2, and 4 months later for eating and weight related issues, emotional regulation, state mindfulness, depression, anxiety, and spiritual well-being.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list group, the participants who received Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training (MB-Eat) had increased spiritual well-being particularly in the meaning/peace and faith factors that continued to grow all the way to the 2-month follow-up. They also found that the greater the increase in the meaning/peace and faith factors, the greater the decrease in depression, anxiety, and binge eating. Finally, they performed a mediation analysis that showed that increases in mindfulness were associated with decreases in both depression and binge eating directly and indirectly by being associated with increases in spiritual well-being meaning/peace which in turn was significantly related to decreases in both depression and binge eating.

 

These results suggest that obese individuals benefit from Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training (MB-Eat) training by developing mindfulness which helps develop spiritual well-being and these factors both contribute to an improved emotional state and less disordered eating. It appears that the effect of mindfulness on the benefits is in part mediated by spiritual well-being. Mindfulness training has been shown previously to improve eating behavior and reduce depression. This study, however, is the first to indicate that the effectiveness of mindfulness is in part due to its effects on the individual’s spirituality.

 

So, improve eating regulation and emotions in the obese with mindfulness.

 

 

“Some of the simplest, safest lessons to help adolescents combat obesity may be raising their awareness of what they are eating and whether they are even hungry.” – Phil Jones

 

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

 

Kristeller JL and Jordan KD (2018) Mindful Eating: Connecting With the Wise Self, the Spiritual Self. Front. Psychol. 9:1271. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01271

 

In the Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training program (MB-EAT) (Kristeller and Wolever, 2014Kristeller and Woleverin press), mindfulness practice is taught, mindful eating is cultivated, and self-acceptance and spiritual well-being are enhanced. An integrative concept is the value of cultivating ‘wisdom’ in regard to creating a new and sustainable relationship to eating and food. ‘Wisdom’ refers to drawing on personal experience and understanding in a flexible, insightful manner, rather than strictly following external rules and guidelines. Several clinical trials involving variations of MB-EAT have documented substantive improvement in how people relate to their eating, including individuals with both binge eating disorder (BED) and subclinical eating issues. Based on the traditional value of contemplative practices for cultivating spiritual engagement, and on evidence from related research showing that spiritual well-being increases in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program and is related to other effects, we hypothesized that the MB-EAT program would also engage this aspect of experience, as assessed by the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy – Spiritual Well-Being subscale (FACIT-Sp), and that increases in spiritual well-being would relate to other measures of adjustment such as emotional balance and improvement in disordered eating. Participants (N = 117) with moderate to morbid obesity, including 25.6% with BED, were randomly assigned to MB-EAT or a wait-list control, and assessed on the FACIT-Sp and other measures at baseline, immediate post (IP), and 2-month followup (F/Up). Both FACIT-Sp factors [Meaning/Peace (M/P) and Faith] increased significantly in the MB-EAT group and were stable/decreased in the control group. Increases in these factors related to improvement in emotional adjustment and eating regulation at IP and at F/Up, and to increases in aspects of mindfulness measured by the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ). Increases in M/P during treatment mediated effects of the FFMQ Observe factor on eating regulation and depression at IP. Results are discussed in terms of the role that mindfulness practice plays in cultivating ‘wise mind’ and the related value of spirituality. It is argued that the core elements of the MB-EAT program lead to meaningful spiritual engagement, which plays a role in people’s ability to improve and maintain overall self-regulation.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01271/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_755938_69_Psycho_20180904_arts_A

 

Improve the Ability to Control the Brain’s Activity with Prayer and Meditation

Improve the Ability to Control the Brain’s Activity with Prayer and Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“You can sculpt your brain just as you’d sculpt your muscles if you went to the gym. Our brains are continuously being sculpted, whether you like it or not, wittingly or unwittingly.” – Ritchie Davidson

 

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. For example, the brain area that controls the right index finger has been found to be larger in blind subjects who use braille than in sighted individuals.  Similarly, cab drivers in London who navigate the twisting streets of the city, have a larger hippocampus, which is involved in spatial navigation, than predefined route bus drivers. 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, meditation practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits.

 

Prayer and meditation can be quite similar. It is possible that they can both produce changes to the brain. Since, both involve a degree of self-control, it is possible that they both change the brain to enhance self-control mechanisms. In today’s Research News article “Ability to Gain Control Over One’s Own Brain Activity and its Relation to Spiritual Practice: A Multimodal Imaging Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5442174/ ), Kober and colleagues studied the ability of meditation and prayer to alter the nervous system and improve self-control. They recruited healthy adults who reported either a low or a high frequency of prayer or meditation. They were measured for spirituality and religiousness, mindfulness and locus of control. In addition, the participants had their brains scanned with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

 

The participants had their brain activity measured with an electroencephalogram (EEG). They were shown a display with three bars the height of which was determined by brain activity in the 4-7 hertz (Theta), 12-25 hertz (SMR- Sensory-motor rhythm), and 21-35 hertz (Beta) range respectively. They received rewards (points) whenever their SMR was above a prescribed threshold and both their Theta and Beta were below a certain threshold. In other words, whenever their EEG reflected a specific prescribed pattern. If the participant was able to increase their SMR and decrease their Theta and Beta rhythms over training, it indicated and ability to control their brain activity.

 

They found, not surprisingly, that the high frequency group had higher levels of religiosity and mindfulness than the low frequency group. Importantly, they found a significant difference in the groups in their ability to control their brains. In particular, they found that the high frequency of meditation or prayer group was able to significantly increase their SMR while decreasing their Theta and Beta rhythms over training, while the low frequency group was not. When asked about their mental strategies to control their brain waves, the high frequency group reported significantly more “doing nothing”, similar to meditating or praying, than the low frequency group. Hence, the group who meditated and prayed often showed an ability to control their brains activity by employing a meditative strategy.

 

These are striking results. It has been known that with reward (biofeedback) people could learn to change their brain activity. But, it has never been shown before that people who prayed or meditated often would be significantly better at it than those who didn’t. The high frequency group is “assumed to be experts in focusing attention on inner states and self-referential processes.” This suggests that focused meditative practice improves the individual’s ability to control their brain activity. In other words, spiritual practice made them better at “doing nothing” and preventing thoughts from disrupting control of brain activity.

 

So, improve the ability to control the brain’s activity with prayer and meditation.

 

“The idea that there’s something specific about religious practices that changes your brain is just ridiculous. Everything changes your brain. Your brain is changing now, as is mine, as we’re having this conversation. There’s nothing special or magical about engaging in religious practices and showing certain changes in brain structure or function.” – Richard Sloan

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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Study Summary

 

Kober, S. E., Witte, M., Ninaus, M., Koschutnig, K., Wiesen, D., Zaiser, G., … Wood, G. (2017). Ability to Gain Control Over One’s Own Brain Activity and its Relation to Spiritual Practice: A Multimodal Imaging Study. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11, 271. http://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2017.00271

 

Abstract

Spiritual practice, such as prayer or meditation, is associated with focusing attention on internal states and self-awareness processes. As these cognitive control mechanisms presumably are also important for neurofeedback (NF), we investigated whether people who pray frequently (N = 20) show a higher ability of self-control over their own brain activity compared to a control group of individuals who rarely pray (N = 20). All participants underwent structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and one session of sensorimotor rhythm (SMR, 12–15 Hz) based NF training. Individuals who reported a high frequency of prayer showed improved NF performance compared to individuals who reported a low frequency of prayer. The individual ability to control one’s own brain activity was related to volumetric aspects of the brain. In the low frequency of prayer group, gray matter volumes in the right insula and inferior frontal gyrus were positively associated with NF performance, supporting prior findings that more general self-control networks are involved in successful NF learning. In contrast, participants who prayed regularly showed a negative association between gray matter volume in the left medial orbitofrontal cortex (Brodmann’s area (BA) 10) and NF performance. Due to their regular spiritual practice, they might have been more skillful in gating incoming information provided by the NF system and avoiding task-irrelevant thoughts.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5442174/

Improve Mood with Religion and Spirituality

Improve Mood with Religion and Spirituality

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“my Church serves as a safe haven where I can thank God, or ask for grace, strength and guidance to face the tribulations of daily life. There’s peace and contentment in this.” – Joseph Wegmann

 

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.

 

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

 

In today’s Research News article, Use of Daily Phone Diary to study religiosity and mood: Convergent validity See summary below or view the full text of the study at:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5360558/, Szczesniak and colleagues studied the relationships between spiritual / religious practice and thee individual’s mood. Adult participants completed measures of depression, religiosity, and spiritual coping and were asked to recall events, lasting more than 5 minutes, that happened over the prior 24 hours and their mood associated with each event on a 7-point scale from negative to positive.

 

They found that during religious / spiritual activities there was a high probability of improved mood. This improvement was greater in females than in males and in Protestants and Catholics than in non-denominational Christians. In addition, this mood improvement after participation in religious / spiritual activities was highly likely to be maintained for the remainder of the 24-hour recording period. These results suggest that engaging in religious / spiritual activities is associated with more positive emotions and this improved mood continues afterward. This emotional improvement may, at least in part, be responsible for the positive mental health benefits of spirituality and religiosity.

 

So, improve mood with religion and spirituality.

 

“If you want to feel peaceful, loving, and joyful, surround yourself with as many uplifting people and things as possible, Fishel says. “We are all energetic beings. We become what we eat, what we watch, the people we surround ourselves with.”” – Claudia Pinto

 

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

 

Szczesniak, R. D., Zou, Y., Dimitriou, S. M., Quittner, A. L., & Grossoehme, D. H. (2017). Use of Daily Phone Diary to study religiosity and mood: Convergent validity. Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy, 23(2), 67–85. http://doi.org/10.1080/08854726.2016.1253955

 

Abstract

Studies of religious/spiritual behavior frequently rely on self-reported questionnaire data, which is susceptible to bias. The Daily Phone Diary (DPD) was developed to minimize bias in reporting activities and behavior across a 24-hour period. A cross-sectional study of 126 parents of children with cystic fibrosis was used to establish the validity of the DPD to study religious/spiritual behaviors. Longitudinal models were used to determine the odds of improved mood during religious/spiritual activities. Convergent validity was found. Participants had increased odds of improved mood during religious/spiritual activities compared to non-religious/spiritual activities. Associations with gender and religious affiliations were found. The DPD is a valid tool for studying religious/spiritual activities and opens novel avenues for chaplaincy research and the development of chaplaincy interventions incorporating these findings.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5360558/

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

 

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

 

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 Psychological Well-Being in Gay Men with Spirituality

Improve Psychological Well-Being in Gay Men with Spirituality

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“spirituality can offer a vision of hope and meaning in a world that sometimes appears to be a hopeless miasma of pain and suffering. At its best, spirituality bestows vision and love of life. It widens our perspective. It sensitizes us to beauty and vitality–the very things at which gay men excel.” – Toby Johnson
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. These are also all characteristics that the great psychologist Abraham Maslow labelled self-actualization.

 

These are lofty goals that only few truly accomplish completely. But, we can strive to improve at each. Religion and spirituality encourage such personal growth. Indeed, spirituality appears to be associated with more positive attitudes toward physical and psychological difficulties and improved overall psychological well-being. For gay men, there can be a conflict between their religion and their sexual identity as “many religious/spiritual institutions continue to hold conservative and/or hostile attitudes toward same-sex behaviors.” As a result, the relationship between religion/spirituality and psychological well-being can be complicated for gay men.

 

In today’s Research News article “Psychological well-being among religious and spiritual-identified young gay and bisexual men.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5289650/

Meanley and colleagues study the relationship of religion and spirituality to psychological well-being in gay men. They recruited male gay men and transsexuals between the ages of 18 to 29 years to complete an on-line survey containing measures of religious commitment, participation, and coping, self-esteem, life purpose, internalize homophobia, and community stigma. Interestingly, 80% of the sample identified as religious and or spiritual.

 

As evidence that religion and spirituality can produce a conflict with sexual identity they found that participants who identified as religious/spiritual had significantly high internalized homophobia. Importantly, they also found that religiosity was associated with higher community stigma and internalized homophobia and lower purpose in life and self-esteem. But, on the other hand, spirituality was associated with higher purpose in life and self-esteem.

 

These results are interesting and suggest that for young gay men, adherence and commitment to a religion is associated with poorer psychological well-being while spirituality is associated with better psychological well-being. This makes sense as many traditional religions have teachings contrary to same sex sexual behaviors. But, the spiritual domain does not contain any particular dogma. By adhering to spirituality as opposed to religion gay men can bypass the conflict and reap the benefits of spirituality for psychological well-being.

 

So, improve psychological well-being in gay men with spirituality.

 

“many homosexuals naturally embody the traits of sensitivity and gentleness that religion is intended to teach. Gay men are often saints and moral exemplars. In spite of the contrary examples that can be offered, there is a goodness and virtue that runs through gay men’s lives, and a demonstration of real spirituality in how many of us resolve the problem of making sense of religion in the modern world.” – Toby Johnson

 

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

Meanley, S., Pingel, E. S., & Bauermeister, J. A. (2016). Psychological well-being among religious and spiritual-identified young gay and bisexual men. Sexuality Research & Social Policy : Journal of NSRC : SR & SP, 13(1), 35–45. http://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-015-0199-4

 

Abstract

Religiosity and spirituality are often integral facets of human development. Young gay and bisexual men (YGBM), however, may find themselves at odds when attempting to reconcile potentially conflicting identities like religion and their sexual orientation. We sought to explore how different components of religiosity (participation, commitment, spiritual coping) are linked to different markers of psychological well-being (life purpose, self-esteem, and internalized homophobia). Using data collected in Metro Detroit (N = 351 ages 18–29 years; 47% African American, 29% Non-Latino White, 8% Latino, 16% Other Race), we examined how components of religiosity/spirituality were associated with psychological well-being among religious/spiritual-identified participants. An overwhelming majority (79.5%) identified as religious/spiritual, with most YGBM (91.0%) reporting spirituality as a coping source. Over three quarters of our religious/spiritual sample (77.7%) reported attending a religious service in the past year. Religious participation and commitment were negatively associated with psychological well-being. Conversely, spiritual coping was positively associated with YGBM’s psychological well-being. Programs assisting YGBM navigate multiple/conflicting identities through sexuality-affirming resources may aid improve of their psychological well-being. We discuss the public health potential of increasing sensitivity to the religious/spiritual needs of YGBM across social service organizations.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5289650/

Spiritual Concerns Decrease Quality of Life in Cancer Patients

 

Spiritual Concerns Decrease Quality of Life in Cancer Patients

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“For some, a cancer diagnosis has the opposite effect on their sense of spirituality. It makes them doubt their beliefs or religious values, challenges their faith, and can cause spiritual distress. Some people become angry with God for allowing them to get cancer or wonder if they are being punished. Spiritual distress can make it harder for patients to cope with cancer and its treatment.” –  National Comprehensive Cancer Network

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. These feeling can result from changes in body image, changes to family and work roles, feelings of grief at these losses, and physical symptoms such as pain, nausea, or fatigue. People might also fear death, suffering, pain, or all the unknown things that lie ahead. So, coping with the emotions and stress of a cancer diagnosis is a challenge and there are no simple treatments for these psychological sequelae of cancer diagnosis.

 

Religion and spirituality become much more important to people when they’re diagnosed with cancer, when living with advanced cancer, and at end of life care. It is thought that people take comfort in the spiritual when facing their own mortality. There is very little information available, however, regarding the effectiveness of religion and spirituality in relieving the psychological burdens of cancer or on the quality of life of advance cancer patients. Additionally, the impact of spiritual concerns that the patient might have are not known. Concerns such as feelings of being abandoned by God or needing forgiveness for actions in their lives might lead to anxiety and worry rather than comfort.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Relationship of Spiritual Concerns to the Quality of Life of Advanced Cancer Patients: Preliminary Findings.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5206727/

Winkelman and colleagues study the relationship of patients’ spiritual concern to their quality of life with advanced cancer. They recruited terminal cancer patients who were undergoing palliative radiation treatments. They completed measures of religiousness, spirituality, spiritual concerns including spiritual struggles and spiritual seeking, and quality of life including physical and existential quality of life. The patients died on average of 180 days after completing the measures.

 

The majority of the patients experienced one or more forms of spiritual struggle (58%), and most (82%) experienced spiritual seeking. Their struggles included “wondering why God has allowed this to happen” and “wondering whether God has abandoned me.” The most common spiritual seekings were “seeking a closer connection to God” and “thinking about what gives meaning to life.”  They found that the greater the spiritual concerns, spiritual struggles, or spiritual concerns, the lower the patient’s quality of life. Virtually all of the patients indicated that spiritual care was important in their treatment.

 

These results are somewhat surprising in that religiousness and spirituality were not associated with comfort but with poorer quality of life in these terminal cancer patients. In particular, it appears that concerns about the spiritual meaning of their situation were very common and greatly troubled the patients leading to poorer quality of life. Being at peace with God is a very important goal of these patients and their concerns interfered with attaining that peace. Hence, it appears that in hospice and palliative care there should be greater attention paid to the religiousness and spirituality of the patients, particularly to their spiritual concerns, struggles, and seeking. This is important as spiritual concerns trouble them deeply and decrease the quality of life of terminal cancer patients.

 

 “When we took a closer look, we found that patients with stronger spiritual well-being, more benign images of God (such as perceptions of a benevolent rather than an angry or distant God), or stronger beliefs (such as convictions that a personal God can be called upon for assistance) reported better social health. In contrast, those who struggled with their faith fared more poorly.” – Allen Sherman

 

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

Winkelman, W. D., Lauderdale, K., Balboni, M. J., Phelps, A. C., Peteet, J. R., Block, S. D., … Balboni, T. A. (2011). The Relationship of Spiritual Concerns to the Quality of Life of Advanced Cancer Patients: Preliminary Findings. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 14(9), 1022–1028. http://doi.org/10.1089/jpm.2010.0536

 

Abstract

Purpose

Religion and/or spirituality (R/S) have increasingly been recognized as key elements in patients’ experience of advanced illness. This study examines the relationship of spiritual concerns (SCs) to quality of life (QOL) in patients with advanced cancer.

Patients and Methods

Patients were recruited between March 3, 2006 and April 14, 2008 as part of a survey-based study of 69 cancer patients receiving palliative radiotherapy. Sixteen SCs were assessed, including 11 items assessing spiritual struggles (e.g., feeling abandoned by God) and 5 items assessing spiritual seeking (e.g., seeking forgiveness, thinking about what gives meaning in life). The relationship of SCs to patient QOL domains was examined using univariable and multivariable regression analysis.

Results

Most patients (86%) endorsed one or more SCs, with a median of 4 per patient. Younger age was associated with a greater burden of SCs (β = −0.01, p = 0.006). Total spiritual struggles, spiritual seeking, and SCs were each associated with worse psychological QOL (β = −1.11, p = 0.01; β = −1.67, p < 0.05; and β = −1.06, p < 0.001). One of the most common forms of spiritual seeking (endorsed by 54%)—thinking about what gives meaning to life—was associated with worse psychological and overall QOL (β = − 5.75, p = 0.02; β = −12.94, p = 0.02). Most patients (86%) believed it was important for health care professionals to consider patient SCs within the medical setting.

Conclusions

SCs are associated with poorer QOL among advanced cancer patients. Furthermore, most patients view attention to SCs as an important part of medical care. These findings underscore the important role of spiritual care in palliative cancer management.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5206727/