Medical School Mindfulness  


“It has been suggested that inadequate self-care and ineffective coping styles are often established during medical training; they may persist after training and be self-destructive in the long-run. Therefore, introducing students to self-regulation skills along with other self-care approaches during medical school may improve their personal health and professional satisfaction not only during residency but also beyond.”  – William McCann


Medical School is challenging both intellectually and psychologically. Stress levels are high and burnout is common. It’s been estimated that 63% of medical students experience negative consequences from stress while symptoms of severe stress was present in 25% of students. The prevalence of stress is higher among females than among males. High stress levels lead to lower performance in medical school and higher levels of physical and mental health problems, especially anxiety and depression. Indeed 50% of medical students report burnout and 11% have considered suicide in the last year.


Obviously there is a need to either lower stress levels in medical education or find methods to assist medical students in dealing with the stress. One promising possibility is mindfulness training. It has been shown to reduce stress in students (See, to help with the negative consequences of stress (see and to reduce burnout in medical professionals (see So, it would seem reasonable to suspect that mindfulness would be helpful in assisting medical students cope with the stress of their training.


In today’s Research News article “The relationships among self-care, dispositional mindfulness, and psychological distress in medical students”

Slonim and colleagues demonstrate that the higher the level of mindfulness in medical students the lower their distress levels including levels of depression, anxiety, and stress. They also found that higher levels of self-care, in particular spiritual growth, were associated with lower levels of distress.  Finally, they showed that high levels of mindfulness strengthened the relationship between self-care and lower distress levels.  That is, the higher the mindfulness level the greater the impact of self-care on lowering distress. So, mindfulness not only directly lowers depression, anxiety, and stress in medical students but also magnifies the positive effects of self-care on these symptoms of distress.


Mindfulness may assist medical students by increasing present moment awareness. This reduces patterns of automatic, mindless, and judgmental thinking which can mitigate the impact of the situation on the individual. So, the student can attribute how they’re feeling and acting to the situation rather than to some personal failing.


Mindfulness is known to increase emotion regulation allowing the student to more accurately interpret what they’re feeling and respond to it appropriately. This also reduces the impact of strong negative emotional responses to thoughts and emotions their levels of depression and anxiety. So, mindful students experience their emotional reactions, recognize their causes, and adjust to them in an adaptive way.


Finally, mindfulness has been demonstrated to directly reduce symptoms of stress and the individual’s responses to stress. This occurs both by altering the physical and hormonal responses to stress and by reducing the negative spiral of stress, where the fact of stress induces more stress. This dramatically improves the students’ ability to cope with the stressful demands of medical education, perform at a higher level and make burnout less likely.


So, be mindful and be better equipped to deal with stressful educational experiences.


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

Meditation is not always a Good Thing

“When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not.” –Mark Twain


Sometimes we clearly remember information that was not in fact true. Have you ever been absolutely sure that you left your keys on a kitchen counter, only to find them in the bedroom? Have you ever been certain that you went to a particular movie with your spouse only to find out it was with a friend? These are called false-memories. They are not fabricated out of thin air. Rather, they often occur due to confusion where an actual memory is misattributed to an incorrect context. False-memories are frequently due to a failure to distinguish the source of the memory.


Most of the time these are innocuous and we can chuckle about our memory problems. But sometimes they become very serious. This is the case with eyewitness testimony. Research has demonstrated repeatedly how false memories can creep in to alter these memories and influence the outcome of a trial. They can also be a major problem in memories of childhood trauma and abuse. It’s now known that children must be very carefully interviewed to make sure that a false memory does not emerge. The consequences of false memories in these cases can be dire.


In order to counter false memories we have to be careful when a memory arises to judge it rigorously to be certain of the source of the memory. Mindfulness training is devoted to accepting things just as they are and not judging them. This would seem to be counter to the need for screening false memories. It is known that meditation can improve memory and in some cases can impair memory. Mindfulness training can make it easier to forget negative things (see So, there is reason to believe that mindfulness training might improve memory or it might make it harder to identify false memories.


In today’s Research News article “Increased False-Memory Susceptibility after Mindfulness Meditation”

Wilson and colleagues attempted to answer whether mindfulness training might improve or impair the detection of false memories. The test was simple. Students viewed a list of words one at a time such as garbage, waste, can, refuse, sewage, bag, junk, rubbish, sweep, scraps, pile, dump, landfill, debris, and litter. Such a list can often induce a false memory of the word trash which is actually not on the list.  After mindfulness training the students were nearly twice as likely to report seeing the word trash.


These results suggest that mindfulness training can at time actually be harmful.  Inducing judgment-free awareness and acceptance can produce difficulty identifying the source of the memory. Mindfulness training might improve memory by reducing the filters that tend to screen it out. Hence, the same mindfulness training that produces many benefits can also have the unintended negative consequence of increasing false-memory susceptibility.


So, mindfulness provides great benefits but can also produce some problems. It is important to be careful with memory recall after mindfulness training to avoid false memories.


“It is singular how soon we lose the impression of what ceases to be constantly before us. A year impairs, a luster obliterates. There is little distinct left without an effort of memory, then indeed the lights are rekindled for a moment — but who can be sure that the Imagination is not the torch-bearer?” ~Lord Byron


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


The Power of the Mind – Concentration Without Action Improves Tactile Sensation


“The mind has exactly the same power as the hands: not merely to grasp the world, but to change it.” – Colin Wilson


The mind is powerful. It senses and interprets our world, plans for the future, solves problems, and even writes these words. The mind can even adjust itself depending upon the environment. We know, for example, that practicing almost anything can result in the nervous system changing to make it better at the task in a process called neuroplasticity. This is even true with meditation, where practice changes the nervous system (see


But, can the body adapt to the mind? Can our minds change our senses just by thinking about it and not actually practicing it?  Meditation can make the brain more efficient at processing sensory information (see Meditation can also improve our sensitivity to internal sensations, interoceptive awareness (see So, is it possible that meditative focus on a sense solely can improve the sensitivity of that sense?


In today’s Research News article “Enhanced tactile acuity through mental states”

Philipp and colleagues explore the question if meditative focus without any overt action can change sensory sensitivity. Participants in a four day Zen meditation retreat were either asked to engage in open-monitoring meditation during the retreat (control condition) or for three days to be completely aware of the spontaneously arising sensory perception in their right index finger and then engage in open-monitoring meditation for the last day (sensory focusing condition). They found that at the end of the retreat only the sensory focusing group showed improved tactile sensitivity in the right index finger.


These results are quite remarkable. Neither group practiced feeling with the finger. The entire process was done in the mind by just focusing on the sensation. Yet, sensitivity increased without practice just based upon a mental focus. So, the mind can change the body, even without actually doing anything except thinking about it.


It can be speculated that the mental focus actually produces increased activity in the neural areas responsible for tactile sensation (the post-central gyrus) which in turn results in a neuroplastic response growing the brain area and increasing its connectivity. This would then make the individual more sensitive to the appropriate tactile stimulation. It will remain for future research to establish whether this is indeed what happens.


Regardless, focus the power of the mind on what you want improved.


“The human body is a machine which winds its own springs.” ~Julien Offroy de la Mettrie, L’Homme Machine


“Tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus.
Our bodies are our gardens to which our wills are gardeners.”
~William Shakespeare, Othello

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


Yoga Practice Improves Prisoner Mood and Stress

“You may think that only you are a prisoner, but other people are also prisoners. You are in a small prison, but others are in the big prison outside. When will they be released? Think that you are a yogi and that you are pursuing your sadhana in this particular place and at this particular moment. Immediately you will experience great joy. If you change your understanding, you will be free in a minute.”- Baba Muktananda


Around 2 ¼ million people are incarcerated in the United States. Even though these are euphemistically labelled correctional facilities very little correction actually occurs. This is supported by the rates of recidivism. About three quarters of prisoners who are released commit crimes and are sent back to prison within 5-years. Hence there is a great need for better prison programs that can not only help the prisoner adjust to prison life but also to life after release.


Contemplative practices have recently been employed in prisons and have been found to improve prisoner well-being and behavior. LINK to Auty Yoga and Meditation Improves Well-Being in Prisoners. Yoga is a multifaceted practice containing physical, mindfulness, and spiritual components. As such, yoga would seem to be ideal for the needs of an incarcerated population. Indeed, it has been shown to be beneficial for prisoners. Unfortunately, all that can be said is that engaging in a yoga program produces better results than not. But there is little understanding of how yoga practice might work and the amount of yoga needed to produce the benefits.


In today’s Research News article “Preliminary Evidence That Yoga Practice Progressively Improves Mood and Decreases Stress in a Sample of UK Prisoners”

Bilderbeck and colleagues investigated the factors associated with the beneficial effects of yoga practice for prisoners. They found that the more yoga classes attended and the greater the amount of self-practice outside of classes the greater the improvement in the prisoners’ level of perceived stress and negative emotions. In other words, sustained, regular practice of yoga produced greater improvements in the prisoners.


Of course it is impossible to tell if the prisoners who obtained the greatest benefit were then the ones who would engage more reliably in the practice or that great amounts of practice produce greater benefit. It is also impossible to know if some other factor such as the impact of the social context or simply relief of the incredible boredom of prison life might have been responsible both for greater adherence and also to improvements in well-being. There is a need for research that controls and manipulates these factors to determine the actual causal connections.


There is also a need to follow up on prisoners who have practiced yoga in prison to determine the long-term impact on adjustment to life outside of prison and recidivism. Finally, there is a need to determine what facets of yoga practice are crucial for each benefit and which are unimportant.


Regardless, it is clear that practicing yoga is beneficial to the well-being of prisoners.


“Right, if you’re not careful, you could despair, but there is a support system, definitely in this prison, and it’s awesome just to be able to be part of a community where people do yoga and meditate – and I have the Siddha Yoga correspondence course. I use these things to take me out of my mind and more into the heart space.” – Gino Sevacos, prisoner at San Quentin State Prison,


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


Develop Your Eulogy Virtues

It occurred to me that there were two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral — whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. Were you capable of deep love?” – David Brooks


The renowned columnist David Brooks likes to contrast two differing sets of virtues that we aspire to. One he terms the resume virtues, the other the eulogy virtues.

For the most part the resume virtues predominate for the majority of our lives. We strive for success and achievement. We work for years to attain an academic degree that we can place on our resume and use as the basis for the next entries on our resume revolving around our career. We measure our success by our titles and the wealth we accumulate.


The resume virtues are important and striving to do well in life and make a comfortable living are good things. They can, of course, become a problem when they are overemphasized and become the predominant focus in our lives. Too great of a stress on the resume virtues can result in the exclusion of the other aspects of life that are the true source of happiness and satisfaction. These are the eulogy virtues.


On the deathbed, people virtually never wish that they had spent more time or effort on developing their resumes, on working harder or being more successful. Rather, they most often decry the fact that they didn’t spend enough time and energy on developing their eulogy virtues. A palliative care nurse once recorded the top five regrets of the dying. They were

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.


It is clear that to live a full life we have to develop our resumes but it is far more important in the long run that we develop the eulogy virtues. But, how do we do this when the rewards of society and the urgings of our egos all push us towards developing our resumes. The answer may well be contemplative practice. These practices, meditation, yoga, tai chi, contemplative prayer, etc. have been shown to help in developing the exact abilities and experiences longed for by the dying.


Contemplative practice focuses us more on experiencing the present moment and doing so without judging it. This provides a better perspective on our lives, seeing ourselves as we are without judgment. This can lead us to follow our hearts and be true to ourselves rather than being a slave to what we perceive others expect. By appreciating the present moment we can learn to enjoy where our lives actually play out, the present moment. This can lead us to even having greater appreciation and enjoyment throughout our lives, even during the time we spend working.


Contemplative practice helps us to accept our flaws and accept and appreciate others. As a result it improves relationships and social interactions. It helps us to become better listeners and more compassionate toward others. Increased understanding and compassion for others is a motivator to becoming involved in improving our world.


Contemplative practice helps to develop the ability to regulate emotions and improve emotional intelligence. So, we get in better touch with our true feelings and become better able to express them to others.  Importantly, contemplative practice has been shown to increase happiness. We enjoy life and appreciate the wonders that surround us every day.


Finally, contemplative practice has been shown to help to develop acceptance of ourselves. Many people do not like themselves. Contemplative practice is an antidote for self-loathing, tending instead to improve self-love. It can help us accept and like ourselves more. It is difficult to truly love others if you don’t love yourself. So, the self-love developed in contemplative practice is a requirement for loving others. It leads inevitably to caring more for others and be willing to express that love.


So, engage in contemplative practice and develop your eulogy virtues.


“What do most people say on their deathbed? They don’t say, ‘I wish I’d made more money.’ What they say is, ‘I wish I’d spent more time with my family and done more for society or my community.” – David Rubenstein


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


Yoga and Meditation Improves Well-Being in Prisoners

“We consistently teach a practice to provide prisoners with a skill to become more sensitive to how they feel in their bodies. When you develop a close relationship with your own sensitivity, you are less apt to violate another. This is empathy. And empathy, when encouraged, leads to compassion. Gradually, the cycle of violence is interrupted.”  ~ James Fox


Prison is a very stressful and difficult environment for most prisoners. This is compounded by the fact that most do not have well developed coping skills. In addition, many have suffered from trauma, often experienced early in life such as abandonment, hunger, homelessness, domestic violence, sexual abuse, bullying, discrimination, drug and alcohol abuse, and witnessing crime – including murder. In addition, prisoners frequently suffer from attention deficit disorder. So, prisoners are often ill equipped to engage positively in society either inside or outside of prison.


Yet prison provides a great deal of time for reflection and self-exploration. This is an opportunity for growth and development. So, contemplative practices are well suited to this environment.

Yoga and meditation teach skills that may be very important for prisoners. In particular, they put the practitioner in touch with their own bodies and feelings. They improve present moment awareness and help to overcome rumination about the past and negative thinking about the future. They’ve been shown to be useful in the treatment of the effects of trauma and attention deficit disorder. They also relieve stress and improve overall health and well-being. Finally, these practices have been shown to be useful in treating depression, anxiety, and anger.


So, yoga and meditation would appear to be ideally suited to addressing the issues of prisoners. Over the last several years there have been a number of yoga and meditation programs implemented in prisons. In today’s Research News article “A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Yoga and Mindfulness Meditation in Prison: Effects on Psychological Well-Being and Behavioural Functioning”

Auty and colleagues summarize the research literature that has studied the effectiveness of these programs. They found that the research suggested that these programs are effective in a wide range of locations, from the UK and US to India and Taiwan, with a wide variety of ethnicities and ages, and with both males and females.


They found that the yoga and/or meditation programs almost universally produced improvements in psychological well-being in the prisoners. The magnitudes of the effects were significant and moderate, suggesting that these practices produce meaningful psychological changes. They also found that the longer term programs produced greater change than the shorter, more intense programs.


In addition to the psychological effects the yoga and/or meditation programs the research reports significant improvements in behavioral functioning. Overall, the magnitudes of the effects were significant and smaller than those found for psychological well-being. But, nevertheless the results suggest that these practices produce meaningful behavioral changes. These effects were particularly large for prisoners who had substance abuse problems.


This literature summary suggests that yoga and meditation programs are quite effective in prisons, improving the psychological health and well-being of the prisoners and improving their behavior while in prison. There are some suggestions in the literature that these programs decrease recidivism. It is to the benefit of society to assist the prisoners while incarcerated to improve their skills for dealing with themselves and others, as this would make them easier to deal with in prison and make it more likely that they would successfully transition back into society upon release.


So, yoga and meditation programs should be employed broadly in prisons for the benefit both of the prisoners and of society.


“With the barrage of negativity in prisons, they are unyielding breeding grounds for intense suffering, chaos, noise, overcrowding, violence, ineffective medical care and poor food. But occasionally, every so often, friendship, kindness, compassion and programs of meaningful substance come along. The Yoga program is a life-sustaining and meaningful one that I nurture and value because it is not only positive, it supports my growth and success as a young man. Yoga helps me navigate my life as a good and successful person. This practice is life-changing and will continue to enhance my life.” K.L.


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


Stop Criticizing Yourself and Feel Better


Being self-critical is good; being self-hating is destructive. There’s a very fine line there somewhere, and I walk it carefully.– Daniel Radcliffe


It can be useful to constructively criticize yourself as long as your realize that you’re human and are not, and will not ever be, perfect. You can then use the self-criticism to try to improve, not become perfect, but a little better. But, when self-criticism becomes extreme it can lead to perfectionistic thinking where you are never happy with yourself. This can lead to great unhappiness and psychological distress.
Mindfulness has been thought to help prevent perfectionism from producing distress. In support of this mindfulness has been found to improve self-esteem (see and a healthy self-esteem is counter to perfectionism. It’s difficult to be happy with oneself and critical of yourself as less than ideal at the same time. There is clearly a need to better understand the relationships between theses variables.


In today’s Research News article “Self-criticism as a mediator in the relationship between unhealthy perfectionism and distress”

James and colleagues obtained measures of self-criticism, perfectionism, mindfulness and psychological distress with an on-line questionnaire. They found that self-criticism and unhealthy perfectionism were positively related to psychological distress. In other words the higher the level of self-criticism and unhealthy perfectionism the greater the distress.


In addition, they found that unhealthy perfectionism was positively related to self-criticism which in turn increased psychological distress. So unhealthy perfectionism increased psychological distress both by directly increasing distress and also indirectly through increased self-criticism which in turn increased distress. Present moment awareness was negatively related to unhealthy perfectionism; that is the higher the level of mindfulness the lower the level of unhealthy perfectionism.


Mindfulness appears to help the individual by reducing unhealthy perfectionism. This doesn’t mean that the mindful individual does not strive to excel. Rather, it suggests that the mindful individual can work toward excellence but does so in a psychologically healthy way.


So, practice mindfulness and overcome unhealthy perfectionism.


“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” ― Louise L. Hay


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

Resolve Mental Conflict with Mindfulness


There is an immutable conflict at work in life and in business, a constant battle between peace and chaos. Neither can be mastered, but both can be influenced. How you go about that is the key to success.Phil Knight
We experience conflicting information all the time. These occur frequently in human interactions where words and body language may be presenting completely opposite messages. They occur shopping where a products quality and price may be affecting our decision to buy in opposite directions. They occur while driving a car where another driver’s turn signal may be on but the car shows no sign of slowing down to make the turn. They occur while surfing the web where interesting information and enticing ads coexist on the same page each calling for your attention.


These kinds of conflicts are presented to us many many times each day. It is up to our cognitive, thought, processes to resolve the conflict so that we can make an appropriate decision or take reasoned action. Mindfulness practices have been shown to help improve our cognitive processing of information (see and Perhaps mindfulness training might improve our ability to resolve these ubiquitous daily information conflicts.


In today’s Research News article “Time course of conflict processing modulated by brief meditation training.”

Fan and colleagues employed the Stroop task to assess mental conflict.

In this task participants are asked to name the ink color of a word when the word itself names a different color. Typically it takes a lot longer to name the color when the word and color interfere than when the word and ink color are the same. They found that a brief (5-hr) mindfulness training significantly reduced the participants’ susceptibility to the interference, showing faster responding and less difference between the interference trials and the non-interference trials.


Fan and colleagues also measure brain responses during the task and found that neural responses mirrored the behavioral responses in that the mindfulness training produced quicker brain response and less interference. Other brain activity suggested that the training produced a more efficient allocation of attentional resources.


Mindfulness training improves attention (see and appears to make the brain more efficient in processing information (see These effects of mindfulness alone or together could account for the improvement in the ability to deal with conflicting information.


These results suggest, but do not demonstrate, that mindfulness training may help the practitioner to better deal with the myriad of everyday information conflicts that are encountered. But, more research is needed to see if these laboratory findings translate to real world information conflicts.


So, practice mindfulness and be better at resolving mental conflicts.


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

Calm your Mind and Brain with a Mantra


“Chanting a mantra at the beginning of your meditation helps you clear the mind and takes you deep within the self. Chanting a mantra at the end of meditation helps you seal the meditation. It helps you bring the awareness of the meditation down into your daily life.” – Rama


Mantras are a very common component of many contemplative practices. Transcendental Meditation for example emphasizes mantras. Mantra is a Sanskrit word for “sound tool.” It is literally a tool employing sounds used in contemplative practice. It is a sound, e.g. “om”, or a phrase, e.g. “Love is the only miracle there is” that is repeated over and over and over during a contemplative practice.


Mantras are claimed to be helpful in contemplative practice and to help improve physical and mental well-being. But, there is very little empirical research on mantras or their effectiveness. One problem in studying mantras is that they are embedded in a contemplative practice. It is difficult then to separate the effects of the mantra from that of the overall practice. So, it is important to study mantras while extracting them from the practices.


In today’s Research News article “Repetitive speech elicits widespread deactivation in the human cortex: the “Mantra” effect? Brain and Behavior”

Berkovich-Ohana and colleagues do just this.

They study the effects of repetitive speech, devoid of its spiritual or meditative context, on the activity of the brain. They simply had participants repeat the word “one” over and over again for 8-minutes while resting in an f-MRI scanner. They found that during repetitive speech there was an overall reduction in brain activity. In studies of meditation it has been reported that there is a reduction of activity in some areas and an increase in others. So, it is remarkable to observe a reduction without an increase elsewhere.


They found that the reduction in brain activity was particularly focused on a set of structures that has been labelled as the default mode network (DMN). The DMN has been found frequently in the past to be the areas that are active during mind wandering and internalized self-referential activity. In support of this, they obtained reports of the participants experience during repetitive speech and found that there was a marked reduction in thoughts and sensations experienced. Hence it appears that the repetitive speech reduced brain activity in association with reduced mental activity.


These results clarify why mantras are so often used in contemplative practices. They quiet the mind and they quiet the brain. This is exactly the initial goal of contemplative practice. So, mantras can be of great help in establishing the exact mental and physical state desired in contemplative practices.


So, incorporate mantras in your contemplative practice and calm your mind and brain.


“You are a cosmic flower. Om chanting is the process of opening the psychic petals of that flower.”  ― Amit Ray


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

Reduce Fibromyalgia Pain with Mindfulness

“I wake up tired, I stay up tired, I go to bed tired. I wake up in pain, I stay up in pain, I go to bed in pain. I wake up with hope, I stay up with hope, I go to bed with hope.” – FibroColors


Fibromyalgia is a mysterious disorder whose causes are unknown. It is characterized by widespread pain, abnormal pain processing, sleep disturbance, and fatigue that lead to psychological distress. Fibromyalgia may also have morning stiffness, tingling or numbness in hands and feet, headaches, including migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, sleep disturbances, thinking and memory problems, and painful menstrual periods.


Fibromyalgia is very common affecting over 5 million people in the U.S., about 2% of the population. The vast majority of fibromyalgia sufferers are women, roughly 7 times more prevalent than in men. Although it is not itself fatal, suicide rates are higher in fibromyalgia sufferers. The symptoms are so severe and debilitating that about half the patients are unable to perform routine daily functions and about a third have to stop work.


There is no cure for fibromyalgia and the treatments are aimed at symptom relief. Drugs from simple pain killers to antidepressants are used and can help. There is a need for other treatment options. In a previous post it was discussed how mindfulness practice can be effective for the symptoms of fibromyalgia (see There are a number of other complementary and alternative therapies that might also be effective.


In today’s Research News article “Overview of Reviews for Complementary and Alternative Therapies in the Treatment of the Fibromyalgia Syndrome”

Lauche and colleagues review the literature on the use of complementary and alternative therapies such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga, biofeedback, homeopathy, etc. for the treatment of fibromyalgia. They found that the published research indicates that tai chi, yoga, meditation and mindfulness-based interventions, hypnosis or guided imagery, biofeedback, and hydrotherapy were consistently effective while homeopathy and phytotherapy produced very inconsistent effects.


It is interesting that mind body techniques in general appeared to have positive effects especially on pain and, importantly, tended to be more effective than the usual treatments for fibromyalgia. A common feature of these practices is that they tend to calm the sympathetic nervous system which is involved in physiological activation. It is possible that this is a key to producing some relief of fibromyalgia symptoms.


But, mind body therapies have a large number of effects that may underlie their usefulness for fibromyalgia. They tend to promote emotion regulation, allowing the individual to experience their emotions but not overreact or react inappropriately to them. Since, fibromyalgia tends to produce emotional distress, the improved emotion regulation produced by mind body therapies could be a key to relieving the symptoms.


In addition, mind body therapies are known to alter the nervous system processing of pain stimuli, reducing the intensity of pain and the reactions to pain. This effect of these therapies directly affects a central symptom of fibromyalgia, pain. There are also other effects of these therapies such as improved attention and increased focus on the present moment that may also have effects on the symptoms by reducing worry and rumination. It remains for future research to clarify the most important consequences of mind body therapies for the treatment of fibromyalgia.


So, practice mindfulness and improve fibromyalgia symptoms.


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies