Minority and Low Education Groups are Less Likely to Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness minority2 - Olano

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“Despite increased attention to diversity issues, ethnic minorities are still underrepresented in the field of psychology. Baseline knowledge on the effectiveness of treatments for ethnic minority groups is limited.”Janice Ya Ken Cheng


Mindfulness practices have gone mainstream in western culture. This has not been driven by theoretical, philosophical, or religious reasons but by pragmatic ones. Mindfulness practices have been found to be very beneficial to the practitioner of all ages from children, to adults, to the elderly. They have been shown to improve the psychological and physical health of otherwise healthy individuals and to be helpful in treating both mental and physical illnesses. A variety of mindfulness techniques have been shown to be effective including meditation, mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR), mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT), Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT), mindful movement practices such as tai chi and qigong, and yoga. It is no wonder that these practices have spread rapidly in modern western culture.


At present, it is not known whether these practices have spread uniformly through the population of have been adopted primarily by specific subgroups. For the most part, mindfulness practices require a teacher, at least initially, and thus can incur costs. This suggests that there may be socioeconomic barriers to participation. In addition, because mindfulness practices have spread through the printed media, education level may be a factor in their adoption. To help promote the adoption of these healthy techniques it is important to know which groups are not currently participating in large numbers and what might be the barriers for participation.


In today’s Research News article “Engagement in Mindfulness Practices by U.S. Adults: Sociodemographic Barriers.” See: https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1219971614693429/?type=3&theater


or below or view the full text of the study at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4326023/

Olano and colleagues studied the ethnic, educational, and socioeconomic characteristics of participants in various mindfulness practices from the responses reported in the 2002, 2007, and 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). This survey included questions regarding participant characteristics and participation in various mindfulness practices.


They found that over 13% of the population participated in one or more mindfulness practices. Meditation and yoga were practiced about equally being engaged in by 7.6% and 7.5% of the population of the U.S. respectively, while tai chi and qigong were much less commonly practiced, 1.2% and 0.3% of the population respectively. Gender made a difference as men were half as likely as women to engage in any of the practices and more than three times less likely to practice yoga. Education level made a large difference with education beyond high school highly predictive of engagement in mindfulness practices. Race and ethnicity was also important with white and Asian Americans much more likely to practice than black or Hispanic Americans. Interestingly, income level only made a very slight difference in participation.


These results are very interesting as the characteristics of participants in mindfulness practices track health statistics for these groups. Low education level and being a member of a minority group are strong predictors of poor health outcomes and males live on average 7 years less than females. These results do not demonstrate that engagement in mindfulness practices are the sole reason for health disparities, as they are still present for non-practitioners. But, it is known that mindfulness practices promote good mental and physical health. So, the lack of practice in male, minority, and low education groups suggests that they are not taking advantage of the benefits of practice which may contribute to the health disparities.


These results strongly suggest that greater efforts should be made to bring mindfulness practices to these vulnerable populations and thereby improve health and well-being. The results of the current study suggest that income level is not a problem. This is important as it suggests that these practices can be spread at low relative cost. Given their very positive impacts on health, mindfulness practices would appear to be a very safe and cost effective means of improving health and addressing prevalent health disparities in the population.


“Researchers and clinicians who are interested in ethnic minority research in general and acceptance- and mindfulness-based treat­ments in particular must face the fact that ethnic minority psycholo­gists are persistently underrepresented, despite different efforts having been made to promote the recruitment and retention of ethnic minor­ity professionals in psychology.” –  Janice Ka Yan Cheng


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


Study Summary

Olano, H. A., Kachan, D., Tannenbaum, S. L., Mehta, A., Annane, D., & Lee, D. J. (2015). Engagement in Mindfulness Practices by U.S. Adults: Sociodemographic Barriers. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 21(2), 100–102. http://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2014.0269



Objective: To examine the effect of sociodemographic factors on mindfulness practices.

Methods: National Health Interview Survey Alternative Medicine Supplement data were used to examine sociodemographic predictors of engagement in meditation, yoga, tai chi, and qigong.

Results: Greater education was associated with mindfulness practices (odds ratio [OR], 4.02 [95% confidence interval [CI], 3.50–4.61]), men were half as likely as women to engage in any practice, and lower engagement was found among non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics.

Conclusion: Vulnerable population groups with worse health outcomes were less likely to engage in mindfulness practices.



Alleviate Work Related Stress with On-Line Mindfulness Training

Mindfulness stress call center2 Allexandre

Alleviate Work Related Stress with On-Line Mindfulness Training


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“Managers who practice mindfulness have discovered that it improves their ability to encourage calm and stability in the workplace. They actually increase productivity when they model “mindful manager” qualities, such as listening before acting and leading people by focusing less on hierarchical relationships. “Do this because I told you to” becomes “Let’s talk about how and why we do things this way.” – Ruth W. Crocker


Stress is epidemic in the western workplace. A recent Harris poll found that 80 percent of workers feel stressed about one or more things in the workplace. This stress can lead to physical and psychological problems for managers and employees, including personal and professional burnout, absenteeism, lower productivity, and lower job satisfaction. Indeed, 46.4% of employees, report having psychological distress.


Call centers can be particularly stressful due to a heavy workload, sustained fast work pace, repetitive tasks, lack of control over the job, the blurred relation between feelings and actions, a competitive environment, and being faced with losing a client. These stresses can lead to problems, including visual, auditory, and speech fatigue. Indeed, each year, 60% of employees take sick leave and 39.4% of employees showed psychological distress symptoms and 8.3% found themselves in a severe situation of psychological distress, and 24% were taking psychoactive drugs. This also produces high turnover, with the average employee leaving the job after only a year.


Mindfulness training of employees is a potential help with work related stress. It has been shown to reduce the psychological and physical reactions to stress overall and particularly in the workplace and to reduce burnout. A problem in implementing mindfulness programs in the workplace is the time required for the training. This makes many managers reticent to try it. So, it is important to develop programs that do not seriously impact on work time. A potential solution is to train mindfulness on-line. Indeed, training over the internet has been found to be effective for anxiety depression.


In today’s Research News article “A Web-Based Mindfulness Stress Management Program in a Corporate Call Center: A Randomized Clinical Trial to Evaluate the Added Benefit of Onsite Group Support.” See:


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


Allexandre and colleagues implemented an 8-week on-line mindfulness stress management program for call center employees and compared its effectiveness to a wait-list control group. They implemented three different programs, a condition with on-line mindfulness training alone, a condition with mindfulness training combined with a support group, and a condition with mindfulness training and a support group led by a licensed clinical psychologist.


They found that all the on-line mindfulness training groups had greater reductions in perceived stress, and increases in emotional well-being, and emotional role functioning than the wait-list control group. These improvements were maintained at 8-weeks after the end of the training program. The addition of the support group produced greater satisfaction with the program and greater reductions in stress, and improvements in emotional well-being, and emotional role functioning than the mindfulness training alone group. Surprisingly, the addition of a clinical psychologist to the support group did not improve the support group’s effectiveness.


These results suggest that mindfulness training can be implemented over the internet and it can be effective in reducing stress and improving emotional well-being, and emotional role functioning for call center employees. It has been shown previously that mindfulness reduces the psychological and physiological responses to stress. These results demonstrate that this benefit can be produced with on-line training. They further demonstrate that adding a support group magnifies the effectiveness of the program. So, mindfulness can help, but mindfulness with support from other employees is substantially better. The sharing in support groups may well help the employee to see that their issues are shared by many, reducing their impact on the individuals work performance and well-being.


These findings suggest that a mindfulness training program that takes little time away from work can be successfully implemented and can have beneficial effects. This may be important for convincing managers and executives to implement such programs in their enterprises,


So, alleviate work related stress with on-line mindfulness training.


“Teaching mindfulness to employees can help them take a step back, think through a problem and consider all options. And that can improve decision making and positively affect the bottom line. One recent study, for example, showed that when call center employees took part in a mindfulness program, client satisfaction increased. Employees were also less stressed, anxious and fatigued on the job, thereby increasing productivity.”Lisa Wirthman


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


Study Summary

Allexandre, D., Bernstein, A. M., Walker, E., Hunter, J., Roizen, M. F., & Morledge, T. J. (2016). A Web-Based Mindfulness Stress Management Program in a Corporate Call Center: A Randomized Clinical Trial to Evaluate the Added Benefit of Onsite Group Support. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 58(3), 254–264. http://doi.org/10.1097/JOM.0000000000000680



Objective: The objective of this study is to determine the effectiveness of an 8-week web-based, mindfulness stress management program (WSM) in a corporate call center and added benefit of group support.

Methods: One hundred sixty-one participants were randomized to WSM, WSM with group support, WSM with group and expert clinical support, or wait-list control. Perceived stress, burnout, emotional and psychological well-being, mindfulness, and productivity were measured at baseline, weeks 8 and 16, and 1 year.

Results: Online usage was low with participants favoring CD use and group practice. All active groups demonstrated significant reductions in perceived stress and increases in emotional and psychological well-being compared with control. Group support improved participation, engagement, and outcomes.

Conclusion: A self-directed mindfulness program with group practice and support can provide an affordable, effective, and scalable workplace stress management solution. Engagement may also benefit from combining web-based and traditional CD delivery.


Mitigate Pain with Mindfulness

Meditation pain Meize-Grochowski

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“It turns out, the human mind does not simply feel pain, it also processes the information that it contains. It teases apart all of the different sensations to try to find their underlying causes so that you can avoid further pain or damage to the body. In effect, the mind zooms in on your pain for a closer look as it tries to find a solution to your suffering. This ‘zooming-in’ amplifies pain.” – Danny Penman


Postherpetic neuralgia is a complication of shingles, which is caused by the chickenpox virus, a form of herpes virus. It affects between 10%-20% of shingles sufferers. It affects nerve fibers and skin, causing burning pain that lasts long after the rash and blisters of shingles disappear. It produces pain that has been described as burning, sharp and jabbing, or deep and aching, that lasts for over 3 months. Patients report extreme sensitivity to touch such that even the feel of clothing is very uncomfortable. Sometimes it is also accompanied with itching or numbness. Postherpetic neuralgia pain is difficult to cope with and can thus lead to depression, fatigue, sleep problems, loss of appetite, and difficulty with concentration. The risk of acquiring postherpetic neuralgia increase with age and primarily afflict people over 60. There’s no cure, but treatments can ease symptoms. For most people, postherpetic neuralgia improves over time. But, it is an extremely uncomfortable and disruptive disorder and new and better treatments are needed.


Mindfulness training has been shown to effectively reduce pain from a number of different conditions. So, it is reasonable to explore whether mindfulness training could be an effective treatment for postherpetic neuralgia. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness meditation in older adults with postherpetic neuralgia: a randomized controlled pilot study.” See:


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


Meize-Grochowski and colleagues randomly assigned elderly patients (55-90 years of age) with postherpetic neuralgia to either a 6-weeks of 20-minute daily meditation or to a wait-list control condition. They found that at the end of the 6-weeks the meditation group had a significant decrease in neuropathic pain, total pain, and affective pain and improved physical functioning compared to baseline and control participants.


These results are encouraging. But, it should be recognized that this was a very small pilot study and needs to be replicated in a much larger clinical trial. Regardless, the results suggest that meditation may be a safe and effective treatment for postherpetic neuralgia, decreasing pain and improving functioning in life. This adds to the growing list of pain conditions that respond positively to mindfulness techniques. It suggests that mindfulness training may be a universally effective treatment for chronic pain.


Mindfulness training may be effective for pain by focusing attention on the present moment and thereby reduce worry and catastrophizing. Pain is increased by worry about the pain and the expectation of greater pain in the future. So, reducing worry and catastrophizing should reduce pain. In addition, negative emotions are associated with pain and amplify it. Mindfulness may ne effective for pain because it increases positive emotions and decreases negative ones. Finally, mindfulness has been shown to change how pain is processed in the brain reducing the intensity of pain signals in the nervous system.


Regardless of the mechanism, it is clear that meditation is a safe and effective treatment for postherpetic neuralgia. So, mitigate pain with mindfulness.


“What we want to do as best as we can is to engage with the pain just as it is. It’s not about achieving a certain goal – like minimizing pain – but learning to relate to your pain differently.” – Elisha Goldstein


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies



Study Summary

Meize-Grochowski, R., Shuster, G., Boursaw, B., DuVal, M., Murray-Krezan, C., Schrader, R., … Prasad, A. (2015). Mindfulness meditation in older adults with postherpetic neuralgia: a randomized controlled pilot study. Geriatric Nursing (New York, N.Y.), 36(2), 154–160. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.gerinurse.2015.02.012


This parallel-group, randomized controlled pilot study examined daily meditation in a diverse sample of older adults with postherpetic neuralgia. Block randomization was used to allocate participants to a treatment group (n = 13) or control group (n = 14). In addition to usual care, the treatment group practiced daily meditation for six weeks. All participants completed questionnaires at enrollment in the study, two weeks later, and six weeks after that, at the study’s end. Participants recorded daily pain and fatigue levels in a diary, and treatment participants also noted meditation practice. Results at the .10 level indicated improvement in neuropathic, affective, and total pain scores for the treatment group, whereas affective pain worsened for the control group. Participants were able to adhere to the daily diary and meditation requirements in this feasibility pilot study.


Relieve Depression with Meditation and Exercise

Meditation Exercise Brain depression2 Alderman

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“Studies have already suggested that physical activity can play a powerful role in reducing depression; newer, separate research is showing that meditation does, too. Now some exercise scientists and neuroscientists believe there may be a uniquely powerful benefit in combining the two.” – Melissa Dahl


Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a severe mood disorder that includes mood dysregulation and cognitive impairment. It is estimated that 16 million adults in the U.S. (6.9% of the population suffered from major depression in the past year and affects females (8.4%) to a great extent than males (5.2%). It is second-leading cause of disability in the world following heart disease. The usual treatment of choice for MDD is drug treatment. In fact, it is estimated that 10% of the U.S. population is taking some form of antidepressant medication. But a substantial proportion of patients (~40%) do not respond to drug treatment. In addition, the drugs can have nasty side effects. So, there is need to explore other treatment options.


It has been shown that aerobic exercise can help to relieve depression. But, depressed individuals lack energy and motivation and it is difficult to get them to exercise regularly. As a result, aerobic exercise has not been used very often as a treatment. Recently, it has become clear that mindfulness practices are effective for the relief of major depressive disorder and as a preventative measure to discourage relapses. Mindfulness can be used as a stand-alone treatment or in combination with drugs. It is even effective when drugs fail to relieve the depression.


As yet there has been no attempt to combine aerobic exercise and mindfulness training for major depressive disorder. It is possible that mindfulness practice may improve depression sufficiently to energize the individual to engage in aerobic exercise. So, the combination may be uniquely beneficial. In today’s Research News article “MAP training: combining meditation and aerobic exercise reduces depression and rumination while enhancing synchronized brain activity”



Alderman and colleagues employ a combination of 20 minutes of minutes of sitting meditation followed immediately by 10 minutes of walking meditation with 30 minutes of aerobic exercise either on a treadmill or stationary bicycle. They tested the impact of this combination on a group of adults with major depressive disorder and a group of healthy non-depressed individuals.


They found that the treatment reduced depression in both groups but to a much greater extent with the depressed patients, reducing it by 40%. The treatment also reduced ruminative thinking in both groups. They also found that the combined aerobic exercise and mindfulness training changed the brains response to a cognitive task. After training there was a larger N2 (negative response) observed in the brains evoked electrical activity (ERP) and a larger P3 (positive response) in the ERP in response to the cognitive task.


The P3 response in the evoked potential (ERP) occurs around a quarter of a second following the stimulus presentation. It is a positive change that is maximally measured over the central frontal lobe. The P3 response has been associated with the engagement of attention. So, the P3 response is often used as a measure of brain attentional processing with the larger the positive change the greater the attentional focus. The N2 response in the evoked potential (ERP) generally precedes the P3 response. It is a negative change that is maximally measured over the frontal lobe. The N2 response has been associated with the engagement of attention to a new or novel stimulus. So, the N2 response is often used as a measure of brain attentional processing with the large the negative changes an indication of greater discrimination of new stimuli.


The findings indicate that the combination training improves brain electrical activity indicators of attention and stimulus discrimination during a cognitive task. It was also found that the size of the N2 response was negatively related to the amount of decrease in ruminative thought. Ruminative thought which requires attention to memories of the past and attention to the present cannot occur at the same time. So, by improving attention the training appeared to improve attention to the present and thereby decrease rumination which is a major contributor to the depressed state.


These are interesting and exciting results that suggest that the combination of mindfulness and aerobic exercise training may be a potent and effective treatment for major depressive disorder. This is particularly important as aerobic exercise and mindfulness training both have many other physical and psychological benefits and have minimal side effects. They may, in part, be effective by improving attention and thereby decreasing rumination in depressed patients. Given the design of the present study it is not possible to determine if the combination is more effective the either component alone or the sum of their independent effectiveness. Future research should address this issue.


So, relieve depression with meditation and exercise.


“We know these therapies can be practiced over a lifetime and that they will be effective in improving mental and cognitive health. The good news is that this intervention can be practiced by anyone at any time and at no cost.” – Brandon Alderman


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies



Study Summary


B L Alderman, R L Olson, C J Brush and T J Shors. MAP training: combining meditation and aerobic exercise reduces depression and rumination while enhancing synchronized brain activity. Translational Psychiatry (2016) 6, e726; doi:10.1038/tp.2015.225. Published online 2 February 2016



Mental and physical (MAP) training is a novel clinical intervention that combines mental training through meditation and physical training through aerobic exercise. The intervention was translated from neuroscientific studies indicating that MAP training increases neurogenesis in the adult brain. Each session consisted of 30 min of focused-attention (FA) meditation and 30 min of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. Fifty-two participants completed the 8-week intervention, which consisted of two sessions per week. Following the intervention, individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD; n=22) reported significantly less depressive symptoms and ruminative thoughts. Typical healthy individuals (n=30) also reported less depressive symptoms at follow-up. Behavioral and event-related potential indices of cognitive control were collected at baseline and follow-up during a modified flanker task. Following MAP training, N2 and P3 component amplitudes increased relative to baseline, especially among individuals with MDD. These data indicate enhanced neural responses during the detection and resolution of conflicting stimuli. Although previous research has supported the individual beneficial effects of aerobic exercise and meditation for depression, these findings indicate that a combination of the two may be particularly effective in increasing cognitive control processes and decreasing ruminative thought patterns.



Change the Depressed Brain with Meditation

Meditation brain depression2 Yang

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“Meditation isn’t a magic bullet for depression, as no treatment is, but it’s one of the tools that may help manage symptoms.” – Alice Walton


Depression is the most common mental illness affecting over 6% of the population.  It is debilitating by producing any or all of a long list of symptoms including: feelings of sadness or unhappiness, change in appetite or weight, slowed thinking or speech, loss of interest in activities or social gatherings, fatigue, loss in energy, sleeplessness, feelings of guilt or anger over past failures, trouble concentrating, indecisiveness, anger or frustration for no distinct reason, thoughts of dying, death and suicide. The first line treatment is antidepressant drugs. But, depression can be difficult to treat. Of patients treated initially with drugs only about a third attained remission of the depression. After repeated and varied treatments including drugs, therapy, exercise etc. only about two thirds of patients attained remission. This leaves a third of all patients treated without success.


Mindfulness practices have been demonstrated to be beneficial for depression. They not only reduce depression levels in relatively normal people but also relieve depression in individual with major depression. They can even help in cases where drugs fail to relieve the depression. In addition, mindfulness practices can reduce the likelihood of a relapse after successful treatment for depression. In other words, mindfulness is an effective treatment either alone or in combination with drugs for depression.


In the last few decades it has become increasingly clear that the brain is very plastic and can be reshaped by what we do and what we experience. This has been called neuroplasticity. Contemplative practices have been shown to produce neuroplastic change altering the brain. They tend to increase the size, activity, and connectivity of areas of the brain that are important for attention, and emotion regulation while reducing the size, activity, and connectivity of areas of the brain that are involved in mind wandering and self-centered thinking, daydreaming, and rumination.


Mindfulness practices appear to take advantage of neuroplasticity to act upon the chemistry of the brain and brain electrical activity to help relieve depression. Hence, it makes sense that there should be further research on the effects of mindfulness on the brain and depression to better understand the mechanisms of action of mindfulness and potentially optimize treatment. In today’s Research News article “State and Training Effects of Mindfulness Meditation on Brain Networks Reflect Neuronal Mechanisms of Its Antidepressant Effect”



Yang and colleagues trained meditation naive college students for 8-weeks with a mindfulness program based upon a combination of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (f-MRI) brain scans were performed before training and 40 days later both at rest and during meditation. The students emotional state and depression levels were also measured before and after training.


After mindfulness training there was a 45% reduction in depression, a 21% reduction in trait anxiety, and a small reduction in tension. The brain was also found to be changed at rest after training. The changes were many and diverse. But arguably the most interesting change was a reduction in the functional connectivity between the pregenual anterior cingulate and dorsal medical prefrontal cortex. The anterior cingulate cortex is part of what is called the default mode network that is activated during mind wandering and emotionality. It is involved in major depression and the loss of emotionality, so called flat affect, that characterizes depression. On the other hand, the dorsal medical prefrontal cortex is involved in focused attention, cognitive control, and emotion regulation. These results are very complex and must be interpreted cautiously. But, it appears that meditation training reduces the ability of areas involved in depression from affecting areas involved in thought and emotion. This is a potential route for mindfulness affects in relieving depression.


Regardless, it’s clear that mindfulness can change the depressed brain.


“We can intentionally shape the direction of plasticity changes in our brain. By focusing on wholesome thoughts, for example, and directing our intentions in those ways, we can potentially influence the plasticity of our brains and shape them in ways that can be beneficial.” – Richie Davidson


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


Study Summary


Yang, C.-C., Barrós-Loscertales, A., Pinazo, D., Ventura-Campos, N., Borchardt, V., Bustamante, J.-C., … Walter, M. (2016). State and Training Effects of Mindfulness Meditation on Brain Networks Reflect Neuronal Mechanisms of Its Antidepressant Effect. Neural Plasticity, 2016, 9504642. http://doi.org/10.1155/2016/9504642



The topic of investigating how mindfulness meditation training can have antidepressant effects via plastic changes in both resting state and meditation state brain activity is important in the rapidly emerging field of neuroplasticity. In the present study, we used a longitudinal design investigating resting state fMRI both before and after 40 days of meditation training in 13 novices. After training, we compared differences in network connectivity between rest and meditation using common resting state functional connectivity methods. Interregional methods were paired with local measures such as Regional Homogeneity. As expected, significant differences in functional connectivity both between states (rest versus meditation) and between time points (before versus after training) were observed. During meditation, the internal consistency in the precuneus and the temporoparietal junction increased, while the internal consistency of frontal brain regions decreased. A follow-up analysis of regional connectivity of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex further revealed reduced connectivity with anterior insula during meditation. After meditation training, reduced resting state functional connectivity between the pregenual anterior cingulate and dorsal medical prefrontal cortex was observed. Most importantly, significantly reduced depression/anxiety scores were observed after training. Hence, these findings suggest that mindfulness meditation might be of therapeutic use by inducing plasticity related network changes altering the neuronal basis of affective disorders such as depression.



Improve Surgery Recovery with Yoga

Yoga Surgery2 Khan

Improve Surgery Recovery with Yoga


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“Yoga is a holistic approach to wellness. We already know the many benefits of yoga. Apart from yoga, even intensive stretching may improve chronic lower back pain and reduce your dependence on medication drugs. Patients have shown to benefit immensely from yoga after their back surgery. Research shows that 12 weeks of yoga can actually improve back function and reduce symptoms in people with chronic back pain.” – Jasmine Bilimoria


Yoga practice has been shown to have a myriad of beneficial effects on physical and psychological well-being and it can help the individual heal from physical or mental illness or injury. In India, it is a common and acceptable practice to include yoga and other ayurvedic practices along with modern medical techniques in treating patients. This provides an opportunity to investigate the effects of these alternative practices on healing and recovery after a large array of medical interventions.


In today’s Research News article “From 200 BC to 2015 AD: an integration of robotic surgery and Ayurveda/Yoga”



Khan and colleagues investigate the effects of a package of alternative treatments including yoga, yogic breathing techniques, and massage on patients’ recovery after modern minimally invasive robotic thoracic surgery for a variety of conditions. They compared groups who received the additional treatments to those who did not. Yoga practices commenced shortly after surgery and were taught for as long as they were in the hospital (mean stay of 2.1 days). The patients were encouraged to continue practice at home after release from the hospital.


They found that the yoga practices group reported high satisfaction with the practices, less pain and use pain killing medications, less wound drainage, and less lung collapse. Hence, the yoga practices were effective in reducing pain and promoting recovery. These are interesting findings that these practices can improve recovery after surgery. This can have positive benefits for the patients and reduce hospital stays and overall treatment costs, making it attractive to the medical professions.


Since, this study was performed in India, where these practices are highly acceptable to the population, it remains to be demonstrated if they would be similarly effective in western countries. In addition, the yoga practices included a package of practices including postures, breathing, and massage. As a result, it cannot be determined which of these components, or which combinations of components, were required for effectiveness. Finally, since another active treatment or placebo control was not included in the study, it is impossible to determine if the effectiveness on recovery from surgery was due to the yogic practices or to a variety of contaminants including subject expectancy effects, demand characteristics, or experimenter bias. It remains for future research to verify the results under more controlled circumstances.


Regardless, the results are encouraging and provide the rationale to continue investigating the use of yogic practices to promote recovery after surgery.


“Yoga can be a great way to heal from surgery. However, as with any exercise after surgery, make sure you take it slow and do not push yourself. The best yoga for after surgery is Hatha yoga, which is very gentle and can be done very slowly. Hatha yoga focuses on a series of asanas done slowly and with deep breathing. If done properly, it is unlikely that it will do you any harm after the surgery.” – YogaWiz


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


Study Summary

Khan, A. Z., & Pillai, G. G. (2016). From 200 BC to 2015 AD: an integration of robotic surgery and Ayurveda/Yoga. Journal of Thoracic Disease, 8(Suppl 1), S84–S92. http://doi.org/10.3978/j.issn.2072-1439.2016.01.74



BACKGROUND: Among the traditional systems of medicine practiced all over the world, Ayurveda and Yoga has a documented history dating back to beyond 200 BC. Robotic and video assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) is an invention of the 21(st) century. We aim to quantify the effects of integration of Ayurveda and Yoga on patients undergoing minimally invasive robotic and VATS.

METHODS: Four hundred and fifty-four patients undergoing VATS and robotic thoracic surgery were introduced to a pre and postoperative protocol ofYoga therapy, mediation and oil massages. Yoga exercises included Pranayam, Anulom Vilom, and Oil Massages included Urotarpan. Preoperative and postoperative respiratory functions were recorded. Patient satisfaction questionnaire were noted. Statistical comparison was made to control group undergoing minimally invasive thoracic surgery without integrative medicine. Only one patient refused to undergo Ayurveda therapy and was deleted from the group.

RESULTS: Acceptability was high among all patients. Preoperative training led to implementation as early as 6 hours post surgery. Pulmonary function test showed significant improvement. All patients suggested an improvement in satisfaction score. Pain score were less in study patients. Quicker mobilization led to early discharge and drain removal. Chronic pain was prevented in patients having oil massages over the healed wound sites.

CONCLUSIONS: Integration of Ayurveda, Yoga and minimally invasive robotic and VATS is acceptable to Indian patients and gives better clinical results and higher patient satisfaction.


The Noble Eightfold Path: Right Communications


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D/


“If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?” – Buddha

Communications is the key to the dominance of the human race. Because we developed language and speech we’ve been able to share knowledge and build upon prior knowledge. Speech and language are so important that a substantial amount of the human cortex is devoted to it. As important as language is we still have not mastered communications. We are often misunderstood, use language inappropriately, use it to bully, or lash out in anger. We harm and hurt others by our speech both intentionally and also innocently. Communications between humans is so powerful and important that the Buddha made it a component of his eightfold path to enlightenment.

The Noble Eightfold Path consists of “Right View, Right Intentions, Right Speech, Right Actions, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.” – Buddha. In previous posts “Right View” and “Right Intention” were discussed. Now we will discuss the third component “Right Speech” which is also known as “Wise Speech” or “Virtuous Speech.” Since, the word “Speech” here is used very broadly it would probably be better interpreted as “Communications.” So, for the purpose of this discussion we’ll use “Right Communications.” These include not only speech, but writing, signs and signals, emails, texts, tweets, social media posts, and even non-verbal communications provided by posture and facial expressions. To simplify the discussion, we will focus only on speech.


“Right Communications” urges us to communicate in ways that promote harmony among people, to only communicate what we know to be true, to use a tone that is pleasing, kind, and gentle, and to communicate mindfully in order that our speech is useful and purposeful. It asks us to refrain from false, malicious, harsh, or cynical communications and from idle chatter or gossip. All of this sounds straightforward, but can be devilishly difficult to implement. We’ve been trained from a very early age to be critical, skeptical, cynical, and to talk about one another incessantly. To practice “Right Communications” we must work to overcome all of this conditioning.


An essential component of “Right Communications” is deep listening. It is nearly impossible to communicate “Rightly” with another without a clear understanding of the other person. It is easy to hurt or harm someone unknowingly when we lack knowledge of the other person’s history, aspirations, sensitivities, fears, etc. In order to understand them we need to be able to listen carefully, attentively, and deeply to what the other communicates to us. Most of the time most people are not carefully listening to another when they’re communicating, instead waiting their turn and mentally composing their response. Practicing “Right Communications” requires that we not do this, but instead focus on the other’s communication and process its meaning completely and to ask for clarification when it is not clear. The intent of listening should be to provide the deep understanding of another to allow for mindful, kind interactions.


“Right Communications” is truthful. Obviously this means no lying. But this can be subtler, as it demands that we really know something to be true before stating it. How much of what we say are we really 100% sure of its truth? Probably very little as much of our speech includes speculation, guesswork, reports of what we’ve heard or inferred, and idle talk. “Right Communications” demands that we be very careful and verify the truth of what we communicate. If we’re unsure of the truth of what we’re saying we should make it clear that we are unsure, that makes it truthful. That the communication is truthful does not mean, however, that it should be said. The old expression “the truth can hurt” is an important reminder. Sometimes it is better to not speak at all rather than hurt or harm another with a truth that they are not ready to hear. “Right Communications” requires discernment and deep listening to the other person to be sure when to speak the truth or remain silent.


“Right Communications” promotes friendship and harmony among people. This means refraining from slanderous speech that is aimed at producing division and dissention and instead communicate in way that unites people and creates mutual understanding. This form of communications emanates from loving kindness and compassion for others. When we communicate we do so to benefit everyone involved. This does not mean that there should be no differences in ideas or opinions between people. Differences, in fact, can be a source of creativity and learning. It means, though, that communications celebrate, accept, and value the differences allowing their expression to produce greater understanding. So, a healthy political debate can promote understanding and harmony as long as it’s engaged in with loving kindness, tolerance, and friendliness, where the debate is not competitive or designed to belittle another or heighten one’s self-esteem, but to learn from an exchange of views. Once again, this requires discernment and deep listening to know what words will heal and promote goodwill and which will divide or harm.


“Right Communications” is pleasing, kind, and gentle. It is designed to set a tone which can make the communication enjoyable and produce wholesome results. This, includes non-verbal components. A smile while communicating produces positive feelings that a frown does not. This means refraining from harsh speech, including swearing and angry speech. We must be vigilant to prevent communications when anger arises. I find this particularly difficult, as expletives explode forth when my anger is tripped. “Right Communications” is positive and encouraging and not critical or discouraging. So, it emphasizes the positive and primarily passes over the negative. “Right Communications” involves meeting angry, hostile, critical, or sarcastic communications from others with loving kindness and understanding. It means that we don’t retaliate, instead we meet it with kindness. This requires practice as it is difficult to control our emotions and deep conditioning to respond to threats with anger and aggression. But, if we are successful in “Right Communications” we will generally find that the results are far more pleasing, other people like us and like to be around us more, and we and everyone around us are happier.


“Right Communications” also involves purposive communications. This is where “Right Intentions” come to bare setting the directions for the communications. “Right Communications”

Involves a judicious use of language only when it will promote good. It “is like a treasure, uttered at the right moment, accompanied by reason, moderate and full of sense” (Bhikkhu Bodhi). This means that we should inhibit idle chatter and especially gossip. Idle chatter communicates nothing of value and uselessly occupies the mind interfering with mindfulness making it more likely that we’ll communicate something harmful. Gossip is of its nature critical of others and shallow. It demeans others and causes harm. It lacks loving kindness and compassion. Hence, practicing “Right Communications” means not gossiping and not responding to gossip communicated by others. Words are precious and powerful. We need to use them pointedly to create happiness and harmony both in ourselves and others.


“Right Communications” requires mindfulness. It requires us to review our words before we actually speak them, so that we can apply discernment and insure that they promote harmony and understanding. “Right Communications” is thoughtful communications that we’ve determined ahead of time is likely to produce good. This requires considerable practice. It is not easy. But life provides numerous occasions every day to practice “Right Communications.” Rest assured that the effort is well worth it. You and everyone around you will discover its benefits promoting happiness and harmony and development along the eightfold path toward enlightenment.


“Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech ( and compassionate listening in order to relieve suffering and to promote reconciliation and peace in myself and among other people, ethnic and religious groups, and nations. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to speaking truthfully using words that inspire confidence, joy, and hope. . . . I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to utter words that can cause division or discord.” – Thich Nhat Hahn


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

Improve Tension Headaches with Mindfulness

MBSR stress2 Omidi

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“Stress is a known trigger for headaches, and mindfulness is a known combatant against stress. Several studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can curb stress responses” – Mandy Oaklander


The most common medical ailment is headaches. They affect about 16.5% of the population of the U.S., approximately 45 million Americans each year. Over eight million seek out medical attention for headaches each year. The most common type of headache is the tension headache. It is estimated that 80 to 90 percent of the population suffer from tension headaches at least some time in their lives, about 69% of males and 88% of females. They come in two categories. Episodic headaches appear occasionally, while chronic headaches occur more than 15 times per month. Headaches are associated with personal and societal burdens of pain, disability, damaged quality of life and financial cost.


Tension headaches are generally treated with over the counter analgesics. Opiates, or narcotics, are rarely used because of their side effects and potential for dependency. To prevent tension headaches antidepressants or muscle relaxers are sometimes prescribed. Some individuals learn to employ a non-drug method to prevent or reduce tension headaches by learning what causes the headaches and trying to avoid those triggers. Finally, recently it has been shown that mindfulness techniques are generally helpful with coping with pain and specifically can be effective for headache relief. These include Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Hence, it makes sense to further investigate the relationship of MBSR with stress reduction and tension headache relief.


In today’s Research News article “Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on perceived stress and psychological health in patients with tension headache”



Omidi and colleagues randomly assigned tension headache sufferers to either a treatment as usual (TAU) group, treated with antidepressant medication and clinical management, or an MBSR group which received TAU plus 8-weeks of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. They found that the MBSR group had significantly lower headache pain and increased mindfulness, while the treatment as usual group had no significant change in either.


These results are impressive and demonstrate that MBSR training may be an effective treatment for tension headache when combined with treatment as usual. Because MBSR contains three primary components; body scan, meditation, and yoga, it is not possible to discern which component or which combination of components were responsible for the improvement in headache pain. It is also not possible to discern if MBSR might be effective alone without the associated treatment as usual.


MBSR is structured to reduce stress and has been empirically shown to significantly reduce both the physiological and psychological responses to stress. Since tension headaches are primarily produced by stress and migraine headaches are frequently triggered by stress, it would seem reasonable to conclude that the stress reduction contributed to the effectiveness of MBSR for chronic headaches. Mindfulness training, by focusing attention on the present moment has also been shown to reduce worry and catastrophizing. Pain is increased by worry about the pain and the expectation of greater pain in the future. So, reducing worry and catastrophizing should reduce headache pain. In addition, negative emotions are associated with the onset of headaches. Mindfulness has been shown to increase positive emotions and decrease negative ones. Finally, mindfulness has been shown to change how pain is processed in the brain reducing the intensity of pain signals in the nervous system.


Regardless of the mechanism, it is clear that MBSR is a safe and effective treatment for tension headaches. So, improve tension headaches with mindfulness.


“In the pain studies, people with chronic pain such as headaches, back pain, neck pain and fibromyalgia who participated in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic reported a dramatic reduction in the average level of pain during the eight-week training period and for at least four years following the treatment.” – Mindful Living


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


Study Summary

Omidi, A., & Zargar, F. (2015). Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on perceived stress and psychological health in patients with tension headache. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences : The Official Journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 20(11), 1058–1063. http://doi.org/10.4103/1735-1995.172816



Background: Programs for improving health status of patients with illness related to pain, such as headache, are often still in their infancy. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a new psychotherapy that appears to be effective in treating chronic pain and stress. This study evaluated efficacy of MBSR in treatment of perceived stress and mental health of client who has tension headache.

Materials and Methods: This study is a randomized clinical trial. Sixty patients with tension type headache according to the International Headache Classification Subcommittee were randomly assigned to the Treatment As Usual (TAU) group or experimental group (MBSR). The MBSR group received eight weekly classmates with 12-min sessions. The sessions were based on MBSR protocol. The Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) and Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) were administered in the pre- and posttreatment period and at 3 months follow-up for both the groups.

Results: The mean of total score of the BSI (global severity index; GSI) in MBSR group was 1.63 ± 0.56 before the intervention that was significantly reduced to 0.73 ± 0.46 and 0.93 ± 0.34 after the intervention and at the follow-up sessions, respectively (P < 0.001). In addition, the MBSR group showed lower scores in perceived stress in comparison with the control group at posttest evaluation. The mean of perceived stress before the intervention was 16.96 ± 2.53 and was changed to 12.7 ± 2.69 and 13.5 ± 2.33 after the intervention and at the follow-up sessions, respectively (P < 0.001). On the other hand, the mean of GSI in the TAU group was 1.77 ± 0.50 at pretest that was significantly reduced to 1.59 ± 0.52 and 1.78 ± 0.47 at posttest and follow-up, respectively (P < 0.001). Also, the mean of perceived stress in the TAU group at pretest was 15.9 ± 2.86 and that was changed to 16.13 ± 2.44 and 15.76 ± 2.22 at posttest and follow-up, respectively (P < 0.001).

Conclusion: MBSR could reduce stress and improve general mental health in patients with tension headache.


Improve Infants’ Neurocognitive Development with Mindfulness during Pregnancy

Mindfulness infant auditory attention2 Van den Heuvel

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“If the mother is producing more stress hormones, they’re going to be transmitted to the fetus. Everything we do impacts the fetus. It’s kind of a marvelous thing. The fetus is getting information about what kind of a world it will be born into.” – Amy Beddoe


Pregnancy can be a time of heightened emotionality. This emotionality in the mother can affect the fetus. During pregnancy, the fetus is sensitive to the state of the mother and maternal anxiety can affect the fetus and continue to do so after birth. It has been demonstrated that mindfulness can help. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve anxiety and depression normally and to relieve maternal anxiety and depression during pregnancy. But, it is not known if mindfulness, independent of the mother’s psychological well-being, affects the fetus in utero and continues to do so after birth.


During the early development of the infant hearing and being attentive to sounds is important. In some species the first portions of the auditory system to develop are those tuned to the mother’s voice. Sounds are important cues to the infant of the state of the people around them and are signals of safety or potential danger. It is also important to language acquisition, as the first stage in learning to speak is hearing language in the environment. So, auditory attention is important to the development of the infant.


The infant cannot self-report what they hear and what they don’t and what they are paying attention to. So, in order to measure the infant’s capabilities, indirect methods are needed to assess auditory attention and processing. One method is to measure the electrical signals from the nervous system that can be recorded from the infant’s scalp in response to sounds. These are called auditory event related potentials (ERPs). The P150 component of the ERP (positive wave 150 milliseconds after the sound) has been shown to be an indicator of attention to the sound while the N250 component of the ERP (negative wave 250 milliseconds after the sound) has been shown to be an indicator of orientation to a particular sound. Hence, these electrical signals from the brain can be employed to provide a glimpse of the neurocognitive auditory processing of the infant.


In today’s Research News article “Maternal mindfulness and anxiety during pregnancy affect infants’ neural responses to sounds”



Van den Heuvel and colleagues measured mindfulness and anxiety levels in pregnant women during each trimester of their pregnancy and 10 months postpartum. Then at 9-months of age, the mothers’ newborn infants were tested for auditory event related potentials (ERPs). ERPs were recorded in response to a repetitive sound and to new different sounds infrequently inserted into the stream of sounds. To relax the infant during the recordings, they sat on their mothers’ lap.


They found, as have others, that during pregnancy, the more mindful the mothers, the less anxious they were. They also found that there were significant opposite effects of maternal mindfulness and anxiety during pregnancy on how infants processed repetitive sounds. Infants whose mothers were high in mindfulness during pregnancy had larger P150 waves and smaller N250 waves. In contrast, infants whose mothers were more anxious during pregnancy had higher N250 waves. These effects were present for the repetitive sound, but there was no difference in the ERPs to the unusual sound.


The larger P150 wave suggests that the infants from mindful mothers were paying closer attention to the sounds and processing them more deeply while the smaller N250 wave suggests that the infants had reduced orientation to the sound. This indicates that they better recognized that they’ve heard this sound many times already. In contrast, the infants form mothers who were high in anxiety during pregnancy had larger N250 waves suggesting that they were overresponsive to repetitive stimuli. In addition, the infants of mindful mothers were not different in their responsiveness to a novel sound. These results further suggest that the infants of mothers who were mindful during pregnancy had more mature processing of sounds than infants whose mothers were low in mindfulness or high in anxiety.


These are remarkable results. The mother’s state of mindfulness during pregnancy not only affects the mother but positively affects the postnatal neural development of the infant. In contrast, the mothers state of anxiety during pregnancy negatively affects the postnatal neural development of the infant. The mechanisms of these effects are not known but it can be speculated that mindfulness’ ability to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress may produce greater calmness and relaxation in the mother during the difficult time of pregnancy and thereby reduce the stress on the infant. Conversely, high anxiety levels during pregnancy would be expected to heighten stress responses, negatively affecting the fetus. It will remain for future research to examine this hypothesis.


So, improve infants’ neurocognitive development with mindfulness during pregnancy.


“If I could choose only one tool you would take with you from . . . practice, it would be the capacity to be present. Being present forms the foundation for mindful motherhood. It’s the key to being a mindful mom. If being nonjudgmental, accepting, curious, and compassionate, and observing your experience and letting it be as it is without struggling against it are some of the rooms that make up the house of mindful motherhood, being in the present moment is the foundation of the house.” – Cassandra Vieten


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


Study Summary

RESEARCH NEWS – Mindfulness during pregnancy improves the infant’s postnatal neurocognitive development.


Van den Heuvel, M. I., Donkers, F. C. L., Winkler, I., Otte, R. A., & Van den Bergh, B. R. H. (2015). Maternal mindfulness and anxiety during pregnancy affect infants’ neural responses to sounds. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 10(3), 453–460. http://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsu075



Maternal anxiety during pregnancy has been consistently shown to negatively affect offspring neurodevelopmental outcomes. However, little is known about the impact of positive maternal traits/states during pregnancy on the offspring. The present study was aimed at investigating the effects of the mother’s mindfulness and anxiety during pregnancy on the infant’s neurocognitive functioning at 9 months of age. Mothers reported mindfulness using the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory and anxiety using the Symptom Checklist (SCL-90) at ±20.7 weeks of gestation. Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were measured from 79 infants in an auditory oddball paradigm designed to measure auditory attention—a key aspect of early neurocognitive functioning. For the ERP responses elicited by standard sounds, higher maternal mindfulness was associated with lower N250 amplitudes (P < 0.01, η2 = 0.097), whereas higher maternal anxiety was associated with higher N250 amplitudes (P < 0.05, η2 = 0.057). Maternal mindfulness was also positively associated with the P150 amplitudes (P < 0.01, η2 = 0.130). These results suggest that infants prenatally exposed to higher levels of maternal mindfulness devote fewer attentional resources to frequently occurring irrelevant sounds. The results show that positive traits and experiences of the mother during pregnancy may also affect the unborn child. Emphasizing the beneficial effects of a positive psychological state during pregnancy may promote healthy behavior in pregnant women.



Kick Opioid Dependence with Mindfulness

Kick Opioid Dependence with Mindfulness


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“Ultimately, mindfulness drives at the root of compulsive behaviors by undermining the assumption that inner experience is intolerable and therefore requires immediate relief through substance use.” – Jennifer Talley


Substance abuse and addiction is a terrible problem. It isn’t just illicit drugs but includes many prescriptions drugs especially opioid pain relievers. The over prescription of opioid painkillers in the United States has become a major problem. The number of prescriptions for opioids (like hydrocodone and oxycodone products) have increased from around 76 million in 1991 to nearly 207 million in 2013. This creates a major problem because of the strong addictive qualities of opioids. As a result, opioid addiction has become epidemic in the United States. It is estimated that over 2 million Americans abuse or are addicted on opioid painkillers. These addictions have stark economic costs. It is estimated that the abuse of prescription opioids costs around $60 billion a year, with 46% attributable to workplace costs (e.g., lost productivity), 45% to healthcare costs (e.g., abuse treatment), and 9% to criminal justice costs.


Opioid abuse, however produces even worse consequences than those created by addiction. It is deadly. It has become so bad that drug overdose is now the leading cause of injury death, causing more deaths than motor vehicle accidents. This is a problem both of illegal drug use but even more so of abuse of legally obtained prescription drugs. Of the over 44,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States 52% were from prescription drugs. It would help if doctors were more judicious in prescribing opioids. But, there will still be a need to assist those who abuse or become addicted.


These statistics, although startling are only the tip of the iceberg. Drug use is associated with suicide, homicide, motor-vehicle injury, HIV infection, pneumonia, violence, mental illness, and hepatitis. It can render the individual ineffective at work, it tears apart families, it makes the individual dangerous both driving and not. It also reduces life expectancy by about 15-20 years from the moment of addiction. An effective treatment for addiction has been elusive. Most programs and therapies to treat addictions have poor success rates. Recent research is indicating that mindfulness and also spirituality can be quite helpful for kicking the habit. Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) was specifically developed to employ mindfulness training along with other proven methods to assist addicts in remaining off of drugs.


In today’s Research News article “Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Group Therapy Compared to the Usual Opioid Dependence Treatment.”


See below, or for full text see:


Imani and colleagues randomly assigned opioid addicts to either treatment as usual or an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) program delivered in a group setting. They found that compared to before treatment, MBRP significantly increased mindfulness and produced a significantly greater decrease in both opioid and alcohol consumption than the usual treatment alone. These are excellent results. Firstly, because the treatment could be delivered in a group format increasing efficiency and reducing costs. But, most importantly, MBRP added to the usual treatment, improved effectiveness. By combining the two, a more potent treatment program is produced.


How mindfulness helps with relapse prevention is not known. But it can be speculated that mindfulness improves emotion regulation making it easier for the addict to respond appropriately to an emotion rather than needing to self-medicate with an opioid. It is also known that mindfulness reduces the physiological and psychological responses to stress, making it easier for the addict to cope with stress and thereby reducing the need to cope by taking opioids. Regardless of the explanation it is clear that mindfulness is an important contributor to preventing relapse with opioids.


So, kick opioid dependence with mindfulness.


“The power of mindfulness is incredible. The simple meditation technique has the power to ease pain in arthritis and asthma patients, reduce anxiety and symptoms of depression, and improve heart health. It so powerful that it works better than conventional methods (medication, psychotherapy) for many of these conditions. And now, a new study finds that it can bring back happiness in people falling down the rabbit hole of opioid drug addiction.” – Anthony Rivas

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


Study Summary

Imani, S., Atef Vahid, M. K., Gharraee, B., Noroozi, A., Habibi, M., & Bowen, S. (2015). Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Group Therapy Compared to the Usual Opioid Dependence Treatment. Iranian Journal of Psychiatry, 10(3), 175–184.



Objective: This study investigated the effectiveness of mindfulness-based group therapy (MBGT) compared to the usual opioid dependence treatment (TAU).Thirty outpatients meeting the DSM-IV-TR criteria for opioid dependence from Iranian National Center for Addiction Studies (INCAS) were randomly assigned into experimental (Mindfulness-Based Group Therapy) and control groups (the Usual Treatment).The experimental group undertook eight weeks of intervention, but the control group received the usual treatment according to the INCAS program.

Methods: The Five Factor Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) and the Addiction Sevier Index (ASI) were administered at pre-treatment and post-treatment assessment periods. Thirteen patients from the experimental group and 15 from the control group completed post-test assessments.

Results: The results of MANCOVA revealed an increase in mean scores in observing, describing, acting with awareness, non-judging, non-reacting, and decrease in mean scores of alcohol and opium in MBGT patient group.

Conclusion: The effectiveness of MBGT, compared to the usual treatment, was discussed in this paper as a selective protocol in the health care setting for substance use disorders.