Improve Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Symptoms with Loving Kindness Meditation

Improve Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Symptoms with Loving Kindness Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“You probably know that symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often include anxiety, unwanted memories, anger and avoidance. But did you know that meditation may be able to help? Meditative practices have been linked to decreases in hyperarousal, depression and insomnia.” – Jill Bormann

 

Experiencing trauma is quite common. It has been estimated that 60% of men and 50% of women will experience a significant traumatic event during their lifetime. But only a fraction will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But this still results in a frightening number of people with 7%-8% of the population developing PTSD at some point in their life. For military personnel, it’s much more likely for PTSD to develop with about 11%-20% of those who have served in a war zone developing PTSD.

 

PTSD involves a number of troubling symptoms including reliving the event with the same fear and horror in nightmares or with a flashback. PTSD sufferers avoid situations that remind them of the event this may include crowds, driving, movies, etc. and may avoid seeking help because it keeps them from having to think or talk about the event. They often experience negative changes in beliefs and feelings including difficulty experiencing positive or loving feelings toward other people, avoiding relationships, memory difficulties, or see the world as dangerous and no one can be trusted. Sufferers may feel hyperarousal, feeling keyed up and jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. They may experience sudden anger or irritability, may have a hard time sleeping or concentrating, may be startled by a loud noise or surprise.

 

Obviously, these are troubling symptoms that need to be addressed. There are a number of therapies that have been developed to treat PTSD. One of which, mindfulness training has been found to be particularly effective.  Increasing self-compassion is important for improvement in PTSD symptoms. Mindfulness has been shown to increase self-compassion.  In Loving Kindness Meditation the individual systematically pictures different individuals from self, to close friends, to enemies and wishes them happiness, well-being, safety, peace, and ease of well-being. So, Loving Kindness Meditation may be an effective treatment for the symptoms of PTSD.

 

In today’s Research News article “Loving-Kindness Meditation vs Cognitive Processing Therapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Among Veterans: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8052593/ ) Kearney and colleagues recruited military veterans who were diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and randomly assigned them to receive 2 weekly 90-minute group sessions of either Loving Kindness Meditation or Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT). CPT “combines cognitive restructuring with emotional processing of trauma-related content”. They were measured before and after treatment and 3 and 6 months later for PTSD symptom severity and depression.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline both groups had significant but modest reductions in PTSD symptom severity and depression that were maintained 6 months after the end of treatment. The therapy groups did not differ in PTSD symptom severity but the group that practiced Loving Kindness Meditation had significantly lower level of depression after treatment and 6 months later.

 

These are interesting findings that suggest that both Loving Kindness Meditation and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) produce modest relief of the symptoms of PTSD and depression in military veterans. But Loving Kindness Meditation produces better outcomes in relieving depression. Loving Kindness Meditation is known to improve mindfulness and compassion for the self and others, and this appears to help relieve the psychological consequences of trauma. This suggests that trauma, to some extent, produces a degree of self-blame which may be responsible for some of the symptoms. But these therapies produce only modest improvements suggesting that Loving Kindness Meditation is not a cure but may be useful as a component in the treatment of PTSD.

 

So, improve Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms with Loving Kindness Meditation.

 

veteran participants self-reported a significant decrease in their PTSD symptoms and a high degree of satisfaction with the compassion meditation program.” – Laura McArdle

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Kearney, D. J., Malte, C. A., Storms, M., & Simpson, T. L. (2021). Loving-Kindness Meditation vs Cognitive Processing Therapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Among Veterans: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA network open, 4(4), e216604. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.6604

 

Question

Is group loving-kindness meditation noninferior to group cognitive processing therapy for treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among veterans?

Findings

In this randomized clinical trial, 184 veterans with PTSD were assigned to group loving-kindness meditation or group cognitive processing therapy; the differences in the decrease from baseline to 6-month follow-up for measures of PTSD and depression were very similar and within predefined margins considered not meaningfully different. Attendance was better for loving-kindness meditation.

Meaning

This study adds to the evidence indicating that interventions without a specific focus on trauma, including meditation-based interventions, can yield results similar to trauma-focused therapies.

Importance

Additional options are needed for treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among veterans.

Objective

To determine whether group loving-kindness meditation is noninferior to group cognitive processing therapy for treatment of PTSD.

Design, Setting, and Participants

This randomized clinical noninferiority trial assessed PTSD and depression at baseline, posttreatment, and 3- and 6-month follow-up. Veterans were recruited from September 24, 2014, to February 5, 2018, from a large Veternas Affairs medical center in Seattle, Washington. A total of 184 veteran volunteers who met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth Edition) criteria for PTSD were randomized. Data collection was completed November 28, 2018, and data analyses were conducted from December 10, 2018, to November 5, 2019.

Interventions

Each intervention comprised 12 weekly 90-minute group sessions. Loving-kindness meditation (n = 91) involves silent repetition of phrases intended to elicit feelings of kindness for oneself and others. Cognitive processing therapy (n = 93) combines cognitive restructuring with emotional processing of trauma-related content.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Co–primary outcomes were change in PTSD and depression scores over 6-month follow-up, assessed by the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS-5; range, 0-80; higher is worse) and Patient-Reported Outcome Measurement Information System (PROMIS; reported as standardized T-score with mean [SD] of 50 [10] points; higher is worse) depression measures. Noninferiority margins were 5 points on the CAPS-5 and 4 points on the PROMIS depression measure.

Results

Among the 184 veterans (mean [SD] age, 57.1 [13.1] years; 153 men [83.2%]; 107 White participants [58.2%]) included in the study, 91 (49.5%) were randomized to the loving-kindness group, and 93 (50.5%) were randomized to the cognitive processing group. The mean (SD) baseline CAPS-5 score was 35.5 (11.8) and mean (SD) PROMIS depression score was 60.9 (7.9). A total of 121 veterans (66%) completed 6-month follow-up. At 6 months posttreatment, mean CAPS-5 scores were 28.02 (95% CI, 24.72-31.32) for cognitive processing therapy and 25.92 (95% CI, 22.62-29.23) for loving-kindness meditation (difference, 2.09; 95% CI, −2.59 to 6.78), and mean PROMIS depression scores were 61.22 (95% CI, 59.21-63.23) for cognitive processing therapy and 58.88 (95% CI, 56.86-60.91) for loving-kindness meditation (difference, 2.34; 95% CI, −0.52 to 5.19). In superiority analyses, there were no significant between-group differences in CAPS-5 scores, whereas for PROMIS depression scores, greater reductions were found for loving-kindness meditation vs cognitive processing therapy (for patients attending ≥6 visits, ≥4-point improvement was noted in 24 [39.3%] veterans receiving loving-kindness meditation vs 9 (18.0%) receiving cognitive processing therapy; P = .03).

Conclusions and Relevance

Among veterans with PTSD, loving-kindness meditation resulted in reductions in PTSD symptoms that were noninferior to group cognitive processing therapy. For both interventions, the magnitude of improvement in PTSD symptoms was modest. Change over time in depressive symptoms was greater for loving-kindness meditation than for cognitive processing therapy.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8052593/

 

Increase Positive Psychological States with Mindfulness

Increase Positive Psychological States with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

state mindfulness was associated with positive experiences across the three outcomes: higher levels of autonomy, more intense and frequent pleasant affect, and less intense and less frequent unpleasant affect.” – Kirk Warren Brown

 

The primary focus of the majority of research on mindfulness has been on its ability to treat negative emotional states such as anxiety, depression, and perceived stress. As such, it has been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. But mindfulness training has also been shown to improve health and well-being in healthy individuals. Indeed, it is possible that the effectiveness of mindfulness training in relieving mental and physical illness may result from its ability to improve positive psychological states. There is accumulating research. So, it makes sense to review and summarize what has been learned

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based positive psychology interventions: a systematic review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8344333/ ) Allen and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the effects of mindfulness-based interventions on positive psychological states. They identified 22 published research studies.

 

They report that the published research found that mindfulness-based interventions significantly increased eudaimonia, well-being, of children, adults, and couples. Mindfulness-based interventions were also found to significantly enhance hedonia, positive emotions (amusement, awe, contentment, joy, gratitude, hope, interest, love, and pride, collectively) and quality of life. They also report that mindfulness training produces significant increases in prosocial behavior, social competence, emotion regulation, flexibility, academic performance, delay of gratification, coping behavior, relaxation, self-compassion, and happiness.

 

Hence, the research published to date supports the conclusion that mindfulness-based interventions improve positive psychological states. So, these interventions are not only useful for the relief of negative psychological states in people who are suffering but can also enhance the psychological well-being of everyone.

 

So, increase positive psychological states with mindfulness.

 

 

mindfulness is a fundamental part of a broad program of psycho-spiritual development, aiming to help people reach ‘enlightenment’. . .  it may be conceived of as the superlative state of happiness, equanimity and freedom that a human being is capable of experiencing.” – Itai Ivtzan

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Allen, J. G., Romate, J., & Rajkumar, E. (2021). Mindfulness-based positive psychology interventions: a systematic review. BMC psychology, 9(1), 116. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40359-021-00618-2

 

Abstract

Background

There are hundreds of mindfulness-based interventions in the form of structured and unstructured therapies, trainings, and meditation programs, mostly utilized in a clinical rather than a well-being perspective. The number of empirical studies on positive potentials of mindfulness is comparatively less, and their known status in academia is ambiguous. Hence, the current paper aimed to review the studies where mindfulness-based interventions had integrated positive psychology variables, in order to produce positive functioning.

Methods

Data were obtained from the databases of PubMed, Scopus, and PsycNet and manual search in Google Scholar. From the 3831 articles, irrelevant or inaccessible studies were eliminated, reducing the number of final articles chosen for review to 21. Interventions that contribute to enhancement of eudaimonia, hedonia, and other positive variables are discussed.

Results

Findings include the potential positive qualities of MBIs in producing specific positive outcomes within limited circumstances, and ascendancy of hedonia and other positive variables over eudaimonic enhancement.

Conclusion

In conclusion, exigency of modifications in the existing MBIs to bring about exclusively positive outcomes was identified, and observed the necessity of novel interventions for eudaimonic enhancement and elevation of hedonia in a comprehensive manner.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8344333/

Improve Doctors’ Empathy and Communication Skills with Loving-Kindness Meditation

Improve Doctors’ Empathy and Communication Skills with Loving-Kindness Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Medicine and meditation, etymologically, come from the same root: to consider, advise, reflect, to take appropriate measures,” – Ronald Epstein

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations, like healthcare, the stress can produce fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy. This not only affects the healthcare providers personally, but also the patients, as it produces a loss of empathy and compassion.

 

Loving Kindness Meditation is designed to develop kindness and compassion to oneself and others. The individual systematically pictures different individuals from self, to close friends, to enemies and wishes them happiness, well-being, safety, peace, and ease of well-being. It is possible that Loving Kindness Meditation can help to reverse the effects of stress on medical providers and increase their levels of empathy and compassion for their patients and improve their communications with their patients.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Loving-Kindness Meditation on Doctors’ Mindfulness, Empathy, and Communication Skills.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8069630/ ) Chen and colleagues recruited doctors at a hospital in China who had practiced for at least 3 years and randomly assigned them to receive either a 90-minute Loving Kindness Meditation practice 3 times per week for 8 weeks or to be in a wait-list control condition. They were measured before and after training for mindfulness, empathy, and communication skills.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group, the doctors who received Loving Kindness Meditation had significant increases in empathy and communications skills, but not mindfulness. These results replicate previous findings that Loving Kindness Meditation  produces significant improvements in empathy.

 

This study used a passive control condition (wait-list) which makes the interpretation of results subject to possible confounding explanations such as placebo effects, experimenter bias, Hawthorne effects, etc. Future studies should include an active control condition, e.g. exercise. Nevertheless, the results suggest that practicing Loving Kindness Meditation may improve a physicians ability to understand the emotions of their patients and be better able to communicate with them. This would make them much better doctors and improve patient care and clinical outcomes. It remains for future research to examine if this outcome occurs in actual clinical practice.

 

So, improve doctors’ empathy and communication skills with Loving-Kindness Meditation.

 

Clear communication from doctors may have a healing effect. Studies on pain perception find that, similar to the placebo effect, thoughtfully walking a patient through a procedure that is being administered, or one that will occur in the future, can make them less anxious and more optimistic, leading to less pain.” – Deborah Wip

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Chen, H., Liu, C., Cao, X., Hong, B., Huang, D. H., Liu, C. Y., & Chiou, W. K. (2021). Effects of Loving-Kindness Meditation on Doctors’ Mindfulness, Empathy, and Communication Skills. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(8), 4033. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18084033

 

Abstract

Background: In the context of increasing doctor–patient tensions in China, the objective of this study was to explore and examine the effects of loving-kindness meditation (LKM) on doctors’ mindfulness, empathy, and communication skills. Methods: A total of 106 doctors were recruited from a hospital in China, and randomly divided into an LKM training group (n = 53) and waiting control group (n = 53). The LKM training group received 8 weeks of LKM training intervention, whereas the control group received no intervention. Three major variables (mindfulness, empathy, and communication skills) were measured before (pre-test) and after (post-test) the LKM training intervention. Results: The empathy and communication skills of the LKM group were significantly improved compared with those of the control group, but the level of mindfulness did not significantly change. Conclusions: The results suggested that LKM may contribute to improving physicians’ empathy and communication skills. However, the mechanisms that underlie the effects of the LKM on mindfulness, empathy, and communication skills and other psychological constructs needs further elucidation.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8069630/

 

wkchiu@mail.cgu.edu.tw

 

Different Meditation Styles Affect the Medial Frontal Brain Network Differently

Different Meditation Styles Affect the Medial Frontal Brain Network Differently

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“meditation has a variety of neurological benefits, from changes in brain volume to decreasing activity in parts of the brain involved with stress.” – Ashley Welch

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. How exactly mindfulness practices produce their benefits is unknown. But it is known that meditation practice alters brain activity.

 

There are a number of different types of meditation. Classically they’ve been characterized on a continuum with the degree and type of attentional focus. In focused attention meditation, the individual practices paying attention to a single meditation object, usually the breath. In open monitoring meditation, the individual opens up awareness to everything that’s being experienced including thoughts regardless of its origin. In Loving Kindness Meditation the individual

systematically pictures different individuals from self, to close friends, to enemies and wishes them happiness, well-being, safety, peace, and ease of well-being. It is suspected but not known that different forms of meditation practice can produce different changes in brain activity.

 

One way is to measure changes in the electroencephalogram (EEG), the rhythmic electrical activity that can be recorded from the scalp. In today’s Research News article “Attentional and cognitive monitoring brain networks in long-term meditators depend on meditation states and expertise.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7921394/ )  Yordanova and colleagues recruited highly experienced meditators who practiced focused attention meditation, open monitoring meditation, and Loving Kindness Meditation in a balanced way. They had their electroencephalograms (EEG) recorded while at rest and while performing the 3 meditation types for 3 minutes each.

 

They found that the Frontal-Parietal network, that is thought to underlie attentional mechanisms did not differ between meditation types. But there was increased connectivity between the right hemisphere frontal and left hemisphere parietal areas. On the other hand, the Medial Frontal network that is thought to underlie cognitive control and monitoring mechanisms had different activity patterns with the different meditation types. During focused attention meditation was increased synchronization in the parietal regions whereas during Loving Kindness Meditation it increased in the right frontal regions.

 

These are interesting findings that demonstrate that highly experienced meditators have distinct changes in the activity of their brains during meditation regardless of type. But in areas associated with cognitive monitoring mechanisms, difference appear. During focused attention meditation and Loving Kindness Meditation there are different patterns of activity. To some extent this is not surprising in that the two meditation types involve specific focuses. But Loving Kindness Meditation is emotionally focused while focused attention meditation is breath sensation focused and these require different kinds of cognitive control. These differences may underlie the different medial frontal activities.

 

It should be noted that these patterns are quite different from those of inexperienced meditators and that the greater the amount of practice the greater the neural activations. It would be expected that highly experienced meditators would have greater focus and much less mind wandering during meditation than inexperience meditators and this would produce different patterns of neural activation.

 

So, different meditation styles affect the medial frontal brain network differently.

 

Meditation benefits for the brain are abundant. Meditating strengthens neural connections and can literally change the configuration of these networks. With regular practice, you can cultivate a more resilient neurobiology.” – Ask the Scientists

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Yordanova, J., Kolev, V., Nicolardi, V., Simione, L., Mauro, F., Garberi, P., Raffone, A., & Malinowski, P. (2021). Attentional and cognitive monitoring brain networks in long-term meditators depend on meditation states and expertise. Scientific reports, 11(1), 4909. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-84325-3

 

Abstract

Meditation practice is suggested to engage training of cognitive control systems in the brain. To evaluate the functional involvement of attentional and cognitive monitoring processes during meditation, the present study analysed the electroencephalographic synchronization of fronto-parietal (FP) and medial-frontal (MF) brain networks in highly experienced meditators during different meditation states (focused attention, open monitoring and loving kindness meditation). The aim was to assess whether and how the connectivity patterns of FP and MF networks are modulated by meditation style and expertise. Compared to novice meditators, (1) highly experienced meditators exhibited a strong theta synchronization of both FP and MF networks in left parietal regions in all mediation styles, and (2) only the connectivity of lateralized beta MF networks differentiated meditation styles. The connectivity of intra-hemispheric theta FP networks depended non-linearly on meditation expertise, with opposite expertise-dependent patterns found in the left and the right hemisphere. In contrast, inter-hemispheric FP connectivity in faster frequency bands (fast alpha and beta) increased linearly as a function of expertise. The results confirm that executive control systems play a major role in maintaining states of meditation. The distinctive lateralized involvement of FP and MF networks appears to represent a major functional mechanism that supports both generic and style-specific meditation states. The observed expertise-dependent effects suggest that functional plasticity within executive control networks may underpin the emergence of unique meditation states in expert meditators.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7921394/

 

Improve Attention with Short-Term Loving Kindness Meditation

Improve Attention with Short-Term Loving Kindness Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“meditation practice is associated with enduring improvements in sustained attention,” – Anthony Zanesco

 

There has accumulated a large amount of research demonstrating that mindfulness has significant benefits for psychological, physiological, and spiritual wellbeing. It even improves high level thinking known as executive function and emotion regulation and compassion. One of the primary effects of mindfulness training is an improvement in the ability to pay attention to the task at hand and ignore interfering stimuli. This is an important consequence of mindfulness training and produces improvements in thinking, reasoning, and creativity. The importance of heightened attentional ability to the individual’s ability to navigate the demands of complex modern life cannot be overstated. It helps in school, at work, in relationships, or simply driving a car.

 

One understudied meditation technique is Loving Kindness Meditation. It is designed to develop kindness and compassion to oneself and others. The individual systematically pictures different individuals from self, to close friends, to enemies and wishes them happiness, well-being, safety, peace, and ease of well-being. Although Loving Kindness Meditation has been practiced for centuries, it has received very little scientific research attention. As important as attention is, it’s surprising that little is known about the short-term effects of Loving Kindness Meditation on attention.

 

In today’s Research News article “Short-Term Effects of Meditation on Sustained Attention as Measured by fNIRS.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7564228/ ) Izzetoglu and colleagues recruited healthy non-meditating college students. During the one session study the participants had their blood pressure and heart rate monitored and functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) sensors placed on their foreheads. “fNIRS is an optics-based brain imaging modality which can measure relative changes in oxygenated (HbO2) and deoxygenated (Hb) hemoglobin using light in the near infrared range (650–950 nm)”. It is thought to measure blood flow from the prefrontal cortex which is involved in high level thinking.

 

The participants were then measured for sustained attention by performing in order the Stroop Color task, the Stroop word task, and then the Stroop Color Word task. These measurements were followed by a guided 22-minute Loving Kindness Meditation practice. After meditation the three sustained attention (Stroop) tasks were repeated. In the color Stroop test names of colors were presented in colors different from the word, e.g. the word RED appears in a blue color. The participants are asked to report the word (naming) or the color of the word ignoring the meaning of the word itself (inhibition) or switch back and forth (Executive function).

 

They found that in comparison to per-meditation, after Loving Kindness Meditation practice there was a significant increase in the speed of responding on the Stroop tasks and reduction in pulse pressure and systolic blood pressure. The fNIRS measure during the Stroop task suggested that after meditation there was a significant increase in blood flow to the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex and area thought to be involved in attentional focus.

 

The study was very short term and there was no control comparison group. So, the results must be interpreted carefully. Nevertheless, they suggest that the immediate effects of Loving Kindness Meditation practice is to improve attentional focus reflected in behavioral performance, physiological relaxation, and brain activity. These short term effects of meditation are compatible with the observed long term effects of Loving Kindness Meditation. This suggests that the long-term effects of the meditation on the physiology and behavior occur due to an accumulation of short-term impacts.

 

So, improve attention with short-term Loving Kindness Meditation.

 

meditation training helps people do better at focusing for a long time on a task that requires them to distinguish small differences between things they see.” – Science Daily

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

 

Study Summary

 

Izzetoglu, M., Shewokis, P. A., Tsai, K., Dantoin, P., Sparango, K., & Min, K. (2020). Short-Term Effects of Meditation on Sustained Attention as Measured by fNIRS. Brain sciences, 10(9), 608. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10090608

 

Abstract

Cognitive abilities such as attention, memory, processing time, perception, and reasoning can be augmented using some type of intervention. Within the broad range of conventional and unconventional intervention methods used in cognitive enhancement, meditation is one of those that is safe, widely practiced by many since ancient times, and has been shown to reduce stress and improve psychological health and cognitive functioning. Various neuroimaging studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) have shown functional and structural changes due to meditation in different types of meditation practices and on various groups of meditators. Recently, a few studies on meditation have used functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to study the effects of meditation on cerebral hemodynamics. In this study, we examined the short-term effects of loving-kindness (LK) meditation on sustained attention using behavioral performance measures, physiological outcomes, and cognitive activity as measured by fNIRS in first-time meditators during Stroop color word task (SCWT) performance. Our results indicated that behavioral outcomes, assessed mainly on response time (RT) during SCWT performance, showed a significant decrease after meditation. As expected, physiological measures, primarily pulse pressure (PP) measured after meditation dropped significantly as compared to the before meditation measurement. For the hemodynamic measures of oxygenated-hemoglobin (HbO2), deoxygenated-hemoglobin (Hb), and total-hemoglobin (HbT), our findings show significant differences in SCWT performance before and after meditation. Our results suggest that LK meditation can result in improvements in cognitive, physiological, and behavioral outcomes of first-time meditators after a short-term session.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7564228/

 

Reduce College Students Self-Criticism with Mindful Lovingkindness Training

Reduce College Students Self-Criticism with Mindful Lovingkindness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“What’s so amazing about mindfulness practice is we can use mindfulness to be aware when we have those self-critical voices, and we can label that voice as “judging”. We can notice when we have those judging voices because we have a mindfulness practice that allows us to have quite a bit more self-awareness, more ability to regulate emotions, and all of the positive things that come with the mindfulness practice.“ – Diana Winston

 

In the modern world education is a key for success. Where a high school education was sufficient in previous generations, a college degree is now required to succeed in the new knowledge-based economies. There is a lot of pressure on students to excel so that they can get the best jobs after graduation. This stress might in fact be counterproductive as the increased pressure can actually lead to stress and anxiety which can impede the student’s physical and mental health, well-being, and school performance. This is particularly true in very competitive Asian countries like Korea. This can lead to extreme self-criticism where the individual is never happy with themselves producing great unhappiness and psychological distress.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological reactions to stress and resilience in the face of stress. It has also been found to promote the well-being of college students. Mindfulness has been found to improve self-esteem.  One understudied meditation technique is Loving Kindness Meditation. It is designed to develop kindness and compassion to oneself and others. The individual systematically pictures different individuals from self, to close friends, to enemies and wishes them happiness, well-being, safety, peace, and ease of well-being. Although Loving Kindness Meditation has been practiced for centuries, it has received very little scientific research attention. But it may be effective in counteracting the effects of stress and self-criticism.

 

In today’s Research News article “Psychological and Physiological Effects of the Mindful Lovingkindness Compassion Program on Highly Self-Critical University Students in South Korea.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.585743/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1463957_69_Psycho_20201022_arts_A ) Noh and colleagues recruited healthy Korean college students who were high in self-criticism and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive a Mindful Lovingkindness Compassion program. The training consisted of 8 2-hour sessions over 6 weeks of mindfulness meditation and Loving Kindness Meditation. They were measured before and after training and one and three months later for self-criticism, self-reassurance, mindfulness, compassion, shame, anxiety, depression, fears of compassion, satisfaction with life, and heart rate variability.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group, the Mindful Lovingkindness Compassion group had significantly higher self-reassurance, mindfulness, compassion, and satisfaction with life, and significantly lower self-criticism, shame, anxiety, depression, and fears of compassion. These improvements continued to be present 1 and 3 months after the completion of training. In addition, the Mindful Lovingkindness Compassion group had significantly higher heart rate variability.

 

The interpretation of these results has to be tempered with the knowledge that the comparison, control, condition was passive. This opens the study up to a number of potential confoundings. Nevertheless, the results are similar to those of prior research that found that mindfulness training produces higher self-reassurance, compassion, and satisfaction with life, and lower self-criticism, shame, anxiety, and depression. Hence, the current study suggests that Mindful Lovingkindness Compassion training produces improved psychological health in highly self-critical college students. In addition, the increased heart rate variability observed suggests that the trained students had greater physiological relaxation, probably indicating a great resistance to the effects of stress.

 

This is important for the well-being of college students. They are under great pressure to perform especially in Asian countries like Korea. Combining that with high levels of self-criticism is a formula for psychological and physical problems. The kind of mindfulness and loving kindness training employed here appears to be able to markedly counteract the deleterious effects of these forces and produce greater relaxation and overall well-being.

 

So, reduce college students’ self-criticism with Mindful Lovingkindness training.

 

Self-criticism is an unhelpful habit that can sometimes be destructive and cause emotional ill-health. . . Through practicing mindfulness and self-compassion you can loosen up old self-critical habits that may have been present from childhood and develop a kinder, more appreciative way of being with yourself.” – Linda Hall

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Noh S and Cho H (2020) Psychological and Physiological Effects of the Mindful Lovingkindness Compassion Program on Highly Self-Critical University Students in South Korea. Front. Psychol. 11:585743. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.585743

 

Objectives: Self-critical behavior is especially relevant for university students who face academic and non-academic stressors, leading to negative outcomes such as mental distress and psychopathologies. To address this behavior, mindfulness and compassion are important factors to decrease self-criticism and ensure positive outcomes. This study examined the psychological and physiological effects of an intervention, the Mindful Lovingkindness Compassion Program (MLCP), on highly self-critical university students in South Korea.

Methods: Thirty-eight university students with a high level of self-criticism were assigned to an MLCP group (n = 18) or waitlist (WL) group (n = 20). Self-report measures of self-criticism, self-reassurance, psychological distress, and other mental health variables were completed, and the physiological measure of heart rate variability (HRV) was conducted before and after the intervention with both groups. In addition, 1- and 3-month follow-up assessments were conducted using self-report measurements.

Results: Compared to the WL group, participants in the MLCP group experienced significantly greater reductions in self-criticism and psychological distress, and a greater increase in self-reassurance, mental health, and HRV. The improvements in the self-report measures were maintained when assessed 1 and 3 months later.

Conclusions: MLCP could be a promising intervention for alleviating self-criticism and increasing self-reassurance among self-critical individuals.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.585743/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1463957_69_Psycho_20201022_arts_A

Increase Well-Being and Spirituality with Loving Kindness Meditation

Increase Well-Being and Spirituality with Loving Kindness Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Loving-kindness refers to a state of unconditional kindness and compassion for all beings.  . . Some studies suggest you can boost your empathy and feelings of connection and reduce your implicit bias, anger, depression and anxiety.” – Heart.org

 

Meditation training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. As a result, meditation training has been called the third wave of therapies. One problem with understanding meditation effects is that there are, a wide variety of meditation techniques and it is not known which work best for improving different conditions. One understudied meditation technique is Loving Kindness Meditation. It is designed to develop kindness and compassion to oneself and others. The individual systematically pictures different individuals from self, to close friends, to enemies and wishes them happiness, well-being, safety, peace, and ease of well-being. Although Loving Kindness Meditation has been practiced for centuries, it has received very little scientific research attention.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effect of Loving-Kindness Meditation on Flight Attendants’ Spirituality, Mindfulness and Subjective Well-Being.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7349275/) Liu and colleagues recruited flight attendants who were 21-40 years old, physically and psychologically healthy, and 78% female and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive 5 90-minute sessions of  Loving Kindness Meditation training over 8 weeks. They were also encouraged to practice at home and at work. They were measured before and after training for mindfulness, spirituality including meaning, trust, acceptance, caring for others, connection with nature, transcendence, and spiritual activity, and subjective well-being which is a composite of scores on satisfaction with life, and positive and negative emotions.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group, the Loving Kindness Meditation produced a significantly higher level of spirituality and a large (30%) significant increase in subjective well-being. Hence, the Loving Kindness Meditation improves with psychological and spiritual well-being of the practitioners. It is interesting that this happened in young and psychologically healthy individuals. They would be expected to be relatively high in subjective well-being to start with. So, producing a further large increase is remarkable.

 

So, increase well-being and spirituality with Loving Kindness Meditation.

 

“To send loving-kindness does not mean that we approve or condone all actions, it means that we can see clearly actions that are incorrect or unskillful and still not lose the connection.” – Sharon Salzberg

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Liu, C., Chen, H., Liu, C. Y., Lin, R. T., & Chiou, W. K. (2020). The Effect of Loving-Kindness Meditation on Flight Attendants’ Spirituality, Mindfulness and Subjective Well-Being. Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland), 8(2), 174. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare8020174

 

Abstract

Background: This study investigated: (1) the effects of the loving-kindness meditation (LKM) on mindfulness, subjective well-being (SWB), and spirituality and (2) the relationships between mindfulness, spirituality, and SWB. Methods: 98 flight attendants from Xiamen Airlines in China were recruited and randomly assigned to the LKM training group (n = 49) or the waiting control group (n = 49). The LKM training group underwent an 8-week LKM training intervention, and the control group did not undergo intervention. The three main variables (SWB, mindfulness, and spirituality) were measured both before (pre-test) and after (post-test) the LKM training intervention. Results: In the experimental group, SWB and spirituality increased significantly. In the control group, no significant differences were observed for the three variables between the pre-test and post-test. Conclusions: Our results indicated that LKM may help to improve SWB and spirituality. However, the mechanisms which underlie the effects of the LKM on mindfulness, spirituality, SWB, and other psychological constructs require further elucidation.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7349275/

 

Brief Guided Meditations Improve Empathy

Brief Guided Meditations Improve Empathy

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Empathy is the understanding and sharing of someone else’s feelings. It’s not to be confused with compassion, which is a feeling of concern for others that we feel we need to act on. Empathy goes that step further; by putting yourself in the place of someone else, you are appreciating how they feel, even if they’re experiencing something you’ve never encountered.” – Mindfulness Works

 

Humans are social animals. This is a great asset for the species as the effort of the individual is amplified by cooperation. In primitive times, this cooperation was essential for survival. But in modern times it is also essential, not for survival but rather for making a living and for the happiness of the individual. Mindfulness has been found to increase prosocial emotions such as compassion, and empathy and prosocial behaviors such as altruism.

 

It is not clear, however, exactly how meditation training improves empathy. Is it due to increased mindfulness or perhaps by the suggestion embedded in the measurements to be mindful of others. In today’s Research News article “How does brief guided mindfulness meditation enhance empathic concern in novice meditators?: A pilot test of the suggestion hypothesis vs. the mindfulness hypothesis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7352088/) Miyahara and colleagues performed 2 studies of the effects of meditation on empathy.

 

In study 1 they recruited meditation naïve college students and randomly assigned them to listen to and practice brief (8 minute) recorded guided meditations of either breath following and body scan or compassion meditation. They were measured before and after the meditation for mindfulness, compassionate love, helping intention and empathy. They found that both meditations significantly increased all of the measures with no significant differences between meditation types. Study 2 was very similar to study 1 except there we no recorded guided meditations. They found that there were no significant changes in any of the measures from the first to the second measurement.

 

These results demonstrate that brief mindfulness meditations, regardless of whether they are breath and body meditations or compassion meditation produce increases in empathy and prosocial intentions in college students. The effects were not due to repeated measures. Hence, the suggestions for empathy and prosocial intentions embedded in the measurement instruments were not responsible for the changes, thus eliminating this alternative explanation for the effects. These results, then, suggest that it is improvements in mindfulness that result from brief meditation that are responsible for increased empathy.

 

So, brief guided meditations improve empathy.

 

Mindfulness and empathy are linked through their shared relationship with stress. While mindfulness decreases stress, stress weakens empathy.” – Matthew Brensilver

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Miyahara, M., Wilson, R., Pocock, T., Kano, T., & Fukuhara, H. (2020). How does brief guided mindfulness meditation enhance empathic concern in novice meditators?: A pilot test of the suggestion hypothesis vs. the mindfulness hypothesis. Current Psychology (New Brunswick, N.j.), 1–12. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-020-00881-3

 

Abstract

Despite the widespread popularity of mindfulness meditation for its various benefits, the mechanism underlying the meditation process has rarely been explored. Here, we present two preliminary studies designed to test alternative hypotheses: whether the effect of brief guided mindfulness meditation on empathic concern arises from verbal suggestion (suggestion hypothesis) or as a byproduct of an induced mindfulness state (mindfulness hypothesis). Study 1 was a pilot randomized control trial of sitting (breath-and-body) meditation vs. compassion meditation that provided preliminary support for the mindfulness hypothesis. Study 2 was set up to rule out the possibility that the meditation effects observed in Study 1 were the effects of repeated measures. An inactive control group of participants underwent the repeated measures of empathic concern with no meditation in between. The pre-post comparison demonstrated no significant changes in the measures. Thus, the results of two studies supported the mindfulness hypothesis. Limitations of the present study and future research directions are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7352088/

 

People Select Mindfulness Training Techniques Based Upon Their Personal Characteristics

People Select Mindfulness Training Techniques Based Upon Their Personal Characteristics

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Meditation is a simple strategy that can help obtain better health and a happier life. It takes time to master, as does any other skill. If a person sticks with it and is willing to experiment with the different methods, they are more likely to discover a meditation style that suits them.” – Medical News Today

 

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

 

Four types of meditation are the most commonly used practices for research purposes. In body scan meditation, the individual focuses on the feelings and sensations of specific parts of the body, systematically moving attention from one area to another. Loving kindness meditation is designed to develop kindness and compassion to oneself and others. The individual systematically pictures different individuals from self, to close friends, to enemies and wishes them happiness, well-being, safety, peace, and ease of well-being. In focused attention meditation, the individual practices paying attention to a single meditation object, learns to filter out distracting stimuli, including thoughts, and learns to stay focused on the present moment, filtering out thoughts centered around the past or future. On the other hand, in open monitoring meditation, the individual opens up awareness to everything that’s being experienced regardless of its origin. These include bodily sensations, external stimuli, and even thoughts. The meditator just observes these stimuli and lets them arise, and fall away without paying them any further attention.

 

There is little understanding as to why an individual chooses one meditation technique over another. In today’s Research News article “Predicting Individual Preferences in Mindfulness Techniques Using Personality Traits.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01163/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1365539_69_Psycho_20200630_arts_A),  Tang and Braver examine the characteristics of individuals who choose either body scan meditationloving kindness meditationfocused attention meditation, or open monitoring meditation.

 

They recruited adults online who did not practice mindfulness or yoga and presented them with 5 daily recorded sessions. In the first 45-minute session the participants completed measures of mindfulness, big 5 personality traits, self-compassion, interpersonal reactivity, perceived stress, sensory processing sensitivity, and attentional control and absorption. They were also provided an introduction to meditation techniques with descriptions of all 4 techniques. On subsequent days they were directed by recorded instructions to practice for 15-20 minutes either body scan meditationloving kindness meditationfocused attention meditation, or open monitoring meditation. The order of the 4 practices was randomized for each participant. After each session they were asked questions regarding their content to ensure that they performed the practices. After completing all sessions, the participants were asked to rank them according to their preferences.

 

They found that all of the meditation techniques were about equally distributed in the preferences of the participants. There were no significant predictors of preferences for focused attention meditation or body scan meditation, but there were significant predictors of preferences for loving kindness meditation and open monitoring meditation. Female participants and participants who were high in empathy were significantly more likely to prefer loving kindness meditation. Participants who were high in the mindfulness facets of non-judging and non-reacting were significantly more likely to prefer open monitoring meditation.

 

These results make sense. Empathetic people, particularly women, are more sensitive to the feelings of others and so they would find meditating on those feelings, loving kindness meditation, more attractive. Open monitoring meditation. involves simply observing whatever is transpiring without judgement and reaction. So, it makes sense that people who were high in in the mindfulness facets of non-judging and non-reacting would find this form of meditation more attractive.

 

So, people select mindfulness training techniques based upon their personal characteristics.

 

“In the end, the best meditation technique and the one that will help you gain the most positive benefits is one you can stick to.” – Elizabeth Scott

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Tang R and Braver TS (2020) Predicting Individual Preferences in Mindfulness Techniques Using Personality Traits. Front. Psychol. 11:1163. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01163

 

The growing popularity of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) has prompted exciting scientific research investigating their beneficial effects on well-being and health. Most mindfulness programs are provided as multi-faceted packages encompassing a set of different mindfulness techniques, each with distinct focus and mechanisms. However, this approach overlooks potential individual differences, which may arise in response to practicing various mindfulness techniques. The present study investigated preferences for four prototypical mindfulness techniques [focused attention (FA), open monitoring (OM), loving-kindness (LK), and body scan (BS)] and identified factors that may contribute to individual differences in these preferences. Participants without prior mindfulness experiences were exposed to each technique through audio-guided instructions and were asked to rank their preferences at the end of all practices. Results indicated that preferences for loving-kindness were predicted by empathy, and that females tended to prefer loving-kindness more than males. Conversely, preferences for open monitoring were predicted by nonreactivity and nonjudgment of present moment experiences. Additionally, higher state mindfulness was detected for individuals’ preferred technique relative to other alternatives. These findings suggest that individuals tend to prefer techniques compatible with their personalities, as the predictor variables encompass trait capacities specifically relevant to practicing these techniques. Together, our results suggest the possibility that assessing individual difference and then tailoring MBIs to individual needs could be a useful way to improve intervention effectiveness and subsequent outcomes.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01163/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1365539_69_Psycho_20200630_arts_A

 

Different Meditation Practices Have Specific Electrencepholographic Signatures

Different Meditation Practices Have Specific Electrencepholographic Signatures

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“the most general and consistently observed EEG correlate of meditation is an increase in the power of lower frequencies between 4 and 10 Hz corresponding to the theta band (4-8 Hz) and the lower end of the alpha band (8-10 Hz).” – Aaron Nitzkin

 

Meditation training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. One problem with understanding meditation effects is that there are, a wide variety of meditation techniques. Classically they’ve been characterized on a continuum with the degree and type of attentional focus. In focused attention meditation, the individual practices paying attention to a single meditation object. In open monitoring meditation, the individual opens up awareness to everything that’s being experienced including thoughts regardless of its origin. In Loving Kindness Meditation the individual systematically pictures different individuals from self, to close friends, to enemies and wishes them happiness, well-being, safety, peace, and ease of well-being.

 

One way to observe the effects of meditation techniques is to measure the effects of each technique on the brain’s activity. This can be done by recording the electroencephalogram (EEG). The brain produces rhythmic electrical activity that can be recorded from the scalp. It is usually separated into frequency bands. Delta activity consists of oscillations in the 0.5-3 cycles per second band. Theta activity in the EEG consists of oscillations in the 4-8 cycles per second band. Alpha activity consists of oscillations in the 8-12 cycles per second band. Beta activity consists of oscillations in the 13-30 cycles per second band while Gamma activity occurs in the 30-100 cycles per second band.

 

In today’s Research News article “Common and distinct lateralised patterns of neural coupling during focused attention, open monitoring and loving kindness meditation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198563/), Yordanova and colleagues recruited Buddhist monk, nuns, and novices who practiced focused, open monitoring, and loving kindness meditation. Their electroencephalogram (EEG) was taken during 3-minute periods of rest, focused, open monitoring, and loving kindness meditations.

 

They found that during all meditation conditions there was an increase in the synchronization of Delta activity throughout the brain, in Theta activity in the left hemisphere, and slow and fast Alpha activity in the right hemisphere. Hence, all three types of meditations produce common changes in the electrical activity of the brain. In addition, they also identified specific patterns of brain activity that differentiated the three meditation types. In particular, Beta activity synchronization was greatest in the right hemisphere during focused meditation and in the left hemisphere during open monitoring meditation, while during loving kindness meditation there were reduction in fast Alpha activity in the left hemisphere.

 

These are complex but interesting results that indicate that various meditation techniques have common changes in brain activity. That shouldn’t be surprising as these different meditation techniques produce very similar physical and mental changes in the practitioner. On the other hand, there were detected different patterns of activity for each meditation type. This again should not be surprising as there are differences in the effects of the meditation types. So, the electrical activity of the brain during these techniques correlates with their similarities and differences in their effects.

 

So, different meditation practices have similar and specific electrencepholographic signatures.

 

Connectivity measures between EEG channels are also currently being studied to measure meditation. Some connectivity evidences are the synchronisation of anterior and posterior channels or alpha phase synchronicity.” – David Ibañez

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Juliana Yordanova, Vasil Kolev, Federica Mauro, Valentina Nicolardi, Luca Simione, Lucia Calabrese, Peter Malinowski, Antonino Raffone. Common and distinct lateralised patterns of neural coupling during focused attention, open monitoring and loving kindness meditation. Sci Rep. 2020; 10: 7430. Published online 2020 May 4. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-64324-6

 

Abstract

Meditation has been integrated into different therapeutic interventions. To inform the evidence-based selection of specific meditation types it is crucial to understand the neural processes associated with different meditation practices. Here we explore commonalities and differences in electroencephalographic oscillatory spatial synchronisation patterns across three important meditation types. Highly experienced meditators engaged in focused attention, open monitoring, and loving kindness meditation. Improving on previous research, our approach avoids comparisons between groups that limited previous findings, while ensuring that the meditation states are reliably established. Employing a novel measure of neural coupling – the imaginary part of EEG coherence – the study revealed that all meditation conditions displayed a common connectivity pattern that is characterised by increased connectivity of (a) broadly distributed delta networks, (b) left-hemispheric theta networks with a local integrating posterior focus, and (c) right-hemispheric alpha networks, with a local integrating parieto-occipital focus. Furthermore, each meditation state also expressed specific synchronisation patterns differentially recruiting left- or right-lateralised beta networks. These observations provide evidence that in addition to global patterns, frequency-specific inter-hemispheric asymmetry is one major feature of meditation, and that mental processes specific to each meditation type are also supported by lateralised networks from fast-frequency bands.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198563/