Meditation Alters Sense Boundaries

Meditation Alters Sense Boundaries

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“higher states of consciousness are a natural development of long-term meditation practice facilitated by regular daily experience of transcendental consciousness.” – Ravinder Jerath

 

Millions of people worldwide seek out transcendent experiences by engaging in practices, such as meditation, yoga, and prayer. Transcendent experiences have many characteristics which are unique to the experiencer, their religious context, and their present situation. But, the common, central feature of transcendence is a sense of oneness, that all things are contained in a single thing, a sense of union with the universe and/or God and everything in existence. This includes a loss of the personal self. What they used to refer to as the self is experienced as just a part of an integrated whole. People who have had these experiences report feeling interconnected with everything else in a sense of oneness with all things. Although transcendent experiences can vary widely, they all contain this experience of oneness. Unfortunately, there has not been a great deal of systematic research on the alteration of the self, produced in meditation practice.

 

In today’s Research News article “Self-Boundary Dissolution in Meditation: A Phenomenological Investigation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8235013/ ) Nave and colleagues recruited healthy adults who were experienced meditators and provided them a 3-day intensive meditation training. They had brain activity measured with magnetoencephalography (MEG) while performing 2 meditation tasks, the first to envision the boundaries between self and the external world, the second to envision a loss of those boundaries. Before and after the meditations they completed several tasks and questionnaires and a phenomenological interview regarding their experiences during meditation.

 

They found that the participants were able to produce altered states of self-awareness during the meditations. Analysis of the interviews yielded 6 categories of alterations; sense of agency, self-location, first-person perspective, attentional disposition, affective valence, and body sensations. They report that during the loss of boundaries meditation the participants reported lower levels of self-location, loss of body sensations, and greater experience of space. They report that participants “letting go” was the most effective technique producing a dissolution of self-boundaries. “Letting go” reduced attentional disposition and the sense of agency, that is a loss of attentional focus and sense of control of experience.

 

This study demonstrates that it is possible to experimentally investigate phenomenological states experienced during meditation. In particular, it demonstrates that a dissolution of body boundaries can be produced and studied in the lab. These kinds of investigations are important as a loss of boundaries is essential for the oneness experience and oneness is central to spiritual awakening. So, the study of this dissolution should help in understanding the most profound experiences of meditation.

 

So, meditation alters sense boundaries.

 

mindfulness training alters practitioners’ experience of self, relaxing the boundaries of the self and extending the spatial frame of reference further beyond the physical body.” – Adam W Hanley

 

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

 

Nave, O., Trautwein, F. M., Ataria, Y., Dor-Ziderman, Y., Schweitzer, Y., Fulder, S., & Berkovich-Ohana, A. (2021). Self-Boundary Dissolution in Meditation: A Phenomenological Investigation. Brain sciences, 11(6), 819. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11060819

 

Abstract

A fundamental aspect of the sense of self is its pre-reflective dimension specifying the self as a bounded and embodied knower and agent. Being a constant and tacit feature structuring consciousness, it eludes robust empirical exploration. Recently, deep meditative states involving global dissolution of the sense of self have been suggested as a promising path for advancing such an investigation. To that end, we conducted a comprehensive phenomenological inquiry into meditative self-boundary alteration. The induced states were systematically characterized by changes in six experiential features including the sense of location, agency, first-person perspective, attention, body sensations, and affective valence, as well as their interaction with meditative technique and overall degree of dissolution. Quantitative analyses of the relationships between these phenomenological categories highlighted a unitary dimension of boundary dissolution. Notably, passive meditative gestures of “letting go”, which reduce attentional engagement and sense of agency, emerged as driving the depth of dissolution. These findings are aligned with an enactive approach to the pre-reflective sense of self, linking its generation to sensorimotor activity and attention-demanding processes. Moreover, they set the stage for future phenomenologically informed analyses of neurophysiological data and highlight the utility of combining phenomenology and intense contemplative training for a scientific characterization of processes giving rise to the basic sense of being a bounded self.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8235013/

 

Enhance Spatial Cognition in Younger Children with Movement Meditation and Creativity with Sitting Meditation in Older Children

Enhance Spatial Cognition in Younger Children with Movement Meditation and Creativity with Sitting Meditation in Older Children

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness as a powerful new skill to offer students, not just to manage stress but also to keep them from acting out. Its appeal: one simple, centralized intervention with effects that potentially stretch beyond the classroom.” – Brian Resnick

 

Childhood is a miraculous period during which the child is dynamically absorbing information from every aspect of its environment. This is particularly evident during the elementary school years. Mindfulness training in school has been shown to have very positive effects. These include improvements in the academic, cognitive, psychological, and social domains. Training early in childhood has the potential of jump-starting the child’s academic performance. It is not known, however, what form of meditation training works best for children of different ages.

 

In today’s Research News article “Age-Related Differential Effects of School-Based Sitting and Movement Meditation on Creativity and Spatial Cognition: A Pilot Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8303844/  ) Marson and colleagues recruited children 10 to 13 years of age in the 5th through 8th grades and had them perform two practices in counterbalanced order for 10 weeks; a 5-minute sensorimotor task (mindful movements) and a 5-monute sitting meditation (Open monitoring). Before and after each training the children were measured for cognitive performance with a hidden figures test and for creativity with an alternative uses test.

 

They found that the younger children were most affected by the meditative movement training while the older children were affected more by the sitting meditation, In particular, younger children had significant increases in spatial cognition (hidden figures task), and the number of uses (fluency) and the number of categories of uses (flexibility) in the alternative uses task after meditative movement training. On the other hand, the older children had significantly greater improvements in creativity (unusual, divergent uses in the alternative uses task) after the sitting meditation.

 

Hence, meditative movement training improved younger children’s’ spatial cognition, fluency, and flexibility while sitting meditation improved older children’s creativity. These are interesting findings that suggest that different kinds of mindfulness trainings are most effective at different ages of children. Movement based training are most effective with younger children while sitting meditation id most effective with older children. It has been shown that mindfulness training has many benefits for children. In the present study, the benefits involve improvements in spatial cognition and creativity. The present research suggests that the type of training that is most effective is age dependent.

 

So, enhance spatial cognition in younger children with movement meditation and creativity with sitting meditation in older children.

 

The simple act of teaching children how to stop, focus, and just breathe could be one of the greatest gifts you give them.” – Healthy Children

 

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

 

Marson, F., Fano, A., Pellegrino, M., Pesce, C., Glicksohn, J., & Ben-Soussan, T. D. (2021). Age-Related Differential Effects of School-Based Sitting and Movement Meditation on Creativity and Spatial Cognition: A Pilot Study. Children (Basel, Switzerland), 8(7), 583. https://doi.org/10.3390/children8070583

 

Abstract

Psychophysical well-being can be supported during development by the integration of extra-curricular activities in scholastic settings. These activities can be implemented in different forms, ranging from physical activities to sitting meditation practices. Considering that both such activities are thought to affect children’s psychophysical development, a movement-based meditation that combines the two approaches−in the form of a short daily activity−could represent a powerful tool to promote healthy physical and mental development. Consequently, the current pilot study aimed to examine the effect of short daily school-based sitting and movement meditation trainings on creativity and spatial cognition. Utilizing a crossover design, we evaluated their feasibility and efficacy at different ages among children (n = 50) in 5th to 8th grade. We observed that 5 weeks of daily training in sitting and movement meditation techniques improved children’s cognition differently. Specifically, younger children showed greater creativity and better spatial cognition following the movement-based meditation, while older children showed greater enhancement in these areas following sitting meditation training. This suggests that training can affect children’s cognition differently depending on their developmental stage. We discuss these results within the framework of embodied and grounded cognition theories. Information on feasibility and age-related effect sizes derived from the current study paves the way for future well-powered larger-scale efficacy studies on different forms of school-based interventions to cognitive development promotion.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8303844/

 

Different Meditation Types Alter Brain Connectivity Patters Differently Over the Long Term

Different Meditation Types Alter Brain Connectivity Patters Differently Over the Long Term

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“[Meditation], regardless of each individual’s chosen object of attention, increases functional connectivity within attentional networks as well as increases connectivity across distributed brain regions serving attention, self-referential, and visual processes.” – Zongpai Zhang

 

There has accumulated a large amount of research demonstrating that meditation practice has significant benefits for psychological, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. One way that meditation practices may produce these benefits is by altering the brain. The nervous system is a dynamic entity, constantly changing and adapting to the environment. It will change size, activity, and connectivity in response to experience. These changes in the brain are called neuroplasticity. Over the last decade neuroscience has been studying the effects of contemplative practices on the brain and has identified neuroplastic changes in widespread areas. In other words, meditation practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits.

 

In today’s Research News article “Neuroplasticity within and between Functional Brain Networks in Mental Training Based on Long-Term Meditation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8393942/ ) Guidotti and colleagues recruited Buddhist monks highly experienced with both focused and open monitoring meditation (average of 16.4 years of practice with an average of 1200 hours of practice per year). They underwent functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) brain scans during 6-minute meditations with focused and with open monitoring techniques.

 

They found that connectivity patterns were associated with the age of the participants during both meditation techniques. On the other hand, connectivity patterns were associated with years of meditation experience differently during focused versus open monitoring meditation. During both meditation types the functional connectivity within the Salience Network of the brain was reduced. During focused meditation there was increased connectivity within the Visual Network. During open monitoring meditation there was increase connectivity within the Executive Network and between the Executive and Language Networks. During open monitoring meditation there was also increase connectivity with Sensorimotor Network and its connections with the Default Mode Network.

 

These results are complicated and involve only experienced meditators. So, it is unknown whether the findings apply to novice or less experienced meditators and it cannot be determined what the differences might be in the brains of these highly experience meditators compared to non-meditators. But the results suggest that during focused and open monitoring meditation types have the same relationships with age related connectivity patterns in the brain while they have different associations with connectivity patterns in association with experience. This suggests that the two meditation types produce different neuroplastic changes in the brain as experience accumulates.

 

So, different meditation types alter brain connectivity patters differently over the long term.

 

people who meditate may actually have quicker brains than the rest of us. . . meditation can improve your brain’s ability to quickly switch between two main states of consciousness.” – Katie Spalding

 

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

 

Guidotti, R., Del Gratta, C., Perrucci, M. G., Romani, G. L., & Raffone, A. (2021). Neuroplasticity within and between Functional Brain Networks in Mental Training Based on Long-Term Meditation. Brain sciences, 11(8), 1086. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11081086

 

Abstract

(1) The effects of intensive mental training based on meditation on the functional and structural organization of the human brain have been addressed by several neuroscientific studies. However, how large-scale connectivity patterns are affected by long-term practice of the main forms of meditation, Focused Attention (FA) and Open Monitoring (OM), as well as by aging, has not yet been elucidated. (2) Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and multivariate pattern analysis, we investigated the impact of meditation expertise and age on functional connectivity patterns in large-scale brain networks during different meditation styles in long-term meditators. (3) The results show that fMRI connectivity patterns in multiple key brain networks can differentially predict the meditation expertise and age of long-term meditators. Expertise-predictive patterns are differently affected by FA and OM, while age-predictive patterns are not influenced by the meditation form. The FA meditation connectivity pattern modulated by expertise included nodes and connections implicated in focusing, sustaining and monitoring attention, while OM patterns included nodes associated with cognitive control and emotion regulation. (4) The study highlights a long-term effect of meditation practice on multivariate patterns of functional brain connectivity and suggests that meditation expertise is associated with specific neuroplastic changes in connectivity patterns within and between multiple brain networks.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8393942/

 

Improve Decision Making with a Brief Mindfulness Training

Improve Decision Making with a Brief Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“With mindfulness, the decision-making process becomes a thoughtful, cognitive exercise, rather than an impulsive reaction to immediate needs.” – Insead

 

We are confronted daily with a myriad of decisions, many small of little importance; chocolate or strawberry, pass or follow, do the dishes or empty the trash, watch a movie or sports, etc. But some have a major impact on ourselves and others; take a new job, get married, buy a home, retire or stay working, exercise or not, etc. The problem is that humans are not always good decision makers.

 

We often make decisions for emotional reasons; buying a new car, not because we need one but because it makes us feel like a race car driver, selling a stock out of fear of losses, marrying someone out of fear of being alone, etc. We also have a tendency to make decisions based upon how we’ve made them in the past regardless of whether that strategy is still appropriate. Having decided to finish high school, get a college degree, and going back to school to get an MBA may have helped our careers, but then going back to school again may not.

 

So, decisions are not always logical or optimal. Mindfulness has been shown to help with decision making. One problem, though, with mindfulness training is that it can take a great deal of time. This is not always possible when decisions must be made quickly. It is unclear if a very brief instruction in mindfulness may help individuals in making better decisions.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effect of a 3-Minute Mindfulness Intervention, and the Mediating Role of Maximization, on Critical Incident Decision-Making.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.674694/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1651992_69_Psycho_20210603_arts_A )  Shortland and colleagues recruited adult participants online and randomly assigned them to a 3 minute meditation or story listening. The participants completed a measure of maximization of decision making. They them completed their 3-minute meditation or listening followed by a decision-making task with presented audio scenarios that had approach or avoidance solutions. They then measured situational awareness time, choice time, decision time, commitment time, decision difficulty, and approach/avoidance decision.

 

They found that the meditation group had significantly faster reaction times on all measures and higher decision difficulty. In addition, the mindfulness group were significantly more approach oriented rather than avoidance oriented in their decisions. But decisions became more avoidant after mindfulness training in participants who scored high in maximization of decision making. So, mindfulness training improved decision making by individuals who tend to find optimal solutions rather than acceptable solutions and find decisions less difficult to make.

 

The results are interesting and demonstrate that even a very brief exposure to mindfulness has positive effects on decision making. This suggests that prior to making complex difficult decision a brief period of meditation might be helpful, but particularly in individuals who look for optimal solutions.

 

So, improve decision making with a brief mindfulness training.

 

If we are mindful of how we feel, we can more consciously include this in the decision-making process.” – Applied Attention

 

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

 

Shortland ND, McGarry P, Thompson L, Stevens C and Alison LJ (2021) The Effect of a 3-Minute Mindfulness Intervention, and the Mediating Role of Maximization, on Critical Incident Decision-Making. Front. Psychol. 12:674694. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.674694

 

Objective: In this study, we extend the impact of mindfulness to the concept of least-worst decision-making. Least-worst decisions involve high-uncertainty and require the individual to choose between a number of potentially negative courses of action. Research is increasingly exploring least-worst decisions, and real-world events (such as the COVID-19 pandemic) show the need for individuals to overcome uncertainty and commit to a least-worst course of action. From sports to business, researchers are increasingly showing that “being mindful” has a range of positive performance-related benefits. We hypothesized that mindfulness would improve least-worst decision-making because it would increase self-reflection and value identification. However, we also hypothesized that trait maximization (the tendency to attempt to choose the “best” course of action) would negatively interact with mindfulness.

Methods: Three hundred and ninety-eight participants were recruited using Amazon MTurk and exposed to a brief mindfulness intervention or a control intervention (listening to an audiobook). After this intervention, participants completed the Least-Worst Uncertain Choice Inventory for Emergency Responders (LUCIFER).

Results: As hypothesized, mindfulness increased decision-making speed and approach-tendencies. Conversely, for high-maximizers, increased mindfulness caused a slowing of the decision-making process and led to more avoidant choices.

Conclusions: This study shows the potential positive and negative consequences of mindfulness for least-worst decision-making, emphasizing the critical importance of individual differences when considering both the effect of mindfulness and interventions aimed at improving decision-making.

“In the NBA, mindfulness is important because the game is chaotically fast and the pressures on players are extreme. In real life, it’s important because the practice can help us get a handle on ourselves and stop going into a tailspin or endless series of tangents.”

Sirk (Zen and the Art of Winning: Phil Jackson’s Team Leadership, 2020).

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.674694/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1651992_69_Psycho_20210603_arts_A

 

Improvements in Migraine Headaches Require Active Meditation and not Cognitive Distraction

Improvements in Migraine Headaches Require Active Meditation and not Cognitive Distraction

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness is a simple, effective method for managing migraines and reducing potential triggers.” – American Migraine Foundation

 

Migraine headaches are a torment far beyond the suffering of a common headache. It is an intense throbbing pain usually unilateral, focused on only one side of the head and lasts from 4 hours to 3 days. They involve a collection of neurological symptoms, including visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell, and tingling or numbness in the extremities or face. Migraines are the 8th most disabling illness in the world. While most sufferers experience attacks once or twice a month, about 4% have chronic daily headaches. Migraines are very disruptive to the sufferer’s personal and work lives as most people are unable to work or function normally when experiencing a migraine.

 

There is no known cure for migraine headaches. Treatments are targeted at managing the symptoms. Prescription and over-the-counter pain relievers are frequently used. There are a number of drug and drug combinations that appear to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. These vary in effectiveness but unfortunately can have troubling side effects and some are addictive. Behaviorally, relaxation and sleep appear to help lower the frequency of migraines. Mindfulness practices have been shown to reduce stress and improve relaxation. So, they may be useful in preventing migraines. Indeed, it has been shown that mindfulness practice can reduce headache pain. It is not known how the pain relief develops over time and whether meditation benefits simply occur due to distraction from the pain.

 

In today’s Research News article “A reanalysis of a randomized trial on meditation for migraine headaches: Distraction is not enough but meditation takes time.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8091992/ ) Wachholtz and colleagues recruited otherwise healthy adults who experience at least 2 migraine headaches a month. They were randomly assigned to meditate for 30 minutes per day for 30 days with 1 of 3 specific phrases that was to form their meditation focus. The phrases were spiritual (e.g. God is Peace), positive self-reinforcement (e.g. I am joyful), or cognitive distraction (e.g. Grass is Green). A fourth group practiced systematic muscle relaxation over the same period. They maintained daily logs of headaches and emotions for the 30 days.

 

They found that over the 30-day practice period participants happiness significantly increased, while pain ratings and anger significantly decreased for all groups except the cognitive distraction group. The spiritual meditation, positive self-reinforcement meditation, and relaxation groups did not show significant improvements in headache pain over the first 20 days of practice. Significant reductions in pain occurred only during the last 10 days.

 

These are interesting results that replicate previous findings that mindfulness practices produce improvements in emotions , including happiness and anger, and decreases in headache pain. What is new here is the finding that these benefits require over 20 days of practice to develop. The fact that the cognitive distraction group did not decrease in anger or headache pain is important. It suggests that improvements require specific meditation focuses and that a focus on an external characteristic (e.g. Sand is Soft) is not sufficient. So, the process of meditation, sitting down and focusing for 30 minutes per day, isn’t sufficient to produce benefits. The focus during the meditation must be on spiritual, self-reinforcement, or muscle relaxation targets. The benefits are not the result of distraction from the headache pain.

 

So, improvements in migraine headaches require active meditation and not cognitive distraction.

 

Mindfulness may be something that specifically helps people with migraines because it can teach new ways to respond to stress, which is the most commonly reported migraine trigger.” – Judy George

 

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

 

Wachholtz, A., Vohra, R., & Metzger, A. (2019). A reanalysis of a randomized trial on meditation for migraine headaches: Distraction is not enough but meditation takes time. Complementary therapies in medicine, 46, 136–143. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2019.08.011

 

Highlights

  • There are many studies examining a single form of meditation, but few examine multiple meditation techniques to compare key ingredients that make a technique “successful” for patient’s pain management
  • In a longitudinal assessment, we found that meditative techniques integrating active cognitive controls work better to reduce migraine frequency, severity, and negative mood compared to passive or distraction techniques
  • Across active engagement meditation types, 30 minutes of daily practice for 20 days appeared necessary to reach efficacy

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Migraine headaches affect about approximately 15% of the population and some notable efforts have been made to develop meditation interventions to address pain and mood among this population. However, key active ingredients and the necessary duration of meditation interventions to produce an effect are still unknown. The purpose of this study is to assess key meditation ingredients that positively impact mood and headache factors across different meditation techniques and to establish an initial time or ”dose” needed to reach proactive treatment efficacy.

METHOD:

In this longitudinal study, three active management forms of meditation were compared to a cognitive distraction meditation to assess the effects on migraine headaches and emotions over a 30 day period when practiced 20 minutes per day.

RESULTS:

The active group showed significant decreases in anger (p=.005) and migraine pain (p=.002) over time. Further analysis showed that the bulk of the change for the active management group occurred in the final 10 days, after 20 days of practice of the technique (p<.05).

CONCLUSION:

This suggests that cognitively active forms of meditation are more effective in reducing migraine headache pain and negative mood than distraction techniques. However, individuals engaging in these strategies need to consistently practice these techniques for approximately 20 days to proactively reduce migraine headache pain and negative mood.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8091992/

 

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

 

Alter the Genes for Better Health with Meditation

Alter the Genes for Better Health with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“meditation practices seem . . . promote endocrinal, neuronal, and behavioral functions. This suggests that the achievement of a state of inner silence through the practice of meditation can prevent or reverse the detrimental effects of a stressful environment.“ – Sabrina Venditti

 

Over the last several decades, research and anecdotal experiences have accumulated an impressive evidential case that the development of mindfulness has positive benefits for the individual’s mental, physical, and spiritual life. Mindfulness appears to be beneficial both for healthy people and for people suffering from a myriad of illnesses. It appears to be beneficial across ages, from children to the elderly. And it appears to be beneficial across genders, personalities, race, and ethnicity. The breadth and depth of benefits is unprecedented.

 

Meditation practice has been shown to improve health and longevity. One way it appears to act is by altering the genes which govern cellular processes in our bodies. The genes dictate all of the chemical processes in our bodies including immune and inflammatory responses. The ability of outside influences to affect gene expression is known as epigenetics. Hence, it is important to study the epigenetic alterations in gene expressions produced by meditation practice to determine if these effects are the intermediary between meditation and health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Transcriptomics of Long-Term Meditation Practice: Evidence for Prevention or Reversal of Stress Effects Harmful to Health.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8001870/ ) Wenuganen and colleagues recruited older (> 60 years of age) healthy adult experienced practitioners of Transcendental Meditation and matched non-practitioners. Blood was drawn and analyzed for gene expression with microarrays and polymerase chain reaction.

 

They found that the genes of the Transcendental Meditation practitioners were in general significantly downregulated (lower expression) than the non-practitioners. “Sixty-two genes were related to hematologic diseases, 26 to coronary artery disease, 34 to diabetes complications, 49 to inflammation, and 64 to CVD. All these disease-related genes were downregulated in the TM group relative to the control group.” The genes found to have lower expression in the Transcendental Meditation practitioners were related to inflammatory responses and suppressed energy efficiency, while those upregulated (higher expression) were related to immune system function.

 

These epigenetic findings suggest that Transcendental Meditation practice over years of practice improve the immune system and energy efficiency while reducing inflammation in older individuals. These epigenetic changes suggest that Transcendental Meditation practice improves the physiology’s ability to maintain health by being better prepared to respond to disease and stress. This suggests a mechanism by which meditation practice improves health and longevity.

 

So, alter the genes for better health with meditation.

 

meditation, yoga, and Tai Chi . . . all seem to have a beneficial effect on the expression of a slew of different genes. And, as you might expect, the affected genes are generally those involved in stress and inflammation.” – Alice Walton

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are a

Alter the Genes for Better Health with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“meditation practices seem . . . promote endocrinal, neuronal, and behavioral functions. This suggests that the achievement of a state of inner silence through the practice of meditation can prevent or reverse the detrimental effects of a stressful environment.“ – Sabrina Venditti

 

Over the last several decades, research and anecdotal experiences have accumulated an impressive evidential case that the development of mindfulness has positive benefits for the individual’s mental, physical, and spiritual life. Mindfulness appears to be beneficial both for healthy people and for people suffering from a myriad of illnesses. It appears to be beneficial across ages, from children to the elderly. And it appears to be beneficial across genders, personalities, race, and ethnicity. The breadth and depth of benefits is unprecedented.

 

Meditation practice has been shown to improve health and longevity. One way it appears to act is by altering the genes which govern cellular processes in our bodies. The genes dictate all of the chemical processes in our bodies including immune and inflammatory responses. The ability of outside influences to affect gene expression is known as epigenetics. Hence, it is important to study the epigenetic alterations in gene expressions produced by meditation practice to determine if these effects are the intermediary between meditation and health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Transcriptomics of Long-Term Meditation Practice: Evidence for Prevention or Reversal of Stress Effects Harmful to Health.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8001870/ ) Wenuganen and colleagues recruited older (> 60 years of age) healthy adult experienced practitioners of Transcendental Meditation and matched non-practitioners. Blood was drawn and analyzed for gene expression with microarrays and polymerase chain reaction.

 

They found that the genes of the Transcendental Meditation practitioners were in general significantly downregulated (lower expression) than the non-practitioners. “Sixty-two genes were related to hematologic diseases, 26 to coronary artery disease, 34 to diabetes complications, 49 to inflammation, and 64 to CVD. All these disease-related genes were downregulated in the TM group relative to the control group.” The genes found to have lower expression in the Transcendental Meditation practitioners were related to inflammatory responses and suppressed energy efficiency, while those upregulated (higher expression) were related to immune system function.

 

These epigenetic findings suggest that Transcendental Meditation practice over years of practice improve the immune system and energy efficiency while reducing inflammation in older individuals. These epigenetic changes suggest that Transcendental Meditation practice improves the physiology’s ability to maintain health by being better prepared to respond to disease and stress. This suggests a mechanism by which meditation practice improves health and longevity.

 

So, alter the genes for better health with meditation.

 

meditation, yoga, and Tai Chi . . . all seem to have a beneficial effect on the expression of a slew of different genes. And, as you might expect, the affected genes are generally those involved in stress and inflammation.” – Alice Walton

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available at the Contemplative Studies Blog http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/

They are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Wenuganen, S., Walton, K. G., Katta, S., Dalgard, C. L., Sukumar, G., Starr, J., Travis, F. T., Wallace, R. K., Morehead, P., Lonsdorf, N. K., Srivastava, M., & Fagan, J. (2021). Transcriptomics of Long-Term Meditation Practice: Evidence for Prevention or Reversal of Stress Effects Harmful to Health. Medicina (Kaunas, Lithuania), 57(3), 218. https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina57030218

 

Abstract

Background and Objectives: Stress can overload adaptive mechanisms, leading to epigenetic effects harmful to health. Research on the reversal of these effects is in its infancy. Early results suggest some meditation techniques have health benefits that grow with repeated practice. This study focused on possible transcriptomic effects of 38 years of twice-daily Transcendental Meditation® (TM®) practice. Materials and Methods: First, using Illumina® BeadChip microarray technology, differences in global gene expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were sought between healthy practitioners and tightly matched controls (n = 12, age 65). Second, these microarray results were verified on a subset of genes using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and were validated using qPCR in larger TM and control groups (n = 45, age 63). Bioinformatics investigation employed Ingenuity® Pathway Analysis (IPA®), DAVID, Genomatix, and R packages. Results: The 200 genes and loci found to meet strict criteria for differential expression in the microarray experiment showed contrasting patterns of expression that distinguished the two groups. Differential expression relating to immune function and energy efficiency were most apparent. In the TM group, relative to the control, all 49 genes associated with inflammation were downregulated, while genes associated with antiviral and antibody components of the defense response were upregulated. The largest expression differences were shown by six genes related to erythrocyte function that appeared to reflect a condition of lower energy efficiency in the control group. Results supporting these gene expression differences were obtained with qPCR-measured expression both in the well-matched microarray groups and in the larger, less well-matched groups. Conclusions: These findings are consistent with predictions based on results from earlier randomized trials of meditation and may provide evidence for stress-related molecular mechanisms underlying reductions in anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), cardiovascular disease (CVD), and other chronic disorders and diseases.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8001870/

 

re also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Wenuganen, S., Walton, K. G., Katta, S., Dalgard, C. L., Sukumar, G., Starr, J., Travis, F. T., Wallace, R. K., Morehead, P., Lonsdorf, N. K., Srivastava, M., & Fagan, J. (2021). Transcriptomics of Long-Term Meditation Practice: Evidence for Prevention or Reversal of Stress Effects Harmful to Health. Medicina (Kaunas, Lithuania), 57(3), 218. https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina57030218

 

Abstract

Background and Objectives: Stress can overload adaptive mechanisms, leading to epigenetic effects harmful to health. Research on the reversal of these effects is in its infancy. Early results suggest some meditation techniques have health benefits that grow with repeated practice. This study focused on possible transcriptomic effects of 38 years of twice-daily Transcendental Meditation® (TM®) practice. Materials and Methods: First, using Illumina® BeadChip microarray technology, differences in global gene expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were sought between healthy practitioners and tightly matched controls (n = 12, age 65). Second, these microarray results were verified on a subset of genes using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and were validated using qPCR in larger TM and control groups (n = 45, age 63). Bioinformatics investigation employed Ingenuity® Pathway Analysis (IPA®), DAVID, Genomatix, and R packages. Results: The 200 genes and loci found to meet strict criteria for differential expression in the microarray experiment showed contrasting patterns of expression that distinguished the two groups. Differential expression relating to immune function and energy efficiency were most apparent. In the TM group, relative to the control, all 49 genes associated with inflammation were downregulated, while genes associated with antiviral and antibody components of the defense response were upregulated. The largest expression differences were shown by six genes related to erythrocyte function that appeared to reflect a condition of lower energy efficiency in the control group. Results supporting these gene expression differences were obtained with qPCR-measured expression both in the well-matched microarray groups and in the larger, less well-matched groups. Conclusions: These findings are consistent with predictions based on results from earlier randomized trials of meditation and may provide evidence for stress-related molecular mechanisms underlying reductions in anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), cardiovascular disease (CVD), and other chronic disorders and diseases.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8001870/

 

Meditation Strengthens Brain Attentional Networks

Meditation Strengthens Brain Attentional Networks

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“meditation practice appears to positively impact attentional functions by improving resource allocation processes. As a result, attentional resources are allocated more fully during early processing phases which subsequently enhance further processing.” – Peter Malinowski

 

The nervous system is a dynamic entity, constantly changing and adapting to the environment. It will change size, activity, and connectivity in response to experience. These changes in the brain are called neuroplasticity.  Over the last decade neuroscience has been studying the effects of contemplative practices on the brain and has identified neuroplastic changes in widespread area. and have found that meditation practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits. These brain changes with mindfulness practice are important and need to be further investigates.

 

Meditation practice results in a shift in mental processing. It produces a reduction of mind wandering and self-referential thinking and an increase in attention and higher-level thinking. The neural system that underlies mind wandering is termed the Default Mode Network (DMN) and consists in a set of brain structures including medial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate, lateral temporal cortex and the hippocampus. The neural system that underlies attention and is termed the Dorsal Attentional Network (DAN). and includes the frontal eye fields and the areas around the precentral sulcus and intraparietal sulcus. It is possible, then, that meditation over time produces changes in these brain areas improving attentional ability.

 

In today’s Research News article “Attention and Default Mode Network Assessments of Meditation Experience during Active Cognition and Rest.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8144977/ ) Devaney and colleagues recruited experienced meditators (average of 7 years of practice) and non-meditators matched on demographic variables. The participants performed attention tasks (multiple object tracking, a sustained attention task, and oddball tasks, a sustained spatial attention task) while having their brains scanned with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

 

There were no significant differences between the experienced meditators and the matched controls in their performance of the attention tasks. But during the sustained attention task the meditators in comparison to the controls had increases in activation of the brain’s Dorsal Attentional Network at the same time as a significant decrease in the brain’s Default Mode Network. In addition, during the sustained attention task the meditators had significantly greater anticorrelations of activity between the two networks indicating higher levels of inhibitory activity between networks.

 

The Dorsal Attentional Network has been shown to be involved in focused attention. Hence, the results suggest that experience in meditation improves the response of the brain areas responsible for focused attention when needed. Alternatively, the Default Mode Network has been shown to be involved in mind wandering. Hence, the results suggest that experience in meditation reduces the response of the brain areas responsible a loss of focused attention and mind wandering when needed. Further, the results suggest that experience in meditation leads to a greater ability of the brain to focus attention while preventing mind wandering.

 

The fact that experienced meditators did not differ from controls in attentional task performance is a bit disappointing. But on average the meditators performed better but because of a small number of participants, the differences were not statistically significant. Perhaps with larger groups differences would be found. But the lack of statistical power makes the significant brain activation differences observed during sustained attention even more striking. This all suggests that meditation practice shapes the brain for better attentional ability.

 

So, meditation strengthens brain attentional network.

 

Meditation is an important form of self-control and a healthy practice. It augments focus and attention and could be used to enhance empathy and all attentional capacities.” – Gabriel José Corrêa Mograbi

 

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

 

Devaney, K.J.; Levin, E.J.; Tripathi, V.; Higgins, J.P.; Lazar, S.W.; Somers, D.C. Attention and Default Mode Network Assessments of Meditation Experience during Active Cognition and Rest. Brain Sci. 2021, 11, 566. https://doi.org/10.3390/ brainsci11050566

 

Abstract: Meditation experience has previously been shown to improve performance on behavioral assessments of attention, but the neural bases of this improvement are unknown. Two prominent, strongly competing networks exist in the human cortex: a dorsal attention network, that is activated during focused attention, and a default mode network, that is suppressed during attentionally demanding tasks. Prior studies suggest that strong anti-correlations between these networks indicate good brain health. In addition, a third network, a ventral attention network, serves as a “circuit-breaker” that transiently disrupts and redirects focused attention to permit salient stimuli to capture attention. Here, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to contrast cortical network activation between experienced focused attention Vipassana meditators and matched controls. Participants performed two attention tasks during scanning: a sustained attention task and an attention-capture task. Meditators demonstrated increased magnitude of differential activation in the dorsal attention vs. default mode network in a sustained attention task, relative to controls. In contrast, there were no evident attention network differences between meditators and controls in an attentional reorienting paradigm. A resting state functional connectivity analysis revealed a greater magnitude of anticorrelation between dorsal attention and default mode networks in the meditators as compared to both our local control group and a n = 168 Human Connectome Project dataset. These results demonstrate, with both task- and rest-based fMRI data, increased stability in sustained attention processes without an associated attentional capture cost in meditators. Task and resting-state results, which revealed stronger anticorrelations between dorsal attention and default mode networks in experienced mediators than in controls, are consistent with a brain health benefit of long-term meditation practice.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8144977/

 

Better Mental Health During the Covid-19 Pandemic is Associated with Exercise and Meditation

Better Mental Health During the Covid-19 Pandemic is Associated with Exercise and Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Introducing a mindfulness and meditation practice during this pandemic has the potential to complement treatment and is a low-cost beneficial method of providing support with anxiety for all.” C. Behan

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve health and well-being in healthy individuals. 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. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the mental and physical health of the population. It has created intense stress both for frontline workers but also for people simply isolating at home. Mindfulness is known to decrease the psychological and physical responses to stress. So, meditation may be helpful in coping with the mental and physical challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effect of Meditation and Physical Activity on the Mental Health Impact of COVID-19-Related Stress and Attention to News Among Mobile App Users in the United States: Cross-sectional Survey.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8045775/ ) Green and colleagues recruited adult participants online who used the meditation app “Calm” and had them complete a questionnaire measuring worry regarding Covid-19, meditation, exercise, and health related behaviors. They also had them complete measures of habits, perceived stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD symptoms.

 

There were 8,392 responses. They reported a significant increase in meditation and exercise during Covid-19. But the greater the worry about Covid-19, the lower the levels of meditation and exercise and the greater the levels of perceived stress and PTSD symptoms.  They found that the Covid-19 worry was associated with lower the levels of meditation and exercise and these decreases were in turn associated with higher levels of perceived stress, PTSD symptoms, anxiety and depression. Hence, worry about Covid-19 appears to be detrimental to mental health as a result of decreases meditation and exercise.

 

These results are correlational, and caution must be exercised in concluding causation. In addition, the sample was composed of users of a meditation app and thus the results may not be predictive of the responses of non-meditators. But the associations are clear. Worry about the pandemic is associated with decreases in meditation and exercise which are in turn associated with poorer mental health.

 

This suggests that methods to support continued meditation practice and exercise during the pandemic may be helpful in improving mental health during the pandemic. They may mitigate the detrimental effects of worry about the pandemic. Indeed, previous research has found that mindfulness training improves mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

So, better mental health during the covid-19 pandemic is associated with exercise and meditation.

 

certain meditation, yoga asana (postures), and pranayama (breathing) practices may possibly be effective adjunctive means of treating and/or preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection” – William Bushell

 

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

 

Green, J., Huberty, J., Puzia, M., & Stecher, C. (2021). The Effect of Meditation and Physical Activity on the Mental Health Impact of COVID-19-Related Stress and Attention to News Among Mobile App Users in the United States: Cross-sectional Survey. JMIR mental health, 8(4), e28479. https://doi.org/10.2196/28479

 

Abstract

Background

The COVID-19 pandemic has been declared an international public health emergency, and it may have long-lasting effects on people’s mental health. There is a need to identify effective health behaviors to mitigate the negative mental health impact of COVID-19.

Objective

The objectives of this study were to (1) examine the regional differences in mental health and COVID-19–related worry, attention to news, and stress, in light of the state-level prevalence of COVID-19 cases; (2) estimate the associations between mental health and COVID-19–related worry, attention to news, and stress and health behavior engagement (ie, physical activity, mindfulness meditation); and (3) explore the mediating effect of health behavior engagement on the associations between mental health and COVID-19–related worry, attention to news, and stress.

Methods

A cross-sectional survey was distributed to a sample of US adult paying subscribers to the Calm app (data were collected from April 22 to June 3, 2020). The survey assessed COVID-19–related worry, attention to news, and stress; health behavior engagement; and mental health (ie, perceived stress, posttraumatic stress disorder, and anxiety and depression). Statistical analyses were performed using R software. Differences in COVID-19–related worry, attention to news, and stress and mental health by location were assessed using t tests and chi-square tests. Logistic and ordinary least squares models were used to regress mental health and health behavior on COVID-19–related worry, attention to news, and stress; moreover, causal mediation analysis was used to estimate the significance of the mediation effects.

Results

The median age of the respondents (N=8392) was 47 years (SD 13.8). Participants in the Mid-Atlantic region (New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) reported higher levels of stress, more severe depression symptoms, greater worry about COVID-19, paying more attention to COVID-19–related news, and more stress related to social distancing recommendations than participants living in other regions. The association between worry about COVID-19 and perceived stress was significantly mediated by changes in physical activity (P<.001), strength of meditation habit (P<.001), and stopping meditation (P=.046). The association between worry about COVID-19 and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms was significantly mediated by changes in physical activity (P<.001) and strength of meditation habit (P<.001).

Conclusions

Our findings describe the mental health impact of COVID-19 and outline how continued participation in health behaviors such as physical activity and mindfulness meditation reduce worsening of mental health due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These data have important implications for public health agencies and health organizations to promote the maintenance of health habits to reduce the residual mental health burden of the COVID-19 pandemic.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8045775/

 

Improve Military-Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with Mindfulness

Improve Military-Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness may help to mitigate the relationship between maladaptive thinking and posttraumatic distress.” – Matthew Tull

 

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 Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Mindfulness-based therapies have been shown to be particularly effective in treating PTSD. There has accumulated a considerable amount of research. So, it is important to step back and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Military-related posttraumatic stress disorder and mindfulness meditation: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8344114/ ) Sun and colleagues review summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled trials on the effectiveness of mindfulness practice to improve the symptoms of PTSD.

 

They identified 19 published randomized controlled trials with a total of 1326 participants, 15 of which employed an active control condition. They report that the published research found that mindfulness meditation practices produced a significant reduction in the symptoms of military-related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This improvement was present regardless of the nature of the control condition, whether the treatment was provided individually or in a group, or the duration of the therapy. Hence, the published research studies support the conclusion that mindfulness meditation practice is a safe and effective treatment for the symptoms of PTSD in military personnel.

 

So, improve military-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with mindfulness.

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

research has shown mindfulness to be helpful with other anxiety problems. It has also been shown to help with symptoms of PTSD, such as avoidance and hyperarousal.” – National Center for PTSD

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Sun, L. N., Gu, J. W., Huang, L. J., Shang, Z. L., Zhou, Y. G., Wu, L. L., Jia, Y. P., Liu, N. Q., & Liu, W. Z. (2021). Military-related posttraumatic stress disorder and mindfulness meditation: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Chinese journal of traumatology = Zhonghua chuang shang za zhi, 24(4), 221–230. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cjtee.2021.05.003

 

Abstract

Purpose

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a significant global mental health concern, especially in the military. This study aims to estimate the efficacy of mindfulness meditation in the treatment of military-related PTSD, by synthesizing evidences from randomized controlled trials.

Methods

Five electronic databases (Pubmed, EBSCO Medline, Embase, PsychINFO and Cochrane Library) were searched for randomized controlled trials focusing on the treatment effect of mindfulness meditation on military-related PTSD. The selection of eligible studies was based on identical inclusion and exclusion criteria. Information about study characteristics, participant characteristics, intervention details, PTSD outcomes, as well as potential adverse effects was extracted from the included studies. Risk of bias of all the included studies was critically assessed using the Cochrane Collaboration’s tool. R Statistical software was performed for data analysis.

Results

A total of 1902 records were initially identified and screened. After duplicates removal and title & abstract review, finally, 19 articles in English language with 1326 participants were included through strict inclusion and exclusion criteria. The results revealed that mindfulness meditation had a significantly larger effect on alleviating military-related PTSD symptoms compared with control conditions, such as treatment as usual, present-centered group therapy and PTSD health education (standardized mean difference (SMD) = −0.33; 95% CI [−0.45, −0.21]; p < 0.0001). Mindfulness interventions with different control conditions (active or non-active control, SMD = −0.33, 95% CI [−0.46, −0.19]; SMD = −0.49, 95% CI [−0.88, −0.10], respectively), formats of delivery (group-based or individual-based, SMD = −0.30, 95% CI [−0.42, −0.17], SMD = −0.49, 95% CI [−0.90, −0.08], respectively) and intervention durations (short-term or standard duration, SMD = −0.27, 95% CI [−0.46, −0.08], SMD = −0.40, 95% CI [−0.58, −0.21], respectively) were equally effective in improving military-related PTSD symptoms.

Conclusion

Findings from this meta-analysis consolidate the efficacy and feasibility of mindfulness meditation in the treatment of military-related PTSD. Further evidence with higher quality and more rigorous design is needed in the future.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8344114/