Improve the Regulation of Emotions with Yoga

Improve the Regulation of Emotions with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“yoga has an important role in regulating the feelings of the adolescents and the students who practice yoga are more happy, energetic, focused, and healthy.” – Yasmin Janjhua

 

Emotions are important to our well-being. They provide the spice of life, the joy, the love, the happiness. But they can be troubling producing sadness, hurt and fear. They can also be harmful such as the consequences of out-of-control anger or suicidal depression. We need emotions, but we must find ways to keep them under control. Emotion regulation is the term used to describe the ability to control emotions. It is not eliminating or suppressing them. Far from it, emotion regulation allows for the emotion to be fully felt and experienced. But it maintains the intensity of the emotion at a manageable level and also produces the ability to respond to the emotion appropriately and constructively. Clearly, emotion regulation is a key to a happier life.

 

Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve emption regulation. Exercise has also been shown to improve mental health. Yoga is both a mindfulness practice and an exercise. It has been shown to have a myriad of benefits for psychological and physical health, social, and spiritual well-being. So, there is reason to believe that yoga practice may improve emotion regulation. How this might work in young adults has not been well explored.

 

In today’s Research News article “”I Just Find It Easier to Let Go of Anger”: Reflections on the Ways in Which Yoga Influences How Young People Manage Their Emotions.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8645589/ ) Hagen and colleagues examine the changes in emotions that occur in teenagers during participation in an 8-week yoga class. The teens received semi-structured interviews and filled out logs of their experiences.

 

The youths reported that yoga reduced negative emotions and improved their ability to regulate these emotions. This is very important for everyone but especially during the highly volatile teenage years. By making the teens more aware of their emotions and improving their ability to understand their origins, they become better at working with them as opposed to suppressing or ignoring them. Hence, yoga practice may be an important means to help teens navigate this difficult period.

 

Yoga is beneficial for everyone, from 3 years to 103! It might be said though, that the 13-18 year old age group needs it the most.” – Lyn Russell

 

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Hagen, I., Skjelstad, S., & Nayar, U. S. (2021). “I Just Find It Easier to Let Go of Anger”: Reflections on the Ways in Which Yoga Influences How Young People Manage Their Emotions. Frontiers in psychology, 12, 729588. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.729588

 

Abstract

In this article we discuss how young people experienced a school-based yoga intervention. We pay particular attention to how yoga provides a space for young people to deal with their emotions. We base our discussion on qualitative data from young people in Norway who participated in the European research project “Hippocampus: Promoting Mental Health and Wellbeing among Young People through Yoga.” The qualitative results are based on experiences described by these young people in individual semi-structured interviews and in diaries or logs. Our data include nine interviews performed in the spring of 2019 with young people of Norwegian and refugee background in their late teens and early twenties. There were also 133 logs noted by the students exposed to the yoga intervention. In the qualitative interviews, young people talk about yoga and emotional management, improved sleep habits, and regulation. They also report improved ability to regulate and cope with stress. Yoga seemed especially beneficial for refugee trauma. In this article, we have chosen to focus on the utterances of young people about emotions, as those were quite dominant in our data, especially in the interview material. We have identified instances of emotional regulation, but also of emotional processes and changes of emotions, all of which were related to these young students practicing yoga. The impact of yoga on emotions illustrates the potential of yoga to improve the well-being and mental health of young people.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8645589/

Improve Adolescent Psychological Well-Being with Tai Chi or Qigong

Improve Adolescent Psychological Well-Being with Tai Chi or Qigong

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Qigong was able to improve attention in adolescents after 4 weeks of practice, leading us to conclude that it may be a useful tool when integrated into physical education classes.” – Leonel Duarte

 

Adolescence is a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. It is during this time that higher levels of thinking, sometimes called executive function, develops. But adolescence can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required. This can lead to emotional and behavioral problems.

 

Indeed, up to a quarter of adolescents suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, and an even larger proportion struggle with subclinical symptoms. Mindfulness training in adults has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression levels and improve resilience and emotional regulation. In addition, in adolescents it has been shown to improve emotion regulation and to benefit the psychological and emotional health.

 

Tai Chi and Qigong are ancient mindfulness practices involving slow prescribed movements. They are gentle and completely safe, are inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility or even public park. There has been accumulating research on the effects of Tai Chi and Qigong training on the psychological well-being of adolescents. So, it makes sense to summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effects of Tai Chi and Qigong Exercise on Psychological Status in Adolescents: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.746975/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1784429_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211202_arts_A  ) Liu and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published controlled research studies effects of Tai Chi and Qigong training on the psychological well-being of adolescents (aged 12 to 18 years).

 

They identified 10 published research studies with a total of 1244 participants. They report that the published research studies found that Tai Chi or Qigong practice produced significant reductions in anxiety, depression, and blood cortisol levels (stress marker) and significant improvements in self-concept and general mental health. Adolescence is a turbulent and stressful time. The published research suggests that practicing Tai Chi or Qigong helps reduce the mental turbulence and may help the youths navigate adolescence and in their transition to adulthood.

 

So, improve adolescent psychological well-being with Tai Chi or Qigong.

 

Teens . . . who had taken the Tai Chi Chuan classes showed markedly less stress and psychological distress and enjoyed a much better self-image.” – Jeff Paterson

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Liu X, Li R, Cui J, Liu F, Smith L, Chen X and Zhang D (2021) The Effects of Tai Chi and Qigong Exercise on Psychological Status in Adolescents: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Front. Psychol. 12:746975. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.746975

 

Background: The purpose of this study was to systematically review the effectiveness of Tai Chi and Qigong exercise on adolescents’ symptoms of depression and anxiety, and psychological status based on clinical evidences, and to calculate the pooled results using meta-analysis.

Methods: A systematic search using seven English and three Chinese databases was initiated to identify randomized controlled trials (RCT) and non-randomized comparison studies (NRS) assessing the effect of Tai Chi and Qigong exercise on psychological status among adolescents. Standardized mean differences (SMD) and their 95% confidence intervals (CI) were used to determine the pooled effect of the intervention. Study quality was evaluated using a Checklist to Evaluate a Report of a Non-pharmacological Trial (CLEAR-NPT) designed for non-pharmacological trials.

Results: Four RCTs and six NRS were identified, including 1,244 adolescents. The results suggested a potential beneficial effect of Tai chi and Qigong exercise on reducing anxiety (SMD = 0.386, 95 CI% [0.233, 0.538]) and depression (SMD = 1.937 [95 CI%, 1.392–2.546]) symptoms, and reducing cortisol level (SMD = 0.621 [95 CI%, 0.18–1.062]) in adolescents. Conversely, non-significant effects were found for stress, mood, and self-esteem.

Conclusions: The findings of this review suggest Qigong appears to be an effective therapeutic modality to improve psychological well-being in adolescents. Hope future studies will have rigorously designed, well-controlled randomized trials with large sample sizes in order to confirm these findings.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.746975/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1784429_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211202_arts_A

 

Reduce Adolescent Internalizing Symptoms, and Impulsivity with Mindfulness

Reduce Adolescent Internalizing Symptoms, and Impulsivity with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness appears to be a way of engaging with our internal and external environment and approaching emotion that is an asset for avoiding excessively heightened internalizing symptoms.” – Sarah Clear

 

Adolescence is a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. But it can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required. This can lead to emotional and behavioral problems. Indeed, up to a quarter of adolescents suffer from internalizing symptoms such as depression or anxiety disorders, and an even larger proportion struggle with subclinical symptoms. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve emotion regulation and to benefit the psychological and emotional health of adolescents

 

In today’s Research News article “Longitudinal Associations between Internalizing Symptoms, Dispositional Mindfulness, Rumination and Impulsivity in Adolescents.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8416885/ ) Royuela-Colomer and colleagues recruited healthy adolescents (aged 11 to 17 years) and had them complete measures of mindfulness, rumination, impulsivity, and internalizing symptoms, including anxiety, depression, and perceived stress. The measures were completed again one year later.

 

They found that adolescent boys had significantly lower levels of rumination, impulsivity, and internalizing symptoms and higher levels of mindfulness than girls. They also found that at both measurement periods the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of all dependent variables. They further found that the higher the levels of mindfulness at the first measurement the lower the levels of depression, perceived stress, and impulsivity a year later. This latter finding was true both for boys and girls.

 

These findings are correlational. So, no conclusions about causation can be made. But in previous controlled studies mindfulness has been found to improve the psychological well-being of adolescents and to produce lower levels of depression, perceived stress, and impulsivity. So, the correlations obtained here likely occurred due to causal connections between the variables. These results then suggest that mindfulness may be protective against internalizing symptoms and impulsivity in adolescents. This further suggests that mindfulness training should be made part of the education of adolescents to improve their psychological well-being and reducing their destructive tendencies toward impulsive behavior.

 

So, reduce adolescent internalizing symptoms, and impulsivity with mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness not only directly impacted on adolescents’ internalizing problems, but also indirectly improved their anxious and depression emotions via the reduction of rumination and the increase of acceptance.” – Meng Yu

 

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

 

Royuela-Colomer, E., Fernández-González, L., & Orue, I. (2021). Longitudinal Associations between Internalizing Symptoms, Dispositional Mindfulness, Rumination and Impulsivity in Adolescents. Journal of youth and adolescence, 50(10), 2067–2078. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-021-01476-2

 

Abstract

Mindfulness has been associated with fewer negative mental health symptoms during adolescence, but fewer studies have examined longitudinal associations between mindfulness and symptoms in conjunction with two vulnerability factors for psychopathology with mindfulness: rumination and impulsivity. This study examined longitudinal associations between internalizing symptoms (depression, anxiety, stress), mindfulness, rumination, and impulsivity over a one-year period among 352 Spanish adolescents (57.4% girls; M = 14.47, SD = 1.34). Participants completed self-reported measures of symptoms, mindfulness, rumination, and impulsivity at two time points. Mindfulness negatively predicted stress and depressive symptoms, and a bidirectional negative association was found between mindfulness and impulsivity. Impulsivity positively predicted stress, and anxiety positively predicted depressive symptoms, stress, and rumination. This study highlights the importance of mindfulness as a protective factor and impulsivity and anxiety as risk factors for internalizing symptoms throughout adolescence. These findings build on previous studies that examined longitudinal associations between mindfulness and symptoms by including rumination and impulsivity’s roles.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8416885/

 

Improve Brain Processing in Mood Dysregulated Adolescents with Mindfulness

Improve Brain Processing in Mood Dysregulated Adolescents with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness-based interventions—practices that promote non-judgmental attention to the present—can help individuals respond with acceptance to challenging circumstances or emotions and is a promising approach to treatment of mood lability.” – D. M. Hafemann

 

Adolescence is a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. But it can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required. This can lead to emotional and behavioral problems. Indeed, up to a quarter of adolescents suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, and an even larger proportion struggle with subclinical symptoms. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve emotion regulation and to benefit the psychological and emotional health of adolescents

 

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, mindfulness practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits. The brains of adolescents are different from fully mature adult brains. They are dynamically growing and changing. It is unclear how mindfulness affects their maturing brains particularly in adolescents who have mood dysregulations.

 

In today’s Research News article “Network-level functional topological changes after mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in mood dysregulated adolescents at familial risk for bipolar disorder: a pilot study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8080341/ ) Qin and colleagues recruited adolescents (13-17 years of age) who were mood dysregulated and who had at least one biological parent with bipolar disorder. They were provided a once a week for 75 minutes for 12-weeks program of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) adapted for children along with home practice. They were measured before and after training for emotion regulation, depressive and manic symptoms, overall global functioning, and clinical ratings. They also had their brains scanned with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

 

In comparison to baseline they found that after Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) there were surprisingly no significant changes in emotion regulation, depressive and manic symptoms, overall global functioning, and clinical ratings. But there were significant increases in network efficiency and decreases in path length in the cingulo-opercular network and frontal parietal network and increases in the connectivity of brain structures within the cingulo-opercular network and the default mode network. In addition, the shorter the path length within the cingulo-opercular network the higher the level of emotion regulation.

 

These results need to be interpreted with caution as there was no control comparison condition and so there are potential confounding variables that could account for the results. But the psychological results are very disappointing. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) has been routinely found to improve emotions and emotion regulation in previous research. But it did not in the present study. It is possible that unlike with adults, MBCT is simply ineffective in improving the psychological health of mood dysregulated adolescents.

 

On the other hand, the functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) findings were interesting. The cingulo-opercular network and frontal parietal network are both involved in top-down cognitive control. The observed increases in network efficiency within these networks after Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) suggests that MBCT improves the ability of mood dysregulated adolescents to control their thinking. This is exactly what MBCT is designed to do. Unfortunately, the researchers did not measure cognitive ability in this study, so there is no confirmatory behavioral results. The increased emotion regulation associated with decreases in path length in the cingulo-opercular network, though, suggests that the changes in the youths’ brains may be associated with improved ability to control their emotions. This may suggest an a lessened chance of developing major mental illness in the future.

 

So, Improve Brain Processing in Mood Dysregulated Adolescents with Mindfulness.

 

With low level of mindfulness, adolescents might be lack of emotion clarity, self-control and acceptance, which in turn might lead to their poor realization of emotion and easy immersion into dysfunctional emotional reactions such as impulse and aggressive behavior toward others or blame to themselves.” – Ying Ma

 

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

 

Qin, K., Lei, D., Yang, J., Li, W., Tallman, M. J., Duran, L., Blom, T. J., Bruns, K. M., Cotton, S., Sweeney, J. A., Gong, Q., & DelBello, M. P. (2021). Network-level functional topological changes after mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in mood dysregulated adolescents at familial risk for bipolar disorder: a pilot study. BMC psychiatry, 21(1), 213. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-021-03211-4

 

Abstract

Background

Given that psychopharmacological approaches routinely used to treat mood-related problems may result in adverse outcomes in mood dysregulated adolescents at familial risk for bipolar disorder (BD), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Children (MBCT-C) provides an alternative effective and safe option. However, little is known about the brain mechanisms of beneficial outcomes from this intervention. Herein, we aimed to investigate the network-level neurofunctional effects of MBCT-C in mood dysregulated adolescents.

Methods

Ten mood dysregulated adolescents at familial risk for BD underwent a 12-week MBCT-C intervention. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was performed prior to and following MBCT-C. Topological metrics of three intrinsic functional networks (default mode network (DMN), fronto-parietal network (FPN) and cingulo-opercular network (CON)) were investigated respectively using graph theory analysis.

Results

Following MBCT-C, mood dysregulated adolescents showed increased global efficiency and decreased characteristic path length within both CON and FPN. Enhanced functional connectivity strength of frontal and limbic areas were identified within the DMN and CON. Moreover, change in characteristic path length within the CON was suggested to be significantly related to change in the Emotion Regulation Checklist score.

Conclusions

12-week MBCT-C treatment in mood dysregulated adolescents at familial risk for BD yield network-level neurofunctional effects within the FPN and CON, suggesting enhanced functional integration of the dual-network. Decreased characteristic path length of the CON may be associated with the improvement of emotion regulation following mindfulness training. However, current findings derived from small sample size should be interpreted with caution. Future randomized controlled trials including larger samples are critical to validate our findings.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8080341/

 

Supportive Environments Promote the Development of Mindfulness in Adolescents.

Supportive Environments Promote the Development of Mindfulness in Adolescents.

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness processes and practices can help young people develop emotional resilience, self-awareness and regulation skills that assist them in taking greater responsibility for their behaviors. – Karen Pace

 

Childhood is a miraculous period during which the child is dynamically absorbing information from every aspect of its environment. It is here that behaviors, knowledge, skills, and attitudes are developed that shape the individual. But what is absorbed depends on the environment. Supportive environments can promote positive development while trouble with peers can interfere. Peer victimization is traumatic for the adolescent and can leave in its wake symptoms which can haunt the victims for the years. It is unclear, however, how the environment including supportive environments and the presence of peer victimization might affect the development of mindfulness in adolescents.

 

In today’s Research News article “Naturalistic development of trait mindfulness: A longitudinal examination of victimization and supportive relationships in early adolescence.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8104379/ )  Warren and colleagues surveyed 4th and 7th grade adolescents. They completed measures of mindfulness, peer victimization, peer belonging, connectedness with adults at home, and self-regulation. They then looked at the social environment in the 4th grade and how it was related to the development of mindfulness in the 7th grade.

 

The found that the higher the levels of peer belonging, connectedness with adults at home, and self-regulation and the lower the levels of peer victimization both in 4th and 7th grades the higher the levels of mindfulness at grade 7. With students with high connectedness with adults at home, peer victimization was associated with a smaller development of mindfulness. The students who had flourishing relationships in the 4th grade (high peer belonging and connectedness with adults at home and low peer victimization) had the greatest increases in mindfulness by the 7th grade.

 

These results suggest that conditions in the 4th grade are associated with mindfulness in the 7th grate, with feelings of belonging with other adolescents promoting the development of mindfulness and victimization by peers interfering with mindfulness development. How connected the youths feel to adults also tends to promote the development of mindfulness except when victimization is present, then the promotion is weaker. Hence, mindfulness develops best in supportive environments.

 

So, supportive environments promote the development of mindfulness in adolescents.

 

Adolescents’ with high levels of dispositional mindfulness may lead to lower level of psychological distress including depression, anxiety, and stress.” Ying Ma

 

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

 

Warren, M. T., Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Gill, R., Gadermann, A. M., & Oberle, E. (2021). Naturalistic development of trait mindfulness: A longitudinal examination of victimization and supportive relationships in early adolescence. PloS one, 16(5), e0250960. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0250960

 

Abstract

Scholars have only just begun to examine elements of young adolescents’ social ecologies that explain naturalistic variation in trait mindfulness and its development over time. We argue that trait mindfulness develops as a function of chronically encountered ecologies that are likely to foster or thwart the repeated enactment of mindful states over time. Using data from 4,593 fourth and seventh grade students (50% female; MageG4 = 9.02; 71% English first language) from 32 public school districts in British Columbia (BC), Canada, we examined links from peer belonging, connectedness with adults at home, and peer victimization to mindfulness over time. Variable-centered analyses indicated that young adolescents with lower victimization in fourth grade reported higher mindfulness in seventh grade, and that cross-sectionally within seventh grade victimization, peer belonging, and connectedness with adults at home were each associated with mindfulness. Contrary to our hypothesis, connectedness with adults at home moderated the longitudinal association between victimization and mindfulness such that the negative association was stronger among young adolescents with high (vs. low) levels of connectedness with adults at home. Person-centered analysis of the fourth graders’ data confirmed our variable-centered findings, yielding four latent classes of social ecology whose mindfulness levels in seventh grade largely tracked with their victimization levels (from highest to lowest mindfulness): (1) flourishing relationships, (2) unvictimized but weak relationships with adults, (3) moderately victimized but strong relationships, and (4) victimized but strong relationships. Overall, our findings contribute to a growing body of evidence indicating that trait mindfulness may develop as a function of ecologically normative experiences in young adolescents’ everyday lives.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8104379/

 

Mindfulness Improves the Attention. Memory, and Stress Resistance of Junior High School Students.

Mindfulness Improves the Attention. Memory, and Stress Resistance of Junior High School Students.

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

youth benefit from learning mindfulness in terms of improved cognitive outcomes, social-emotional skills, and well being. In turn, such benefits may lead to long-term improvements in life.’ – Mindful Schools

 

Childhood and adolescence are miraculous periods during which the youth is dynamically learning and absorbing information from every aspect of its environment. Mindfulness training in school has been shown to have very positive effects. These include improvements in the academic, cognitive, psychological, and social domains. Importantly, mindfulness training in school appears to improve attentional ability which is fundamental to success in all aspects of academic performance. It is unclear the degree to which the students’ levels of mindfulness (trait mindfulness) without training are related to students’ attention, memory, and stress.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Relationship Among Trait Mindfulness, Attention, and Working Memory in Junior School Students Under Different Stressful Situations.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7960675/ ) Li and colleagues performed 2 studies. For both they recruited youths aged 8 to 15 years and measured them for mindfulness, attention and working memory.

 

In the first study they found that the higher the level of mindfulness the higher the levels of attention and working memory. A mediation analysis revealed that mindfulness was associated with working memory directly and also indirectly by being associated with higher levels of attention which in turn were associated with higher levels of working memory. So, the mindfulness association with better working memory was direct and indirect via attention.

 

In a second study they separated the students into a high mindfulness group (top 27%) and a low mindfulness group (bottom 27%). They then measured attention and working memory under 3 conditions; stress-free, single stress, and multiple stresses. The stress-free condition was like that used in study 1. In the single stress condition, a time constraint was placed on the performance of the attention and memory tests. In the multiple stress condition, the time constraint was maintained and additionally the students were informed that the results would be used to determine the top students for individual separate instruction in school.

 

They found that the high mindfulness group had higher attention and working memory scores than the low mindfulness group regardless of condition. They also found that for the high mindfulness group, stress improved both attention and memory scores relative to the stress-free condition with the single stress condition producing the greatest increase. On the other hand, the low mindfulness group had non-significant decreases in performance when stressed.

 

In the present studies the association between mindfulness and attention and working memory are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. Previous research, however, has clearly demonstrated that mindfulness causes increases in attention and memory. So, the relationship seen here is likely due to a causal connection. The present study, though, demonstrates that the effects of mindfulness on memory are both direct and indirect via effects on attention.

 

The present study also shows that stress improves the performance of high but not low mindfulness students. Stress is known to interfere with attention and memory performance. But mindfulness has been shown to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. So, it appears that mindfulness reduces the students’ responses to stress and thereby further improves their attention and memory.

 

So, mindfulness improves the attention. memory, and stress resistance of junior high school students.

 

Students who did about an hour of “mindfulness training” for eight days subsequently did better on the GRE as well as tests of working memory and mind-wandering.” – James Hamblin

 

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

 

Li, Y., Yang, N., Zhang, Y., Xu, W., & Cai, L. (2021). The Relationship Among Trait Mindfulness, Attention, and Working Memory in Junior School Students Under Different Stressful Situations. Frontiers in psychology, 12, 558690. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.558690

 

Abstract

Attention and working memory are important cognitive functions that affect junior school students’ learning ability and academic performance. This study aimed to explore the relationships among trait mindfulness, attention, and working memory and to explore differences in performance between a high trait mindfulness group and a low one in attention and working memory under different stressful situations. In study 1, 216 junior school students completed the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), and their attention and working memory were tested in a non-pressure situation. The results showed that attention had a partial mediating effect between mindfulness and working memory. In study 2, the high trait mindfulness group and the low one were tested for attention and working memory under situations with single and multiple pressures. One notable result was that the attention and working memory performances of the high mindfulness group were all significantly higher than those of the low mindfulness group in every stress situation (no stress, single stress, and multiple stresses). Other important results were that trait mindfulness moderates the relationship between stress and attention and between stress and working memory. These results suggest that trait mindfulness has a protective effect in the process by which various stresses affect attention and working memory. These findings indicate that trait mindfulness is an important psychological quality that affects the attention and working memory of junior school students, and it is also an important psychological resource for effectively coping with the impact of stress on attention and working memory. Therefore, it is possible that improving trait mindfulness may help to improve junior school students’ attention and working memory and enable them to cope better with stress, thereby helping to improve academic performance. This research is of great significance for understanding the association between key psychological qualities and cognitive functions in different stressful situations. These findings also provide insight for future studies in educational psychology.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7960675/

 

Improve Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents with Mindfulness

Improve Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The more present you are in life, the more you realize you make better decisions, manage your emotions, and are fully engaged in life.” – Stephanie Gutzmer

 

A characterizing feature of anxiety disorders is recurring thoughts, such as impending disaster, that they may realize are unreasonable, but are unable to shake. Anxiety often co-occurs with depression or is a precursor to bipolar disorder. Anxiety disorders and depression have generally been treated with drugs. But there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. In addition, drugs can be problematic for the developing brain. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments particularly for children and adolescents. Mindfulness practices have been shown to be quite effective in relieving anxiety.

 

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) involves mindfulness training, containing sitting, walking and body scan meditations, and cognitive therapy That is designed to alter how the patient relates to the thought processes that often underlie and exacerbate psychological symptoms. MBCT has been shown to reduce anxiety. It has been proposed that intervening early may tend to mitigate or prevent future disorders So, it makes sense to examine the ability of MBCT to treat anxiety disorders in children and adolescents.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for children and adolescents with anxiety disorders at-risk for bipolar disorder: A psychoeducation waitlist controlled pilot trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7307795/ ) Cotton and colleagues recruited youths aged 9-18 years diagnosed with anxiety disorder and who had at least one parent diagnosed with bipolar disorder. They were assigned in an age balanced way to either a wait-list control condition or to receive 12 weekly, 75-minute Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Children (MBCT-C) group sessions. They were measured before and after training and weekly for anxiety, clinician-rated anxiety and anxiety-related functional impairment, emotion regulation, mindfulness, and clinician-rated illness severity.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group after Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Children (MBCT-C) there was a significant reduction in clinician-rated illness severity. They also found that during the 12 weeks of treatment, the MBCT-C group had significant reductions in anxiety. In addition, the greater the increase in mindfulness the greater the reduction in anxiety and the greater the increase in emotion regulation.

 

These are interesting results that suggest that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) may be effective in reducing anxiety and illness severity in children and adolescents with anxiety disorders at-risk for bipolar disorder. In some ways these results are not surprising in that MBCT has been shown to reduce anxiety in adults and mindfulness has been found to be associated with reduced anxiety and improved emotion regulation. But MBCT might be considered as too sophisticated for children and adolescents. So, it is significant that it can be successfully applied to children and adolescents. It can relieve their anxiety and decrease the intensity of their disorder.

 

So, improve anxiety disorders in children and adolescents with mindfulness.

 

Being mindful means paying attention to the present moment, exactly as it is. It is really hard to be anxious if you are completely focused on the present moment – what you are sensing and doing RIGHT NOW … and NOW … and NOW.” – Anxiety Canada

 

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

 

Cotton, S., Kraemer, K. M., Sears, R. W., Strawn, J. R., Wasson, R. S., McCune, N., Welge, J., Blom, T. J., Durling, M., & Delbello, M. P. (2020). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for children and adolescents with anxiety disorders at-risk for bipolar disorder: A psychoeducation waitlist controlled pilot trial. Early intervention in psychiatry, 14(2), 211–219. https://doi.org/10.1111/eip.12848

 

Abstract

Aim.

Previous studies suggest that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Children (MBCT-C) is feasible and may improve anxiety and emotion regulation in youth with anxiety disorders at-risk for bipolar disorder. However, controlled studies are warranted to replicate and extend these findings.

Methods.

In the current study, 24 youth with anxiety disorders who have at least one parent with bipolar disorder participated in a MBCT-C treatment period (n = 24; Mage = 13.6, 75% girls, 79% White) with a subset also participating in a prior psychoeducation waitlist control period (n = 19 Mage = 13.8, 68% girls, 84% White). Participants in both the waitlist and MBCT-C periods completed independently-rated symptom scales at each time point. Participants in the waitlist period received educational materials 12 weeks prior to the beginning of MBCT-C.

Results.

There were significantly greater improvements in overall clinical severity in the MBCT-C period compared to the waitlist period, but not in clinician- and child-rated anxiety, emotion regulation or mindfulness. However, increases in mindfulness were associated with improvements in anxiety and emotion regulation in the MBCT-C period, but not the waitlist period.

Conclusions.

Findings suggest that MBCT-C may be effective for improving overall clinical severity in youth with anxiety disorders who are at-risk for bipolar disorder. However, waitlist controlled designs may inflate effect sizes so interpret with caution. Larger studies utilizing prospective randomized controlled designs are warranted.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7307795/

 

Improve Adolescent Scoliosis with Select Yoga Poses

Improve Adolescent Scoliosis with Select Yoga Poses

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga can be very helpful for those with scoliosis, particularly given the combination of flexibility and core stabilization needed to perform yoga poses properly.” – Sara Lindberg

 

Scoliosis is a sidewise curvature of the spine that occurs in about 3% of adolescents. It develops most frequently in a growth spurt just prior to puberty. Most cases are mild and can be treated with a brace to stop the curve from increasing. But more serious cases can be disabling and may be treated with surgery.

 

There is a need for safe and effective treatments for scoliosis. Yoga practice combines mindfulness practice with exercise and has been shown to have a myriad of health benefits including the relief of chronic low-back pain. Many forms of yoga focus on the proper alignment of the spine, which could directly address the spinal curvature of scoliosis. But care must be taken as some yoga poses have the potential to exacerbate the spinal curvature.

 

In today’s Research News article “Isometric Yoga-Like Maneuvers Improve Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis-A Nonrandomized Control Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7917413/ )  Fishman recruited adolescents less than 21 years of age with scoliosis and had them either receive treatment as usual, or yoga practice employing the side-plank pose for a lumbar curve, the half-moon and floating side plank poses for a thoracic curve, and or a side-plank, half-moon, and floating side plank poses for a Thoracolumbar curve. The yoga group was instructed to practice daily for 5 months and hold each pose for as long as they could. Instruction occurred either in person or over the internet. X-rays were taken of their spines before and after treatment.

 

They found that in the yoga group 49% of the lumbar and thoracolumbar curves and 29% of the thoracic curves had significant improvement while none of the control group did. In person and internet instruction were equally effective but compliance was better with in person instruction.

 

These results suggest that practicing a select set of yoga poses appears to be effective in treating scoliosis in adolescents. It is important that the right poses are used. Many yoga poses could well exacerbate the problem. In this study the side-plank, half-moon, and floating side plank poses were found to produce significant improvements.

 

So, improve adolescent scoliosis with select yoga poses

 

 

But yoga and scoliosis don’t necessarily go hand in hand. While many poses are perfectly safe for scoliotic spines — and some even provide proven benefits — many others can make the curves worse. To safely perform yoga for scoliosis relief, it’s important to differentiate between asanas that can help and those that pose a risk.” – Clayton Stitzel

 

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

 

Fishman L. M. (2021). Isometric Yoga-Like Maneuvers Improve Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis-A Nonrandomized Control Trial. Global advances in health and medicine, 10, 2164956120988259. https://doi.org/10.1177/2164956120988259

 

Abstract

Objective

Assess therapeutic value of specific yoga poses for thoracic and lumbar adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) taught in office or Internet.

Study Design

Nonrandomized control trial: Fifty-six adolescents (mean age 14.0 years; mean Risser 3.0) were recruited from our clinic; 41 did the side-plank, the half-moon and elevated side plank poses as appropriate (treatment group) and 15 did not (controls). Thirty curves were treated in office, 30 via Internet. Curve change was evaluated by blinded serial Cobb angles, and analyzed using Mann-Whitney U, paired t-tests and χ2.

Results

Mean lumbar and thoracolumbar Cobb angle change was −9.2 (95% CI = −11.8, −6.6) in the treatment group and 5.4 (95% CI = 1.7, 9.0) in controls. Both treatment group improvement and deterioration in controls were significant (treatment group: paired t-test t = −7.1, df = 40, p = .000; controls: t = 3.2, df = 12, p = .008). Mean thoracic Cobb angle change was −7.1 (95% CI = −13.1, −1.2) in the treatment group and 9.3 (95% CI = 4.5, 14.6) in controls. Both changes were significant (paired t-test t = −3.3, df = 21, p = .022 for treatment group; t = 4.5, df = 5, p = .006 for controls). Nine Internet patients were non-compliant vs. 6 office patients. Office patients improved 1.6 degrees/month or 5.5%/month; Internet patients improved .72 degrees/month or 3.3%/month.

Conclusion

These yoga poses show promise for reversing adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Telemedicine had greater non-compliance and lower efficacy but still produced patient improvement.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7917413/

 

Improve Physical and Mental Well-Being with Mindfulness Meditation-Based Interventions

Improve Physical and Mental Well-Being with Mindfulness Meditation-Based Interventions

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness meditation is related to improved mental health across a variety of disorders, including different anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, and chronic pain symptom reduction.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

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 mental and physical 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. There is no other treatment or practice that has been shown to come anyway near the range of mindfulness’ positive benefits.

 

Over the last few decades, a vast amount of research has been published on the benefits of mindfulness practices on the mental and physical health of the practitioners. Many reviews, summarizations, and meta-analyses have been performed of these studies. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what these meta-analyses have found.

 

In today’s Research News article “The empirical status of mindfulness-based interventions: A systematic review of 44 meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://centerhealthyminds.org/assets/files-publications/Goldberg-the-empirical-status.pdf ) Goldberg and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of previous meta-analyses of published randomized controlled studies on benefits of sustained meditation practices on mental and physical well-being. They identified 44 published meta-analyses, representing 336 randomized controlled trials, which included a total of 30,483 participants.

 

They report that the meta-analyses of published randomized controlled trials found that sustained mindfulness meditation practices in comparison to passive, no treatment, controls had a very wide range of beneficial effects across a wide range of participants from children to the elderly, over a variety of programs from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) to mobile health, over a variety of psychological issues from anxiety to psychoses, and over a wide range of diseases from chronic pain to cancer. These effects were present immediately post treatment and at later follow-ups (an average of 7 months after treatment).

 

Comparison of these mindfulness meditation practices to active control conditions such as attentional controls to evidence-based treatments, resulted in reduced effect sizes and many were non-significant. Mindfulness meditation practices had significantly superior effects than active controls for adults, children, employees, and health care professionals/trainees but not for students. They were superior for psychiatric disorders, substance use, smoking, and depression but not for physical health conditions, pain, weight/eating-related conditions, cancer, or anxiety. They were superior for stress, and psychiatric symptoms but not for sleep, physical health symptoms, objective measures, or physiological measures.

 

These findings are essentially summaries of summaries and are based upon a wide variety of different researchers, methodologies, cultures, and time frames. Yet, the results are fairly consistent. In comparison to doing nothing, passive controls, mindfulness meditation practices are very beneficial for a wide range of physical and psychological issues over a wide range of ages. But these practices when compared to other types of treatments, are less effective and at times not superior. Nevertheless, this meta-analysis of meta-analyses paints a clear picture of the wide-ranging efficacy of mindfulness meditation practices for the relief of physical and psychological issues. These results verify the unprecedented depth and breadth of benefits of mindfulness meditation practices.

 

So, improve physical and mental well-being with mindfulness meditation-based interventions.

 

Practicing mindfulness exercises can have many possible benefits, including: reduced stress, anxiety and depression, less negative thinking and distraction, and improved mood,” -Mayo Clinic

 

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

 

Goldberg, S. B., Riordan, K., Sun, S., & Davidson, R. J. (2021). The empirical status of mindfulness-based interventions: A systematic review of 44 meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials. Perspectives on Psychological Science 1–23, DOI: 10.1177/1745691620968771

 

Abstract

In response to questions regarding the scientific basis for mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs), we evaluated their empirical status by systematically reviewing meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials (RCTs). We searched six databases for effect sizes based on ≥4 trials that did not combine passive and active controls. Heterogeneity, moderators, tests of publication bias, risk of bias, and adverse effects were also extracted. Representative effect sizes based on the largest number of studies were identified across a wide range of populations, problems, interventions, comparisons, and outcomes (PICOS). A total of 160 effect sizes were reported in 44 meta-analyses (k=336 RCTs, N=30,483 participants). MBIs showed superiority to passive controls across most PICOS (ds=0.10-0.89). Effects were typically smaller and less often statistically significant when compared to active controls. MBIs were similar or superior to specific active controls and evidence-based treatments. Heterogeneity was typically moderate. Few consistent moderators were found. Results were generally robust to publication bias, although other important sources of bias were identified. Reporting of adverse effects was inconsistent. Statistical power may be lacking in meta-analyses, particularly for comparisons with active controls. As MBIs show promise across some PICOS, future RCTs and meta-analyses should build upon identified strengths and limitations of this literature.

https://centerhealthyminds.org/assets/files-publications/Goldberg-the-empirical-status.pdf

 

Meditation Changes the Brain Differently in Adolescents

Meditation Changes the Brain Differently in Adolescents

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The benefits of meditation are many with few, if any, drawbacks. If your teen is struggling, it’d be worth it to give it a try.” – Tyler Jacobson

 

There has accumulated a large amount of research demonstrating that mindfulness has significant benefits for psychological, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. It even improves high level thinking known as executive function. Its positive effects are so widespread that it is difficult to find any other treatment of any kind with such broad beneficial effects on everything from thinking to mood and happiness to severe mental and physical illnesses. This raises the question of how mindfulness training could produce such widespread and varied benefits. One possibility is that mindfulness practice results in beneficial changes in the nervous system.

 

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, mindfulness practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits. The brains of adolescents are different from fully mature adult brains. They are dynamically growing and changing. It is unclear how mindfulness affects their maturing brains.

 

In today’s Research News article “Gray Matter Changes in Adolescents Participating in a Meditation Training.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7456888/ ) Yuan and colleagues recruited adolescents aged 14 to 19 years and provided them with a 12 week training in mindfulness meditation. They and a control sample of adolescents underwent Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of their brains before and after training.

 

They found that after training there was a significant reduction in the volume of gray matter in the left thalamus, left putamen, and left posterior insula. There was no significant influence of age on the decreased volumes. Also, there were no significant increases in gray matter volume were found anywhere in the adolescents’ brains.

 

These results are very surprising. In adults, mindfulness training has been repeatedly shown to increase gray matter volume, not decrease it. The insula, in particular, has been shown to increase in volume after mindfulness training in adults. The insula is thought to underlie awareness of the internal state of the body. Since, mindfulness training usually increases this awareness, the increase in insula volume makes sense, but that it would decrease in volume in the adolescents does not.

 

During adolescents the brain is actively growing and changing. It is possible that mindfulness training affects the growing brain differently than after maturation in adulthood. This suggests that mindfulness may have different effects in adolescents than in adults. But this has not been shown to be the case. In fact, mindfulness training appears to have the same effects in adolescents as in adults. More research is needed to further investigate this phenomenon.

 

So, it would appear that meditation changes the brain differently in adolescents.

 

It is well-documented that mindfulness helps to relieve depression and anxiety in adults.  A small but growing body of research shows that it may also improve adolescent resilience to stress through improved cognitive performance and emotional regulation.” – Malka Main

 

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

 

Justin P. Yuan, Colm G. Connolly, Eva Henje, Leo P. Sugrue, Tony T. Yang, Duan Xu, Olga Tymofiyeva. Gray Matter Changes in Adolescents Participating in a Meditation Training. Front Hum Neurosci. 2020; 14: 319. Published online 2020 Aug 14. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2020.00319

 

Abstract

Meditation has shown to benefit a wide range of conditions and symptoms, but the neural mechanisms underlying the practice remain unclear. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have investigated the structural brain changes due to the practice by examining volume, density, or cortical thickness changes. However, these studies have focused on adults; meditation’s structural effects on the adolescent brain remain understudied. In this study, we investigated how meditation training affects the structure of the adolescent brain by scanning a group of 38 adolescents (16.48 ± 1.29 years) before and after participating in a 12-week meditation training. Subjects underwent Training for Awareness, Resilience, and Action (TARA), a program that mainly incorporates elements from mindfulness meditation and yoga-based practices. A subset of the adolescents also received an additional control scan 12 weeks before TARA. We conducted voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to assess gray matter volume changes pre- to post-training and during the control period. Subjects showed significant gray matter (GM) volume decreases in the left posterior insula and to a lesser extent in the left thalamus and left putamen after meditation training. There were no significant changes during the control period. Our results support previous findings that meditation affects regions associated with physical and emotional awareness. However, our results are different from previous morphometric studies in which meditation was associated with structural increases. We posit that this discrepancy may be due to the differences between the adolescent brain and the adult brain.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7456888/