Mindfulness is Associated with Forgiveness and Reduced Anger Rumination

Mindfulness is Associated with Forgiveness and Reduced Anger Rumination

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Forgiveness demands presence, reminding us that we are not the same as the feelings we possess in a given situation, nor is the person who we’ve harmed or who has harmed us.” – Sharon Salzberg.

 

Forgiveness is important to happiness and psychological well-being. It allows one to move beyond anger and resentment. It is an adaptive ability to move beyond a perceived transgression by another, not by ignoring or denying it, but by reframing it so the response moves away from negativity. This is true not only of others but also the self. Self-forgiveness is essential for psychological well-being. There is emerging research on forgiveness but much has yet to be explored regarding the processes that lead to and improve forgiveness. Mindfulness has been found to be associated with higher levels of forgiveness. So, it makes sense to explore the processes by which mindfulness is associated with forgiveness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Anger Rumination and Mindfulness: Mediating Effects on Forgiveness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7967311/ ) de la Fuente-Anuncibay and colleagues recruited university students who practiced mindfulness informally and those who were naïve to mindfulness practice. They completed measures of mindfulness, forgiveness, including self-forgiveness, forgiveness towards others and situation-forgiveness subscales, and anger, including angry or rage memories, understanding the causes of the anger, thoughts after the anger and thoughts of revenge subscales.

 

They found that the students who practiced mindfulness had significantly higher levels of forgiveness that those who didn’t. Further they found that mindfulness was associated with higher levels of forgiveness directly and also indirectly by being associated with lower levels of anger rumination which was in turn were associated with smaller reductions in forgiveness. Further analysis using the anger rumination subscales revealed that mindfulness was associated with decreased levels of anger revenge as opposed to anger memories.

 

This study is correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. Nevertheless, the associations are clear. Mindful people are more forgiving than less mindful people, and they also have a lower need for revenge for transgressions This lower revenge is also associated with forgiveness. Future research should investigate the effects of mindfulness training on anger and forgiveness to determine causation.

 

The results demonstrate as has previous research, that mindful people are forgiving people. This makes them better at social interactions as they are less likely to hold grudges. But importantly mindful people are also self-forgiving. This is extremely important for the mental health of the individual. Everyone is imperfect and makes mistakes. If this can be realized and the imperfections forgiven mental well-being can be vastly improved. Hence, mindful forgiveness is an important contributor to the overall happiness and well-being of the individual.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with forgiveness and reduced anger rumination.

 

the more you practice mindfulness, the more you strengthen your capacity for forgiveness.” – Stefanie Goldstein

 

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

 

de la Fuente-Anuncibay, R., González-Barbadillo, Á., Ortega-Sánchez, D., Ordóñez-Camblor, N., & Pizarro-Ruiz, J. P. (2021). Anger Rumination and Mindfulness: Mediating Effects on Forgiveness. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(5), 2668. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18052668

 

Abstract

(1) Background: Different investigations relate mindfulness practice as a strategy to cope with and improve negative repetitive thinking states and forgiveness. (2) Methods: The aim is to analyze the mediating processes of mindfulness as a trait and the changes in the anger rumination on forgiveness. This sample comprised 264 undergraduate students (M = 24.13 years, SD = 11.39). The instruments used were the Anger Rumination Scale (ARS), the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) and the Heartland Forgiveness Scale (HFS). For data analysis, the spillover effect was calculated using 10,000 bootstrap samples for the bootstrap confidence intervals (CI). (3) Conclusions: The results confirm that the relationship between mindfulness practice and forgiveness is mediated by changes in mindfulness trait and anger rumination. Given the results obtained, it is considered appropriate to extend the study to samples from other countries, as well as to contexts of depressive rumination or anxiety.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7967311/

 

rjpizarro@ubu.es

Improve Forgiveness, Character, and Satisfaction with Life with a Smartphone Mindfulness App

Improve Forgiveness, Character, and Satisfaction with Life with a Smartphone Mindfulness App

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness can promote forgiveness. We have known for many years that mindfulness helps people cope with stress and increases their wellbeing. These studies suggest that mindfulness can also enhance the quality of our relationships with other people by affecting how forgiving we are.” – Johan Karremans

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with reducing the physical and psychological reactions to stress and increasing resilience in the face of stress. So, mindfulness training may be particularly effective in promoting well-being even during a stressful time like the lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, mindfulness training with smartphone apps have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. In addition, research has indicated that mindfulness training with smartphone apps can be effective for improving the health and well-being of the participants.

 

In today’s Research News article “Influence on Forgiveness, Character Strengths and Satisfaction with Life of a Short Mindfulness Intervention via a Spanish Smartphone Application.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7832842/ )  Pizarro-Ruiz and colleagues recruited college students during Covid-19 confinement and randomly assigned them to perform a smartphone app guided practice of either mindfulness (Aire Fresco) or mental exercises (Luminosity) once a day for 14 days. They were measured before and after training for mindfulness, positive and negative emotions, forgiveness, satisfaction with life, and 3 strengths, temperance, intellectual, and interpersonal. A strength of the study was that the control condition was highly similar to the experimental condition. This makes the results and conclusions resistant to confounding.

 

They found that at baseline the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of positive emotions, forgiveness, satisfaction with life, and temperance, and the lower the levels of negative emotions. In comparison to baseline and the mental exercise control group, after the interventions the mindfulness group had significantly greater decreases in negative emotions and significantly greater increases in forgiveness, intellectual and interpersonal strength and mindfulness, including the observe, describe, act with awareness, and non-judgment facets.

 

The findings are similar to previous findings that mindfulness training improves emotions, satisfaction with life, forgiveness and intellectual and interpersonal strength. This study, however, demonstrates that training mindfulness with a smartphone app is effective in improving the mood and mental health of college students locked down during a pandemic. Since, during a pandemic lockdown access to trained therapists is extremely limited, employing an smartphone app is one of the few available methods to receive mindfulness training. The results suggest that mindfulness smartphone apps should be recommended to help counteract the deleterious effects of a stressful and isolating situation.

 

So, improve forgiveness, character, and satisfaction with life with a smartphone mindfulness app.

 

mindfulness may meet the defining characteristics of character strength, it is really “an attentional stance, or a way of relating to one’s present-moment experience, that probably cultivates a wide range of strengths and virtues” – Karrie Shogren

 

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

 

Pizarro-Ruiz, J. P., Ordóñez-Camblor, N., Del-Líbano, M., & Escolar-LLamazares, M. C. (2021). Influence on Forgiveness, Character Strengths and Satisfaction with Life of a Short Mindfulness Intervention via a Spanish Smartphone Application. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(2), 802. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020802

 

Abstract

Mindfulness-based interventions (MBI) are a recognized effective psychological practice characterized by attention control, awareness, acceptance, non-reactivity, and non-judgmental thinking obtained through the practice of meditation. They have been shown to be useful in reducing stress and enhancing well-being in different contexts. In this research, the effectiveness of an MBI was evaluated on variables that can promote successful job performance such as mindfulness trait, positive and negative affect, forgiveness, personality strengths and satisfaction with life. The intervention was carried out through a smartphone application called “Aire Fresco” (Fresh Air) during 14 days in the middle of the quarantine produced by the Covid-19 pandemic. The study sample was composed of 164 Spanish people who were distributed in two groups: control group and experimental group, which were evaluated before and after the intervention. The MANCOVA performed showed an overall positive effect of the intervention on the variables evaluated. The different ANCOVAs carried out showed that the intervention was beneficial in increasing mindfulness trait, reducing negative affect or increasing life satisfaction, among others. Our study is, as far as we know, the first to demonstrate the effectiveness of a brief intervention in mindfulness conducted using a smartphone application in Spanish.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7832842/

 

Increase Empathy with Mindfulness

Increase Empathy with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

as we pay attention to our breath, our body, our lives, in this simple and gentle way, a natural consequence is the opening of the heart.” – Matthew Brensilver

 

Humans are social animals. This is a great asset for the species as the effort of the individual is amplified by cooperation. In primitive times, this cooperation was essential for survival. But in modern times it is also essential, not for survival but rather for making a living and for the happiness of the individual. This ability to cooperate is so essential to human flourishing that it is built deep into our DNA and is reflected in the structure of the human nervous system.

 

Mindfulness has been found to increase prosocial emotions such as compassion, and empathy and prosocial behaviors such as altruism. “empathy seems to play a key role in forgiveness and compassion toward oneself and others, allowing the maintenance, reconciliation and repair of social relationships.” So, promoting empathy is important for not only for the individual’s well-being but also for the individual’s relationships with others.

 

In today’s Research News article “.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01915/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1401267_69_Psycho_20200811_arts_A) de la Fuente-Anuncibay and colleagues recruited university students and had them complete measures of mindfulness practice, empathy, and mindfulness, including describing, observing, acting with awareness, non-judging, and non-reacting subscales. The data were examined with regression analysis and mediation analysis.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of empathy. This was true for overall mindfulness and the describing and observing facets of mindfulness. In examining the effect of mindfulness practice on empathy they found that there was no direct effect of practice on empathy but rather practice was associated with higher levels of mindfulness which was in turn associated with higher levels of empathy. Again, this was true for overall mindfulness and the describing and observing facets of mindfulness. Gender was not found to moderate these associations.

 

These results are correlational and as such caution must be exercised in concluding causation. Nevertheless, previous studies have shown that mindfulness training results in increase in empathy. So, the present results probably represent causal relationships. These results then suggest that mindfulness produces greater empathy and that mindfulness is enhanced by mindfulness practice. It is interesting that these relationships are similar for both men and women as there is a societal belief that women are more empathetic. These findings demonstrate that mindfulness improves empathy regardless of gender.

 

It is interesting that the relationship of mindfulness with empathy was true not only for overall mindfulness but also for the describing and observing facets of mindfulness. These facets represent that individual’s ability to observe and describe their internal state. Mindful individuals are more aware of how they are feeling. This suggests that awareness of one’s own feelings helps to better understand the feelings of others which is the essence of empathy.

 

So, increase empathy with mindfulness.

 

“By learning to bring our thoughts and feelings into the present and allowing them to be as they are, we become more mindful of ourselves. That enhanced mindfulness of ourselves makes it easier to read-across to the experiences of others. Just a small amount of mindfulness training can make it easier to read people’s inner states. Mindful people tend to experience more compassion and more empathy, because they have more control over their thinking.” – Mindfulness Works

 

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

 

de la Fuente-Anuncibay R, González-Barbadillo Á, Ortega-Sánchez D and Pizarro-Ruiz JP (2020) Mindfulness and Empathy: Mediating Factors and Gender Differences in a Spanish Sample. Front. Psychol. 11:1915. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01915

 

Numerous research studies link mindfulness training to improved empathy. However, few studies focus on the mediating factors of empathy. This work has three objectives: (a) to analyze the possible mediation of mindfulness as a feature in this relation, (b) to analyze the mindfulness factors that mediate in the increase of empathy and (c) to analyze the moderating role of gender. The sample was composed of 246 Spanish-speaking university students (M = 24.08 years, SD = 8.43). The instruments used were the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) and the Toronto Empathy Questionnaire (TEQ). For data analysis, the indirect effect was calculated using 10000 bootstrap samples for the bias-corrected bootstrap confidence intervals (BCI). The improvement of empathy is mediated by the changes in mindfulness trait (B = 0.233, p < 0.001), disappearing in the presence of this mediator, the direct effect of mindfulness practice on empathy (B = 0.161, p = 0.394). We did not find a differential functioning of this mediation according to gender. Observing and describing are the FFMQ factors that mediate significantly between mindfulness practice and empathy.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01915/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1401267_69_Psycho_20200811_arts_A

 

Spirituality is Associated with Better Decision Making and Well-Being at End of Life

Spirituality is Associated with Better Decision Making and Well-Being at End of Life

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“spirituality is an important component of quality of life and may be a key factor in how people cope with illness, experience healing, and achieve a sense of coherence.” – Christina Puchalski

 

Death in inevitable, but that does not mean that it has to be difficult. Suzuki Roshi at the end of his life was in excruciating pain from cancer yet he told everyone around him “Don’t worry, It’s just Buddha suffering”. He passed with a smile on his face. Augustus Montague Toplady, the preacher author of the hymn “Rock of Ages” dying from tuberculosis said “Oh, what delights! Who can fathom the joy of the third heaven? The sky is clear, there is no cloud; come Lord Jesus, come quickly!” These stories exemplify how spirituality can influence the quality of life at the end of life.

 

Spirituality becomes much more important to people when they’re approaching the end of life. It is thought that people take comfort in the spiritual when facing mortality. But, spiritual concerns, such as feelings of being abandoned by god or needing forgiveness for actions in their lives might lead to anxiety and worry rather than comfort and can exacerbate the psychological burdens at the end of life. Hence, there is a need to study the relationship of spirituality to a palliative care patient’s well-being at the approach of the end of life.

 

In today’s Research News article “The influence of spirituality on decision-making in palliative care outpatients: a cross-sectional study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7035674/), Rego and colleagues recruited adult outpatients from cancer palliative care institutes who had terminal illnesses. They were asked to complete measures of decision conflict and health related quality of life including spiritual well-being and undergo a semi-structured interviews addressing “spirituality, the importance of spirituality during illness, spiritual care, the influence of illness in the sense/meaning of life and the ability to make decisions related to health.”

 

They found that patients who indicated that spirituality was important in dealing with their illness and had a sense of meaning in their lives reported significantly higher levels of spiritual well-being, quality of life, and significantly lower levels of decisional conflict. In addition, they found that higher levels of spiritual wellbeing were associated with higher levels of physical, emotional and functional wellbeing, meaning/peace and faith, and quality of life. Also, spiritual well-being was significantly associated with lower levels of uncertainty and decisional conflict and higher levels of being informed and supported, and satisfaction with decisions. Finally, the patients indicated that spiritual care was important but there was little provided.

 

It should be noted that this study was correlative and as such conclusions about causation cannot be definitively made. But the results suggest that there are clear relationships between spirituality and the ability to cope with end of life issues. Spirituality was related to many components of well-being, suggesting that while approaching end of life having deeper sense of meaning is important in dealing with mortality. In addition, spirituality appears to be associated with better capacity to make decisions, suggesting that it aids in having a clear mind in dealing with the issues associated with the remainder of their lives.

 

It is interesting that as important spirituality appears to be for dealing with the end of life the patients reported that there was very little spiritual care available. This suggests that palliative care should include greater spiritual care. The results suggest that if there was greater spiritual care it would help ease the burden of being terminally ill and improve the quality of their remaining life.

 

Hence, spirituality is associated with better decision making and well-being at end of life.

 

Spirituality is too important and too impactful to ignore. We must work together as palliative care advocates to ensure that patients get comprehensive, person-centered care that addresses all aspects of their quality of life.” – Coalition for Compassionate Care

 

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

 

Rego, F., Gonçalves, F., Moutinho, S., Castro, L., & Nunes, R. (2020). The influence of spirituality on decision-making in palliative care outpatients: a cross-sectional study. BMC palliative care, 19(1), 22. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12904-020-0525-3

 

Abstract

Background

Decision-making in palliative care can be complex due to the uncertain prognosis and general fear surrounding decisions. Decision-making in palliative care may be influenced by spiritual and cultural beliefs or values. Determinants of the decision-making process are not completely understood, and spirituality is essential for coping with illness. Thus, this study aims to explore the influence of spirituality on the perception of healthcare decision-making in palliative care outpatients.

Methods

A cross-sectional study was developed. A battery of tests was administered to 95 palliative outpatients, namely: sociodemographic questionnaire (SQ), Decisional Conflict Scale (DCS), Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual Well-Being scale (FACIT-Sp), and a semi-structured interview (SSI) to study one’s perception of spirituality and autonomy in decision-making. Statistical analyses involved descriptive statistics for SQ and SSI. The Mann-Whitney test was used to compare scale scores between groups and correlations were used for all scales and subscales. The analysis of patients’ definitions of spirituality was based on the interpretative phenomenological process.

Results

Spiritual wellbeing significantly correlated with greater levels of physical, emotional and functional wellbeing and a better quality of life. Greater spiritual wellbeing was associated with less decisional conflict, decreased uncertainty, a feeling of being more informed and supported and greater satisfaction with one’s decision. Most patients successfully implemented their decision and identified themselves as capable of early decision-making. Patients who were able to implement their decision presented lower decisional conflict and higher levels of spiritual wellbeing and quality of life. Within the 16 themes identified, spirituality was mostly described through family. Patients who had received spiritual care displayed better scores of spiritual wellbeing, quality of life and exhibited less decisional conflict. Patients considered spirituality during illness important and believed that the need to receive spiritual support and specialised care could enable decision-making when taking into consideration ones’ values and beliefs.

Conclusion

The impact of spiritual wellbeing on decision-making is evident. Spirituality is a key component of overall wellbeing and it assumes multidimensional and unique functions. Individualised care that promotes engagement in decision-making and considers patients’ spiritual needs is essential for promoting patient empowerment, autonomy and dignity.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7035674/

 

Different Meditation Types Produce Different Effects on Attention, Compassion, and Theory of Mind

Different Meditation Types Produce Different Effects on Attention, Compassion, and Theory of Mind

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The mental procedures used by various traditions and schools of meditation are fairly dissimilar. And recent scientific research has verified that these different ways of meditating activate different areas in our brain.” – Trancendental Meditation

 

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

 

There are a number of different types of meditation. Classically they’ve been characterized on a continuum with the degree and type of attentional focus. In focused attention meditation, the individual practices paying attention to a single meditation object. In open monitoring meditation, the individual opens up awareness to everything that’s being experienced including thoughts regardless of its origin. In Loving Kindness Meditation the individual systematically pictures different individuals from self, to close friends, to enemies and wishes them happiness, well-being, safety, peace, and ease of well-being.

 

In today’s Research News article “Differential benefits of mental training types for attention, compassion, and theory of mind.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6891878/), Trautwein and colleagues recruited healthy adults and assigned them to one of three conditions; presence, affect, and perspective training. Each condition consisted of a 3-day retreat followed by once a week 2-hour training session for 13 weeks along with daily home practice. The presence training focused on attention to the present moment and contained focused breath meditation, walking meditation, and body scan practices. The affect training focused on developing an “accepting, kind, and compassionate stance towards oneself and others” and contained loving kindness meditation, forgiveness meditation, and affect dyad practices. The perspective training focused on the central role that thoughts play in our lives and contained meditation of observing thoughts coming and going and perspective dyads. They were measured before and after training with a cued flanker task measuring executive control and attentional reorienting and a Theory of Mind and Social Cognition task measuring social cognitive and affective functions including compassion. Theory of mind refers to the ability to observe self-awareness in self and others.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the other modules, the presence training significantly improved executive control and attentional reorienting. They also found that the affect and perspective training produced significant improvements in the socio-emotional dimension of compassion. Finally, they found that perspective training produced significantly higher scores on Theory of Mind (understanding beliefs, desires, and needs of others). Hence the three different forms of mindfulness training affected different abilities.

 

The findings suggest that training on present moment awareness affects attentional abilities but not socio-emotional and theory of mind abilities. On the other hand, affect training affects socio-emotional abilities including compassion but not attention or theory of mind abilities. Finally, the results suggest that perspective training affects socio-emotional and theory of mind abilities but not attentional abilities. These findings suggest that different mindfulness training programs should be employed to target specific problem areas for the participant. They also suggest that incorporating components from presence, affect, and perspective training may produce a training package that enhances abilities in all domains.

 

So, different meditation types produce different effects on attention, compassion, and theory of mind.

 

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

 

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

 

Trautwein, F. M., Kanske, P., Böckler, A., & Singer, T. (2020). Differential benefits of mental training types for attention, compassion, and theory of mind. Cognition, 194, 104039. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2019.104039

 

Abstract

Mindfulness- and, more generally, meditation-based interventions increasingly gain popularity, effectively promoting cognitive, affective, and social capacities. It is unclear, however, if different types of practice have the same or specific effects on mental functioning. Here we tested three consecutive three-month training modules aimed at cultivating either attention, socio-affective qualities (such as compassion), or socio-cognitive skills (such as theory of mind), in three training cohorts and a retest control cohort (N = 332). While attentional performance improved most consistently after attention training, compassion increased most after socio-affective training and theory of mind partially improved after socio-cognitive training. These results show that specific mental training practices are needed to induce plasticity in different domains of mental functioning, providing a foundation for evidence-based development of more targeted interventions adapted to the needs of different education, labor, and health settings.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6891878/

 

Improve Cancer Patients Physical and Psychological Health with Spiritual Care

Improve Cancer Patients Physical and Psychological Health with Spiritual Care

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Spirituality and religion can be important to the well-being of people who have cancer, enabling them to better cope with the disease. Spirituality and religion may help patients and families find deeper meaning and experience a sense of personal growth during cancer treatment, while living with cancer, and as a cancer survivor.” – National Comprehensive Cancer Network

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. These feeling can result from changes in body image, changes to family and work roles, feelings of grief at these losses, and physical symptoms such as pain, nausea, or fatigue. People might also fear death, suffering, pain, or all the unknown things that lie ahead. So, coping with the emotions and stress of a cancer diagnosis is a challenge and there are no simple treatments for these psychological sequelae of cancer diagnosis.

 

Religion and spirituality become much more important to people when they’re diagnosed with cancer or when living with cancer and also for their caregivers. It is thought that people take comfort in the spiritual when facing mortality. But, spiritual concerns, such as feelings of being abandoned by god or needing forgiveness for actions in their lives might lead to anxiety and worry rather than comfort and can exacerbate the psychological burdens of cancer or on the quality of life of cancer patients. The research is accumulating. Hence, there is a need to step back and summarize what has been learned regarding the effects of spiritual care on the cancer patient.

 

In today’s Research News article “). Interprofessional spiritual care in oncology: a literature review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6435249/), Puchalski and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the relationship of spirituality to cancer treatment. They define spirituality as ‘Spirituality is a dynamic and intrinsic aspect of humanity through which persons seek ultimate meaning, purpose, and transcendence, and experience relationship to self, family, others, community, society, nature, and the significant or sacred. Spirituality is expressed through beliefs, values, traditions, and practices.’

 

They report that the published literature finds that spirituality is related to improved psychological and physical well-being of cancer patients across a wide variety of cancers at a wide variety of stages. Greater levels of spirituality are related to greater levels of quality of life during and after cancer treatment. On the other hand, cancer often results in higher levels of spiritual distress, including existential distress, hopelessness, despair and anger at God. Spiritual distress is, in turn, associated with poorer physical, social and emotional distress. Hence, spiritual care is important for the well-being of the cancer patient.

 

The published research makes a clear case that spirituality is related to better physical and psychological well-being in cancer patients while spiritual distress is related to worse outcomes. This underscores the need for training of healthcare workers in spiritual care. It is also clear that more research is needed to discover best practices for spiritual care for a variety of different patients.

 

So, improve cancer patients physical and psychological health with spiritual care.

 

“It is not known for sure how spirituality and religion are related to health. Some studies show that spiritual or religious beliefs and practices create a positive mental attitude that may help a patient feel better and improve the well-being of family caregivers.” – National Cancer Institute

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Puchalski, C. M., Sbrana, A., Ferrell, B., Jafari, N., King, S., Balboni, T., … Ripamonti, C. I. (2019). Interprofessional spiritual care in oncology: a literature review. ESMO open, 4(1), e000465. doi:10.1136/esmoopen-2018-000465

 

Abstract

Spiritual care is recognised as an essential element of the care of patients with serious illness such as cancer. Spiritual distress can result in poorer health outcomes including quality of life. The American Society of Clinical Oncology and other organisations recommend addressing spiritual needs in the clinical setting. This paper reviews the literature findings and proposes recommendations for interprofessional spiritual care.

Conclusion

Our literature review demonstrates that spirituality is an important component of health and general well-being of patients with cancer, and that spiritual distress has a negative impact on quality of life of patients with cancer. This makes the implementation of spirituality-based interventions essential in order to support the spiritual well-being of patients with cancer. Spirituality and spiritual well-being have been proven to have a positive effect on patients with cancer. Many national (eg, Great Britain) and international oncology palliative care as well as supportive care societies (ie, MASCC) have already created specific recommendations, guidelines and working groups on this matter, but it is important to widen oncology health professionals’ knowledge about spirituality and to implement spirituality as a cornerstone of oncological patients’ care. More research is needed to further our understanding of the role of spirituality in different cultural and clinical settings and to develop standardised models and tools for screening and assessment. Findings from this literature review also point to the need for more robust studies to assess the effectiveness of spiritual care interventions in improving patient, family and clinician’s outcomes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6435249/

 

Strengthen Character with Mindfulness

Strengthen Character with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness opens the door to who we are, and character strengths are what is behind that door.” – Ryan Niemiec

 

Personality characteristics are thought to be relatively permanent traits that form an individual’s distinctive character. Engaging in mindfulness training has been shown to have a large number of beneficial effects on the psychological, emotional, and physical health of the individual and is helpful in the treatment of mental and physical illness. It also appears to be associated with healthy personality characteristics. Character strengths are group of positive personality characteristics that are highly valued such as “creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, perspective, bravery, perseverance, zest, love, social intelligence, forgiveness, self-regulation, appreciation of beauty, gratitude, hope, and spirituality.” This suggests that mindfulness may be associated with and may improve these character strengths.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Mutual Support Model of Mindfulness and Character Strengths.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6647542/),  Pang and Ruch recruited participants online and had them complete an online questionnaire measuring mindfulness and 24 character strengths. They found that the higher the mindfulness scores the higher the character strengths. They then separated the participants in those who meditated and those who didn’t. They found that the meditators had significantly higher levels of mindfulness, and the character strengths of spirituality, gratitude, appreciation of beauty, curiosity, love of learning, curiosity, hope, bravery, leadership, zest, perspective, self-regulation, and humor.

 

In a second study they recruited adults and randomly assignee them to a wait-list control condition or to receive Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. The MBSR program consists of 8 weekly 2-hour group sessions involving meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion. The participants are also encouraged to perform daily practice. They were measured before and after training and 1, 3, and 6 months later for mindfulness and the 24 character strengths. They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list controls, after training and the follow-up measures the participants who received MBSR training had significantly higher levels of mindfulness, love, appreciation of beauty, gratitude, spirituality, zest, and bravery.

 

The 2 studies suggest that mindfulness is associated with character strengths and increasing mindfulness with MBSR training produces enduring increases in the levels of these strengths. The character strengths that were most associated with mindfulness, hope, bravery, curiosity, social intelligence, zest, love, perspective, and gratitude, have been shown to be associated with greater life satisfaction. This underscores the contribution of mindfulness to psychological health and happiness.

 

So, strengthen character with mindfulness.

 

“The combination of practicing mindfulness with a focus on character strengths helps us to open the door to avenues to self growth. With improved awareness of our character strengths we can more easily overcome common obstacles that emerge when developing mindfulness and serve to “supercharge” both mindful living and formal mindfulness meditation.” – Susan Kuz

 

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

 

Pang, D., & Ruch, W. (2019). The Mutual Support Model of Mindfulness and Character Strengths. Mindfulness, 10(8), 1545–1559. doi:10.1007/s12671-019-01103-z

 

Abstract

Objectives

Numerous studies have confirmed robust relationships between general well-being and mindfulness or character strengths, respectively, but few have examined associations between mindfulness and character strengths. Two studies were carried out to explore these relationships comprehensively in the framework of the Values in Action (VIA) classification of character strengths.

Methods

In study 1, participants (N = 1335) completed validated assessments of mindfulness and character strengths, and the relationship between the two was investigated in a broad online sample. In study 2, the effect of a mindfulness training on specific character strengths was investigated using a randomized-control design (N = 42).

Results

The results of study 1 confirmed positive relationships between mindfulness and character strengths and further identified a list of character strengths that might overlap with mindfulness—i.e., creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, perspective, bravery, perseverance, zest, love, social intelligence, forgiveness, self-regulation, appreciation of beauty, gratitude, hope, and spirituality. The findings of study 2 provided further support for the hypothesis that mindfulness training could help cultivate certain character strengths. Compared with participants in the waitlist control condition, those who attended an 8-week mindfulness-based training program showed significant increases in the strengths of love, appreciation of beauty, gratitude, and spirituality, and a trend toward significant increases in the strengths of zest and bravery.

Conclusions

The results provide initial evidence for a mutual support model of mindfulness and character strengths.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6647542/

 

Spirituality is associated with Character Strength, Well-Being, and Prosociality in Adolescents

Spirituality is associated with Character Strength, Well-Being, and Prosociality in Adolescents

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Given that adolescents are at the crossroads of life and face many issues and challenges that are unique, uncertain and value-conflict, they need to critically reflect on practical interests and examine broad issues on religiously tethered and untethered spirituality in their lives.” – Charlene Tan

 

Spirituality is defined as “one’s personal affirmation of and relationship to a higher power or to the sacred.” Spirituality has been promulgated as a solution to the challenges of life both in a transcendent sense and in a practical sense. The transcendent claims are untestable with the scientific method. But the practical claims are amenable to scientific analysis. There have been a number of studies of the influence of spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health.

 

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. Indeed, up to a quarter of adolescents suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, and an even larger proportion struggle with subclinical symptoms. It makes sense, then, to investigate the influence of spirituality on the ability of youths to navigate this difficult time and develop positive qualities and better mental health.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Longitudinal Study of Spirituality, Character Strengths, Subjective Well-Being, and Prosociality in Middle School Adolescents.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6400865/), Kor and colleagues recruited adolescents (aged 13 to 17 years) from middle schools in Israel. They were measured at three points over 14 months for optimism, prosociality, spirituality, religious practices, personal devotion, spiritual transcendence, positive and negative emotions, satisfaction with life, and 24 character strengths consisting of curiosity, love of learning, judgment, creativity, perspective, bravery, perseverance, honesty, zest, love, kindness, social intelligence, teamwork, fairness, leadership, forgiveness, humility, prudence, self-regulation, appreciation of beauty, gratitude, hope, humor, and spirituality.

 

They found that spirituality was relatively stable over time and was moderately associated with interpersonal character strengths. High levels of spirituality were significantly associated with high levels of life satisfaction, positive emotions, and prosociality at all three measurement times. Hence, spirituality was associated with the character strength and well-being of the adolescents.

 

These results are correlational and as such caution must be exercised in reaching causal conclusions. But the study suggests that being spiritual is associated with positive characters in the adolescents and greater well-being and attentiveness to the needs of others (prosociality). This further suggests that being spiritual may help adolescents navigate the complex and difficult terrain of adolescence. It remains to be seen if promoting spirituality may produce improvements in adolescent character and well-being.

 

So, spirituality is associated with character strength, well-being, and prosociality in adolescents.

 

Adolescent well-being has received extensive attention, with ample evidence of the positive role of religion and spirituality in youth development.” – Chris Boyatzis

 

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

 

Kor, A., Pirutinsky, S., Mikulincer, M., Shoshani, A., & Miller, L. (2019). A Longitudinal Study of Spirituality, Character Strengths, Subjective Well-Being, and Prosociality in Middle School Adolescents. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 377. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00377

 

Abstract

Using data from 1,352 middle-school Israeli adolescents, the current study examines the interface of spirituality and character strengths and its longitudinal contribution to subjective well-being and prosociality. Participants were approached three times over a 14-months period and completed measures of character strengths, spirituality, subjective well-being (positive emotions, life satisfaction), and prosociality. Findings revealed a fourth-factor structure of character strengths that included the typical tripartite classification of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and intellectual strengths together with spirituality emerging as a statistically autonomous factor. Spirituality was stable over time and contributed to higher subjective well-being and prosociality both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Discussion focuses on spirituality as a fundamental character strength and an important aspect of positive development.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6400865/

 

Promote Well-Being in Adolescents with Spirituality

Promote Well-Being in Adolescents with Spirituality

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Call it faith. Call it spirituality. Call it zealotry. Our consciousness creates the reality that reflects it. If we feel apart, other, afraid, and deadened, we will live in a world that reflects and perpetuates these energies.” – Kelly Brogan

 

Spirituality is defined as “one’s personal affirmation of and relationship to a higher power or to the sacred. ”Spirituality has been promulgated as a solution to the challenges of life both in a transcendent sense and in a practical sense. The transcendent claims are untestable with the scientific method. But the practical claims are amenable to scientific analysis. There have been a number of studies of the influence of spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health.

 

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. Indeed, up to a quarter of adolescents suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, and an even larger proportion struggle with subclinical symptoms.

 

It makes sense, then, to investigate the influence of spirituality on the ability of youths to navigate this difficult time and develop positive qualities and better mental health. In today’s Research News article “A Longitudinal Study of Spirituality, Character Strengths, Subjective Well-Being, and Prosociality in Middle School Adolescents.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00377/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_925884_69_Psycho_20190305_arts_A ), Kor and colleagues recruited adolescents aged 13 to 17 years and had them complete scales at baseline and 3 and 14 months later measuring character strength, optimism, spirituality, religiosity, transcendence, devotion, positive and negative emotions, life satisfaction, and prosociality.

 

They found that spirituality in adolescents was composed of spirituality, religiosity, transcendence, and devotion and was relatively stable over the 14-month measurement period. They found that the higher the levels of spirituality, the greater the levels of character strength, life satisfaction, positive emotions, and prosocial behaviors over all three measurement time points.

 

These findings are interesting but correlational. So, conclusions regarding causation cannot be reached. But the findings suggest that, surprisingly, spirituality does not fluctuate greatly over time in adolescents. They also suggest that spirituality is associated with a relatively satisfying and happy life that is engaged positively with other people. Hence, spirituality would appear to be a positive factor that is helpful to youths in maintaining well-being over the turbulent time of adolescence.

 

So, promote well-being in adolescents with spirituality.

 

“Both religion and spirituality can have a positive impact on mental health. In some ways, they provide the same impact. For example: Both religion and spirituality can help a person tolerate stress by generating peace, purpose and forgiveness.” – Laura Greenstein

 

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

 

Kor A, Pirutinsky S, Mikulincer M, Shoshani A and Miller L (2019) A Longitudinal Study of Spirituality, Character Strengths, Subjective Well-Being, and Prosociality in Middle School Adolescents. Front. Psychol. 10:377. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00377

 

Using data from 1,352 middle-school Israeli adolescents, the current study examines the interface of spirituality and character strengths and its longitudinal contribution to subjective well-being and prosociality. Participants were approached three times over a 14-months period and completed measures of character strengths, spirituality, subjective well-being (positive emotions, life satisfaction), and prosociality. Findings revealed a fourth-factor structure of character strengths that included the typical tripartite classification of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and intellectual strengths together with spirituality emerging as a statistically autonomous factor. Spirituality was stable over time and contributed to higher subjective well-being and prosociality both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Discussion focuses on spirituality as a fundamental character strength and an important aspect of positive development.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00377/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_925884_69_Psycho_20190305_arts_A

 

Can Prosocial Behavior be Improved with Mindfulness

Can Prosocial Behavior be Improved with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“meditation made people feel moderately more compassionate or empathic, compared to if they had done no other new emotionally-engaging activity. But further analysis revealed that it played no significant role in reducing aggression or prejudice or improving how socially-connected someone was.” – James Anderson

 

Humans are social animals. This is a great asset for the species as the effort of the individual is amplified by cooperation. In primitive times, this cooperation was essential for survival. But in modern times it is also essential, not for survival but rather for making a living and for the happiness of the individual. This ability to cooperate is so essential to human flourishing that it is built deep into our DNA and is reflected in the structure of the human nervous system. Empathy and compassion are essential for appropriate social engagement and cooperation. In order for these abilities to emerge and strengthen, individuals must be able to see that other people are very much like themselves.

 

Mindfulness has been found to increase prosocial behaviors such as altruism, compassion and empathy and reduce antisocial behaviors such as violence and aggression. In today’s Research News article “The limited prosocial effects of 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/PMC5799363/ ), Kreplin and colleagues review, summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the published research literature on the effectiveness of meditation practice for the promotion of prosocial behaviors. They reviewed randomized controlled trials that examined meditation or mindfulness effects on “empathy, relationship, connectedness, compassion, love, interpersonal, anger, social, altruism, outgroup, thankfulness, forgiveness, prosocial.”

 

They found 16 published randomized controlled trials. The meta-analysis indicated that there were overall small but significant effects of meditation or mindfulness training on prosocial behavior, especially compassion and empathy. There were no significant effects on aggression or prejudice. These results suggest that meditation or mindfulness training has small but positive effects on prosocial but not antisocial behaviors.

 

Limiting the interpretation of the findings, they found that the effects on compassion were only present when the trainer for meditation or mindfulness was a listed author on the study. This raises the possibility that experimenter bias may have had a major influence such that the beliefs of the researcher that the training would be effective influenced the participants behaviors. In addition, they found that the effects on compassion were only present when the control, comparison, condition was passive, such as a wait-list or no-treatment control, with no significant effects when an active, alternative treatment, control condition was included. This raises the possibility that participant expectancies may have had major influences such that the beliefs of the participants that the training would be effective influenced the participants behaviors. Hence, the small positive results on prosocial behaviors may have been due to weaknesses in the research designs of the studies rather than to the effects of meditation and mindfulness training.

 

These results are important in that they point to issues with the research design that may have been responsible for significant effects. This calls into question the actual effectiveness of meditation and mindfulness training on prosocial behavior. Obviously, more tightly controlled research is necessary to determine if meditation and mindfulness training can be used to improve positive social behaviors.

 

Mindfulness is more than just moment-to-moment awareness. It is a kind, curious awareness that helps us relate to ourselves and others with compassion.”Shauna Shapiro

 

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

 

Kreplin, U., Farias, M., & Brazil, I. A. (2018). The limited prosocial effects of meditation: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Scientific Reports, 8, 2403. http://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-20299-z

 

Abstract

Many individuals believe that meditation has the capacity to not only alleviate mental-illness but to improve prosociality. This article systematically reviewed and meta-analysed the effects of meditation interventions on prosociality in randomized controlled trials of healthy adults. Five types of social behaviours were identified: compassion, empathy, aggression, connectedness and prejudice. Although we found a moderate increase in prosociality following meditation, further analysis indicated that this effect was qualified by two factors: type of prosociality and methodological quality. Meditation interventions had an effect on compassion and empathy, but not on aggression, connectedness or prejudice. We further found that compassion levels only increased under two conditions: when the teacher in the meditation intervention was a co-author in the published study; and when the study employed a passive (waiting list) control group but not an active one. Contrary to popular beliefs that meditation will lead to prosocial changes, the results of this meta-analysis showed that the effects of meditation on prosociality were qualified by the type of prosociality and methodological quality of the study. We conclude by highlighting a number of biases and theoretical problems that need addressing to improve quality of research in this area.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5799363/