Forest Walking and Forest Qigong Improve Cognitive Function in the Elderly

Forest Walking and Forest Qigong Improve Cognitive Function in the Elderly

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“forest bathing has received increasing attention due to its health-promoting effects, including enhancing immune functions and decreasing blood pressure in hypertension patients, as well as stress relief effects.” – Genxiang Mao,

 

Modern living is stressful, perhaps, in part because it has divorced us from the natural world that our species was immersed in throughout its evolutionary history. Modern environments may be damaging to our health and well-being simply because the species did not evolve to cope with them. This suggests that returning to nature, at least occasionally, may be beneficial. Indeed, researchers are beginning to study nature walks or what the Japanese call “Forest Bathing” and their effects on our mental and physical health.

 

Mindfulness practices have been found routinely to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress and improve mood. People have long reported that walking in nature elevates their mood. It appears intuitively obvious that if mindfulness training occurred in a beautiful natural place, it would greatly improve the effectiveness of mindfulness practice. In fact, being in nature has been shown to improve psychological health.

 

Qigong has been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevity. Qigong training is designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. Qigong  practice has been found to be effective for an array of physical and psychological issues. Qigong has been shown to help the elderly improve attentionbalance, reducing fallsarthritiscognitive functionmemory, and reduce age related deterioration of the brain. So, it makes sense to further study the ability of Qigong training particularly when practiced in nature to improve well-being in the elderly.

 

In today’s Research News article “Psycho-Electrophysiological Benefits of Forest Therapies Focused on Qigong and Walking with Elderly Individuals.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7999348/ ) Yi and colleagues recruited healthy elderly (65 years of age and older) participants and assigned them to one of 3 conditions; no-treatment control, forest walking, or forest Qigong. The forest programs were 2 hours per session twice per week for 6 weeks and included warm-up exercises, stretching, physio-cognitive play, and cool-down along with 50 minutes of either forest walking, or forest Qigong. They were measured before and after training for cognitive impairment, depression, and quality of life. They also had the electroencephalogram (EEG) and electrocardiogram (EKG) recorded. Bioimpedance was used to determine body composition and nutritional metabolism.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment control condition, the forest qigong group had a significant decrease in depression while the forest walking group had a significant decrease in cognitive impairment and increase in quality of life. In the EEG, the forest walking group had significant increases in Alpha and Beta rhythm power and a significant decrease in low frequency heart rate variability after training while the control and forest qigong groups did not. In addition, the forest qigong group had a significant increase in the upper body bioimpedance phase angle while the forest walking group had a significant increase in the lower body bioimpedance phase angle.

 

Bioimpedance phase angle is an indicator of the metabolic nutrition of the muscles. So, the practice of qigong in the forest appears to increase the metabolic nutritional status of the upper body while walking in the forest appears to increase the metabolic nutritional status of the lower body. This is not surprising as qigong involves frequent arm movements while walking involves more leg movements. Low frequency heart rate variability is an indicator of sympathetic nervous system activity and its decrease in the forest walking group suggests that walking in the forest is physiologically relaxing, reducing activating sympathetic activity. Finally, EEG power is indicative of brain information processing and its increase with forest walking is indicative of an increase in information (cognitive) processing.

 

These findings are interesting and suggest that walking in the forest and qigong in the forest have different effects on elderly individuals. Where forest qigong appears to be superior for decreasing depression and upper body metabolism, forest walking appears to improve cognitive ability, lower body metabolism, and physiological relaxation. Hence qigong in the forest is superior for emotional health while walking in the forest is superior for cognitive health. This suggests that the combination of qigong and walking in the forest may produce better well-being for elderly individual.

 

So, forest walking and forest qigong improve cognitive function in the elderly.

 

Forest bathing, also known as forest therapy or shinrin-yoku in Japanese, is an evidence-based practice of connecting to nature as a way to heal.” – Credible Mind

 

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

 

Yi, J., Kim, S. G., Khil, T., Shin, M., You, J. H., Jeon, S., Park, G. H., Jeong, A. Y., Lim, Y., Kim, K., Kim, J., Kang, B., Lee, J., Park, J. H., Ku, B., Choi, J., Cha, W., Lee, H. J., Shin, C., Shin, W., … Kim, J. U. (2021). Psycho-Electrophysiological Benefits of Forest Therapies Focused on Qigong and Walking with Elderly Individuals. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(6), 3004. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18063004

 

Abstract

We developed two distinct forest therapy programs (FTPs) and compared their effects on dementia prevention and related health problems for older adults. One was focused on Qigong practice in the forest (QP) and the other involved active walking in the forest (WP). Both FTPs consisted of twelve 2-h sessions over six weeks and were conducted in an urban forest. We obtained data from 25, 18, and 26 participants aged 65 years or above for the QP, WP, and control groups, respectively. Neuropsychological scores via cognition (MoCA), geriatric depression (GDS) and quality of life (EQ-5D), and electrophysiological variables (electroencephalography, bioimpedance, and heart rate variability) were measured. We analyzed the intervention effects with a generalized linear model. Compared to the control group, the WP group showed benefits in terms of neurocognition (increases in the MoCA score, and alpha and beta band power values in the electroencephalogram), sympathetic nervous activity, and bioimpedance in the lower body. On the other hand, the QP group showed alleviated depression and an increased bioimpedance phase angle in the upper body. In conclusion, both active walking and Qigong in the forest were shown to have distinctive neuropsychological and electrophysiological benefits, and both had beneficial effects in terms of preventing dementia and relieving related health problems for elderly individuals.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7999348/

 

Mindfulness Training Reduces Posttraumatic Stress Among Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence

Mindfulness Training Reduces Posttraumatic Stress Among Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“People with PTSD may sometimes feel as though they have a hard time getting any distance from unpleasant thoughts and memories. . . Mindfulness may help people get back in touch with the present moment, as well as reduce the extent with which they feel controlled by unpleasant thoughts and memories.” – Matthew Tull

 

The human tendency to lash out with aggression when threatened was adaptive for the evolution of the species. It helped promote the survival of the individual, the family, and the tribe. In the modern world, however, this trait has become more of a problem than an asset. These violent and aggressive tendencies can lead to violence directed to intimate partners, including sexual and physical violence. In the U.S. there are over 5 million cases of domestic violence reported annually. Indeed, it has been estimated that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced physical violence and 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced sexual violence from an intimate partner.

 

Intimate partner violence frequently produces Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms in the survivors. Hence, there is a need to find ways to reduce the impact of intimate partner violence on the mental health of the survivors. Mindfulness training has been shown to reduce the symptoms of PTSD. Hence, mindfulness training may be effective in treating survivors of intimate partner violence.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of mindfulness training on posttraumatic stress symptoms from a community-based pilot clinical trial among survivors of intimate partner violence.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8052636/ ) In a small pilot study, Gallegos and colleagues recruited, through family court, women who were survivors of intimate partner violence. They were randomly assigned to receive either an 8-week program of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or wellness education. MBSR met once a week for 2 hours and consisted of meditation, body scan, and yoga practices along with discussion and home practice. For wellness education the participants were provided a manual that provided information on various aspects of health, including diet, physical activity, sleep, stress management, and communication. They received a weekly check-in phone calls regarding the use of the manual. The participants were measured before and after training and 4-weeks later for physical and sexual assault experiences, post-traumatic stress symptoms, emotion regulation, and attention. They also had their heart rate variability measured at rest and during exposure to positive, neutral, or negative (trauma related) pictures.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline, the women who received mindfulness training had significantly lower levels of post-traumatic stress symptoms and higher levels of emotion regulation, while the wellness education participants did not. This was true immediately after treatment and also 4 weeks later. There were also non-significant increases in heart rate variability while viewing trauma-related pictures in the mindfulness group and decreases in the wellness education group.

 

This is a pilot study of a small sample (29 women) and was not powered to detect significant differences between groups. The results, however were encouraging, suggesting that mindfulness training tends to relieve the symptoms of trauma, improve emotion regulation and produce relaxation of the autonomic nervous system in women who were survivors of intimate partner violence. In previous research it has been shown that mindfulness training reduces post-traumatic stress symptoms, improves emotion regulation, and relaxes the autonomic nervous system. The contribution of the present study is to suggest that mindfulness training might also be effective in the treatment of women who have survived intimate partner violence. The results, then, suggest that a large randomized controlled trial should be conducted,

 

So, reduce posttraumatic stress among survivors of intimate partner violence with mindfulness.

 

PTSD is really a different way of seeing the world, and is also seen at the level of physiology. But by going through a couple of months of making an effort to change thoughts and behaviors, that physiological syndrome can also change back again.” – Tony King

 

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

Gallegos, A. M., Heffner, K. L., Cerulli, C., Luck, P., McGuinness, S., & Pigeon, W. R. (2020). Effects of mindfulness training on posttraumatic stress symptoms from a community-based pilot clinical trial among survivors of intimate partner violence. Psychological trauma : theory, research, practice and policy, 12(8), 859–868. https://doi.org/10.1037/tra0000975

Abstract

Objective:

Exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) is a significant public health issue associated with deleterious mental and medical health comorbidities, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The hallmark symptoms of posttraumatic stress (PTS), even when not meeting the threshold for a diagnosis of PTSD, appear to be underpinned by poor self-regulation in multiple domains, including emotion, cognitive control, and physiological stress. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) holds promise for treating PTS symptoms because evidence suggests it targets these domains. The current study was a pilot randomized clinical trial designed to examine changes in emotion regulation, attentional function, and physiological stress dysregulation among women IPV survivors with elevated PTS symptoms after participation in a group-based, 8-week MBSR program.

Method:

In total, 29 participants were randomized to receive MBSR (n = 19) or an active control (n = 10). Assessments were conducted at study entry, as well as 8 and 12 weeks later.

Results:

Between-group differences on primary outcomes were nonsignificant; however, when exploring within groups, statistically significant decreases in PTS symptoms, F(1.37, 16.53) = 5.19, p < .05, and emotion dysregulation, F(1.31, 14.46) = 9.36, p < .01, were observed after MBSR but not after the control intervention. Further, decreases in PTSD and emotion dysregulation were clinically significant for MBSR participants but not control participants.

Conclusions:

These preliminary data signal that MBSR may improve PTS symptoms and emotion regulation and suggest further study of the effectiveness of PTSD interventions guided by integrative models of MBSR mechanisms and psychophysiological models of stress regulation.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8052636/

 

Reduce Pain and Relax the Autonomic Nervous System with Mindfulness

Reduce Pain and Relax the Autonomic Nervous System with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“When we impose a litany of negativity upon our pain, it only becomes worse, and potentially elicits other difficulties including depression and anxiety. When we become more aware of what we are actually experiencing, without the overlay of our judgment, the overall perception of pain is reduced.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

We all have to deal with pain. It’s inevitable, but hopefully it’s mild and short lived. For a wide swath of humanity, however, pain is a constant in their lives. At least 100 million adult Americans have chronic pain conditions. The most common treatment for chronic pain is drugs. These include over-the-counter analgesics and opioids. But opioids are dangerous and highly addictive. Prescription opioid overdoses kill more than 14,000 people annually. So, there is a great need to find safe and effective ways to lower the psychological distress and improve the individual’s ability to cope with the pain.

 

There is an accumulating volume of research findings that demonstrate that mindfulness practices, in general, are effective in treating pain. Mindfulness appears to work by changing how the patient relates to pain rather than actually reducing or eliminating the pain. What is not known is the mechanism by which mindfulness affects chronic pain.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Role of Heart Rate Variability in Mindfulness-Based Pain Relief.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6994350/ ) Adler-Neal and colleagues recruited healthy adult non-meditators and randomly assigned them to either a meditation or sham-meditation group. The group met for 4 25-minute sessions over 7 days and practiced focused breath meditation or sham-meditation. In the sham-meditation sessions the participants were told every 2 to 3 minutes to close their eyes and take a deep breath. They were measured before and after training for respiration and heart rate variability. In addition, the participants underwent noxious non-damaging thermal stimulation on the calf of the leg and rated their pain levels.

 

They found that after both meditation and sham-meditation training there was a significant reduction in pain intensity. pain unpleasantness, and respiration rate and increase in heart rate variability, with no group differences. They also found for the meditation group only that the greater the heart rate variability the lower the pain unpleasantness ratings.

 

Heart rate variability refers to the change in the time intervals between consecutive heart beats. Higher levels of HRV are indicative of flexibility in the Autonomic Nervous System and are associated with adaptability to varying environments and lower stress levels. Higher heart rate variability is an indicator of physiological relaxation. This relaxation may well underlie the reduced pain unpleasantness. Since contemplative practices such as meditation increases heart rate variability it makes sense that these practices would also lower the perception of pain.

 

It is interesting that sham-meditation had similar effects as real meditation on pain and heart rate variability. This suggests that mindfulness reduction in pain may be due to a placebo effect where the participants’ belief that the intervention would reduce pain produced reduced perception of pain. But it could also be that the sham-meditation was actually a mindfulness practice. By focusing the participant’s attention on the breath, it might have increased mindfulness. It remains for future research to investigate this possibility.

 

So, reduce pain and relax the autonomic nervous system with mindfulness.

 

The ancient Buddhist text called the Sullatta Sutta states that mindfulness practitioners have the ability to experience pain but then let go of it.” – Brain Tap

 

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

 

Adler-Neal, A. L., Waugh, C. E., Garland, E. L., Shaltout, H. A., Diz, D. I., & Zeidan, F. (2020). The Role of Heart Rate Variability in Mindfulness-Based Pain Relief. The journal of pain, 21(3-4), 306–323. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpain.2019.07.003

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Mindfulness and sham mindfulness meditation reduced pain during noxious heat
  • Mindfulness and sham mindfulness meditation increased heart rate variability (HRV)
  • Mindfulness-based pain relief was associated with higher HRV
  • Higher HRV during sham mindfulness meditation was associated with higher pain

Abstract

Mindfulness meditation is a self-regulatory practice premised on sustaining non-reactive awareness of arising sensory events that reliably reduces pain. Yet, the specific analgesic mechanisms supporting mindfulness have not been comprehensively disentangled from the potential non-specific factors supporting this technique. Increased parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) activity is associated with pain relief corresponding to a number of cognitive manipulations. However, the relationship between the PNS and mindfulness-based pain attenuation remains unknown. The primary objective of the present study was to determine the role of high frequency heart rate variability (HF HRV), a marker of PNS activity, during mindfulness-based pain relief as compared to a validated, sham-mindfulness meditation technique that served as a breathing-based control. Sixty-two healthy volunteers (31 females; 31 males) were randomized to a four-session (25 minutes/session) mindfulness or sham-mindfulness training regimen. Before and after each group’s respective training, participants were administered noxious (49°C) and innocuous (35°C) heat to the right calf. HF HRV and respiration rate were recorded during thermal stimulation and pain intensity and unpleasantness ratings were collected after each stimulation series. The primary analysis revealed that during mindfulness meditation, higher HF HRV was more strongly associated with lower pain unpleasantness ratings when compared to sham-mindfulness meditation (B = −0.82, p = 0.04). This finding is in line with the prediction that mindfulness-based meditation engages distinct mechanisms from sham-mindfulness meditation to reduce pain. However, the same prediction was not confirmed for pain intensity ratings (B = −0.41). Secondary analyses determined that mindfulness and sham-mindfulness meditation similarly reduced pain ratings, decreased respiration rate, and increased HF HRV (between group ps < 0.05). More mechanistic work is needed to reliably determine the role of parasympathetic activation in mindfulness-based pain relief as compared to other meditative techniques.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6994350/

 

Improve Prisoner’s Physical and Psychological Well-Being with Mindfulness

Improve Prisoner’s Physical and Psychological Well-Being with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“inmates participating in a 20-24 week meditation program showed a reduction in trouble sleeping, improved anger management capabilities, and lower levels of stress and anxiety.” – Mindfulness Strategies

 

Around 2 ¼ million people are incarcerated in the United States. Even though prisons are euphemistically labelled correctional facilities very little correction actually occurs. This is supported by the rates of recidivism. About three quarters of prisoners who are released commit crimes and are sent back to prison within 5-years. The lack of actual treatment for the prisoners leaves them ill equipped to engage positively in society either inside or outside of prison. Hence, there is a need for effective treatment programs that help the prisoners while in prison and prepares them for life outside the prison.

 

Contemplative practices are well suited to the prison environment. Mindfulness training teaches skills that may be very important for prisoners. In particular, it puts the practitioner in touch with their own bodies and feelings. It improves present moment awareness and helps to overcome rumination about the past and negative thinking about the future. It also relieves stress and improves overall health and well-being. Finally, mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in treating depressionanxiety, and anger and to help overcome trauma in male prisoners.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Pragmatic Study of the Impact of a Brief Mindfulness Intervention on Prisoners and Staff in a Category B Prison and Men Subject to Community-Based Probation Supervision.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7780272/ )  Davies and colleagues in the first of 2 studies recruited prisoners and staff and provided them with 8 2-hours sessions of mindfulness training. They were measured before and after training for mindfulness, perceived stress, provocation of anger, burnout, anxiety, depression, impulse control, and heart rate variability. They also measured prisoners and staff who refused participation in the mindfulness training.

 

They found that staff had significantly lower stress levels and heart rate variability than prisoners. In comparison to baseline both the prisoners and the staff had significant increases in mindfulness and heart rate variability and decreases in perceived stress. In the second study they recruited individuals on probation and allocated them to receive either mindfulness training or no intervention. They were measured before and after training for mindfulness. They did not find any significant changes in mindfulness after the intervention.

 

The studies were designed based upon pragmatic conditions in the prison and with probation and as a result were not randomized. In addition, there were high attrition rates; 48% of the prison participants and 57% of the community participants did not complete the study. This raises the possibility that the observed effects of mindfulness training were due to the experimental contaminant of experimental mortality, where participants who did not respond to the treatment dropped out leaving only those who thought they were improving in the study.

 

But prior better controlled research has demonstrated that mindfulness training improves the well-being of prisoners. So, the improvements in mindfulness and stress levels observed in the present study were probably due to the training. The increase in heart rate variability observed after training is an indicator of physiological relaxation. So, the mindfulness training in the prison reduced subjective stress and a physiological indicator of stress.

 

So, improve prisoner’s physical and psychological well-being with mindfulness.

 

I’ve known inmates who have, as a result of their meditation practice, move from being violent streetfighters to gentle protectors of weaker prisoners. I’ve seen inmates develop an extraordinary amount of patience with exceedingly trying circumstances. I’ve seen seemingly macho men show a tender concern for others. In short, I’ve seen people who have committed some of the most serious crimes possible — people that some might describe as “animals” or “beyond hope” — becoming better people.” – Bodhipaksa

 

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

 

Davies, J., Ugwudike, P., Young, H., Hurrell, C., & Raynor, P. (2021). A Pragmatic Study of the Impact of a Brief Mindfulness Intervention on Prisoners and Staff in a Category B Prison and Men Subject to Community-Based Probation Supervision. International journal of offender therapy and comparative criminology, 65(1), 136–156. https://doi.org/10.1177/0306624X20944664

 

Abstract

Objectives:

This article presents two studies assessing the impact of mindfulness in prison (prisoners and staff) and non-custodial settings.

Method:

Study 1—prisoners (n = 17) and staff (n = 15) in a UK prison completed a mindfulness program; 16 individuals acted as a single time point comparison. Data were collected using self-report, computer based and physiological measurement. Study 2—men under community probation supervision were allocated to mindfulness (completed, n = 28) or TAU (n = 27). Data were collected using self-report mindfulness measures.

Results:

Study 1—statistically significant (increases in mindfulness skills (η2p = .234 to η2p = .388), cognitive control (η2p = .28), and heart rate variability (SDNN; η2p = .41) along with significant decreases in stress (η2p = .398) were found. In study 2, the mindfulness group showed non-significant improvements in mindfulness skills.

Conclusion:

The findings suggest brief mindfulness interventions could make an important contribution to offender rehabilitation and custodial staff wellbeing.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7780272/

 

Improve Caregivers Psychological and Physiological Health with Meditation

Improve Caregivers Psychological and Physiological Health with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Feel overwhelmed with the responsibilities of caring for a loved one? One of the most effective ways to avoid burnout is engaging in a mindfulness practice like meditation.” – Audrey Meinertzhagen

 

There is a tremendous demand for caregiving in the US. It is estimated that over 65 million (29% of the adult population) provides care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged, averaging 20 hours per week spent caring for their loved ones. This caregiving comes at a cost exacting a tremendous toll on caregivers’ health and well-being. Caregiving has been associated with increased levels of depression and anxiety as well as higher use of psychoactive medications, poorer self-reported physical health, compromised immune function, and increased mortality. Mindfulness practice for caregivers has been shown to help them cope with the physical and psychological demands of caregiving.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Meditation on Mental Health and Cardiovascular Balance in Caregivers.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7828286/ ) Díaz-Rodríguez and colleagues recruited caregivers for dependent family members for at least 2 years. They were assigned to either no treatment or to receive twice weekly, 2-hour, sessions of focused meditation training on the basis of availability for the training sessions. They were measured before and after training for happiness, anxiety, depression, heart rate, heart rate variability, and blood pressure.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control group, the group that received meditation training were significant higher in happiness and heart rate variability and significantly lower in anxiety, heart rate, and blood pressure. Hence meditation training improved the mental health and cardiovascular balance of caregivers.

 

These are excellent results. A higher level of heart rate variability is an indicator of increased parasympathetic and reduced sympathetic nervous system activity. Hence, the relaxation promoting portion of the autonomic nervous system increases while the portion promoting activation and arousal decreases. This is further evidenced by the significant decrease in heart rate and blood pressure. This suggest that a 4-week training in meditation improves caregivers’ psychological and physiological state. The effectiveness of the caregiving was not measured but based upon the improvements observed it would be expected that the quality of caregiving would also be improved. This suggests that meditation training should be recommended for caregivers.

 

So, improve caregivers psychological and physiological health with meditation.

 

Caregiving is a tough job and the stress can seriously affect your physical and mental health. An effective and simple way to combat that is to meditate.” – Daily Caring

 

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

 

Díaz-Rodríguez, L., Vargas-Román, K., Sanchez-Garcia, J. C., Rodríguez-Blanque, R., Cañadas-De la Fuente, G. A., & De La Fuente-Solana, E. I. (2021). Effects of Meditation on Mental Health and Cardiovascular Balance in Caregivers. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(2), 617. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020617

 

Abstract

Background: Caring for a loved one can be rewarding but is also associated with substantial caregiver burden, developing mental outcomes and affecting happiness. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of a four-week, 16-h presential meditation program on physiological and psychological parameters and vagal nerve activity in high-burden caregivers, as compared to a control group. Methods: A non-randomized repeated-measures controlled clinical trial was conducted. Results: According to the ANCOVA results, the global happiness score (F = 297.42, p < 0.001) and the scores for all subscales were significantly higher in the experimental group than in the control group at 5 weeks. Anxiety levels were also significantly reduced in the experimental group (F = 24.92, p < 0.001), systolic (F = 16.23, p < 0.001) and diastolic blood (F = 34.39, p < 0.001) pressures, and the resting heart rate (F = 17.90, p < 0.05). HRV results revealed significant between-group differences in the HRV Index (F = 8.40, p < 0.05), SDNN (F = 13.59, p < 0.05), and RMSSD (F = 10.72, p < 0.05) in the time domain, and HF (F = 4.82 p < 0.05)) in the frequency domain, which were all improved in the experimental group after the meditation program. Conclusions: Meditation can be a useful therapy to enhance the mental health and autonomic nervous system balance of informal caregivers, improving symptoms of physical and mental overload.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7828286/

 

Improve Stress Responding, Health, and Well-Being with Qigong

Improve Stress Responding, Health, and Well-Being with Qigong

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Qigong is an extraordinary tool for reducing the harmful effects of stress. The three pillars of qigong practice are body, breath, and mind. If your body is relaxed your breathing will slow down. When your breath is slow, you feel more centered, more calm, and more in touch with yourself” – Kenneth Cohen

 

Tai Chi and Qigong are ancient mindfulness practices involving slow prescribed movements. They are gentle and completely safe, can be used with the elderly and sickly, are inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility or even public park, and can be quickly learned. In addition, they can also be practiced in social groups without professional supervision. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice.

 

Tai Chi and Qigong are both mindfulness practices and gentle exercises. They have been shown to be beneficial for the health and well-being of individuals of a variety of ages, but particularly the elderly. They also improve the symptoms of a variety of diseases. One way that these practices may improve health and well-being is by reducing stress. The studies of the benefits for health of Tai Chi and Qigong are accumulating and so it makes sense to take a moment to summarize what has been learned about the benefits of Qigong practice.

 

In today’s Research News article “Individual Stress Prevention through Qigong.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7579037/ )  van Dam reviews and summarizes the published research studies of the effects of Qigong practice on stress. She reports that the published studies found that Qigong practice improves the cardiovascular system including a significant reduction in blood pressure and an increase in heartrate variability, an indicator of parasympathetic relaxation. It improves the respiratory system including increased lung capacity, oxygen intake and breathing patterns. It improves immune function and reduces inflammatory responses. It improves both psychological and physiological responses to stress. It improves sleep quality and reduces fatigue. It reduces depression and both acute and chronic anxiety.

 

These findings are remarkable and suggest that this gentle safe practice markedly improves the physical and mental well-being and health of the practitioners. Many of these benefits may result from the ability of Qigong practice to improve stress responding. Stress impairs health and well-being and Qigong practice appears to counteract these effects.

 

So, improve stress responding, health, and well-being with Qigong.

 

Qi Gong helps you develop a crystal clear mind as you connect with the present moment, letting go of the stress of daily life and relaxing deeply.”- Nick Jankel

 

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

 

van Dam K. (2020). Individual Stress Prevention through Qigong. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(19), 7342. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17197342

 

Abstract

Owing to work intensification and an accelerated pace of life in general, individuals in many Western countries are often overactivated and find it difficult to switch off. However, recovery from physiological and mental activation is critical to prevent stress symptoms and maintain one’s physiological and mental well-being. Extensive research evidence indicates that Qigong, a traditional Chinese movement practice for promoting health, provides an effective means to recover from work and off-work demands. The main objective of this paper is to offer a comprehensive, narrative review of the effects of Qigong and its core components. Attention is first paid to the outcomes of work and off-work demands and stress, and the role of recovery for individuals’ well-being. Then, Qigong and its components are explained, followed by the results of scientific research. Finally, limitations and implications for research and practiced are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7579037/

 

Improve Autonomic Nervous System Function Reducing Stress with Online Mindfulness Training

Improve Autonomic Nervous System Function Reducing Stress with Online Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Research has found that meditation can positively affect a measure of heart health known as heart rate variability (HRV). HRV reflects how quickly your heart makes small changes in the time interval between each heartbeat. A high HRV is a sign of healthier heart. . . With regular meditation, you may be able to raise your HRV. – Harvard Mens Health

 

In our lives we are confronted with a variety of situations and environments. In order to successfully navigate these differing situations, we must be able to adapt and self-regulate. The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is designed to adapt physiologically to the varying demands on us. It is composed of 2 divisions; the sympathetic division underlies activation, including increases in heart rate and blood pressure, while the parasympathetic division underlies relaxation, including decreases in heart rate and blood pressure. A measure of the balance between these systems is provided by the variability of the heart rate.

 

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) refers to the change in the time intervals between consecutive heart beats. Higher levels of HRV are indicative of flexibility in the Autonomic Nervous System and are associated with adaptability to varying environments. Mindfulness has been associated with psychological flexibility and a greater ability to adapt appropriately to differing situations. Indeed, mindfulness practice improves Heart Rate Variability (HRV). It makes sense to explore the ability of real world mindfulness training with an online app to improve autonomic nervous system function as measured by heart rate variability.

 

In today’s Research News article “Heart rate variability is enhanced during mindfulness practice: A randomized controlled trial involving a 10-day online-based mindfulness intervention.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7746169/ ) Kirk and Axelsen recruited healthy adults online and randomly assigned them to either a mindfulness, music, or no treatment control group. The mindfulness group received mindfulness training with a smartphone app (Headspace) while the music group listened to music also with a smartphone app for 10 days. Before and after training they were measured for mindfulness, sleep quality, perceived stress, and respiration rate and had their electrocardiogram measured to determine heart rate and heart rate variability.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment control group, the mindfulness training group had significantly greater mindfulness and sleep quality and significantly lower perceived stress. Although the music group also had a reduction in perceive stress, the mindfulness group had a significantly greater reduction.

 

They found that during the mindfulness and music sessions there were significant increases in heart rate variability but only during the mindfulness sessions was there a significant reduction in respiration rate. Outside of the sessions, they found that the mindfulness group and not the music or control groups had significant increases in heart rate variability during the daytime, nighttime, and during sleep.

 

This was a well-controlled study in that an active as well as passive control conditions were present. So, clear conclusions about causation can be reached. The results suggest that mindfulness trained with a smartphone app increases heart rate variability both acutely, during the sessions, and chronically, outside of the training sessions across the day including during sleep. These increases in heart rate variability suggest an increase in parasympathetic activity and a decrease in sympathetic activity. These reflect an improved balance and relaxation in the autonomic nervous system. These increases in heart rate variability are physiological measures reflecting the psychological measures of decreased perceived stress and improved sleep quality. Hence, online mindfulness training of relatively short duration is capable of improving both physiological and psychological indicators of stress and improving sleep.

 

So, improve autonomic nervous system function reducing stress with online mindfulness training.

 

Generally speaking, a low and irregular HRV indicates a stressed state and a high and regular HRV indicates a relaxed state such as mindfulness.” – Mindfio

 

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

 

Kirk, U., & Axelsen, J. L. (2020). Heart rate variability is enhanced during mindfulness practice: A randomized controlled trial involving a 10-day online-based mindfulness intervention. PloS one, 15(12), e0243488. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0243488

 

Abstract

Objectives

The goal of the present study was to probe the effects of mindfulness practice in a naturalistic setting as opposed to a lab-based environment in the presence of continuous heart rate variability (HRV) measurements. The specific experimental goals were to examine the effects of a brief 10-day online-based mindfulness intervention on both chronic and acute HRV responses.

Method

We conducted a fully randomized 10-day longitudinal trial of mindfulness practice, explicitly controlling for practice effects with an active-control group (music listening) and a non-intervention control group. To assess chronic cardiovascular effects, we asked participants in the 3 groups to complete 2-day HRV pre- and post-intervention measurement sessions. Using this experimental setup enabled us to address training effects arising from mindfulness practice to assess physiological impact on daytime as well as nighttime (i.e. assessing sleep quality) on the underlying HRV response. To assess acute cardiovascular effects, we measured HRV in the 2 active intervention groups during each of the 10 daily mindfulness or music sessions. This allowed us to track the development of purported training effects arising from mindfulness practice relative to the active-control intervention in terms of changes in the HRV slope over the 10-day time-course.

Results

Firstly, for the acute phase we found increased HRV during the daily practice sessions in both the mindfulness and active-control group indicating that both interventions were effective in decreasing acute physiological stress. Secondly, for the chronic phase we found increased HRV in both the day- and nighttime indicating increased sleep quality, specifically in the mindfulness group.

Conclusion

These results suggest causal effects in both chronic and acute phases of mindfulness practice in formerly naïve subjects and provides support for the argument that brief online-based mindfulness interventions exert positive impact on HRV.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7746169/

 

Improve Autonomic Nervous System Function and Well-Being in Cancer Survivors with Mind-Body Practices.

Improve Autonomic Nervous System Function and Well-Being in Cancer Survivors with Mind-Body Practices.

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Tai Chi and Qigong are ancient forms of exercise that fit the bill for helping patients with cancer get moving and improve their overall sense of well-being. Tai Chi practice can help with pain conditions, especially pain involving muscles and joints; it can also reduce stress and anxiety and improve the quality of sleep.” – Susan Yaguda

 

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. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. Anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia are common symptoms in the aftermath of surviving breast cancer. These symptoms markedly reduce the quality of life of the patients.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to relieve chronic pain. It can also help treat the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including stress, sleep disturbancefear, and anxiety and depression. Mind-body practices such as Tai Chi or Qigong, and yoga have been shown to be effective in improving the psychological symptoms occurring in breast cancer patients. These practices work to relieve the emotional distress of cancer survivors.

 

A potential mechanism by which mind-body practices may relieve emotional distress is by altering the balance in the autonomic nervous system. A measure of this balance is Heart Rate Variability (HRV). It refers to the change in the time intervals between consecutive heart beats. Higher levels of HRV are indicative of flexibility in the Autonomic Nervous System and are associated with adaptability to varying environments. Increased heart rate variability signals greater relaxation in the autonomic nervous system with a predominance of parasympathetic (relaxation) activity over sympathetic (activation) activity. This all signals greater physiological relaxation.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mind-Body and Psychosocial Interventions May Similarly Affect Heart Rate Variability Patterns in Cancer Recovery: Implications for a Mechanism of Symptom Improvement.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7425257/ ) Larkey and colleagues recruited female breast cancer survivors and randomly assigned them to receive 12 weeks of either Tai Chi or Sham-Tai Chi practice. Sham-Tai Chi used the same movements but did not incorporate breath control or meditative states. They were measured before and after training for fatigue, sleep, and depression and the electrocardiogram was measured and analyzed for Heart Rate Variability (HRV).

 

They found that after Tai Chi Practice, but not Sham-Tai Chi, there were significant reductions in fatigue and depression and significant improvements in sleep. In addition, in the Tai Chi group there was a significant reduction in low coherence Heart Rate Variability (HRV). Also, the greater the change, over training, in high coherence HRV the greater the reduction in depression levels.

 

This study replicates previous findings that Tai Chi practice reduces fatigue, and depression, and improves sleep. And produces changes in Heart Rate Variability (HRV). But this study used a unique control, comparison, condition of Sham-Tai Chi that had the same movements but lacked the breath control and meditative state of true Tai Chi practice. This suggests that it is not the movements of Tai Chi that produces the benefits but the mindfulness components that are essential.

 

The study also presents some evidence as to the mechanism by which Tai Chi practice improves that physical and psychological state of cancer survivors. The observed changes in Heart Rate Variability (HRV) are indicative of greater relaxation in the autonomic nervous system with a predominance of parasympathetic (relaxation) activity over sympathetic (activation) activity. This suggests that Tai Chi practice results in a physiological relaxation that in turn may be responsible for the physical and psychological benefits of the practice.

 

Some advantages of Tai Chi practice include the facts that it is not strenuous, involves slow gentle movements, and is safe, having no appreciable side effects, it is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion. It can also be practiced without professional supervision and in groups making it inexpensive to deliver and fun to engage in. This makes Tai Chi practice an excellent means to improve the physical and psychological symptoms experienced by cancer survivors.

 

So, improve autonomic nervous system function and well-being in cancer survivors with mind-body practices.

 

Research in breast cancer patients has shown that tai chi may help to increase strength, balance, flexibility, heart and lung function, [and] feelings of well-being.” – Breast Cancer.org

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

 

Larkey, L., Kim, W., James, D., Kishida, M., Vizcaino, M., Huberty, J., & Krishnamurthi, N. (2020). Mind-Body and Psychosocial Interventions May Similarly Affect Heart Rate Variability Patterns in Cancer Recovery: Implications for a Mechanism of Symptom Improvement. Integrative cancer therapies, 19, 1534735420949677. https://doi.org/10.1177/1534735420949677

 

Abstract

Background:

Advancements in early detection and treatment of cancer have led to increased survival rates and greater need to identify effective supportive care options for resolving symptoms of survivorship. Many non-pharmacological approaches to symptom management during and after cancer treatment involve emotional self-regulation as a central strategy for improving well-being. Identifying commonalities among these strategies’ mechanisms of action may facilitate understanding of what might be useful for optimizing intervention effects. Heart rate variability (HRV) parameters are indicative of improved autonomic nervous system (ANS) balance and resiliency and reduced emotional distress and are thus identified as a mechanism to discuss as a marker of potential for intervention efficacy and a target for optimization.

Methods:

HRV data from 2 studies, 1 examining a mind-body intervention and 1 examining a psychosocial intervention, are presented as a point of discussion about preliminary associations between the interventions, change in HRV, and emotional distress reduction.

Results:

HRV significantly decreased in sympathetic activity in response to a mind-body intervention (Qigong/Tai Chi), and increased vagal tone in response to a psychosocial (storytelling) intervention. In both, these changes in HRV parameters were associated with improved emotional states.

Conclusion:

Our preliminary data suggest that HRV may serve as an important marker of underlying changes that mediate emotional regulation; this observation deserves further investigation. If identified as a worthy target, focusing on interventions that improve HRV within the context of interventions for cancer patients may be important to key outcomes and clinical practice.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7425257/

 

Normalize Heart Rate Processes with Yoga Practice

Normalize Heart Rate Processes with Yoga Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Heart Rate Variability is the ability of the heart rate to change from beat to beat., which is based off the activity of the nervous system. HRV is a more accurate measure of a person’s health than examining only the heart rate.” – Zelinda Yañez

 

In our lives we are confronted with a variety of situations and environments. In order to successfully navigate these differing situations, we must be able to adapt and self-regulate. The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is designed to adapt physiologically to the varying demands on us. It is composed of 2 divisions; the sympathetic division underlies activation, including increases in heart rate and blood pressure, while the parasympathetic division underlies relaxation, including decreases in heart rate and blood pressure. A measure of the balance between these systems is provided by the variability of the heart rate.

 

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) refers to the change in the time intervals between consecutive heart beats. Higher levels of HRV are indicative of flexibility in the Autonomic Nervous System and are associated with adaptability to varying environments. Mindfulness has been associated with psychological flexibility and a greater ability to adapt appropriately to differing situations. Indeed, mindfulness practice improves Heart Rate Variability (HRV). It makes sense to determine if yoga practice can also improve heart rate variability.

 

In today’s Research News article “Changes in Heart Rate Variability after Yoga are Dependent on Heart Rate Variability at Baseline and during Yoga: A Study Showing Autonomic Normalization Effect in Yoga-Naïve and Experienced Subjects.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7336948/) Shinba and colleagues recruited adults who were either experienced yoga practitioners or yoga naïve. The engaged in 20 minutes of seated breath awareness and yogic breathing exercises. Their electrocardiogram heart rates were recorded before, during, and after the practice.

 

They found that the low frequency component of heart rate variability and the ratio of the low frequency to the high frequency component were normalized after yoga practice such that when the baseline levels were low the components increased as a result of yoga practice and when the baseline levels were high the components decreased. No significant changes in the high frequency component was observed.

 

The results do not replicate previous findings that yoga practice increases the high frequency component of heart rate variability reflecting an increase in parasympathetic activity which is associated with physiological relaxation. This lack of replication may be due to the brevity of the practice or to the nature of the practice where only breath awareness and breathing exercises were included. It is possible that more active components such as postures are needed to produce increases in parasympathetic activity.

 

The low frequency component of heart rate variability reflects the regulation of the heart rate based upon blood pressure. This reflects the maintenance of an adequate blood flow at all times. Hence, the present brief breath-oriented yoga practice appears to regularize blood flows. This, in turn, may reflect an increased ability of the physiology to deal with stresses.

 

So, normalize heart rate processes with yoga practice.

 

“HRV is an interesting and noninvasive way to identify these ANS imbalances. If a person’s system is in more of a fight-or-flight mode, the variation between subsequent heartbeats is low. If one is in a more relaxed state, the variation between beats is high. In other words, the healthier the ANS the faster you are able to switch gears, showing more resilience and flexibility.” – Marcelo Campos

 

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

 

Shinba, T., Inoue, T., Matsui, T., Kimura, K. K., Itokawa, M., & Arai, M. (2020). Changes in Heart Rate Variability after Yoga are Dependent on Heart Rate Variability at Baseline and during Yoga: A Study Showing Autonomic Normalization Effect in Yoga-Naïve and Experienced Subjects. International journal of yoga, 13(2), 160–167. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_39_19

 

Abstract

Background:

Yoga therapy is widely applied to the maintenance of health and to treatment of various illnesses. Previous researches indicate the involvement of autonomic control in its effects, although the general agreement has not been reached regarding the acute modulation of autonomic function.

Aim:

The present study aimed at revealing the acute effect of yoga on the autonomic activity using heart rate variability (HRV) measurement.

Methods:

Twenty-seven healthy controls participated in the present study. Fifteen of them (39.5 ± 8.5 years old) were naïve and 12 (45.1 ± 7.0 years old) were experienced in yoga. Yoga skills included breath awareness, two types of asana, and two types of pranayama. HRV was measured at the baseline, during yoga, and at the resting state after yoga.

Results:

In both yoga-naïve and experienced participants, the changes in low-frequency (LF) component of HRV and its ratio to high-frequency (HF) component (LF/HF) after yoga were found to be correlated negatively with the baseline data. The changes in LF after yoga were also correlated with LF during yoga. The changes in HF as well as the raw HRV data after yoga were not related to the baseline HRV or the HRV during yoga.

Conclusion:

The results indicate that yoga leads to an increase in LF when LF is low and leads to a decrease in LF when it is high at the baseline. This normalization of LF is dependent on the autonomic modulation during yoga and may underlie the clinical effectiveness of yoga therapy both in yoga-naïve and experienced subjects.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7336948/

 

Lower Heart Rate and Increase its Variability with Meditation

Lower Heart Rate and Increase its Variability with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

If a person’s system is in more of a fight-or-flight mode, the variation between subsequent heartbeats is low. If one is in a more relaxed state, the variation between beats is high. In other words, the healthier the ANS the faster you are able to switch gears, showing more resilience and flexibility. Over the past few decades, research has shown a relationship between low HRV and worsening depression or anxiety. A low HRV is even associated with an increased risk of death and cardiovascular disease.” – Marcelo Campos

 

In our lives we are confronted with a variety of situations and environments. In order to successfully navigate these differing situations, we must be able to adapt and self-regulate. The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is designed to adapt physiologically to the varying demands on us. It is composed of 2 divisions; the sympathetic division underlies activation, including increases in heart rate and blood pressure, while the parasympathetic division underlies relaxation, including decreases in heart rate and blood pressure. A measure of the balance between these systems is provided by the variability of the heart rate.

 

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) refers to the change in the time intervals between consecutive heart beats. Higher levels of HRV are indicative of flexibility in the Autonomic Nervous System and are associated with adaptability to varying environments. Mindfulness has been associated with psychological flexibility and a greater ability to adapt appropriately to differing situations. It makes sense then to investigate the relationship of mindfulness to and Heart Rate Variability (HRV).

 

In today’s Research News article “Meditation Practice Improves Short-Term Changes in Heart Rate Variability.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7142551/), Chang and colleagues performed 2 experiments. In the first, they recruited healthy meditation naïve adults and presented them with a 90-minute class on meditation including practice in a face to face setting once a week for 4 weeks. In the second experiment experienced meditators were recruited and received once a week for 4 weeks the 90-minute class on meditation including practice presented on video. The participants wore wrist heart rate monitors and were measured over the course of the study for heart rate, heart rate variability, and blood pressure.

 

They found that both the meditation naïve participants with face to face instruction and the experienced meditators with video instruction had significant decreases over the course of the study in heart rate and significant increases in heart rate variability. Increased heart rate variability signals greater relaxation in the autonomic nervous system with a predominance of parasympathetic (relaxation) activity over sympathetic (activation) activity. The results make sense as parasympathetic activity tends to decrease heart rate. This all signals greater physiological relaxation

 

There was no control condition in the present study. So, the experiment is open to confounding by demand characteristics, experimenter bias, expectancy (placebo) effect etc. But prior randomized controlled studies have also observed that mindfulness training reduces heart rate and increases heart rate variability. So, the present results are likely due to the meditation practice. This increase in parasympathetic activity produced by meditation training may explain why mindfulness training is effective in treating cardiovascular diseases, in overall reducing the deleterious effects of stress and producing increased relaxation.

 

So, lower heart rate and increase its variability with meditation.

 

meditation may improve your heart’s recovery from stress as demonstrated by improved Heart Rate Variability (HRV).” – Sam Sly

 

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

 

Chang, K. M., Wu Chueh, M. T., & Lai, Y. J. (2020). Meditation Practice Improves Short-Term Changes in Heart Rate Variability. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(6), 2128. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17062128

 

Abstract

Background: It is well known that meditation improves the physical and psychological condition of its practitioners. This study investigated the heart rate variability response of meditation practitioners in two Chan master teaching environments, namely face-to-face and video classes. Methods: Experimental sessions were conducted, one featuring face-to-face classes and the other featuring video classes. The difference in participants’ physiological parameters (blood pressure and heart rate variability) between the two experimental sessions was determined. In the first session, physiological parameters were recorded twice, before and after one teaching course, and the second session took place one month after the first. The first and second sessions had 45 and 27 participants, respectively. Those involved in the first experiment had no experience with meditation, whereas participants in the second experiment had practiced meditation for an average of 9 years (range = 1 to 27 years). Both experiments were conducted once a week, with each session lasting 1.5 h. Results: For both experiments, both heart rate and heart rate variability by age significantly decreased after one teaching course. Conclusions: Chan meditation practitioners benefit from receiving both face-to-face and video class teaching from a Chan master.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7142551/