Improve Physical and Mental Health during Aging with Mindfulness

 

Improve Physical and Mental Health during Aging with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The healthier and more active one’s lifestyle, the more likely he or she will maintain cognitive performance over time. And meditation may be a key ingredient for ensuring brain health and maintaining good mental performance.“ – Grace Bullock

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. The elderly frequently have problems with attention, thinking, and memory abilities, known as mild cognitive impairment. An encouraging new development is that mindfulness practices such as meditation training and mindful movement practices can significantly reduce these declines in cognitive ability. In addition, it has been found that

mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue. Indeed, the brains of practitioners of meditation have been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners.

 

In today’s Research News article “Long-Term Physical Exercise and Mindfulness Practice in an Aging Population.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00358/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1832518_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20220317_arts_A&utm_source=sfmc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Article+Alerts+V4.1-Frontiers&utm_term=%%%3d+++++++REDIRECTTO(+++++CONCAT(%27http%3a%2f%2fjournal.frontiersin.org%2farticle%2f%27%2c+TreatAsContent(field(%40article%2c+%27DOI__c%27))%2c+%27%2ffull%3futm_source%3dF-AAE%26utm_medium%3dEMLF%26utm_campaign%3dMRK_%27%2c+TreatAsContent(JobID)%2c+%27_%27%2c+TreatAsContent(%40FieldId)%2c+%27_%27%2c+TreatAsContent(Substring(Replace(Field(%40field%2c+%27Name%27)%2c+%27+%27%2c+%27%27)%2c+0%2c+6))% ) Tang and colleagues compared older adults (average age of 64 years) who were either experienced (> 10 years) meditators or exercisers on physical, mental, immune, stress, and brain plasticity measures.

 

They report that the older adults who exercised had superior cardiovascular and respiratory fitness. But the older adults who meditated had superior physiological relaxation, quality of life, immune response, stress response, and brain plasticity. They conclude that the optimum results for older adults would be produced by combining meditation and exercise. Regardless, it is clear that meditation restrains the physical and mental deterioration with aging.

 

it’s heartening to know that age may not only bring wisdom or sore knees, but also more mindfulness.” – Jenn Director Knudsen 

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Tang Y-Y, Fan Y, Lu Q, Tan L-H, Tang R, Kaplan RM, Pinho MC, Thomas BP, Chen K, Friston KJ and Reiman EM (2020) Long-Term Physical Exercise and Mindfulness Practice in an Aging Population. Front. Psychol. 11:358. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00358

 

Previous studies have shown that physical exercise and mindfulness meditation can both lead to improvement in physical and mental health. However, it is unclear whether these two forms of training share the same underlying mechanisms. We compared two groups of older adults with 10 years of mindfulness meditation (integrative body-mind training, IBMT) or physical exercise (PE) experience to demonstrate their effects on brain, physiology and behavior. Healthy older adults were randomly selected from a large community health project and the groups were compared on measures of quality of life, autonomic activity (heart rate, heart rate variability, skin conductance response, respiratory amplitude/rate), immune function (secretory Immunoglobulin A, sIgA), stress hormone (cortisol) and brain imaging (resting state functional connectivity, structural differences). In comparison with PE, we found significantly higher ratings for the IBMT group on dimensions of life quality. Parasympathetic activity indexed by skin conductance response and high-frequency heart rate variability also showed more favorable outcomes in the IBMT group. However, the PE group showed lower basal heart rate and greater chest respiratory amplitude. Basal sIgA level was significantly higher and cortisol concentration was lower in the IBMT group. Lastly, the IBMT group had stronger brain connectivity between the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and the striatum at resting state, as well as greater volume of gray matter in the striatum. Our results indicate that mindfulness meditation and physical exercise function in part by different mechanisms, with PE increasing physical fitness and IBMT inducing plasticity in the central nervous systems. These findings suggest combining physical and mental training may achieve better health and quality of life results for an aging population.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00358/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1832518_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20220317_arts_A&utm_source=sfmc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Article+Alerts+V4.1-Frontiers&utm_term=%%%3d+++++++REDIRECTTO(+++++CONCAT(%27http%3a%2f%2fjournal.frontiersin.org%2farticle%2f%27%2c+TreatAsContent(field(%40article%2c+%27DOI__c%27))%2c+%27%2ffull%3futm_source%3dF-AAE%26utm_medium%3dEMLF%26utm_campaign%3dMRK_%27%2c+TreatAsContent(JobID)%2c+%27_%27%2c+TreatAsContent(%40FieldId)%2c+%27_%27%2c+TreatAsContent(Substring(Replace(Field(%40field%2c+%27Name%27)%2c+%27+%27%2c+%27%27)%2c+0%2c+6))%

 

Improve Cognitive and Socio-Emotional Skills in Children with Mindfulness

Improve Cognitive and Socio-Emotional Skills in Children with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Teaching mindfulness to kids can also help shape three critical skills developed in early childhood: paying attention and remembering information, shifting back and forth between tasks, and behaving appropriately with others.” – Christopher Willard

 

Childhood is a miraculous period during which the child is dynamically absorbing information from every aspect of its environment. This is particularly evident during the elementary school years. Mindfulness training in school has been shown to have very positive effects. These include improvements in the cognitive, psychological, emotional and social domains. Importantly, mindfulness training in school appears to improve attentional ability which is fundamental to success in all aspects of academic performance. The research evidence has been accumulating. So, there is a need to summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Exploring the Effects of Meditation Techniques Used by Mindfulness-Based Programs on the Cognitive, Social-Emotional, and Academic Skills of Children: A Systematic Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.660650/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1778822_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211123_arts_A ) Filipe and colleagues review and summarize the published controlled research studies on the effects of mindfulness training on 6-12 year old children. They found 29 published research articles.

 

They report that the published research found that mindfulness training produced significant improvements in the children’s cognitive skills, including overall executive functions, attention, concentration, inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility, and immediate auditory-verbal memory. They also found that there were significant improvements in socio-emotional skills, including stress, wellbeing, mindfulness, self-esteem, resilience, psychological happiness, empathy, perspective-taking, emotional control, optimism, depression, internalizing problems, peer aggression, prosocial behavior, peer acceptance, anxiety, self-control, self-regulation, mental health problems, quality of life, self-compassion, acceptance, relaxation, happiness, aggressive behaviors, and social competence. But only one of the 29 studies reported improvements in academic skills.

 

The published research makes a strong case for the effectiveness of mindfulness training to improve the cognitive and socio-emotional skills on children. But there is little evidence for improvement in academic performance. Unfortunately, only 9 of the 29 studies employed strong research designs (randomized controlled trails). So, there is a need for further research with high quality research designs. Nevertheless, the consistency and magnitude of the findings suggest robust positive effects of mindfulness trainings on a myriad of cognitive, social, and emotional skills in children. These are important benefits for these developing humans that may have important contributions to their growth and well-being, perhaps eventually making them better adults. As such, mindfulness training should be incorporated into the school curriculum.

 

So, improve cognitive and socio-emotional skills in children with mindfulness.

 

For children, mindfulness can offer relief from whatever difficulties they might be encountering in life. It also gives them the beauty of being in the present moment.” – Annaka Harris

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Filipe MG, Magalhães S, Veloso AS, Costa AF, Ribeiro L, Araújo P, Castro SL and Limpo T (2021) Exploring the Effects of Meditation Techniques Used by Mindfulness-Based Programs on the Cognitive, Social-Emotional, and Academic Skills of Children: A Systematic Review. Front. Psychol. 12:660650. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.660650

 

There is evidence for the positive impact of mindfulness in children. However, little is known about the techniques through which mindfulness practice results in differential outcomes. Therefore, this study intended to systematically review the available evidence about the efficacy of meditation techniques used by mindfulness-based programs on cognitive, socio-emotional, and academic skills of children from 6 to 12 years of age. The review was registered on the PROSPERO database, and the literature search was conducted according to PICO criteria and PRISMA guidelines. The EBSCO databases were searched, and 29 studies were eligible: nine randomized controlled trials and 20 quasi-experimental studies. All the included randomized controlled trials were rated as having a high risk of bias. Overall, the evidence for mindfulness techniques improving cognitive and socio-emotional skills was reasonably strong. Specifically, for cognitive skills, results showed that all the interventions used “body-centered meditations” and “mindful observations.” Regarding socio-emotional skills, although all the studies applied “body-centered meditations” and “mindful observations,” “affect-centered meditations” were also frequent. For academic skills, just one quasi-experimental trial found improvements, thus making it difficult to draw conclusions. Further research is crucial to evaluate the unique effects of different meditation techniques on the cognitive, social-emotional, and academic skills of children.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.660650/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1778822_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211123_arts_A

Reduce the Psychological and Physical Responses Before a Major Dental Procedure with Yogic Relaxation

Reduce the Psychological and Physical Responses Before a Major Dental Procedure with Yogic Relaxation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Practicing yoga has been effectively proven to reduce stress levels and induce the sense of calmness in individuals, which could help in the management of several stress-induced oral conditions.” – Roquaiya Nishat

 

If you asked most people what’s one of the most common health problems that people have, probably the last thing that they would come up with is oral health. But more than 26% of adults in the United States have untreated tooth decay and 65% of adults had a dental visit every year. A common dental procedure is a root canal that is performed around 15 million times annually. But this procedure is accompanied by great anxiety and stress in the patients. This often results in patients avoiding or delaying needed procedures. There is considerable evidence that yoga practice reduces anxiety and stress. But it is not known if a brief yogic relaxation practice can reduce anxiety and stress prior to a dental root canal procedure.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of Pranayama Techniques with Marmanasthanam Kriya as Yogic Relaxation on Biopsychosocial Parameters Prior to Endodontic Therapy: A Cross Sectional Study Design.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8191219/ ) Thiruvalluvan and colleagues recruited adults between the ages of 25-50 years who were scheduled to undergo a dental root canal procedure and randomly assigned them to receive either guided Yogic relaxation for 15 minutes before the root canal treatment or to simply relax for 15 minutes. Yoga relaxation included breathing practices, mudras, and body scan exercises. The participants were measured before and after the intervention for anxiety, heart rate, and blood pressure.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the relaxation control group, the patients who practiced yogic relaxation had a significant decrease in anxiety, heart rate, and diastolic and systolic blood pressure. Hence, yogic relaxation prior to a dental root canal procedure reduced anxiety and physiological arousal in the patients. It is important to note that yogic relaxation produced superior results to simply asking the patient to relax. This suggests that yogic relaxation produces does more than simply relax the patients.

 

Yoga has been repeatedly shown to reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and heart rate in a variety of conditions. The present results demonstrate that a brief yogic relaxation can produce similar effects in patients before a major dental procedure. Anxiety and fear have been found to be major barriers to dental treatment. This leads to patients avoiding or delaying treatment allowing the damage to progress, So, a treatment that can reduce the anxiety before the treatment may be helpful in promoting dental health.

 

So, reduce the psychological and physical responses before a major dental procedure with yogic relaxation.

 

Yoga is versatile, enjoyable and highly beneficial and a great way for dentists and their patients to battle stress and anxiety. ‘– Saurabh Bhargava

 

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

 

Thiruvalluvan, A., Sekizhar, V., Ramanathan, M., Bhavanani, A. B., Chakravathy, D., & Reddy, J. (2021). Effect of Pranayama Techniques with Marmanasthanam Kriya as Yogic Relaxation on Biopsychosocial Parameters Prior to Endodontic Therapy: A Cross Sectional Study Design. International journal of yoga, 14(2), 146–151. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_133_20

 

Abstract

Background:

The root canal treatment is one of the common dental or endodontic therapies associated with high levels of patient anxiety. Yoga therapy (YT) is reported in medical literature as an effective modality in bringing down anxiety in clinical scenarios; however, the reports of the same for dental settings are fewer. The current study aimed to evaluate the effect of YT on biopsychosocial parameters in patients undergoing root canal therapy.

Materials and Methods:

A cross sectional study was conducted on 50 participants who underwent dental root canal therapy. The sample was divided into two groups: Yoga group (Group A; n = 25) who received YT and control group (Group B; n = 25) who were subjected to self-relaxation during dental procedure. The state of anxiety was measured by a 5-point single-item Likert scale and the cardiovascular (CV) parameters (systolic blood pressure [SBP], diastolic blood pressure [DBP], heart rate [HR]) and CV indices (pulse pressure [PP], mean arterial pressure [MAP], rate-pressure product [RPP], and double product [DoP]) were derived and compared between both the groups.

Results:

The intergroup comparison showed statistically significant differences in anxiety score (P < 0.001), SBP (P < 0.001), MAP (P < 0.001), RPP (P < 0.001), DoP (P < 0.001), HR (P < 0.029), DBP (P < 0.003), and PP (P < 0.116).

Conclusion:

A significant reduction was recorded in terms of anxiety and primary and derived CV parameters in the yoga group. The YT can be adopted as an interventional tool for anxiety management in patients indicated for dental root canal therapy.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8191219/

 

Meditation Alters the Brain in Conjunction with Alterations of Awareness

Meditation Alters the Brain in Conjunction with Alterations of Awareness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“meditation nurtures the parts of the brain that contribute to well-being. Furthermore, it seems that a regular practice deprives the stress and anxiety-related parts of the brain of their nourishment.” – Mindworks

 

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. There are a number of ways that meditation practices produce these benefits, including changes to the brain and physiology. The nervous system changes in response to how it is used and how it is stimulated in a process called neuroplasticity. Highly used areas grow in size, metabolism, activity, and connectivity. Mindfulness practices in general are known to produce these kinds of changes in the structure and activity of the brain. In addition, meditation practice has been shown to result in attentiveness and serenity. There is little research, however, on how these changes in the brain produced by meditation are related to the changes in awareness in the practitioners.

 

In today’s Research News article “Meditation training modulates brain electric microstates and felt states of awareness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8193519/) Zanesco and colleagues recruited healthy adults who had meditation experience and randomly assigned them to a wait-list control condition or to attend a 3-month Shambala residential meditation retreat with over 6 hours of meditation daily. They completed a daily experience questionnaire of positive and negative emotions and meditation experience. Before, in the middle and after the retreat the participants had their brain activity measured with electroencephalography (EEG).

 

They found that over the retreat there were continuous significant increases in attentiveness and serenity and the meditation qualities of physical relaxation, mental relaxation, attentional stability, and attentional vividness. In addition, the greater the increases in the meditation qualities the greater the increases in attentiveness and serenity. The analysis of the EEG data revealed that the retreat group had significant reductions in EEG Global Field Power and microstate durations and microstate occurrence frequency over the course of the retreat. Correlational analysis revealed that the greater the reductions over the retreat in the EEG Global Field Power and microstate durations the greater the increases in attentiveness and serenity.

 

These results document the increase in attentiveness and serenity and the quality of meditation that have been reported to occur over a meditation retreat. Significantly, they demonstrate that simultaneously there are changes in brain activity including a reduction in overall electrical activity and transient changes in electrical microstates in the brain over 40-120 microsecond intervals. Further the results demonstrate that reductions in these measures of brain electrical activity are correlated with improvements in attentiveness and serenity over the course of the retreat. This suggests that during a meditation retreat the brain becomes calmer and this is reflected in changes in subjective experience.

 

These results document that changes in the brain’s activities occur along with change in subjective experiences. The fact that they are correlated does no prove causation but is evidence in favor of causation. They suggest that during a meditation retreat there are changes produced in brain activity that produce greater attentiveness and serenity.

 

So, meditation alters the brain in conjunction with alterations of awareness.

 

““I think most people would agree their minds are just as important as their teeth. If we spent such a short time on our mind as we do on brushing our teeth, this world would be a different place,” Ritchie Davidson

 

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

 

Zanesco, A. P., Skwara, A. C., King, B. G., Powers, C., Wineberg, K., & Saron, C. D. (2021). Meditation training modulates brain electric microstates and felt states of awareness. Human brain mapping, 42(10), 3228–3252. https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.25430

 

Abstract

Meditation practice is believed to foster states of mindful awareness and mental quiescence in everyday life. If so, then the cultivation of these qualities with training ought to leave its imprint on the activity of intrinsic functional brain networks. In an intensive longitudinal study, we investigated associations between meditation practitioners’ experiences of felt mindful awareness and changes in the spontaneous electrophysiological dynamics of functional brain networks. Experienced meditators were randomly assigned to complete 3 months of full‐time training in focused‐attention meditation (during an initial intervention) or to serve as waiting‐list controls and receive training second (during a later intervention). We collected broadband electroencephalogram (EEG) during rest at the beginning, middle, and end of the two training periods. Using a data‐driven approach, we segmented the EEG into a time series of transient microstate intervals based on clustering of topographic voltage patterns. Participants also provided daily reports of felt mindful awareness and mental quiescence, and reported daily on four experiential qualities of their meditation practice during training. We found that meditation training led to increases in mindful qualities of awareness, which corroborate contemplative accounts of deepening mental calm and attentional focus. We also observed reductions in the strength and duration of EEG microstates across both interventions. Importantly, changes in the dynamic sequencing of microstates were associated with daily increases in felt attentiveness and serenity during training. Our results connect shifts in subjective qualities of meditative experience with the large‐scale dynamics of whole brain functional EEG networks at rest.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8193519/