Improve Teacher Well-Being and Immune Function with Mindfulness

Improve Teacher Well-Being and Immune Function with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

learning and cultivating skills of mindfulness . . .can help us to promote the calm, relaxed, but enlivened classroom environment that children need to learn. Mindfulness can also help us to be more effective at reducing conflict and developing more positive ways of relating in the classroom, which can help us feel more job satisfaction.” – Patricia Jennings

 

Stress is epidemic in the workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This often produces burnout; fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, and professional inefficacy. In a school setting, this burnout and exhaustion not only affects teachers personally, but also the students and schools, as it produces a loss of enthusiasm, empathy, and compassion. Hence, there is a need to identify methods of reducing stress and improving teachers’ psychological health. Mindfulness has been demonstrated to be helpful in reducing the psychological and physiological responses to stress and for treating and preventing burnout. This suggests that mindfulness would improve the psychological and physiological well-being of teachers,

 

In today’s Research News article “Fostering emotional self-regulation in female teachers at the public teaching network: A mindfulness-based intervention improving psychological measures and inflammatory biomarkers.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8881415/ ) Wilson and colleagues recruited public school teachers and provided them with either 8 weeks of mindfulness training or neuroscience education. Measurements were taken before and after training of reactivity, emotions, stress, resilience, and psychological well-being as well as blood inflammatory markers.

 

Compared to controls, the teachers who received mindfulness training had significant decreases in stress levels and negative emotions and significant increases in resilience, positive emotions and psychological well-being. Blood inflammatory markers also showed significant improvements. These results suggest that mindfulness training improves immune function, reduces stress, and increases psychological well-being in teachers.

 

This suggests that teachers should receive mindfulness training to make them better able to withstand the stresses of the job.

 

In the last decade, many professional development programs have sprung up that use mindfulness as a key tool to alleviate teacher stress.” – Catherine Gewertz

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Wilson, D., Rodrigues de Oliveira, D., Palace-Berl, F., de Mello Ponteciano, B., Fungaro Rissatti, L., Piassa Pollizi, V., Sardela de Miranda, F., D’Almeida, V., & Demarzo, M. (2022). Fostering emotional self-regulation in female teachers at the public teaching network: A mindfulness-based intervention improving psychological measures and inflammatory biomarkers. Brain, behavior, & immunity – health, 21, 100427. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbih.2022.100427

 

Abstract

Objective

To examine the effect of a mindfulness-based program specifically designed for teachers in reducing perceived stress and improving the quality of experienced emotion in female active working teachers. A second outcome evaluated is the associated change in cellular inflammatory activity, measured by peripheral blood levels of cytokines.

Method

Eighty-eight female active teachers from public schools from São Paulo Municipality were recruited, and randomly allocated to an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Health Program for Educators (MBHP-Educa) or to Neuroscience for Education Program (Neuro-Educa: active control group). The venue of both programs were several public school facilities, where many of the teachers actually worked. Both groups received activities during eight weeks in a 2 ​h/week regimen, totalizing 16 ​h. Sixty-five participants completed the program and pre- and post-interventions measures were taken from the following scales: Interpersonal Multidimensional Reactivity Scale (IRI), Positive-and-Negative Affects Scale (PANAS), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC), and a primary outcome in Ryff’s Psychological Well-Being Scale (PBWS). At pre-and post-intervention, blood samples were collected for the measurement of several important inflammatory biomarkers, Tumor Necrosis Factor – α (TNF-α), Interleukin 1β (IL-1β), Interleukin 6 (IL-6), Interleukin 8 (IL-8), Interleukin 10 (IL-10) and Interleukin 12p70 (IL-12P70) through flow cytometry assay. Intervention effects were analyzed via Generalized mixed models (GLMM).

Results

According to the GLMM, MBHP-Educa significantly reduced the scores of perceived stress (p ​< ​0.0001), and negative affect (p ​< ​0.0001) compared to active control group (Neuro-Educa). Conversely, an increase was observed on Psychological Well Being Scale in dimensions of Self-acceptance (p ​< ​0.0001), and Autonomy (p ​= ​0.001), as well as improvements in Resilience (p ​< ​0.0001), and Positive Affect (p ​< ​0.0001). MBHP-Educa also promoted a reduction in the levels of IL-6 (p ​= ​0.003), IL-8 (p ​= ​0.036), and increase in the levels of IL-10 (p ​< ​0.0001) and IL-12p70 (p ​< ​0.044). TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-10p70 showed results below theoretical limit of detection accepted for CBA kit.

Conclusions

Our data suggest that mindfulness-based interventions introduced as a strategy for reducing stress, promoting well-being and improve immune function can be a useful asset in promoting psychological health among teachers in Basic Education.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8881415/

 

Mindful People are Resilient, Unstressed, Happy People

Mindful People are Resilient, Unstressed, Happy People

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“practicing mindfulness may make us happier only if we learn to tolerate, make space for, and accept whatever experiences arise, rather than judging them, letting them define us, or running away from them.” – Melanie Greenberg

 

“Meditation leads to concentration, concentration leads to understanding, and understanding leads to happiness” – This wonderful quote from the modern day sage Thich Nhat Hahn is a beautiful pithy description of the benefits of mindfulness practice. Mindfulness allows us to view our experience and not judge it, not put labels on it, not make assumptions about it, not relate it to past experiences, and not project it into the future. Rather mindfulness lets us experience everything around and within us exactly as it is arising and falling away from moment to moment. There is a need to investigate the mechanisms by which mindfulness increases happiness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Resilience and Stress as Mediators in the Relationship of Mindfulness and Happiness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8850270/ ) Bajaj and colleagues had students from an Indian University complete measure of mindfulness, stress, resilience, and happiness.

 

They found that the higher the students levels of mindfulness, the greater their happiness and resilience and the lower their levels of stress. Mindfulness was associated with higher levels of happiness directly and also indirectly by being associated with higher levels of resilience which in turn were associated with higher happiness and also with lower levels of stress that were also in turn associated with greater happiness.

 

Hence, mindful students are happier, more resilient, and less stressed students all of which contribute to their happiness. Be mindful and be happy.

 

we’re happiest when we are mindful of the moment, and we’re least happy when the mind is wandering.” – Melli O’Brian

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Bajaj, B., Khoury, B., & Sengupta, S. (2022). Resilience and Stress as Mediators in the Relationship of Mindfulness and Happiness. Frontiers in psychology, 13, 771263. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.771263

 

Abstract

The aim of the present study was to examine the mediation effects of resilience and stress, two perceived opposite constructs, in the relationship between mindfulness and happiness. Mindful Attention Awareness Scale, Connor–Davidson Resilience Scale, Subjective Happiness Scale, Depression Anxiety Stress Scales short version-21 were administered to 523 undergraduate university students in India. Structural Equation Modeling with bootstrapping was applied to test the mediating effects of resilience and stress. Results showed that resilience and stress partially mediated the mindfulness-happiness relationship. In addition, resilience partially mediated the relationship of mindfulness to stress. Findings suggest that mindfulness may play an influential role in enhancing happiness through the mediating effects of resilience and stress.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8850270/

 

Be Happier, More Resilient, and Less Stressed with Mindfulness

Be Happier, More Resilient, and Less Stressed with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

There is no way to happiness — happiness is the way.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Being mindful increases happiness, improves the ability to bounce back from difficulties, resilience, and reduces physiological and psychological responses to stress. These effects are well established. But it is not known how mindfulness, resilience, and stress interact.

 

In today’s Research News article “Resilience and Stress as Mediators in the Relationship of Mindfulness and Happiness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.771263/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1816931_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20220215_arts_A ) Bajaj and colleagues measure mindfulness, resilience and stress in college students and find that mindfulness is associated with greater happiness not only by directly promoting happiness but also indirectly. First it is associated with increased resilience, and this is associated with higher happiness and second, mindfulness is associated with less stress and being less stressed, not surprisingly, improves happiness.

 

This suggests that be happier mindfulness should be practiced, to be more resilient and thereby happier mindfulness should be practiced, and to be better at dealing with stress and thereby happier mindfulness should be practiced.

 

Happiness, not in another place but this place… not for another hour, but this hour.” – Walt Whitman

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Bajaj B, Khoury B and Sengupta S (2022) Resilience and Stress as Mediators in the Relationship of Mindfulness and Happiness. Front. Psychol. 13:771263. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.771263

 

The aim of the present study was to examine the mediation effects of resilience and stress, two perceived opposite constructs, in the relationship between mindfulness and happiness. Mindful Attention Awareness Scale, Connor–Davidson Resilience Scale, Subjective Happiness Scale, Depression Anxiety Stress Scales short version-21 were administered to 523 undergraduate university students in India. Structural Equation Modeling with bootstrapping was applied to test the mediating effects of resilience and stress. Results showed that resilience and stress partially mediated the mindfulness-happiness relationship. In addition, resilience partially mediated the relationship of mindfulness to stress. Findings suggest that mindfulness may play an influential role in enhancing happiness through the mediating effects of resilience and stress.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.771263/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1816931_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20220215_arts_A

 

Increase the Levels of the Anti-Stress Hormone Dehydroepiandrosterone with Mindfulness

Increase the Levels of the Anti-Stress Hormone Dehydroepiandrosterone with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Best known by researchers as the “longevity molecule” and stress counter-puncher, DHEA is one of the most important hormones in the body. As we get older our DHEA levels decrease year after year, opening us up to disease and accelerated aging. . . Luckily, meditation provides a dramatic boost in DHEA hormone levels.” –  EOC Institute

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve health and well-being in healthy individuals. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. One of the primary effects of mindfulness that may be responsible for many of its benefits is that it improves the physiological and psychological responses to stress. Stress is accompanied by release of stress-related hormones such as cortisol. But it is also associated with release of the steroid hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) which tends to counteract the negative effects of cortisol. This would predict that, mindfulness training would result in an increase in DHEA in stressed individuals. But this prediction has not been assessed.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate in adults with self-reported stress. A randomized trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8604255/ ) Jørgensen and colleagues recruited adults with self-reported high levels of stress and randomly assigned them to a wait-list control condition, or to receive either weekly 90-minute sessions for 8 weeks of either Local Stress Reduction (LSR) or Mindfulness-Based Stress reduction (MBSR). LSR was based upon Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and differed from MBSR in a number of ways but primarily on an emphasis on cognitive behavioral changes. The participants had blood drawn before and after the programs and assayed for dehydroepiandrosterone‐sulfate (DHEAS). They were also measured for resilience, and well-being.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline, the wait-list control group, and the group that received Local Stress Reduction (LSR), the group that received Mindfulness-Based Stress reduction (MBSR) had significantly higher levels of dehydroepiandrosterone‐sulfate (DHEAS), resilience and well-being. A strength of this study was then inclusion of an active control condition, LSR. This eliminates a large number of alternative confounding interpretations of the results and makes the conclusions much stronger of MBSR causing the effects.

 

DHEAS is a hormone that tends to counteract the deleterious effects of stress hormones. Hence, MBSR improved both the psychological and physiological well-being of the high stress participants. High levels of stress are a major source of ill health. So, counteracting the effects of stress may be an important contributor to the health and well-being of the individual. This is particularly important for individual experiencing high levels of perceived stress as in the present study..

 

So, increase the levels of the anti-stress hormone dehydroepiandrosterone with mindfulness.

 

DHEA is one of the most important hormones in the body. It helps counteract the effects of cortisol as well as provide the raw materials for making other necessary hormones. Low DHEA is linked to increased risk of mortality. Individuals who practice meditation have 43 percent more DHEA than their peers.” –  Renew Youth

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Jørgensen, M. A., Pallesen, K. J., Fjorback, L. O., & Juul, L. (2021). Effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate in adults with self-reported stress. A randomized trial. Clinical and translational science, 14(6), 2360–2369. https://doi.org/10.1111/cts.13100

 

Abstract

Long‐term stress can lead to long‐term increased cortisol plasma levels, which increases the risk of numerous diseases. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfated form dehydroepiandrosterone‐sulfate (DHEAS), together DHEA(S), have shown to counteract some of the effects of cortisol and may be protective during stress. The program “Mindfulness‐Based Stress Reduction” (MBSR) has shown to have positive effects on stress. The present study examined a possible effect of MBSR on DHEAS in plasma compared to a waiting list and a locally developed stress reduction program (LSR) in people with self‐reported stress. The study was a three‐armed randomized controlled trial conducted in a municipal health care center in Denmark. It included 71 participants with self‐reported stress randomized to either MBSR (n = 24) or LSR (n = 23), or a waiting list (n = 24). Blood samples were collected at baseline and at 12 weeks follow‐up to estimate effects of MBSR on DHEAS. The effect of MBSR on DHEAS was statistically significant compared to both the waiting list and LSR. We found a mean effect of 0.70 µmol/L (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.18–1.22) higher DHEAS in the MBSR group compared with the waiting list group and a mean effect of 0.54 µmol/L (95% CI = 0.04–1.05) higher DHEAS in the MBSR group compared with the LSR group. Findings indicate an effect on DHEAS of the MBSR program compared to a waiting list and LSR program in people with self‐reported stress. However, we consider our findings hypothesis‐generating and validation by future studies is essential.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8604255/

Mindfulness Components of Decentering, Acceptance, and Non-Attachment are All Subsumed as a “Delusion of Me”

Mindfulness Components of Decentering, Acceptance, and Non-Attachment are All Subsumed as a “Delusion of Me”

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

You’re not really selfless- I am!” – Joseph Goldstein

 

Most people strongly believe that they have a self, an ego. Reflecting this, our language is replete with concepts that contain self; oneself, myself, himself, herself, ourselves, self-concept, self-esteem, self-love, self-regard, selfless, selfish, selfhood, selfie, etc. But particularly note the term self-concept. It directly states that self is a concept. It is not a thing. It is an idea.  This is important, as most of us think that there is a thing that is the self, when, in fact, there is not. A concept is a way to summarize a set of phenomena that appear to have common properties, such as fruit, or more abstractly, attention. But note there is not a single entity that is fruit. It is a set of things that are grouped together by common biological factors. The idea of attention is not a thing. Rather it refers to a set of processes. This is also true of the concept of self.

 

The problem with the idea of a self is that it can lead to not seeing things as they are, a rigidity in approaching the world, and psychological distress. Mindfulness practices are thought to alter or even eliminate the idea of a self. These practices are thought to change different components of the self, producing decentering, acceptance, and non-attachment. But the meanings of these concepts have major overlaps. This suggests that they may be measuring in part a similar component. A statistical method to tease out common factors is called factor analysis. Perhaps it can identify the common component contained in decentering, acceptance, and non-attachment.

 

In today’s Research News article “Decentering, Acceptance, and Non-Attachment: Challenging the Question “Is It Me?”.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8637104/ ) Soler and colleagues recruited adults online who were meditators and meditation naïve participants and had them complete an online survey measuring mindfulness, decentering, non-attachment, resilience, anxiety, depression, and stress. These data were then subjected to an exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses.

 

They identified a general factor that subsumed the three constructs of decentering, acceptance, and non-attachment. When the shared general factor was present the individual differences between the concepts were minimal. They labelled the general factor as “Delusion of Me”. This refers to seeing that the self is a delusion. Decentering reflects just that, acceptance reflects seeing things as they are, and non-attachment reflects an absence of a fixation on ideas like those generated by a self. So, all three concepts contribute to the dissolution of an idea of self and the advancement of an understanding that the self is but a delusion.

 

They found that the higher the levels of this general factor, “Delusion of Me,” the higher the levels of resilience. This suggests that the idea of self reduces latitude of actions making one less resilient. This in turn explains why mindfulness training significantly improves resilience. In addition, the higher the levels of “Delusion of Me” the lower the levels of depression. This suggests that the idea that there is a self leads to a rigidity in processing experiences producing expectations of how things should be, and this contributes to feelings of depression. This also explains why mindfulness training significantly reduces depression.

 

These findings are correlational and as such do not determine causation. It is possible that a lack of resilience and the presence of depression produces a concept of “Me”. But the findings open up a potentially fruitful avenue of research by specifying a specific conceptual variable which may contribute to psychological well-being. This may lead to more focused therapeutic techniques that may better treat mental illness and contribute to human thriving.

 

So, mindfulness components of decentering, acceptance, and non-attachment are all subsumed as a “Delusion of Me”.

 

delusion is a state of not realizing what it is that we actually know, and what we don’t know — and not asking the right questions. It is a state of failure or resistance to see things as they actually are.” – Sharon Salzberg

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Soler J, Montero-Marin J, Domínguez-Clavé E, González S, Pascual JC, Cebolla A, Demarzo M, Analayo B, García-Campayo J. Decentering, Acceptance, and Non-Attachment: Challenging the Question “Is It Me?”. Front Psychiatry. 2021 Nov 18;12:659835. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.659835. PMID: 34867498; PMCID: PMC8637104.

 

Abstract

Among mindfulness measures the three constructs acceptance, decentering, and non-attachment are psychometrically closely related, despite their apparent semantic differences. These three facets present robust psychometric features and can be considered core themes in most “third wave” clinical models. The aim of the present study was to explore the apparently different content domains (acceptance, decentering, and non-attachment) by administering various psychometric scales in a large sample of 608 volunteers. Resilience and depression were also assessed. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses performed in two randomly selected subsamples showed a bifactor approximation. The explained common variance suggested a unidimensional nature for the general factor, with good psychometric properties, which we named “Delusion of Me” (DoM). This construct is also strongly correlated with resilience and depression, and appears to be a solid latent general construct closely related to the concept of “ego.” DoM emerges as a potentially transdiagnostic construct with influence on well-being and clinical indexes such as resilience and depression. Further studies should analyze the potential utility of this new construct at a therapeutic level.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8637104/

 

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

Improve Teachers’ Physiological and Psychological Well-Being with Mindfulness

Improve Teachers’ Physiological and Psychological Well-Being with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness-based training can effectively reduce stress and burnout as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression at follow-up; it also shows promise in improving emotional regulation among teachers.” – Xiaolan Song

 

Stress is epidemic in the workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This often produces burnout; fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, and professional inefficacy. In a school setting, this burnout and exhaustion not only affects teachers personally, but also the students and schools, as it produces a loss of enthusiasm, empathy, and compassion. Hence, there is a need to identify methods of reducing stress and improving teachers’ psychological health. Mindfulness has been demonstrated to be helpful in reducing the psychological and physiological responses to stress and for treating and preventing burnout. This suggests that mindfulness would improve the psychological and physiological well-being of teachers,

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness meditation training effects on quality of life, immune function and glutathione metabolism in service healthy female teachers: A randomized pilot clinical trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8566766/ ) Rodrigues de Oliveira and colleagues recruited healthy teachers and randomly assigned them to receive 8 weekly 2-hour sessions of either mindfulness training or lectures on applied neuroscience for educators. Mindfulness training included “mindful breathing, compassionate communication, loving-kindness, self-compassion, mindful listening, dealing with difficulties, the 3 step meditation, walking meditation, body scan with progressive relaxation, thoughts, emotions, gratitude, sounds and breathing” and home practice. The teachers were measured before and after training and 12 months later for quality of life, perceived stress, resilience, and positive and negative emotions. In addition, blood was drawn and assayed for cytokine levels, homocysteine, cysteine, and glutathione.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the lecture group, the group that received mindfulness training had significantly greater increases in physical, psychological, social, and environmental quality of life, resilience, positive emotions, cysteine, and glutathione and a significantly greater decrease in perceived stress, negative emotions, and the cytokines of IL-6 and IL-8.

 

These results suggest that mindfulness training improves teacher’s quality of life, and psychological well-being. Physically, it also reduced markers of inflammation and improved antioxidant systems. This suggests that mindfulness training makes teachers healthier and happier. Although not measures, this surely will help to reduce the likelihood of burnout and improve the quality of the teacher’s work in the classroom.

 

So, improve teachers’ physiological and psychological well-being with mindfulness.

 

Teachers can use mindfulness as a resource to self-regulate emotions resulting from job stress, thereby increasing their ability to focus on the students and their performances in the classrooms.” – Kelsey Milne

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Rodrigues de Oliveira, D., Wilson, D., Palace-Berl, F., de Mello Ponteciano, B., Fungaro Rissatti, L., Sardela de Miranda, F., Piassa Pollizi, V., Fuscella, J. C., Mourão Terzi, A., Lepique, A. P., D’Almeida, V., & Demarzo, M. (2021). Mindfulness meditation training effects on quality of life, immune function and glutathione metabolism in service healthy female teachers: A randomized pilot clinical trial. Brain, behavior, & immunity – health, 18, 100372. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbih.2021.100372

 

Abstract

Background

Despite the crucial role of educators in encourage students’ academic learning, addressing educator stress inside the classroom remains a significant challenge in the educational context. Mindfulness Meditation training (MM) has been recommended as an environmental enrichment strategy in schools to help teachers cope with stress and cultivating a state of awareness in daily life. Although studies have shown that MM can improve immune system dynamics the biological mechanism underlying glutathione metabolism in a healthy human is unclear

Objective

The purpose of this study was to determine whether MM training benefits psychological and behavioral response, immunological functions and glutathione metabolism in service healthy female teachers from public schools

Methods

We randomly assigned 76 teachers to an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Health Program for Educators (MBHPEduca) or Neuroscience for Education program (Neuro-Educa; active control group). Using the quality of life as our primary outcome, perceived stress, negative affectivity, and resilience as our secondary outcome, and pro-inflammatory cytokines and glutathione levels as our third outcome at baseline and post-intervention that occurred in public schools. Blood samples were collected for the measurement of three proinflammatory markers, including interleukin-1β (IL-1β), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and interleukin-8 (IL-8) and three GSH metabolism, including Cysteine (Cys), Homocysteine (HCys) and GSH were conducted at pre-and post-intervention, with selfreported assessments over time. Treatment effects were analyzed using generalized estimating equations (GEE) with to intention to treat

Results

We observed statistically significant improvements to the MBHP-Educa group compared to active control in perceived stress, resilience, positive and negative affect, and quality of life after 8-weeks MM (p ​< ​0.0001). Further, the MBHP-Educa group exhibited lower circulating IL-6 production accompanied by high circulating GSH, and Cys (p ​< ​0.0001). Additional analyses indicated that enhancing quality of life through mindfulness meditation training was mediated by reducing perceived stress and serum levels of IL- 6 and increasing resilience and teachers ‘plasma GSH levels

Conclusions

The present study is a pilot trial with low-power and provides preliminary evidence that mindfulness meditation training help teachers to cope with stress in the school environment with an impact on the quality of life, immune function, and glutathione metabolism.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8566766/

 

Psychedelic Drug Experiences Produce Long-Term Improvements in Psychological Well-Being

Psychedelic Drug Experiences Produce Long-Term Improvements in Psychological Well-Being

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Awe may be a critically important emotional experience during psychedelic treatment in generating compassion, empathy, and overall well-being” – Eve Ekman

 

Psychedelic substances such as peyote, mescaline, LSD, Bufotoxin, ayahuasca and psilocybin have been used almost since the beginning of recorded history to alter consciousness and produce spiritually meaningful experiences. People find these experiences extremely pleasant. eye opening, and even transformative. They often report that the experiences changed them forever. Psychedelics have also been found to be clinically useful as they markedly improve mood, increase energy and enthusiasm and greatly improve clinical depression. Even though the effects of psychedelic substances have been experienced and reported on for centuries, only very recently have these effects come under rigorous scientific scrutiny.

 

In today’s Research News article “Sustained, Multifaceted Improvements in Mental Well-Being Following Psychedelic Experiences in a Prospective Opportunity Sample.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8277190/ ) Mans and colleagues recruited adults who were planning on having a psychedelic experience and had them complete a questionnaire before and after the experience and 2 weeks, 4 weeks, and 2 years after measuring well-being, depression, self-esteem, life orientation, emotional stability, meaning in life, acceptance, resilience, mindfulness, social connectedness, gratitude, spiritual transcendence, Spiritual and Religious Attitudes in Dealing with Illness, trust, and compassion and after the experience only Challenging Experience Questionnaire (CEQ), the Mystical Experience Questionnaire (MEQ), and the Emotional Breakthrough.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline after the psychedelic experiences there were significant improvements in all measures except spirituality that were maintained over follow-up. Factor analysis revealed three clusters of measures labelled as being well, staying well, and spirituality. They found that after the psychedelic experiences there were large significant improvements in being and staying well that were still present 2 years later.

 

It should be noted that there wasn’t a comparison, control, condition present and that the participants self-selected to engage in psychedelic experiences. Hence, a myriad of confounding alternative explanations for the findings abound, particularly participant expectancy effects (placebo effects). So, great caution must be exercised in drawing conclusions regarding the effects of psychedelic drugs. But placebo effects are generally transitory and don’t last over substantial periods of time and the present improvements lasted for at least 2 years, making it unlikely that confounding variable explanations are viable.

 

It is interesting that spirituality was not affected as psychedelic drugs have been employed throughout history as a part of spiritual development. It is possible that the context of spiritual ceremony is essential for the effects of psychedelic drugs being interpreted as spiritual effects.

 

The results of the present study suggest that people who engage in psychedelic experiences have profound improvements in their well-being that are sustained for at least 2 years. The magnitude and duration of the effects may explain why psychedelics have such profound effects on people with mental illnesses producing relief of symptoms and appear to be safe and effective treatments for mental illnesses.

 

So, psychedelic drug experiences produce long-term improvements in psychological well-being.

 

use of psychedelic substances in a naturalistic setting is associated with experiences of personal transformation, a sense of altered moral values, increased feelings of social connectedness, and a more positive mood.” – Matthias Forstmann

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

 

Mans, K., Kettner, H., Erritzoe, D., Haijen, E., Kaelen, M., & Carhart-Harris, R. L. (2021). Sustained, Multifaceted Improvements in Mental Well-Being Following Psychedelic Experiences in a Prospective Opportunity Sample. Frontiers in psychiatry, 12, 647909. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.647909

 

Abstract

In the last 15 years, psychedelic substances, such as LSD and psilocybin, have regained legitimacy in clinical research. In the general population as well as across various psychiatric populations, mental well-being has been found to significantly improve after a psychedelic experience. Mental well-being has large socioeconomic relevance, but it is a complex, multifaceted construct. In this naturalistic observational study, a comprehensive approach was taken to assessing well-being before and after a taking a psychedelic compound to induce a “psychedelic experience.” Fourteen measures of well-being related constructs were included in order to examine the breadth and specificity of change in well-being. This change was then analysed to examine clusters of measures changing together. Survey data was collected from volunteers that intended to take a psychedelic. Four key time points were analysed: 1 week before and 2 weeks, 4 weeks, and 2 years after the experience (N = 654, N = 315, N = 212, and N = 64, respectively). Change on the included measures was found to cluster into three factors which we labelled: 1) “Being well”, 2) “Staying well,” and 3) “Spirituality.” Repeated Measures Multivariate Analysis of Variance revealed all but the spirituality factor to be improved in the weeks following the psychedelic experience. Additional Mixed model analyses revealed selective increases in Being Well and Staying Well (but not Spirituality) that remained statistically significant up to 2 years post-experience, albeit with high attrition rates. Post-hoc examination suggested that attrition was not due to differential acute experiences or mental-health changes in those who dropped out vs. those who did not. These findings suggest that psychedelics can have a broad, robust and sustained positive impact on mental well-being in those that have a prior intention to use a psychedelic compound. Public policy implications are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8277190/

 

Reduce Burnout and Increase Resilience in Healthcare Workers with Mindfulness

Reduce Burnout and Increase Resilience in Healthcare Workers with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness practices and perspectives are profoundly beneficial at all levels of healthcare—from the personal to the professional to the patients.” – Mindful

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations, like healthcare, burnout is all too prevalent. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. It is estimated that over 45% of healthcare workers experience burnout. It not only affects the healthcare providers personally, but also the patients, as it produces a loss of empathy and compassion. Burnout, in fact, it is a threat to the entire healthcare system. Currently, over a third of healthcare workers report that they are looking for a new job. Hence, burnout contributes to the shortage of doctors and nurses.

 

Preventing burnout has to be a priority. Unfortunately, it is beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress and prevent burnout. So, it is important that methods be found to reduce the individual’s responses to stress; to make the individual more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Contemplative practices have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress and improve well-being. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Novel Mindful-Compassion Art-Based Therapy for Reducing Burnout and Promoting Resilience Among Healthcare Workers: Findings From a Waitlist Randomized Control Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.744443/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1765474_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211102_arts_A ) Ho and colleagues recruited frontline healthcare workers and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive 6 weekly 3-hour sessions of Mindful-Compassion Art-based Therapy (MCAT). The treatment included meditation, lectures, and art therapy that was aimed at training “understanding, acceptance, and compassion for self and others to cultivate psychological resilience and shared meaning”. The participants were measured before and after training and 6 weeks later for mindfulness, burnout, resilience, emotion regulation, self-compassion, death attitude, and quality of life. Transcripts of group sharing sessions and artwork produced were also analyzed.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group after Mindful-Compassion Art-Based Therapy (MCAT) there were significant increases in emotion regulation, non-reactivity to intrusive thoughts, acceptance of death and significant reduction in mental exhaustion. At the 6-week follow-up, they found that the improvements in emotion regulation and mental exhaustion were maintained and the MCAT group also showed significant increases in mindfulness, self-compassion, interconnectedness to others, and quality of life. Analysis of the group discussions and artwork revealed that the training worked by reducing burnout, building resilience, nurturing compassion, and fostering collegial support among healthcare workers.

 

These results are encouraging and suggest that the mindfulness-based therapy was effective in improving the psychological health and well-being and reducing burnout of healthcare workers. Prior research by others reinforce these findings as it has been shown that mindfulness training produces increases in emotion regulation, self-compassion, interconnectedness, resilience, acceptance of death. and quality of life and reductions in burnout. Hence, the present findings along with previous research suggest that mindfulness training improves the psychological health and well-being of healthcare workers making them more resistant to professional fatigue and burnout. This suggests that mindfulness training should be recommended for frontline healthcare workers.

 

So, reduce burnout and increase resilience in healthcare workers with mindfulness.

 

“mindfulness-based stress reduction was associated with significant improvements in burnout scores and mental well-being for a broad range of healthcare providers.” – Matthew Goodman

 

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

 

Ho AHY, Tan-Ho G, Ngo TA, Ong G, Chong PH, Dignadice D and Potash J (2021) A Novel Mindful-Compassion Art-Based Therapy for Reducing Burnout and Promoting Resilience Among Healthcare Workers: Findings From a Waitlist Randomized Control Trial. Front. Psychol. 12:744443. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.744443

 

Protecting the mental health of healthcare workers is an urgent global public health priority. Healthcare workers, especially those immersed in palliative care, are prone to burnout due to the intense emotions associated with end-of-life caregiving. This study examines the efficacy of a novel, multimodal, and group-based Mindful-Compassion Art-based Therapy (MCAT) that integrates reflective self-awareness with creative emotional expression for protecting healthcare workers’ mental health. A dual-arm open-label waitlist randomized controlled trial was conducted. A total of 56 healthcare workers were recruited from the largest homecare hospice in Singapore and randomized to the immediate-treatment condition of a standardized 6-week, 18-hours MCAT intervention (n=29), or the waitlist-control condition (n=27). Self-administered outcome measures on burnout, resilience, emotional regulation, self-compassion, death attitudes, and quality of life were collected at baseline, post-intervention/second-baseline at 6weeks, and follow-up/post-intervention at 12weeks. Results from mixed model ANOVAs reveal that treatment group participants experienced significant reduction in mental exhaustion, as well as significant improvements in overall emotional regulation, nonreactivity to intrusive thoughts, approach acceptance of death, and afterlife belief as compared to waitlist-control immediately after MCAT completion. Effect sizes of these impacts ranged from medium to large (η2=0.65 to 0.170). Results from one-way ANOVAs further reveal that the treatment gains of reduced mental exhaustion and increased emotional regulation were maintained among treatment group participants at 12-weeks follow-up compared to baseline, with new benefits identified. These include increased ability to observe and describe one’s experiences, elevated overall self-compassion, greater mindful awareness, enhanced common humanity, and better quality of life. Effect sizes of these impacts were large (η2=0.128 to 0.298). These findings reflect the robust effectiveness and positive residual effects of MCAT for reducing burnout, building resilience, nurturing compassion, fostering collegial support, and promoting mental wellness among healthcare workers. The clinical model and applicability of MCAT in larger and more diverse caregiving contexts, such as family dementia care, are discussed.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.744443/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1765474_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211102_arts_A

 

Improve Well-Being of Healthy Individuals with Mindfulness

Improve Well-Being of Healthy Individuals with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“engaging in mindfulness meditation cultivates our ability to both focus and broaden our attention, which is a practical way to elicit psychological well-being.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

The primary focus of the majority of research on mindfulness has been on its ability to treat mental illness and negative emotional states such as anxiety, depression, and perceived stress. As such, it has been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. But mindfulness training has also been shown to improve health and well-being in healthy individuals.

 

The most commonly used mindfulness technique for the treatment of depression is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).  MBCT involves mindfulness training, containing sitting and walking meditation and body scan, and cognitive therapy to alter how the patient relates to the thought processes that often underlie and exacerbate psychological symptoms. MBCT was developed to treat mental illness. So, it is not known if it can improve the well-being of healthy individuals.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Improving Subjective and Eudaimonic Well-Being in Healthy Individuals: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.700916/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1714167_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20210831_arts_A ) Kosugi and colleagues recruited healthy adults and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive 8 weekly, 2-hour group sessions of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). They were measured before, during, and after training and 8 weeks later for satisfaction with life, flourishing, positive and negative experiences, self-esteem, mindfulness, self-compassion, resilience, anxiety, depression, perceived stress, presenteeism, interoceptive awareness, and quality of life.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group, the group that received Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) had significant increases in satisfaction with life, interoceptive awareness, mindfulness, self-compassion, resilience, and work productivity that were maintained 8 weeks after the end of training. Hence, MBCT produced significant improvements in the psychological states of healthy adults. So, MBCT is not only effective in improving the mental health of individuals with mental problems but also can increase the positive psychological states in healthy individuals.

 

This study had a passive comparison (control) condition. This leaves open the possibility that the results were affected by participant expectancies (placebo), experimenter bias, or attentional (Hawthorne) effects. Future research should compare Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) treatment to an active control condition, e.g. exercise to eliminate the possible confounding variables.

 

So, improve well-being of healthy individuals with mindfulness.

 

The practice of mindfulness is an effective means of enhancing and maintaining optimal mental health and overall well-being, and can be implemented in every aspect of daily living.” – Rezvan Ameli

 

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

 

Kosugi T, Ninomiya A, Nagaoka M, Hashimoto Z, Sawada K, Park S, Fujisawa D, Mimura M and Sado M (2021) Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Improving Subjective and Eudaimonic Well-Being in Healthy Individuals: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Front. Psychol. 12:700916. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.700916

 

Objectives: Better subjective and eudaimonic well-being fosters better health conditions. Several studies have confirmed that mindfulness-based interventions are effective for improving well-being; however, the samples examined in these studies have been limited to specific populations, and the studies only measured certain aspects of well-being rather than the entire construct. Additionally, few studies have examined the effect of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy on well-being. The present study examines the feasibility of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and its effectiveness for improving subjective and eudaimonic well-being among community residents.

Methods: The study design featured an 8-week randomized, waiting-list controlled, parallel-group study. 8 weekly mindfulness classes, followed by 2 monthly classes, were provided for healthy individuals aged 20–65 years who had a Satisfaction with Life Scale score of ≤ 24 indicating average to low cognitive aspect of subjective well-being. This trial was registered with the University Hospital Medical Information Network Clinical Trials Registry (ID: UMIN000031885, URL: https://upload.umin.ac.jp/cgi-open-bin/ctr_e/ctr_view.cgi?recptno=R000036376).

Results: The results showed that cognitive aspect of subjective well-being and mindfulness skills were significantly improved at 8 weeks, and this effect was enhanced up to the end of the follow-up period. Positive affective aspect of subjective and eudaimonic well-being were significantly improved at 16 weeks.

Conclusions: Eight weeks of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy with a 2-month follow-up period improves cognitive and affective aspects of subjective and eudaimonic well-being in healthy individuals. The order of improvement was cognitive, positive affective, and eudaimonic well-being. To verify these findings, multi-center randomized controlled trials with active control groups and longer follow-up periods are warranted.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.700916/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1714167_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20210831_arts_A