Improve Weight Loss with Yoga Practice

Improve Weight Loss with Yoga Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga may be a promising way to help with behavioral change, weight loss, and maintenance by burning calories, heightening mindfulness, and reducing stress.” – Emily Cronkleton

 

Overweight and obesity is epidemic in the modern world. Despite copious research and a myriad of dietary and exercise programs, there still is no safe and effective weight loss method. Mindfulness is known to be associated with lower risk for obesityalter eating behavior and improve health in obesity. This suggests that mindfulness training may be an effective treatment for overweight alone or in combination with other therapies. Yoga is both an exercise and a mindfulness practice that has been shown to have a myriad of physical and psychological benefits. These include significant loss in weight and body mass index (BMI), resting metabolism, and body fat.

 

In today’s Research News article “A preliminary investigation of yoga as an intervention approach for improving long-term weight loss: A randomized trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8815874/ ) Unick and colleagues recruited overweight and obese adult women and had them complete a 12-week behavioral weight loss program including reduced caloric intake and increased exercise and weekly 1-hour group eating behavior therapy meetings. They then randomly assigned them to receive 12 weeks of twice weekly 1-hour classes of either yoga or culinary and nutrition classes. The women were measured before treatment, after the weight loss treatment (3 months), and after yoga or control treatment (6 months) for body size, physical activity, mindfulness perceived stress, distress tolerance, positive and negative emotions, and self-compassion.

 

The women lost on average 6.4 kg of weight over the behavioral weight loss treatment. They found that among the women with high weight loss (>5% body weight) after the 3-month yoga or control period those that practiced yoga had a significantly greater average weight loss, 9.0 kg, compared to controls, 6.7 kg and had significantly greater increases in mindfulness, distress tolerance, and self-compassion and significantly greater decreases in negative emotions and perceived stress.

 

The findings show that for overweight and obese women who had significant weight losses, as a result of a behavioral weight reduction program, those that practiced yoga during the succeeding 3 months lost more weight than controls. This suggests that practicing yoga after weight loss treatment produces greater further reductions in weight and improved psychological well-being.

 

So, yoga assists in long-term weight loss after a dietary program and improves psychological well-being.

 

Yoga, if done right, becomes a lifestyle change, which in turn can help increase physical activity and decrease emotional eating. And it can help you manage stress, which can also help with weight maintenance.” – Judi Barr

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Unick, J. L., Dunsiger, S. I., Bock, B. C., Sherman, S. A., Braun, T. D., & Wing, R. R. (2022). A preliminary investigation of yoga as an intervention approach for improving long-term weight loss: A randomized trial. PloS one, 17(2), e0263405. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0263405

 

Abstract

Objective

Yoga targets psychological processes which may be important for long-term weight loss (WL). This study is the first to examine the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of yoga within a weight management program following WL treatment.

Methods

60 women with overweight or obesity (34.3±3.9 kg/m2, 48.1±10.1 years) were randomized to receive a 12-week yoga intervention (2x/week; YOGA) or a structurally equivalent control (cooking/nutrition classes; CON), following a 3-month behavioral WL program. Feasibility (attendance, adherence, retention) and acceptability (program satisfaction ratings) were assessed. Treatment groups were compared on weight change, mindfulness, distress tolerance, stress, affect, and self-compassion at 6 months. Initial WL (3-mo WL) was evaluated as a potential moderator.

Results

Attendance, retention, and program satisfaction ratings of yoga were high. Treatment groups did not differ on WL or psychological constructs (with exception of one mindfulness subscale) at 6 months. However, among those with high initial WL (≥5%), YOGA lost significantly more weight (-9.0kg vs. -6.7kg) at 6 months and resulted in greater distress tolerance, mindfulness, and self-compassion and lower negative affect, compared to CON.

Conclusions

Study findings provide preliminary support for yoga as a potential strategy for improving long-term WL among those losing ≥5% in standard behavioral treatment.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8815874/

 

Improve Positive Psychological States with Mindfulness

Improve Positive Psychological States with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

So how does meditation lead to greater happiness? “Loving-kindness is designed to elicit positive emotions. We are stretching the way we pay attention by looking for the good in ourselves or wishing ourselves well through loving-kindness.”  – Caren Osten

 

“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. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to increase positive emotions and happiness. But there is a need to further investigate the effects of mindfulness on positive emotional states.

 

In today’s Research News article “A New Second-Generation Mindfulness-Based Intervention Focusing on Well-Being: A Randomized Control Trial of Mindfulness-Based Positive Psychology.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8976107/ ) Zheng and colleagues recruited healthy adults and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive mindfulness meditation instruction for 2.5 hours per week for 6 weeks followed by 20 minutes of meditation practice along with home practice. They were measured before, during (every 2 weeks), after, and 3 months after the treatment for satisfaction with life, positive and negative emotions, psychological well-being, mindfulness, attitudes toward self and others, and self-compassion.

 

They found that the mindfulness meditation program produced a significant reduction in negative emotions and significant increases in self-compassion and environmental mastery. They also found that the greater the amount of meditation practice the higher the levels of positive emotions, positive relations, and awareness.

 

So, mindfulness meditation increased positive psychological states in healthy adults.

 

In order to have the resiliency to face difficulties . . . we need to find and nurture the positive parts of ourselves, and make a point of paying attention to experiences that give us pleasure.” – Sharon Salzberg

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Zheng, Y., Zhou, J., Zeng, X., Jiang, M., & Oei, T. (2022). A New Second-Generation Mindfulness-Based Intervention Focusing on Well-Being: A Randomized Control Trial of Mindfulness-Based Positive Psychology. Journal of happiness studies, 1–22. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-022-00525-2

 

Abstract

Second-generation mindfulness-based interventions (SG-MBIs) align well with positive psychology philosophy and practices, but trials of SG-MBIs have largely focused on ill-being. This study developed a mindfulness-based positive psychology (MBPP) intervention integrating positive psychology with an SG-MBI to enhance well-being. A randomized control trial was performed to compare MBPP with a waitlist condition among 138 Chinese participants. The results showed that MBPP significantly reduced negative emotions for subjective well-being and significantly improved environmental mastery for psychological well-being. Improvements in self-compassion and negative attitudes but not avoidance, mediated changes in well-being. Changes in positive emotions, positive relations, and awareness were associated with the amount of meditation practice. These findings showed that MBPP is promising for improving well-being and that the positive psychology components play important roles. Broadly, the study illustrated that positive psychology and SG-MBIs can be effectively integrated, and it supported the further application of SG-MBIs from the positive psychology perspective.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8976107/

 

Mindfulness May Produce Its Benefits by Improving Self-Related Processes

Mindfulness May Produce Its Benefits by Improving Self-Related Processes

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindful people might be happier because they have a better idea of who they are.” – Kira M. Newman

 

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 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 including the self and psychological processes related to the self.

 

mindfulness training has been shown to increase psychological well-being and happiness and help to relieve mental illness. A number of mechanisms of how mindfulness produces these benefits have been proposed. Many of the proposed mechanisms involve self-relate processes which require “one to evaluate or judge some feature in relation to one’s perceptual image or mental concept of oneself,” such as self-efficacy, decentering, and self-regulation. There has accumulated a large volume of research. So, it is important to examine the findings and what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “From Self-Esteem to Selflessness: An Evidence (Gap) Map of Self-Related Processes as Mechanisms of Mindfulness-Based Interventions.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8645694/ ) Britton and colleagues review and summarize the published research on the role of self-related processes in the beneficial effects of mindfulness-based interventions. They examine 3 categories of self-related processes, self-regulation skills, and embodied self-regulation processes.

 

They report that the published research found that alterations self-related processes in part mediate the beneficial effects of mindfulness-based interventions. These include reductions in negative self-evaluations including rumination and dysfunctional attitudes and increases in positive self-evaluations including self-compassion and self-esteem. Self-regulation skills also appear in part to mediate the beneficial effects of mindfulness-based interventions. These include increases in self-efficacy and decentering. Finally, embodied self-regulation processes appear in co-occur with the beneficial effects of mindfulness-based interventions but have not been conclusively established as mediators. These include increases in interoception, selflessness, and self-transcendence.

 

These findings suggest that mindfulness-based interventions produce beneficial effects by at least in part altering how the individual views and processes ideas of the self. Mindfulness training involves focusing on the present moment and this focus may reduce the influence of the past and projections of the future on the individual’s psychological well-being. Most negative views of the self are past and future based. So, mindfulness training may improve the ideas of self by focusing on the present and seeing the self as processes occurring in the now, a more grounded and realistic view of the self. Obviously more research is needed on this promising area of potential mindfulness mediators.

 

So, mindfulness may produce its benefits by improving self-related processes.

 

“[Mindfulness] encourages people to simply observe the contents of their mind. In this way, I think that mindfulness allows for greater self-insight.” – Rimma Tepper

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Britton, W. B., Desbordes, G., Acabchuk, R., Peters, S., Lindahl, J. R., Canby, N. K., Vago, D. R., Dumais, T., Lipsky, J., Kimmel, H., Sager, L., Rahrig, H., Cheaito, A., Acero, P., Scharf, J., Lazar, S. W., Schuman-Olivier, Z., Ferrer, R., & Moitra, E. (2021). From Self-Esteem to Selflessness: An Evidence (Gap) Map of Self-Related Processes as Mechanisms of Mindfulness-Based Interventions. Frontiers in psychology, 12, 730972. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.730972

 

Abstract

Self-related processes (SRPs) have been theorized as key mechanisms of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs), but the evidence supporting these theories is currently unclear. This evidence map introduces a comprehensive framework for different types of SRPs, and how they are theorized to function as mechanisms of MBIs (target identification). The evidence map then assesses SRP target engagement by mindfulness training and the relationship between target engagement and outcomes (target validation). Discussion of the measurement of SRPs is also included. The most common SRPs measured and engaged by standard MBIs represented valenced evaluations of self-concept, including rumination, self-compassion, self-efficacy, and self-esteem. Rumination showed the strongest evidence as a mechanism for depression, with other physical and mental health outcomes also supported. Self-compassion showed consistent target engagement but was inconsistently related to improved outcomes. Decentering and interoception are emerging potential mechanisms, but their construct validity and different subcomponents are still in development. While some embodied self-specifying processes are being measured in cross-sectional and meditation induction studies, very few have been assessed in MBIs. The SRPs with the strongest mechanistic support represent positive and negative evaluations of self-concept. In sum, few SRPs have been measured in MBIs, and additional research using well-validated measures is needed to clarify their role as mechanisms.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8645694/

 

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 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

 

Increase Positive Psychological States with Mindfulness

Increase Positive Psychological States with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

state mindfulness was associated with positive experiences across the three outcomes: higher levels of autonomy, more intense and frequent pleasant affect, and less intense and less frequent unpleasant affect.” – Kirk Warren Brown

 

The primary focus of the majority of research on mindfulness has been on its ability to treat 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. Indeed, it is possible that the effectiveness of mindfulness training in relieving mental and physical illness may result from its ability to improve positive psychological states. There is accumulating research. So, it makes sense to review and summarize what has been learned

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based positive psychology interventions: a systematic review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8344333/ ) Allen and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the effects of mindfulness-based interventions on positive psychological states. They identified 22 published research studies.

 

They report that the published research found that mindfulness-based interventions significantly increased eudaimonia, well-being, of children, adults, and couples. Mindfulness-based interventions were also found to significantly enhance hedonia, positive emotions (amusement, awe, contentment, joy, gratitude, hope, interest, love, and pride, collectively) and quality of life. They also report that mindfulness training produces significant increases in prosocial behavior, social competence, emotion regulation, flexibility, academic performance, delay of gratification, coping behavior, relaxation, self-compassion, and happiness.

 

Hence, the research published to date supports the conclusion that mindfulness-based interventions improve positive psychological states. So, these interventions are not only useful for the relief of negative psychological states in people who are suffering but can also enhance the psychological well-being of everyone.

 

So, increase positive psychological states with mindfulness.

 

 

mindfulness is a fundamental part of a broad program of psycho-spiritual development, aiming to help people reach ‘enlightenment’. . .  it may be conceived of as the superlative state of happiness, equanimity and freedom that a human being is capable of experiencing.” – Itai Ivtzan

 

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

 

Allen, J. G., Romate, J., & Rajkumar, E. (2021). Mindfulness-based positive psychology interventions: a systematic review. BMC psychology, 9(1), 116. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40359-021-00618-2

 

Abstract

Background

There are hundreds of mindfulness-based interventions in the form of structured and unstructured therapies, trainings, and meditation programs, mostly utilized in a clinical rather than a well-being perspective. The number of empirical studies on positive potentials of mindfulness is comparatively less, and their known status in academia is ambiguous. Hence, the current paper aimed to review the studies where mindfulness-based interventions had integrated positive psychology variables, in order to produce positive functioning.

Methods

Data were obtained from the databases of PubMed, Scopus, and PsycNet and manual search in Google Scholar. From the 3831 articles, irrelevant or inaccessible studies were eliminated, reducing the number of final articles chosen for review to 21. Interventions that contribute to enhancement of eudaimonia, hedonia, and other positive variables are discussed.

Results

Findings include the potential positive qualities of MBIs in producing specific positive outcomes within limited circumstances, and ascendancy of hedonia and other positive variables over eudaimonic enhancement.

Conclusion

In conclusion, exigency of modifications in the existing MBIs to bring about exclusively positive outcomes was identified, and observed the necessity of novel interventions for eudaimonic enhancement and elevation of hedonia in a comprehensive manner.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8344333/

Decrease Burnout in Parents During Covid-19 Lockdown with Mindfulness

Decrease Burnout in Parents During Covid-19 Lockdown with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness can lower stress and anxiety, help with sleep and increase wellbeing. There are also specific benefits of mindfulness for anyone providing care to others.” – Naomi Stoll

 

Parenting can be difficult in the best of times but within a pandemic induced lockdown the pressures on the parents are substantially increased. Burnout can result from the continuing stress. Being mindful or engaging in mindfulness practices can be helpful in coping with the physical and psychological manifestations of stress.  In addition mindfulness can help build empathyself-compassionpatience, and flexibility that are so important for parenting, resilience to withstand the stresses, and the ability to effectively cope with the strong emotions. Indeed, Mindfulness practices has been shown to help parents cope with the physical and psychological demands of parenting.

 

In today’s Research News article “Self-Compassion and Rumination Type Mediate the Relation between Mindfulness and Parental Burnout.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8393602/ ) Paucsik and colleagues recruited online parents with children during the Covid-19 lockdown. They completed measures twice, separated by a month, of mindfulness practice, mindfulness, self-compassion, rumination, and parental burnout.

 

They found that at time 1 and 2 the higher the levels of parental mindfulness the higher the level of self-compassion and the lower the levels of burnout and rumination and the higher the levels of self-compassion the lower the levels of burnout and rumination. They further show that the higher the levels of mindfulness and self-compassion at time 1 the lower the levels of burnout at time 2 and the higher the levels of rumination at time 1 the higher the levels of burnout at time 2. Mindfulness at time 1 was found to be both directly associated with lower burnout at time 2 and also indirectly by being associated with higher self-compassion and lower ruminations at time 1 which were in turn associated with lower burnout.

 

These results are correlative and as such causation cannot be determined. But past research has demonstrated causal connections between mindfulness and burnout and self-compassion and burnout. So, the current results likely occurred also due to causal connections. Preventing the stress of the Covid-19 lockdown from debilitating parenting and producing burnout is highly important. The present study suggests that mindfulness and self-compassion can perform that role. This further suggests that mindfulness and self-compassion training would be helpful to parents in general and especially helpful during times of stress on the family.

 

So, decrease burnout in parents during Covid-19 lockdown with mindfulness.

 

Practicing mindfulness is a way to focus on the present, rather than worrying about the past or the future. This is especially important when you’re spending a lot of your time in a caregiving role—you need time to relax your mind and your body.” – Karen Gagliatre

 

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

 

Paucsik, M., Urbanowicz, A., Leys, C., Kotsou, I., Baeyens, C., & Shankland, R. (2021). Self-Compassion and Rumination Type Mediate the Relation between Mindfulness and Parental Burnout. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(16), 8811. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168811

 

Abstract

The COVID-19 lockdown increased the day-to-day challenges faced by parents, and thereby may have increased parental burnout risk. Therefore, identifying parental burnout protection factors is essential. This study aimed to assess the protective role of the following factors which can be increased through mindfulness practice: trait mindfulness, self-compassion, and concrete vs. abstract ruminations. A total of 459 parents (Mage = 40; 98.7% female) completed self-reported questionnaires at two-time points to assess the predictive role of mindfulness on parental burnout, self-compassion and rumination type, and the mediating role of self-compassion and rumination type in the relation between mindfulness and parental burnout. Results showed that trait mindfulness, self-compassion, and rumination type at Time 1 predicted levels of parental burnout at Time 2. Self-compassion (indirect effects: b = − 22, 95% CI = [−38, −05], p < 0.01), concrete ruminations (indirect effects: b = −20, 95% CI = [−32, −09], p < 0.001), and abstract ruminations (indirect effects: b = −0.54, 95% CI = [−71, −37], p < 0.001) partially mediated the relation between trait-mindfulness and parental burnout. These findings showed that trait mindfulness, self-compassion, and concrete (vs. abstract) ruminations may help prevent parental burnout in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. These results contribute to the field of research on parental burnout prevention and will allow for the development of effective approaches to mental health promotion in parents.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8393602/

Improve Self-Compassion with Residential Mindfulness Programs Conducted Either Inside or Outdoors

Improve Self-Compassion with Residential Mindfulness Programs Conducted Either Inside or Outdoors

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The power of nature to bring us immediately to the present must be primally wired into us.” – Christopher Willard

 

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. People have long reported that walking in nature elevates their mood. It appears intuitively obvious that if it occurred in a beautiful natural place, it would greatly lift the spirits. But there is little systematic research regarding these effects. It’s possible that being in nature might increase mindfulness’ ability to improve mental and physical well-being.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Short Mindfulness Retreat for Students to Reduce Stress and Promote Self-Compassion: Pilot Randomised Controlled Trial Exploring Both an Indoor and a Natural Outdoor Retreat Setting.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.mdpi.com/2227-9032/9/7/910/htm ) Djernis and colleagues recruited moderately to highly stressed university students and randomly assigned them to a 5-day residential program of either mindfulness training indoors, outdoors, or a no treatment control. The mindfulness training was based upon Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program (MBSR) including meditation, yoga, body scan, and group discussion. The outdoor mindfulness training occurred in the university’s therapy garden. They were measured before and after the 5-days of training and 3 months later for self-compassion, perceived stress, mindfulness, connectedness to nature, and breath counting.

 

They found that mindfulness was significantly increased in the mindfulness training groups while self-compassion was significantly increased only in the mindfulness training groups at follow up. The outdoor mindfulness group only had a significant increase in connectedness to nature compared to the control group. They did not find a significant effect of group on perceived stress.

 

These results were somewhat disappointing, but the groups were small (17-21 participants) and many trends and non-significant differences were present. This suggests that a larger randomized controlled trial should be implemented. Indeed, increases in self-compassion and decreases in perceived stress have been routinely observed in previous research studies. Nevertheless, they did find that a residential mindfulness program increases self-compassion in stressed college students. Many previous studies have and that moving the training outside improves the participants feeling of connection to nature.

 

So, improve self-compassion with residential mindfulness programs conducted either inside or outdoors.

 

People have been discussing their profound experiences in nature for the last several 100 years—from Thoreau to John Muir to many other writers,. Now we are seeing changes in the brain and changes in the body that suggest we are physically and mentally more healthy when we are interacting with nature.” – David Strayer

 

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

 

Djernis, D.; O’Toole, M.S.; Fjorback, L.O.; Svenningsen, H.; Mehlsen, M.Y.; Stigsdotter, U.K.; Dahlgaard, J. A Short Mindfulness Retreat for Students to Reduce Stress and Promote Self-Compassion: Pilot Randomised Controlled Trial Exploring Both an Indoor and a Natural Outdoor Retreat Setting. Healthcare 2021, 9, 910. https:// doi.org/10.3390/healthcare9070910

 

Abstract

Here, we developed and examined a new way of disseminating mindfulness in nature to people without meditation experience, based on the finding that mindfulness conducted in natural settings may have added benefits. We evaluated a 5-day residential programme aiming to reduce stress and improve mental health outcomes. We compared an indoor and an outdoor version of the programme to a control group in a pilot randomised controlled trial (RCT). Sixty Danish university students experiencing moderate to high levels of stress were randomised into a residential mindfulness programme indoors (n = 20), in nature (n = 22), or a control group (n = 18). Participants completed the Perceived Stress Scale and the Self-Compassion Scale (primary outcomes) along with additional secondary outcome measures at the start and end of the program and 3 months after. Stress was decreased with small to medium effect sizes post-intervention, although not statistically significant. Self-compassion increased post-intervention, but effect sizes were small and not significant. At follow-up, changes in stress were not significant, however self-compassion increased for both interventions with medium-sized effects. For the intervention groups, medium- to large-sized positive effects on trait mindfulness after a behavioural task were found post-intervention, and small- to medium-sized effects in self-reported mindfulness were seen at follow-up. Connectedness to Nature was the only outcome measure with an incremental effect in nature, exceeding the control with a medium-sized effect at follow-up. All participants in the nature arm completed the intervention, and so did 97% of the participants in all three arms. Overall, the results encourage the conduct of a larger-scale RCT, but only after adjusting some elements of the programme to better fit and take advantage of the potential benefits of the natural environment.

https://www.mdpi.com/2227-9032/9/7/910/htm

 

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of University Students with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of University Students with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness apps offer modest but clear benefits to users in terms of improved mental health. They present a promising supplement to traditional mental health services.” – Oskari Lahtinen

 

There is a lot of pressure on university students to excel so that they can get the best jobs after graduation. This stress might in fact be counterproductive as the increased pressure can actually lead to stress and anxiety which can impede the student’s physical and mental health, well-being, and school performance. Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health. Indeed, these practices have been found to improve psychological health in college students.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Mental Health and Wellbeing of University Students: Acceptability, Effectiveness, and Mechanisms of a Mindfulness-Based Course.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8199969/ ) Medlicott and colleagues recruited university students who attended an 8-week mindfulness training. The program was based upon Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and was delivered in 8 weekly 90 minute sessions along with daily home practice. The participants were measured before and after the program and 6 weeks later for expected benefits from the program, wellbeing, mental health, mindfulness, self-compassion, resilience, and academic goals.

 

They found that following the course there were significant improvement in wellbeing. mental health, mindfulness, self-compassion, resilience, and orientation toward their academic goals that were maintained 6 weeks later. The effects were greater for participants who had mental health problems at the beginning of the program. In addition, the greater the amount of home practice, the greater the improvements observed. The amount of change in mindfulness and self-compassion produced by the course was related to the amount of improvement in wellbeing and mental health while the amount of change in resilience was related to the improvements in wellbeing.

 

It has to be recognized that the study did not contain a control, comparison, condition, so it is open to numerous alternative, confounding, explanations. But previous controlled research has demonstrated that mindfulness training produces improvements in wellbeing, mental health, mindfulness, self-compassion, and resilience. So, it is likely that the present findings are the result of the effects of the mindfulness training program rather than some alternative explanation.

 

These results suggest that participating in a mindfulness training program produces significant benefits for the psychological health and wellbeing of university students. The fact their orientation to academic goals was also improved suggests that the program may also improve their academic performance. Indeed, it would be expected that improvement in the students wellbeing and mental health would improve the likelihood of academic success.

 

So, improve the psychological well-being of university students with mindfulness.

 

In college, it’s easy to compile all of the problems we’re facing and place it in to one big feeling of paranoia or stress. Headspace helps sort that out and filter what I should be worried about.” – Ryan Coughlin

 

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

 

Medlicott, E., Phillips, A., Crane, C., Hinze, V., Taylor, L., Tickell, A., Montero-Marin, J., & Kuyken, W. (2021). The Mental Health and Wellbeing of University Students: Acceptability, Effectiveness, and Mechanisms of a Mindfulness-Based Course. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(11), 6023. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18116023

 

Abstract

Mental health problems are relatively common during university and adversely affect academic outcomes. Evidence suggests that mindfulness can support the mental health and wellbeing of university students. We explored the acceptability and effectiveness of an 8-week instructor-led mindfulness-based course (“Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World”; Williams and Penman, 2011) on improving wellbeing and mental health (self-reported distress), orientation and motivation towards academic goals, and the mechanisms driving these changes. Eighty-six undergraduate and post-graduate students (>18 years) participated. Students engaged well with the course, with 36 (48.0%) completing the whole programme, 52 (69.3%) attending 7 out of 8 sessions, and 71 (94.7%) completing at least half. Significant improvements in wellbeing and mental health were found post-intervention and at 6-week follow-up. Improvements in wellbeing were mediated by mindfulness, self-compassion, and resilience. Improvements in mental health were mediated by improvements in mindfulness and resilience but not self-compassion. Significant improvements in students’ orientation to their academic goal, measured by “commitment” to, “likelihood” of achieving, and feeling more equipped with the “skills and resources” needed, were found at post-intervention and at 6-week follow-up. Whilst exploratory, the results suggest that this mindfulness intervention is acceptable and effective for university students and can support academic study.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8199969/