Mindfulness is Associated with Better Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy

Mindfulness is Associated with Better Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Given the role of mindfulness in increasing self-efficacy and reducing early maladaptive schemas, mindfulness training interventions are recommended to be used for reducing the destructive effects of early maladaptive schemas and increasing self-efficacy.” – Zohreh Hosseinzadeh

 

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, self-esteem, and self-regulation. There is a need for more research on the relationships of mindfulness with self-esteem and self-efficacy.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Mindful Self: Exploring Mindfulness in Relation with Self-esteem and Self-efficacy in Indian Population.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8808471/ ) Chandna and colleagues recruited young adults, 20-40 years of age and middle adults, 40-65 years of age. They completed online measures of mindfulness, self-esteem, and self-efficacy.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of self-esteem, and self-efficacy. They found that women were significantly higher in acting with awareness and observing facets of mindfulness, while middle adults were significantly higher in nonjudging of inner experience than young adults. These findings replicate previous findings that mindfulness is positively related with self-esteem and self-efficacy.

 

Mindful people have better self concepts.

 

The good news about self-esteem is that it’s possible to improve with the right tools and an effort to change. And with a newfound sense of self-worth, we have the ability to become centered and confident in our true self.” – Team Calm

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Chandna, S., Sharma, P., & Moosath, H. (2022). The Mindful Self: Exploring Mindfulness in Relation with Self-esteem and Self-efficacy in Indian Population. Psychological studies, 1–12. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12646-021-00636-5

 

Abstract

The aim of the current study was to evaluate and compare the relationship of mindfulness with self-efficacy and self-esteem. The study has also investigated the difference in mindfulness levels across five dimensions: observing, describing, acting with awareness, non-judging of inner experiences and non-reactivity to inner experience between males and females and between young adults and middle-aged adults who belong to the Indian population. There was a total of 146 participants (F = 80, M = 66), 84 in the young adult group (20–40 years) and 62 participants in the middle adult group (41–65 years). Pearson correlation showed statistically significant (p < 0.01) moderate positive correlation between all the five dimensions of mindfulness and self-esteem; while self-efficacy had significant (p < 0.01) moderate positive correlation with all the dimensions of mindfulness except for non-judging of inner experiences. Multiple linear regression (MLR) with self-esteem as outcome variable showed model fitness of 51% (p < 0.01) with acting with awareness, non-reactivity to inner experience, non-judging of inner experiences and describing as predictive variables. With self-efficacy as outcome variable, MLR showed model fitness of 40% (p < 0.01) with non-reactivity to inner experiences, acting with awareness, observing and describing as predicting variables. Females were found to be significantly higher in acting with awareness and observing dimensions of mindfulness compared to males. Middle adults were found to be significantly higher only in the non-judging of inner experiences dimension as compared to early adults. Importance of mindfulness in improving self-concept has been established in western world. The present study, by exploring the relationship between mindfulness and self-variables in Indian population, highlights the probable positive outcomes of mindfulness enhancing techniques on self-esteem and self-efficacy of individuals, and therefore on the quality of life.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8808471/

 

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

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/

 

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) Plus Loving-Kindness Mediation is highly Effective in Depressed Patients

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) Plus Loving-Kindness Mediation is highly Effective in Depressed Patients

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“MBCT can provide a viable relapse prevention intervention for people with a history of recurrent depression.” – Catherine Crane

 

Clinically diagnosed depression is the most common mental illness, affecting over 6% of the population. Major depression can be quite debilitating. Depression can be difficult to treat and is usually treated with anti-depressive medication. But, of patients treated initially with drugs, only about a third attained remission of the depression. After repeated and varied treatments including drugs, therapy, exercise etc. only about two thirds of patients attained remission. But drugs often have troubling side effects and can lose effectiveness over time. In addition, many patients who achieve remission have relapses and recurrences of the depression. Even after remission some symptoms of depression may still be present (residual symptoms). So, it is important that other treatments be identified that can relieve the suffering.

 

Mindfulness training is an alternative treatment for depression. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and its recurrence and even in the cases where drugs failMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was specifically developed to treat depression. MBCT involves mindfulness training, containing sitting, walking and body scan meditations, and cognitive therapy that attempts to teach patients to distinguish between thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and behaviors, and to recognize irrational thinking styles and how they affect behavior. MBCT has been found to be effective in treating depression.

 

Loving Kindness Meditation (LKM) is designed to develop kindness and compassion to oneself and others. The individual systematically pictures different individuals from self, to close friends, to enemies and wishes them happiness, well-being, safety, peace, and ease of well-being. Although LKM has been practiced for centuries, it has received very little scientific research attention. But it may be effective in counteracting the effects of stress and self-criticism. It is not known how effective the combination of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Loving Kindness Meditation might be in treating depression.

 

In today’s Research News article “A study on the effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and loving-kindness mediation on depression, rumination, mindfulness level and quality of life in depressed patients.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8205847/ ) Wang and colleagues recruited adult patients with depression and randomly assigned them to receive either regular care or to receive 1 hour once per day for 1 week Loving Kindness Meditation followed by 8 weeks, once per week of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) also with Loving Kindness Meditation practice. Regular care consisted of “basic knowledge of depression, common drugs, possible adverse drug reactions, and prevention of adverse reactions . . . Face-to-face communication with patients was conducted regularly to understand their thoughts, evaluate the depression degrees of patients, so as to provide psychological support for depressed patients, and care for patients in daily life.” They were measured at baseline and at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks for mindfulness, depression, rumination, quality of life, self-acceptance, and sense of stigma.

 

They found that both groups significantly decreased in depression, sense of stigma, and rumination and increased in mindfulness, self-acceptance and quality of life over the 8 weeks. But the intervention group improved significantly more than the control group on all measures.

 

Previous research has shown that mindfulness training produces significant decreases in depression and rumination and increases in self-acceptance and quality of life. What is new here is that they found that the combination of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Loving Kindness Meditation was significantly more effective than the conventional psychological intervention. This is important but must be followed up to see if the improvements in the patients with depression are sustained over longer periods of time.

 

So, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) plus Loving-Kindness Mediation is highly effective in depressed patients.

 

MBCT leads to a decrease in depressive symptoms, reduction in depression relapse rate and improvement in terms of mindfulness.” – Zulkiflu ArgunguMusa

 

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

 

Wang, Y., Fu, C., Liu, Y., Li, D., Wang, C., Sun, R., & Song, Y. (2021). A study on the effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and loving-kindness mediation on depression, rumination, mindfulness level and quality of life in depressed patients. American journal of translational research, 13(5), 4666–4675.

 

Abstract

Objective: To analyze the effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) plus loving-kindness mediation (LKM) in depressed patients. Methods: A total of 125 depressed patients diagnosed in the Department of Psychiatry of our hospital were selected as the research subjects and were randomly divided into a control group (n=62) and an observation group (n=63). The control group was treated with conventional psychological intervention, while the observation group was treated with MBCT plus LKM. The therapeutic outcomes were compared between the two groups. Results: At 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks after intervention, the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD) scores and the scores for introspection and deliberation, forced thinking, rumination of symptoms, treatment, ability and social relationships in the observation group were lower than those in the control group, while Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) scores and the scores for psychology, environment, physiology, social relations, self-acceptance, and self-evaluation in the observation group were higher than those in the control group (P < 0.05). Conclusion: MBCT plus LKM can effectively improve depression, rumination, mindfulness level, quality of life, the sense of stigma and degree of self-acceptance in depressed patients.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8205847/

 

Reduce College Students Self-Criticism with Mindful Lovingkindness Training

Reduce College Students Self-Criticism with Mindful Lovingkindness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“What’s so amazing about mindfulness practice is we can use mindfulness to be aware when we have those self-critical voices, and we can label that voice as “judging”. We can notice when we have those judging voices because we have a mindfulness practice that allows us to have quite a bit more self-awareness, more ability to regulate emotions, and all of the positive things that come with the mindfulness practice.“ – Diana Winston

 

In the modern world education is a key for success. Where a high school education was sufficient in previous generations, a college degree is now required to succeed in the new knowledge-based economies. There is a lot of pressure on 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. This is particularly true in very competitive Asian countries like Korea. This can lead to extreme self-criticism where the individual is never happy with themselves producing great unhappiness and psychological distress.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological reactions to stress and resilience in the face of stress. It has also been found to promote the well-being of college students. Mindfulness has been found to improve self-esteem.  One understudied meditation technique is Loving Kindness Meditation. It is designed to develop kindness and compassion to oneself and others. The individual systematically pictures different individuals from self, to close friends, to enemies and wishes them happiness, well-being, safety, peace, and ease of well-being. Although Loving Kindness Meditation has been practiced for centuries, it has received very little scientific research attention. But it may be effective in counteracting the effects of stress and self-criticism.

 

In today’s Research News article “Psychological and Physiological Effects of the Mindful Lovingkindness Compassion Program on Highly Self-Critical University Students in South Korea.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.585743/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1463957_69_Psycho_20201022_arts_A ) Noh and colleagues recruited healthy Korean college students who were high in self-criticism and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive a Mindful Lovingkindness Compassion program. The training consisted of 8 2-hour sessions over 6 weeks of mindfulness meditation and Loving Kindness Meditation. They were measured before and after training and one and three months later for self-criticism, self-reassurance, mindfulness, compassion, shame, anxiety, depression, fears of compassion, satisfaction with life, and heart rate variability.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group, the Mindful Lovingkindness Compassion group had significantly higher self-reassurance, mindfulness, compassion, and satisfaction with life, and significantly lower self-criticism, shame, anxiety, depression, and fears of compassion. These improvements continued to be present 1 and 3 months after the completion of training. In addition, the Mindful Lovingkindness Compassion group had significantly higher heart rate variability.

 

The interpretation of these results has to be tempered with the knowledge that the comparison, control, condition was passive. This opens the study up to a number of potential confoundings. Nevertheless, the results are similar to those of prior research that found that mindfulness training produces higher self-reassurance, compassion, and satisfaction with life, and lower self-criticism, shame, anxiety, and depression. Hence, the current study suggests that Mindful Lovingkindness Compassion training produces improved psychological health in highly self-critical college students. In addition, the increased heart rate variability observed suggests that the trained students had greater physiological relaxation, probably indicating a great resistance to the effects of stress.

 

This is important for the well-being of college students. They are under great pressure to perform especially in Asian countries like Korea. Combining that with high levels of self-criticism is a formula for psychological and physical problems. The kind of mindfulness and loving kindness training employed here appears to be able to markedly counteract the deleterious effects of these forces and produce greater relaxation and overall well-being.

 

So, reduce college students’ self-criticism with Mindful Lovingkindness training.

 

Self-criticism is an unhelpful habit that can sometimes be destructive and cause emotional ill-health. . . Through practicing mindfulness and self-compassion you can loosen up old self-critical habits that may have been present from childhood and develop a kinder, more appreciative way of being with yourself.” – Linda Hall

 

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

 

Noh S and Cho H (2020) Psychological and Physiological Effects of the Mindful Lovingkindness Compassion Program on Highly Self-Critical University Students in South Korea. Front. Psychol. 11:585743. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.585743

 

Objectives: Self-critical behavior is especially relevant for university students who face academic and non-academic stressors, leading to negative outcomes such as mental distress and psychopathologies. To address this behavior, mindfulness and compassion are important factors to decrease self-criticism and ensure positive outcomes. This study examined the psychological and physiological effects of an intervention, the Mindful Lovingkindness Compassion Program (MLCP), on highly self-critical university students in South Korea.

Methods: Thirty-eight university students with a high level of self-criticism were assigned to an MLCP group (n = 18) or waitlist (WL) group (n = 20). Self-report measures of self-criticism, self-reassurance, psychological distress, and other mental health variables were completed, and the physiological measure of heart rate variability (HRV) was conducted before and after the intervention with both groups. In addition, 1- and 3-month follow-up assessments were conducted using self-report measurements.

Results: Compared to the WL group, participants in the MLCP group experienced significantly greater reductions in self-criticism and psychological distress, and a greater increase in self-reassurance, mental health, and HRV. The improvements in the self-report measures were maintained when assessed 1 and 3 months later.

Conclusions: MLCP could be a promising intervention for alleviating self-criticism and increasing self-reassurance among self-critical individuals.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.585743/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1463957_69_Psycho_20201022_arts_A

Improve College Student Adjustment with Mindfulness

Improve College Student Adjustment with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness and meditation are both great ways for students to improve their health. And the benefits of these practices can also trickle into their academic lives.” – Kenya McCullum

 

In the modern world education is a key for success. Where a high school education was sufficient in previous generations, a college degree is now required to succeed in the new knowledge-based economies. 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 and particularly with reducing the physical and psychological reactions to stress and increasing resilience in the face of stress. Indeed, these practices have been found to reduce stress and improve psychological health in college students. So, mindfulness may be an important tool to enhance student’s well-being and adjustment to college.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Differential Role of Coping, Physical Activity, and Mindfulness in College Student Adjustment.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01858/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1401267_69_Psycho_20200811_arts_A) Moeller and colleagues recruited undergraduate students and had them complete measures of anxiety, depression, loneliness, perceived stress, coping strategies, self-esteem, physical activity, and mindfulness. These data were then analyzed with regression analysis.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindful awareness and non-judgement the lower the levels of anxiety, depression, loneliness, perceived stress, and disengaged coping and the higher the levels of self-esteem. Regression models predicting the student’s stress levels and their anxiety levels revealed that they were associated with disengaged coping and negatively associated with mindfulness. A regression model predicting the student’s depression levels revealed that they were associated with disengaged coping and negatively associated with engagement coping, physical activity, and mindfulness. A regression model predicting the student’s loneliness levels revealed that they were associated with disengaged coping and negatively associated with engagement coping, physical activity, and mindfulness. Finally, a regression model predicting the student’s self-esteem levels revealed that they were associated positively associated with engagement coping, physical activity, and mindfulness and negatively with disengaged coping.

 

These findings are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. But the findings highlight the importance of mindfulness with the psychological well-being of undergraduate students. As has been seen in other studies with a variety of different participants mindfulness is associated with lower levels of negative emotional states such as anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and loneliness and higher levels of self-esteem. In other words, mindfulness in college students is a predictor of better mental health and well-being. This should allow the students to better adjust to college and be more successful in their studies.

 

So, improve college student adjustment with mindfulness.

 

mindfulness is not something to do just because you “should” or “to be healthy”; rather, the benefits enable students to become more effective leaders who can fully enjoy their lives.” – Priya Thomas

 

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

 

Moeller RW, Seehuus M, Simonds J, Lorton E, Randle TS, Richter C and Peisch V (2020) The Differential Role of Coping, Physical Activity, and Mindfulness in College Student Adjustment. Front. Psychol. 11:1858. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01858

 

Research has examined the function of stress management techniques, including coping, physical activity, and mindfulness on college students’ adjustment. The present study examined the differential contributions of three stress management techniques to students’ maladaptation (perceived stress, depression, anxiety, and loneliness) and adaptation (self-esteem). Undergraduate students (N = 1185) responded to an online survey. Hierarchical linear regression results indicated that all three stress management techniques – coping, physical activity, and mindfulness – were related to the five outcomes as predicted. Higher levels of disengagement coping strategies were related to higher perceived stress, anxiety, and depression. Components of mindfulness emerged as a strong predictor of adaptation.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01858/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1401267_69_Psycho_20200811_arts_A

 

Improve Mood with Tai Chi or Qigong Practice

Improve Mood with Tai Chi or Qigong Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“adding a mind-body exercise like tai chi that is widely available in the community can improve the outcomes of treating depression in older adults. . . With tai chi, we may be able to treat these conditions without exposing patients to additional medications.” – Helen Lavretsky

 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults, or 18% of the population. A characterizing feature of anxiety disorders is that the suffer overly identifies with and personalizes their thoughts. The sufferer has recurring thoughts, such as impending disaster, that they may realize are unreasonable, but are unable to shake. Indeed, Mindfulness practices have been shown to be quite effective in relieving anxiety. Clinically diagnosed depression affects over 6% of the population. Depression can be difficult to treat. Fortunately, Mindfulness training is also effective for treating depression.

 

Anxiety disorders and clinical depression have generally been treated with drugs. But there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. There are a number of psychological therapies for anxiety. But, about 45% of the patients treated do not respond to the therapy. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments. Recently, it has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disorders and for depression either alone or in combination with other therapies. Mindful Movement practices such as Qigong and Tai Chi have been found to be effective for depression and anxiety. Research has been accumulating. So, it is important to step back and examine what has been learned regarding the application of Qigong and Tai Chi practices for mood.

 

In today’s Research News article “Qigong and Tai-Chi for Mood Regulation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6519567/), Yeung and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the effectiveness of Qigong and Tai Chi practices for improving mood.

 

They found that the published research reports that Qigong and Tai Chi practice produce significant decreases in anxiety and depression and increases in psychological well-being, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. In addition, Qigong and Tai Chi practice have been shown to be effective in reducing depression that accompanies diseases including fibromyalgia, arthritis, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.

 

The mechanisms by which Qigong and Tai Chi practice improves mood are unknown. But it has been speculated that it may work by increasing mindfulness, reduces perceived stress, improving interoception, producing neuroplastic changes in the brain, improving respiration control, and altering genes. It may be that these practices produce the benefits through a combination of mechanisms or that different mechanisms underlie different benefits. Regardless, the evidence is compelling that Qigong and Tai Chi practice have beneficial effects on the psychological well-being of healthy people and people with diseases.

 

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

 

So, improve mood with Tai Chi or Qigong Practice.

 

“In 82% of studies, tai chi greatly improved mood and lowered anxiety. Plus, it was shown to be an effective treatment for depression.” – Harvard Health

 

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

 

Yeung, A., Chan, J., Cheung, J. C., & Zou, L. (2018). Qigong and Tai-Chi for Mood Regulation. Focus (American Psychiatric Publishing), 16(1), 40–47. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.focus.20170042

 

Abstract

Qigong and Tai-Chi are traditional self-healing, self-cultivation exercises originating in ancient China. These exercises are characterized by coordinated body posture and movements, deep rhythmic breathing, meditation, and mental focus based on traditional Chinese medicine theories. Although the exact mechanisms of Qigong’s and Tai-Chi’s effects on physical and mental well-being are unknown, these practices may be viewed as meditative movements and share many of the healing elements observed in mindfulness meditation. Clinical studies including randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses have shown that both Qigong and Tai-Chi have beneficial effects on psychological well-being and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Qigong and Tai-Chi frequently involve anchoring attention to interoceptive sensations related to breath or other parts of the body, which has been shown to enhance nonreactivity to aversive thoughts and impulses. Preliminary studies suggest that the slow movements in Qigong and Tai-Chi with slowing of breath frequency could alter the autonomic system and restore homeostasis, attenuating stress related to hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis reactivity and modulating the balance of the autonomic nervous system toward parasympathetic dominance. Qigong’s and Tai-Chi’s effects on emotion regulation could occur through changes in multiple prefrontal regions, the limbic system, and the striatum or in the expression of genes linked to inflammatory responses and stress-related pathways.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6519567/

 

Overweight and Obese Yoga Practitioners have a Higher Quality of Life

Overweight and Obese Yoga Practitioners have a Higher Quality of Life

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Doing yoga decreases stress, improves flexibility, and increases muscle tone and strength. People with larger bodies often have trouble with joint pain; yoga can help by improving the body’s alignment to reduce strain on joints by allowing the frame to bear more of the body’s weight.” – Ann Pizer

 

Obesity has become an epidemic in the industrialized world. In the U.S. the incidence of obesity, defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or above has more than doubled over the last 35 years to currently around 35% of the population, while two thirds of the population are considered overweight or obese (BMI > 25). Obesity has been found to shorten life expectancy by eight years and extreme obesity by 14 years. This occurs because obesity is associated with cardiovascular problems such as coronary heart disease and hypertension, stroke, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and others.

 

Obviously, there is a need for effective treatments to obese individuals. But, despite copious research and a myriad of dietary and exercise programs, there still is no safe and effective treatment. 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 overeating and obesity alone or in combination with other therapies. Yoga may be particularly beneficial for the obese as it is both a mindfulness practice and an exercise. Yoga practice 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 obese women with Type 2 diabetes and improve health in the obese.

 

In today’s Research News article “Quality of Life in Yoga Experienced and Yoga Naïve Asian Indian Adults with Obesity.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6515061/), Telles and colleagues recruited overweight and obese (BMI>25) adults (aged 20-59 years) and assessed them for participation in yoga practice and their quality of life, including general self-esteem, enjoyment in physical activities, satisfactory social contacts, satisfaction concerning work, sexual pleasure, and focus on eating behavior.

 

They found that in comparison to non-participants in yoga practice, the yoga participants had significantly higher overall quality of life including higher levels of general self-esteem, enjoyment in physical activities, satisfactory social contacts, and satisfaction concerning work. Hence, participation in yoga practice was found to be associated with significantly higher quality of life in overweight and obese individuals.

 

These findings are correlational and causation cannot be determined. It is possible that yoga practice causes improved quality of life, or that people with high quality of life tend to engage in yoga practice, or that some other factor, e.g. affluence, large social network, results in higher levels of both. Nevertheless, it is clear that practicing yoga is associated with better, more enjoyable lives, that overweight and obese yoga practitioners have a higher quality of life.

 

“’I think yoga can be a wonderful form of movement that bigger-bodied people can adapt for themselves.’ For folks carrying more weight, low-impact exercises like yoga may be more comfortable than, say, running on the pavement.” – Laura McMullen

 

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

 

Telles, S., Sharma, S. K., Singh, A., Kala, N., Upadhyay, V., Arya, J., & Balkrishna, A. (2019). Quality of Life in Yoga Experienced and Yoga Naïve Asian Indian Adults with Obesity. Journal of obesity, 2019, 9895074. doi:10.1155/2019/9895074

 

Abstract

Background

Obesity adversely affects quality of life which then acts as a barrier to weight loss and weight loss maintenance. Hence, those interventions which positively influence the quality of life along with weight reduction are considered useful for sustained weight loss in persons with obesity. An earlier study showed better quality of life in obese adults who had experience of yoga compared to yoga naïve obese adults. However, the main limitation of the study was the small sample size (n=20 in each group).

Objective

The present study aimed to determine whether with larger sample sizes the quality of life would differ in yoga experienced compared to yoga naïve adults with obesity.

Methods

There were 596 Asian Indian obese adults (age range 20 to 59 years; group mean age ± SD; 43.9 ± 9.9 years): of whom (i) 298 were yoga experienced (154 females; group mean age ± SD; 44.0 ± 9.8 years) with a minimum of 1 month of experience in yoga practice and (ii) 298 were yoga naïve (154 females; group mean age ± SD; 43.8 ± 10.0 years). All the participants were assessed for quality of life using the Moorehead–Ardelt quality of life questionnaire II. Data were drawn from a larger nationwide trial which assessed the effects of yoga compared to nutritional advice on obesity over a one-year follow-up period (CTRI/2018/05/014077).

Results

There were higher participant-reported outcomes for four out of six aspects of quality of life in the yoga experienced compared to the yoga naïve (p < 0.008, based on t values of the least squares linear regression analyses, Bonferroni adjusted, and adjusted for age, gender, and BMI as covariates). These were enjoyment in physical activities, ability to work, self-esteem, and social satisfaction.

Conclusion

Obese adults with yoga experience appear to have better quality of life in specific aspects, compared to yoga naïve persons with a comparable degree of obesity.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6515061/

 

Mindful Sex is Better Sex

Mindful Sex is Better Sex

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“When you apply mindfulness, meditation and yogic principles to your sex life, things begin to shift in a fantastic way.” – Courtney Avery

 

Relationships can be difficult as two individuals can and do frequently disagree or misunderstand one another. This is amplified in marriage where the couple interacts daily and frequently have to resolve difficult issues. Sex is a very important aspect of relationships. Problems with sex are very common and have negative consequences for relationships. While research suggests that sexual dysfunction is common, it is a topic that many people are hesitant or embarrassed to discuss. Women suffer from sexual dysfunction more than men with 43% of women and 31% of men reporting some degree of difficulty. Hence, sex has major impacts on people’s lives and relationships. Greater research attention to sexual and relationship satisfaction is warranted.

 

Mindfulness trainings have been shown to improve a variety of psychological issues including emotion regulationstress responsestraumafear and worryanxiety, and depression, and self-esteem. Mindfulness training has also been found to improve relationships and to be useful in treating sexual problems. But there is little empirical research. So, it makes sense to further investigate the relationship of mindfulness with couple’s sexual satisfaction.

 

In today’s Research News article “The role of sexual mindfulness in sexual wellbeing, Relational wellbeing, and self-esteem.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6640099/), Leavitt and colleagues recruited midlife (aged 35-60 years), heterosexual, married, men and women and had them complete a questionnaire measuring mindfulness, sexual mindfulness, including awareness and non-judgement of sexual experience, sexual satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, and self-esteem.

 

They found that the higher the levels of both the aware and non-judgement facets of sexual mindfulness the higher the levels of trait mindfulness and sexual satisfaction and the higher the levels of trait mindfulness the greater the sexual satisfaction. High levels of relationship satisfaction were associated with high levels of sexual satisfaction and self-esteem. They found that trait mindfulness and sexual mindfulness were additive in their associations with sexual satisfaction. Women but not men who were high in aware sexual mindfulness had greater sexual satisfaction. Finally, they found that high non-judgement sexual mindfulness was associated with higher levels of self-esteem.

 

These results suggest that mindfulness during sex, being aware of sensations and emotions and not judging the experience, is important for satisfaction with sex, the marital relationship, and self-esteem. In other words, sex is better when experienced mindfully, relationships are better when sex is better, and one feels better about oneself when sex is better. These results are correlational and causation cannot be determined. But the results are interesting and suggest that a randomized controlled trial of the effectiveness of sexual mindfulness training to enhance satisfaction with sex and the relationship is justified.

 

Sex is fundamental to marital relationships and being mindful of the experience, both in terms of sensations and emotions, appears to be very important for the individual and the couple. Enhancing the sexual experience with mindfulness may well be an important therapeutic technique for enhancing satisfaction with marriage.

 

So, mindful sex is better sex.

 

“When people have sexual problems, a lot of the time it’s anxiety-related and they’re not really in their bodies, or in the moment. Mindfulness brings them back into the moment. When people say they’ve had the best sex and you ask them what they were thinking about, they can’t tell you, because they weren’t thinking about anything, they were just enjoying the moment. That’s mindfulness.” – Kate Moyle

 

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

 

Leavitt, C. E., Lefkowitz, E. S., & Waterman, E. A. (2019). The role of sexual mindfulness in sexual wellbeing, Relational wellbeing, and self-esteem. Journal of sex & marital therapy, 45(6), 497–509. doi:10.1080/0092623X.2019.1572680

 

Abstract

In this study we examine the role of sexual mindfulness in individuals’ sexual satisfaction, relational satisfaction, and self-esteem. Midlife U.S. men and women (N = 194 married, heterosexual individuals; 50.7% female; 94% Caucasian, age range 35–60 years) completed an online survey. More sexually mindful individuals tended to have better self-esteem, be more satisfied with their relationships and, particularly for women, be more satisfied with their sex lives. Some of these associations occurred even after controlling for trait mindfulness. These findings may also allow researchers and therapists to better address an individual’s sexual wellbeing, relational wellbeing, and self-esteem by teaching sexual mindfulness skills.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6640099/