Different Aspects of Yoga Practice Affect the Psychological Benefits

Different Aspects of Yoga Practice Affect the Psychological Benefits

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Most styles of yoga are based on the same basic yoga poses (called asanas), however the experience of one style can be radically different than another.” – DoYoga

 

Yoga training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. But there are a wide variety of different yoga training techniques and practices. Although the benefits of yoga practices in general are well studied there is little scientific research comparing different components of yoga practices and the benefits.

 

In today’s Research News article “Exploring how different types of yoga change psychological resources and emotional well-being across a single session.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7081324/ ) Park and colleagues recruited adults who had attended at least 5 yoga classes. There were 3 different practice sites engaged in a variety of types of yoga; Hatha yoga: Ashtanga, Baptiste, Bikram, Forrest, Iyengar, Kripalu, Kundalini, Pranayama, Restorative, Vinyasa Flow, and Yin. Before and after a 60-minute yoga class they were measured for psychological resources (mindfulness, body awareness, self-transcendence, peacefulness and contentment, social connectedness), and exercise induced feelings (positive emotions, revitalization, tranquility, and exhaustion). After the class they were measured for properties of yoga, physical taxation, and therapist warmth.

 

In comparison to before the yoga class, afterward there were significant increases exercise induced feelings (positive emotions, revitalization, tranquility, and decreased exhaustion), psychological resources (mindfulness, body awareness, self-transcendence, spirituality, and social connectedness). In addition, the greater the increase in positive emotions, revitalization, and tranquility, the greater the increase in mindfulness, self-transcendence, spirituality, and social connectedness. In addition, the greater the decrease in exhaustion the greater the increase in mindfulness, self-transcendence, spirituality, and social connectedness.

 

They also investigated different aspects of the yoga practice and their relationships to psychological resources and emotions. They found that the higher the levels of the restorative aspects of the yoga practice the greater the changes in self-transcendence, spirituality, and tranquility, the higher the levels of the breathwork aspects of the yoga practice the greater the changes in body awareness and self-transcendence, and the higher the levels of the therapist warmth the greater the changes in self-transcendence and positive engagement.

 

These results are correlative and need to be interpreted with caution. But they provide interesting clues as to how yoga practice may produce some of its benefits. It increases the psychological resources available to the participants and improves their emotions. They also showed that the larger the increases in psychological resources produced by yoga practice the greater the improvements in emotions. Finally, they showed that restorative and breathwork aspects of yoga practice and the therapist warmth were most related to improvements.

 

Much more research is needed. But this study suggests that yoga practice strengthens the psychological resources of the practitioners and these are related to improved emotions. It also demonstrates that certain aspects of yoga practice that are differently emphasized in different styles of yoga, particularly restorative and breathwork aspects of yoga practice and the therapist warmth, may contribute to yoga’s benefits.

 

So, different aspects of yoga practice affect the psychological benefits.

 

figure out your intention—do you want to do yoga to improve your health; lessen stress; increase mindfulness; gain strength; lose weight or relieve pain? Once you have the answer to this question you will know the practice that is right for you.” – Femina

 

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

 

Park, C. L., Finkelstein-Fox, L., Groessl, E. J., Elwy, A. R., & Lee, S. Y. (2020). Exploring how different types of yoga change psychological resources and emotional well-being across a single session. Complementary therapies in medicine, 49, 102354. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2020.102354

 

Abstract

Objectives:

Yoga demonstrates beneficial effects in many populations, yet our understanding of how yoga brings about these effects is quite limited. Among the proposed mechanisms of yoga are increasing psychological resources (mindfulness, body consciousness, self-transcendence, spiritual peace, and social connectedness) that may bring about salutary effects on emotional wellbeing. Further, yoga is a complex practice comprising meditation, active and restorative postures, and breathwork; however little is known about how different components may affect mechanisms. We aimed to determine how an acute session of yoga (and its specific components) related to pre- to post- session changes in proposed mechanisms (psychological resources) and whether those changes were associated with positive changes in emotions.

Design:

144 regular yoga practitioners completed measures of mindfulness, body consciousness, self-transcendence, social connectedness, spiritual peace, and exercise-induced emotions (positive engagement, revitalization, tranquility, exhaustion) immediately before and after a yoga session (N=11 sessions, each a different type of yoga). Perceived properties of each yoga session, exercise exertion and engagement with the yoga teacher were assessed immediately following the session.

Results:

Pre- to post- yoga, levels of positive emotions (engagement, tranquility and revitalization) increased while exhaustion decreased. Further, all psychological resources increased and closely tracked improved emotions. Additionally, aspects of the yoga session correlated with changes in psychological resources (mechanisms) and emotions.

Conclusions:

Yoga may influence multiple psychological mechanisms that influence emotional well-being. Further, different types of yoga may affect different mechanisms. Results can inform yoga interventions aiming to optimize effects through specific mechanisms such as mindfulness or spirituality.

Highlights

  • To gain a better understanding of how yoga brings about beneficial effects, we examined changes in psychological resources and emotions across a single session of yoga.
  • All five psychological resources (mindfulness, body consciousness, self-transcendence, spiritual peace, and social connectedness) increased from pre-to-post yoga session, and all emotions (positive engagement, revitalization, tranquility and exhaustion) improved.
  • Further, improvements in emotions were associated with improvements in psychological resources.
  • Different styles of yoga were associated with differential improvements in psychological resources and emotions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7081324/

 

Increase Quality of Life and Decrease Weight of Patients with Diabetes with Tai Chi

Increase Quality of Life and Decrease Weight of Patients with Diabetes with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“a regular tai chi exercise program may help lower blood glucose levels, allowing people with diabetes to better control their disease.” – Lindsey Getz

 

Diabetes is a major health issue. It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States have diabetes and the numbers are growing. Type 2 Diabetes results from a resistance of tissues, especially fat tissues, to the ability of insulin to promote the uptake of glucose from the blood. As a result, blood sugar levels rise producing hyperglycemia. Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. In addition, diabetes is heavily associated with other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, and circulatory problems leading to amputations. As a result, diabetes doubles the risk of death of any cause compared to individuals of the same age without diabetes.

 

Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable. One of the reasons for the increasing incidence of Type 2 Diabetes is its association with overweight and obesity which is becoming epidemic in the industrialized world. A leading cause of this is a sedentary life style. Current treatments for Type 2 Diabetes focus on diet, exercise, and weight control. Recently, mindfulness practices have been shown to be helpful in managing diabetesTai Chi is mindfulness practice and a gentle exercise that has been found to improve the symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes. The research is accumulating. So, it is reasonable to examine what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of Tai Chi on Quality of Life, Body Mass Index, and Waist-Hip Ratio in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7851054/ ) Qin and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published research studies of the effectiveness of Tai Chi practice in the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes. They found 18 published research studies, 15 of which were randomized controlled studies.

 

They report that the published research found that patients with Type 2 Diabetes who practiced Tai Chi had significant improvements in their quality of life including physical function, pain, overall health, vitality, social function, emotional function, and mental health dimensions. The research also found that Tai Chi practice produced significant reductions in body size as reflected in the waist-hip ration and the body mass index (BMI), but the improvements were equivalent to that produced by other aerobic exercises.

 

These are important findings as Type 2 Diabetes is so impactful on the health and longevity of large numbers of patients. The results suggest that Tai Chi practice reduces body size which is very important in improving metabolic and glucose control. As a consequence, it greatly improves the quality of life of the patients. It appears from the research that the exercise component of Tai Chi practice is important for the improvements as other aerobic exercises produce similar effects.

 

Some advantages of Tai Chi practice include the facts that it is not strenuous, involves slow gentle movements, and is safe, having no appreciable side effects, it is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion. It can also be practiced without professional supervision and in groups making it inexpensive to deliver and fun to engage in. This makes Tai Chi practice an excellent means to improve the physical and psychological symptoms experienced by patients with Type 2 Diabetes.

 

So, increase quality of life and decrease weight of patients with diabetes with Tai Chi.

 

Tai Chi exercises can improve blood glucose levels and improve the control of type 2 diabetes and immune system response.” – Anna Sophia McKenney

 

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

 

Qin, J., Chen, Y., Guo, S., You, Y., Xu, Y., Wu, J., Liu, Z., Huang, J., Chen, L., & Tao, J. (2021). Effect of Tai Chi on Quality of Life, Body Mass Index, and Waist-Hip Ratio in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in endocrinology, 11, 543627. https://doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2020.543627

 

Abstract

Background

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a worldwide public health concern with high morbidity and various progressive diabetes complications that result in serious economic expenditure and social burden. This systematic review aims to evaluate the effect of Tai Chi on improving quality of life (QoL), body mass index (BMI) and waist-hip ratio (WHR) in patients with T2DM.

Method

A systematic review and meta-analysis was performed following PRISMA recommendation. Four English databases and three Chinese databases were searched. The PEDro scale was used to assess the methodological quality of including studies. Study inclusion criteria: randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-experimental studies were included, patients with T2DM that adopted Tai Chi as intervention and QoL, BMI and/or WHR as outcome measurements.

Results

Eighteen trials were included. The aggregated results of seven trials showed that Tai Chi statistically significantly improved QoL measured by the SF-36 on every domains (physical function: MD = 7.73, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.76 to 13.71, p = 0.01; role-physical function: MD = 9.76, 95% CI = 6.05 to 13.47, p < 0.001; body pain: MD = 8.49, 95% CI = 1.18 to 15.8, p = 0.02; general health: MD = 9.80, 95% CI = 5.77 to 13.82, p < 0.001; vitality: MD = 6.70, 95% CI = 0.45 to 12.94, p = 0.04; social function: MD = 9.1, 95% CI = 4.75 to 13.45, p < 0.001; role-emotional function: MD = 7.88, 95% CI = 4.03 to 11.72, p < 0.001; mental health: MD = 5.62, 95% CI = 1.57 to 9.67, p = 0.006) and BMI (MD = −1.53, 95% CI = −2.71 to −0.36, p < 0.001) compared with control group (wait list; no intervention; usual care; sham exercise).

Conclusion

Tai Chi could improve QoL and decrease BMI for patients with T2DM, more studies are needed to be conducted in accordance with suggestions mentioned in this review.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7851054/

 

Mindfulness-Based Therapies Benefits are Greatly Affected by Social Factors in Therapy

Mindfulness-Based Therapies Benefits are Greatly Affected by Social Factors in Therapy

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Designed to deliberately focus a person’s attention on the present experience in a way that is non-judgmental, mindfulness-based interventions, whether offered individually or in a group setting, may offer benefit to people seeking therapy for any number of concerns.” – Manuel A. Manotas

 

Psychotherapy is an interpersonal transaction. Its effectiveness in treating the ills of the client is to some extent dependent upon the chemistry between the therapist and the client, termed the therapeutic alliance. Research has demonstrated that there is a positive relationship with moderate effect sizes between treatment outcomes and the depth of the therapeutic alliance.

 

There are also other factors that may be important for successful therapy. The client’s engagement in the process as well as the therapists interpersonal skills may also be important ingredients in producing successful therapeutic outcomes. There are also important social factors present particularly when the therapy is provided in groups. In addition, formal and informal practice effects are involved. There is little known, however, of the role of these components of therapy on the effectiveness of treatment for mental health issues such as depression.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Contribution of Common and Specific Therapeutic Factors to Mindfulness-Based Intervention Outcomes.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7874060/ )  Canby and colleagues recruited patients diagnosed with mild to severe depression and randomly assigned them to receive once a week for 8 weeks, 3 hour sessions of either focused meditation, open monitoring meditation or Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) which contains both focused and open monitoring meditation practices. Before and after the 8-weeks of practice and 3 months later they were measured for empathy, therapeutic alliance, formal and informal mindfulness practices, depression, anxiety, stress, mindfulness, and group therapeutic factors in group therapy: instillation of hope, secure emotional expression, awareness of relational impact, and social learning. Finally, they received structured interviews exploring mindfulness practices and impact of treatment.

 

They found that the over treatment and follow-up the groups had significantly increased mindfulness and significantly decreased anxiety, depression and stress. They found that the higher the ratings of the instructors. the ratings of the groups and the amounts of formal meditation practice the greater the changes. In general, the instructor and group factors had stronger relationships to the psychological improvements than the amount of formal meditation and the amount of informal meditation practice had no relationship with the improvements. The analysis of the structured interviews indicated that the participants found the instructor and group factors including bonding, instilling hope, and expressing feelings were important to their improvements.

 

These results are interesting replicate previous findings of mindfulness-based therapies produce improvements in anxiety, depression, and stress. The results suggest that mindfulness-based therapies have complex effects and changes in mindfulness may be less important than the social environment produced by the instructor and the group. These social factors may account for a large proportion of the benefits to the participants. These results are important as they suggest that empathizing the social interactions involved in therapy may improve the impact of the therapy on the patients’ psychological well-being.

 

So, mindfulness-based therapies benefits are greatly affected by social factors in therapy.

 

Mindfulness’ strength is in helping us to see more clearly, by giving us the room to not be so quickly reactive. And over time the event does not have to jump to emotional distress, like a grasshopper leaping over a stream.” – Barry Boyce

 

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

 

Canby, N. K., Eichel, K., Lindahl, J., Chau, S., Cordova, J., & Britton, W. B. (2021). The Contribution of Common and Specific Therapeutic Factors to Mindfulness-Based Intervention Outcomes. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 603394. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.603394

 

Abstract

While Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) have been shown to be effective for a range of patient populations and outcomes, a question remains as to the role of common therapeutic factors, as opposed to the specific effects of mindfulness practice, in contributing to patient improvements. This project used a mixed-method design to investigate the contribution of specific (mindfulness practice-related) and common (instructor and group related) therapeutic factors to client improvements within an MBI. Participants with mild-severe depression (N = 104; 73% female, M age = 40.28) participated in an 8-week MBI. Specific therapeutic factors (formal out-of-class meditation minutes and informal mindfulness practice frequency) and social common factors (instructor and group ratings) were entered into multilevel growth curve models to predict changes in depression, anxiety, stress, and mindfulness at six timepoints from baseline to 3-month follow-up. Qualitative interviews with participants provided rich descriptions of how instructor and group related factors played a role in therapeutic trajectories. Findings indicated that instructor ratings predicted changes in depression and stress, group ratings predicted changes in stress and self-reported mindfulness, and formal meditation predicted changes in anxiety and stress, while informal mindfulness practice did not predict client improvements. Social common factors were stronger predictors of improvements in depression, stress, and self-reported mindfulness than specific mindfulness practice-related factors. Qualitative data supported the importance of relationships with instructor and group members, involving bonding, expressing feelings, and instilling hope. Our findings dispel the myth that MBI outcomes are exclusively the result of mindfulness meditation practice, and suggest that social common factors may account for much of the effects of these interventions. Further research on meditation should take into consideration the effects of social context and other common therapeutic factors.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7874060/

 

Socially Mindful Behavior is Perceived Positively and Evokes Brain Responses

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Socially Mindful Behavior is Perceived Positively and Evokes Brain Responses

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Being socially mindful is more than being polite. It’s also more than just being aware of others. It is being aware that our decisions may limit or eliminate choices for others. It refers to our focus on making decisions that recognize our shared humanity and interdependence.” – Saundra Schrock

Humans are social animals. This is a great asset for the species as the effort of the individual is amplified by cooperation. In primitive times, this cooperation was essential for survival. But in modern times it is also essential, not for survival but rather for making a living and for the happiness of the individual. Mindfulness has been found to increase prosocial emotions such as compassion, and empathy and prosocial behaviors such as altruism. So, being mindful socially is very important. But, the research on social mindfulness is in its infancy.

 

One method to observe social mindfulness processing in the brain is to measure the changes in the electrical activity that occur in response to observing socially mindful or unmindful stimuli. These are called event-related potentials or ERPs; the signal following a stimulus changes over time. The fluctuations of the signal after specific periods of time are thought to measure different aspects of the nervous system’s processing of the stimulus. The Feedback Related Negativity (FRN) response in the evoked potential (ERP) is a negative going electrical response occurring between a 2.5 to 3.0 tenths of a second following the target stimulus presentation. The FRN component is thought to be a response to negative outcomes.

 

In today’s Research News article “Social Mindfulness Shown by Individuals With Higher Status Is More Pronounced in Our Brain: ERP Evidence.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6988832/ ) Lu and colleagues recruited adult participants and had them input number sequences into a computer as fast as they could. They were then told that they ranked either low, medium, of high on the task. But all participants were told that they were medium. They then engaged in a computerized social mindfulness task in which they made choices that impacted the availability of choices for another participant. If the participant chose in such a way to limit the choices of the other participant it was considered socially unmindful. Then while the participants had their electroencephalogram (EEG) recorded they were shown the responses on the social mindfulness task or socially mindful and socially unmindful trials of actors with different statuses. They were then asked to rate the actors on pleasantness and likeability, and how much they were willing to share a reward with the other.

 

They found that after observing a socially mindful choice, the participants rate the actor as significantly more pleasant and likeable and were willing to share more of the reward than after a socially unmindful choice. In addition, the Feedback Related Negativity (FRN) response in the EEG was more negative after socially mindful choices but only for moderate and high status actors. Low status actors were rated as significantly more pleasant and likeable.

 

These are interesting results but the experimental context is artificial and there is no way to determine if the results reflect what would happen in real-world contexts. But the results suggest that people respond positively to others being socially mindful. In addition, the Feedback Related Negativity (FRN) response in the EEG demonstrated that the effect of a socially mindful choice on an observer occurs very rapidly and can be detected very early in the brain. The results also suggest that the social status of the individual modulates the impact of their social mindful choices on others.

 

These results suggest that social mindfulness is an impactful factor on how we perceive others. This could tend to promote group cohesion and reward prosocial behaviors by perceiving and responding to considerate people more positively. Hence, people are drawn to socially mindful people.

 

So, socially mindful behavior is perceived positively and evokes brain responses.

 

Social mindfulness is correlated with prosocial values (i.e., valuing others’ outcomes and being willing to cooperate), but it is not the same.” – Joachim Kruger

 

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

 

Lu, J., Huang, X., Liao, C., Guan, Q., Qi, X. R., & Cui, F. (2020). Social Mindfulness Shown by Individuals With Higher Status Is More Pronounced in Our Brain: ERP Evidence. Frontiers in neuroscience, 13, 1432. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2019.01432

 

Abstract

“Social mindfulness” refers to being thoughtful of others and considering their needs before making decisions, and can be characterized by low-cost and subtle gestures. The present study compared the behavioral and neural responses triggered by observing others’ socially mindful/unmindful choices and how these responses were modulated by the social status of the agency. At the behavioral level, observing socially mindful choices made observers feel better, rate the actors as more likable, and behave more cooperatively than did observing socially unmindful choices. Analysis of event-related potentials in the brain revealed that compared with socially unmindful choices, mindful choices elicited more negative feedback-related negativity (FRN). Notably, while this effect of social mindfulness was only significant when the actor’s social status was medium and high, it was undetectable when the actor’s social status was low. These results demonstrate that the social mindfulness of others can be rapidly detected and processed, as reflected by FRN, even though it does not seem to receive further, more elaborate evaluation. These findings indicated that low-cost cooperative behaviors such as social mindfulness can also be detected and appreciated by our brain, which may result in better mood and more cooperative behaviors in the perceivers. Besides, the perception of social mindfulness is sensitive to important social information, such as social status.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6988832/

 

Improve Psychological Health with a Self-Guided, Smartphone-Based Mindfulness App

Improve Psychological Health with a Self-Guided, Smartphone-Based Mindfulness App

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Another part of the appeal of smartphone-based apps is their anonymity. “The apps also allow for privacy and confidentiality and can be a safe space for individuals who may be too ashamed to admit their mental health issues in person or who may feel that they will be negatively labeled or stigmatized by others,” – Sal Raichback

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health. But the vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, mindfulness training with smartphone apps has been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. In addition, research has indicated that mindfulness training via smartphone apps can be effective for improving the health and well-being of the participants.

 

In today’s Research News article “Testing the Efficacy of a Multicomponent, Self-Guided, Smartphone-Based Meditation App: Three-Armed Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR mental health.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7732708/ ) Goldberg and colleagues recruited adults who did not have extensive meditation experience and randomly assigned them to a wait-list control condition or to receive either of 2 8-week smartphone app mindfulness training with the Healthy Minds Program. They received 4 weeks of awareness training including awareness of breathing and awareness of sounds. They were then again randomly assigned to receive 4 weeks of either Connection training consisting or gratitude and kindness practices or Insight Training consisting of “the changing nature of the phenomenon (ie, impermanence) and examining how thoughts and emotions influence perception” practices. They were measured before after the first 4-week module and after the second 4-week module for mindfulness, psychological distress, perceived stress, interpersonal connections, interpersonal reactivity, compassion, self-reflection, rumination, and defusion.

 

They found that compared to baseline and the wait-list control group both intervention conditions produced significant increases in mindfulness, social connection, self-reflection and defusion and significant decreases in psychological distress, and rumination with no significant differences between the smartphone interventions. There were no differences between the wait-list controls and the intervention in compassion and empathy.

 

These are interesting findings that correspond to the finding in prior research that training the increases mindfulness produces significant increases in social connection, self-reflection and defusion and significant decreases in psychological distress, and rumination. They demonstrate that smartphone trainings that improve mindfulness produce improvement in the psychological health of the participants.

 

It was a bit surprising that the benefits of the awareness plus connection training did not significantly differ from the benefits of awareness plus insight training. But since both trainings equivalently higher mindfulness and increased mindfulness has been shown to produce these benefits, it is reasonable to conclude that any training the improves mindfulness will improve psychological health..

 

So, improve psychological health with a self-guided, smartphone-based mindfulness App.

 

Using a smartphone app, may provide immediate effects on mood and stress while also providing long-term benefits for attentional control. . . there is evidence that with continued usage, [mindfulness training] via a smartphone app may provide long-term benefits in changing how one relates to their inner and outer experiences.” – Kathleen Marie Walsh

 

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

 

Goldberg, S. B., Imhoff-Smith, T., Bolt, D. M., Wilson-Mendenhall, C. D., Dahl, C. J., Davidson, R. J., & Rosenkranz, M. A. (2020). Testing the Efficacy of a Multicomponent, Self-Guided, Smartphone-Based Meditation App: Three-Armed Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR mental health, 7(11), e23825. https://doi.org/10.2196/23825

 

Abstract

Background

A growing number of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) suggest psychological benefits associated with meditation training delivered via mobile health. However, research in this area has primarily focused on mindfulness, only one of many meditative techniques.

Objective

This study aims to evaluate the efficacy of 2 versions of a self-guided, smartphone-based meditation app—the Healthy Minds Program (HMP)—which includes training in mindfulness (Awareness), along with practices designed to cultivate positive relationships (Connection) or insight into the nature of the self (Insight).

Methods

A three-arm, fully remote RCT compared 8 weeks of one of 2 HMP conditions (Awareness+Connection and Awareness+Insight) with a waitlist control. Adults (≥18 years) without extensive previous meditation experience were eligible. The primary outcome was psychological distress (depression, anxiety, and stress). Secondary outcomes were social connection, empathy, compassion, self-reflection, insight, rumination, defusion, and mindfulness. Measures were completed at pretest, midtreatment, and posttest between October 2019 and April 2020. Longitudinal data were analyzed using intention-to-treat principles with maximum likelihood.

Results

A total of 343 participants were randomized and 186 (54.2%) completed at least one posttest assessment. The majority (166/228, 72.8%) of those assigned to HMP conditions downloaded the app. The 2 HMP conditions did not differ from one another in terms of changes in any outcome. Relative to the waitlist control, the HMP conditions showed larger improvements in distress, social connectedness, mindfulness, and measures theoretically linked to insight training (d=–0.28 to 0.41; Ps≤.02), despite modest exposure to connection- and insight-related practice. The results were robust to some assumptions about nonrandom patterns of missing data. Improvements in distress were associated with days of use. Candidate mediators (social connection, insight, rumination, defusion, and mindfulness) and moderators (baseline rumination, defusion, and empathy) of changes in distress were identified.

Conclusions

This study provides initial evidence of efficacy for the HMP app in reducing distress and improving outcomes related to well-being, including social connectedness. Future studies should attempt to increase study retention and user engagement.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7732708/

 

Improve Psychological Health and Quality of Life of Older Adults with Meditative Movement Practices.

Improve Psychological Health and Quality of Life of Older Adults with Meditative Movement Practices.

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindful techniques can help older adults feel a sense of connection to their body. This can be critical for creating optimal health, even as they manage the ongoing changes in their body.” – Karen Fabian

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our cognitive (mental) abilities which decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem-solving ability. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. Research has found that mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue. Indeed, the brains of practitioners of meditation and yoga have been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners. Tai Chi and Qigong have also been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging. The research findings are accumulating suggesting that a summarization of what has been learned is called for.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Mind-Body Interventions Involving Meditative Movements on Quality of Life, Depressive Symptoms, Fear of Falling and Sleep Quality in Older Adults: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7559727/ ) Weber and colleagues  review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled studies (RCTs) of the effectiveness of the mind-body practices of Yoga, Tai Chi. Qigong, and Pilates to improve the psychological health and quality of life in the elderly (aged 60 and over). They identified 37 published RCTs, 21 of which employed Tai Chi. 5 Qigong, 10 Yoga, and 3 Pilates.

 

They separated studies employing Tai Chi and Qigong from those employing Yoga and Pilates. They report that the published studies found that all of the meditative movement practices significantly improved the quality of life, physical functioning, and sleep quality and reduced the fear of falling of older adults with small effect sizes. Only the Tai Chi and Qigong practices produced significant improvements in psychological functioning and social functioning while only the Yoga and Pilates produced significant improvements in depression. For Tai Chi and Qigong, they further report that practice occurring 3 or more times per week resulted in larger improvements in quality of life and depression than those with less than 3 practices per week.

 

These findings suggest that meditative movement practices have wide ranging benefits, albeit with relatively small effect sizes, on the physical, psychological, and social functioning of older adults and improve their overall quality of life. These are important benefits for the elderly helping to slow the progressive decline seen with aging. These practices when properly performed and supervised have very few adverse effects. Hence, they should be recommended for aging individuals as safe and effective practices to slow the progressive decline and improve their overall well-being.

 

So, improve psychological health and quality of life of older adults with meditative movement practices.

 

When you age mindfully, you are fully aware and accepting of the challenges that come with the aging process, but you’re also aware of—and seizing—the opportunities that come with being blessed with what I call your ‘longevity bonus,’” – Andrea Brandt.

 

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

 

Weber, M., Schnorr, T., Morat, M., Morat, T., & Donath, L. (2020). Effects of Mind-Body Interventions Involving Meditative Movements on Quality of Life, Depressive Symptoms, Fear of Falling and Sleep Quality in Older Adults: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(18), 6556. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186556

 

Abstract

Background: The aim of the present systematic meta-analytical review was to quantify the effects of different mind–body interventions (MBI) involving meditative movements on relevant psychological health outcomes (i.e., quality of life (QoL), depressive symptoms, fear of falling (FoF) and sleep quality) in older adults without mental disorders. Methods: A structured literature search was conducted in five databases (Ovid, PsycINFO, PubMed, SPORTDiscus, Web of Science). Inclusion criteria were: (i) the study was a (cluster) randomized controlled trial, (ii) the subjects were aged ≥59 years without mental illnesses, (iii) an intervention arm performing MBI compared to a non-exercise control group (e.g., wait-list or usual care), (iv) psychological health outcomes related to QoL, depressive symptoms, FoF or sleep quality were assessed and (v) a PEDro score of ≥5. The interventions of the included studies were sub-grouped into Tai Chi/Qigong (TCQ) and Yoga/Pilates (YP). Statistical analyses were conducted using a random-effects inverse-variance model. Results: Thirty-seven randomized controlled trials (RCTs) (comprising 3224 participants) were included. Small to moderate-but-significant overall effect sizes favoring experimental groups (Hedges’ g: 0.25 to 0.71) compared to non-exercise control groups were observed in all outcomes (all p values ≤ 0.007), apart from one subdomain of quality of life (i.e., social functioning, p = 0.15). Interestingly, a significant larger effect on QoL and depressive symptoms with increasing training frequency was found for TCQ (p = 0.03; p = 0.004). Conclusions: MBI involving meditative movements may serve as a promising opportunity to improve psychological health domains such as QoL, depressive symptoms, FoF and sleep quality in older adults. Hence, these forms of exercise may represent potential preventive measures regarding the increase of late-life mental disorders, which need to be further confirmed by future research.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7559727/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Greater Prosocial Behavior and Lower Rumination

Mindfulness is Associated with Greater Prosocial Behavior and Lower Rumination

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

With mindfulness, people deeply experience the present feelings with clarity and emotionally calm, and thus prevents them from suppression or rumination.” – Ying Yang

 

Humans are social animals. This is a great asset for the species as the effort of the individual is amplified by cooperation. In primitive times, this cooperation was essential for survival. But in modern times it is also essential, not for survival but rather for making a living and for the happiness of the individual. Mindfulness has been found to increase prosocial emotions such as compassion, and empathy and prosocial behaviors such as altruism.

 

Worry (concern about the future) and rumination (repetitive thinking about the past) are associated with mental illness, particularly anxiety and depression. Fortunately, worry and rumination may be interrupted by mindfulness and emotion regulation improved by mindfulness. But there has been little study of the relationships between mindfulness, prosocial behaviors and rumination.

 

In today’s Research News article “Prosocial Behavior Can Moderate the Relationship Between Rumination and Mindfulness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7180177/),  Meng and Meng recruited adults high in rumination and low in rumination and asked them to evaluate what actions that they might take in a number of situations. They randomly assigned half of each group to work with situations that evoked either helping others (prosocial behavior) and the other half to work with neutral situations that didn’t involve helping. They were measured before and after the task for mindfulness and rumination. In a second study they recruited undergraduate students and had them complete questionnaires measuring mindfulness, rumination, and prosocial tendencies.

 

In the first study they found that overall, those participants high in rumination had significantly lower mindfulness than those low in rumination. They also found that the group working with helping situations had a significantly greater increase in mindfulness after the task than those working with the neutral situations and this effect was greatest in participants high in rumination.

 

In the second study they found that the higher the levels or all aspects of rumination the lower the levels of mindfulness. They also found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the greater the tendencies for prosocial behavior. Finally, they performed a moderation analysis and found that those participants high in prosocial tendencies had greater reductions in mindfulness produced by the reflective pondering aspect of rumination than the participants low in tendencies for prosocial behavior.

 

Overall, they found that rumination was associated with lower levels of mindfulness. This is not surprising as rumination involves repetitive thinking about past and future events that is incompatible with present moment awareness, mindfulness. In addition, they found that working on tasks that demanded helping behavior tended to increase mindfulness especially when rumination was high. Further they found that tendencies for prosocial behaviors were associated with higher levels of mindfulness. This suggests that prosocial behavior and mindfulness are significantly related and that evoking thinking about prosocial behavior tends to make the individual more mindful.

 

Although many aspects of this study were correlative and do not indicate causal relationships, it is clear that mindfulness and prosocial behavior are positively related and that rumination interferes with this relationship. They also suggest that engaging in prosocial behavior helps make people who ruminate a lot to be more mindful.

 

Previous research has shown that training in mindfulness increases the tendency to engage in prosocial behavior. This study turns the tables and demonstrates that engaging in prosocial behaviors increases mindfulness. All of which suggests that being aware of what’s going on in the present moment makes the individual more likely to see what others may need and that tending to the needs of others evokes present moment awareness.

 

Mindfulness is associated with greater prosocial behavior and lower rumination.

 

mindfulness meditation training increases compassionate prosocial behaviors.” – J. David Cresswell

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

 

Meng, Y., & Meng, G. (2020). Prosocial Behavior Can Moderate the Relationship Between Rumination and Mindfulness. Frontiers in psychiatry, 11, 289. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00289

 

Abstract

Objective

Rumination, which is a coping style to distress, has become a common mode of thinking about mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Improving mindfulness is an effective way to help people cope with rumination. Individuals who had higher prosocial behaviors reported a high level of mindfulness. This study aimed to explore whether prosocial behavior helps individuals with high-level rumination improve their mindfulness, and explain the reason why prosocial behavior can influence the relationship between mindfulness and rumination.

Methods

Introducing prosocial behavior situations, the first study chose 51 high-level rumination and 53 low-level rumination participants and measured the influence of prosocial behavior on mindful attention awareness in the present moment. In the second study, a questionnaire was conducted among 261 participants to explore the moderating effect of prosocial behavior between rumination and mindfulness.

Results

In individuals with high-level rumination, ΔMAAS (mindful attention awareness scale) (posttest-baseline) scores in the prosocial behavior condition were significantly higher compared to those in the control condition (p=0.003). Meanwhile, prosocial behavior played a moderating effect between reflective pondering of rumination and mindfulness (R2 = 0.03, p=0.004).

Conclusions

Encouraging prosocial behavior is an effective way to improve mindfulness in highly ruminative individuals.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7180177/

 

Improve Mindfulness Training with Natural Settings

Improve Mindfulness Training with Natural Settings

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Our deepest origins lie in the natural world and time in the great outdoors can be calming, invigorating, beautiful… and lots of fun! Mindfulness is paying attention without judgement to the present moment and it’s the perfect way to enhance our connection with nature.”- Claire Thompson

 

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

 

Mindfulness practices have been found routinely to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress and improve mood. People have long reported that walking in nature elevates their mood. It appears intuitively obvious that if mindfulness training occurred in a beautiful natural place, it would greatly improve the effectiveness of mindfulness practice. Pictures in the media of meditation almost always show a practitioner meditating in a beautiful natural setting. But there is little systematic research regarding the effects of mindfulness training in nature. It’s possible that the combination might magnify the individual benefits of each.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Nature-Based Mindfulness: Effects of Moving Mindfulness Training into an Outdoor Natural Setting.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6747393/), Diernis and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the effects of combining mindfulness training with natural environments. They found 26 published studies.

 

They report that the published research studies found that mindfulness practice in nature produced greater improvements in psychological, social, and physical well-being with moderate to small effect sizes. These effects were present regardless of whether the study employed a no-treatment or active control condition. In addition, natural environments that were wild and/or forested tended to produce greater effects than natural environments that were garden or park environments.

 

The meta-analysis suggests that mindfulness training in the natural environment, especially in wild environments, produces greater benefits than similar training in non-natural settings. It is not clear why this would be true. Perhaps, removing the individual from the environments that their accustomed to, potentiates mindfulness training. Or perhaps, returning the individual to the type of environments that reflect their evolutionary history, reduces stress and produces greater relaxation and improved attention. Regardless, it’s clear that practicing mindfulness in nature is very beneficial.

 

So, improve mindfulness training with natural settings.

 

During my first mindfulness-in-nature retreat, when my hand touched the sun-warmed ground, I felt a connection to the Earth I didn’t know was possible. It was as if the energy of the Earth connected with my own. There was no separation. It was grounding, warm, and it felt like home.” – Sara Overton

 

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., Lerstrup, I., Poulsen, D., Stigsdotter, U., Dahlgaard, J., & O’Toole, M. (2019). A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Nature-Based Mindfulness: Effects of Moving Mindfulness Training into an Outdoor Natural Setting. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(17), 3202. doi:10.3390/ijerph16173202

 

Abstract

Research has proven that both mindfulness training and exposure to nature have positive health effects. The purpose of this study was to systematically review quantitative studies of mindfulness interventions conducted in nature (nature-based mindfulness), and to analyze the effects through meta-analyses. Electronic searches revealed a total of 25 studies to be included, examining 2990 participants. Three analyses were conducted: Nature-based mindfulness interventions evaluated as open trials (k = 13), nature-based mindfulness compared with groups in non-active control conditions (k = 5), and nature-based mindfulness compared with similar interventions but without contact with nature (k = 7). The overall combined psychological, physiological, and interpersonal effects from pre- to post-intervention were statistically significant and of medium size (g = 0.54, p < 0.001). Moderation analyses showed that natural environments characterized as forests/wild nature obtained larger numerical effects than environments characterized as gardens/parks, as did informal mindfulness compared with formal mindfulness. The small number of studies included, as well as the heterogeneity and generally low quality of the studies, must be taken into consideration when the results are interpreted

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6747393/

 

Increase Social Contact and Reduce Loneliness with A Mindfulness Smartphone App

Increase Social Contact and Reduce Loneliness with A Mindfulness Smartphone App

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Loneliness and social isolation are among the most robust known risk factors for poor health and early death. . . Our research shows that a 14-day smartphone-based mindfulness program can target both, and that practice in welcoming and opening to all of our inner experiences—good or bad—is the key ingredient for these effects,” – Emily Lindsay

 

Humans are social animals. We are generally happiest when we’re with family and friends. Conversely, being without close social contact makes us miserable. It’s the close relationship that is so important as we can be around people all day at work and still feel deep loneliness. These contacts are frequently superficial and do not satisfy our deepest need. It is sometimes said that we live in “the age of loneliness.” It is estimated that 20% of Americans suffer from persistent loneliness. This even when we are more connected than ever with the internet, text messaging, social media, etc. But these create the kinds of superficial contacts that we think should be satisfying, but are generally not. This has led to the counterintuitive findings that young adults, 18-34, have greater concerns with loneliness than the elderly.

 

The consequences of loneliness are dire. It has been estimated that being socially isolated increases mortality by 14%. This is twice the elevation produced by obesity. Even worse, for people over 60, loneliness increases their risk of death by 45%. When a spouse loses a marital partner there’s a 30% increase in mortality in the 6-months following the death. Hence, loneliness is not only an uncomfortable and unhappy state, but it is also a threat to health and longevity. It is clear that this epidemic of loneliness needs to be addressed.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness training reduces loneliness and increases social contact in a randomized controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6397548/), Lindsay and colleagues recruited stressed but otherwise healthy adults and randomly assigned them to a 14 lesson smartphone app with one of three conditions; monitoring present moment experience, monitoring present moment experience plus accepting the experience, or reappraisal and coping strategies). They reported daily on their smartphones their level of loneliness, social contacts, and social support for three days before and 3 days after training with the App.

 

They found that after the intervention the monitoring present moment experience plus accepting the experience group had significantly lower levels of loneliness than prior to training and significantly greater number of social contacts, while neither the monitoring present moment experience or reappraisal and coping strategies groups had significant improvements.

 

These are interesting and potentially important results. Training to monitor present moment experience is not enough by itself to improve loneliness or increase social contact. It requires additional training in acceptance of experience. Many mindfulness training programs, such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT),  Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP), Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) already include both present moment and acceptance training. In fact, most meditation trainings emphasize both present moment and acceptance. So, it would be un usual for a training program not to have both components. But the present results suggest that is important to have both components to produce benefits.

 

The study did not have an acceptance alone condition. So, it cannot be determined if acceptance training also requires present moment training to produce benefits or if acceptance training alone can. Nevertheless, it is clear that the combination is a safe and effective means to reduce loneliness and enhance social contact. It is not clear whether the enhanced social contact was responsible for the reduced loneliness or that reducing loneliness encourages more social contact or that these two effects are produced separately by training.

 

Regardless, reducing loneliness is very important for the physical and psychological health and well-being of adults and mindfulness plus acceptance training is capable of doing just that. The fact that the training can occur without therapist contact with a smartphone App is important as this means that the treatment is scalable and can be implemented conveniently and at low cost.

 

So, increase social contact and reduce loneliness with a mindfulness smartphone App.

 

“In Unified Mindfulness terms, it appears that equanimity (acceptance) combines with concentration and sensory clarity to reduce loneliness and social isolation.” – Unmindfulness.com

 

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

 

Lindsay, E. K., Young, S., Brown, K. W., Smyth, J. M., & Creswell, J. D. (2019). Mindfulness training reduces loneliness and increases social contact in a randomized controlled trial. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 116(9), 3488–3493. doi:10.1073/pnas.1813588116

 

SIGNIFICANCE

Loneliness (i.e., feeling alone) and social isolation (i.e., being alone) are among the most robust known risk factors for poor health and accelerated mortality. Yet mitigating these social risk factors is challenging, as few interventions have been effective for both reducing loneliness and increasing social contact. Mindfulness interventions, which train skills in monitoring present-moment experiences with an orientation of acceptance, have shown promise for improving social-relationship processes. This study demonstrates the efficacy of a 2-wk smartphone-based mindfulness training for reducing loneliness and increasing social contact in daily life. Importantly, this study shows that developing an orientation of acceptance toward present-moment experiences is a critical mechanism for mitigating these social risk factors.

Loneliness (i.e., feeling alone) and social isolation (i.e., being alone) are among the most robust known risk factors for poor health and accelerated mortality. Yet mitigating these social risk factors is challenging, as few interventions have been effective for both reducing loneliness and increasing social contact. Mindfulness interventions, which train skills in monitoring present-moment experiences with an orientation of acceptance, have shown promise for improving social-relationship processes. This study demonstrates the efficacy of a 2-wk smartphone-based mindfulness training for reducing loneliness and increasing social contact in daily life. Importantly, this study shows that developing an orientation of acceptance toward present-moment experiences is a critical mechanism for mitigating these social risk factors.

Keywords: mindfulness, social relationships, loneliness, acceptance, ambulatory assessment

ABSTRACT

Loneliness and social isolation are a growing public health concern, yet there are few evidence-based interventions for mitigating these social risk factors. Accumulating evidence suggests that mindfulness interventions can improve social-relationship processes. However, the active ingredients of mindfulness training underlying these improvements are unclear. Developing mindfulness-specific skills—namely, (i) monitoring present-moment experiences with (ii) an orientation of acceptance—may change the way people perceive and relate toward others. We predicted that developing openness and acceptance toward present experiences is critical for reducing loneliness and increasing social contact and that removing acceptance-skills training from a mindfulness intervention would eliminate these benefits. In this dismantling trial, 153 community adults were randomly assigned to a 14-lesson smartphone-based intervention: (i) training in both monitoring and acceptance (Monitor+Accept), (ii) training in monitoring only (Monitor Only), or (iii) active control training. For 3 d before and after the intervention, ambulatory assessments were used to measure loneliness and social contact in daily life. Consistent with predictions, Monitor+Accept training reduced daily-life loneliness by 22% (d = 0.44, P = 0.0001) and increased social contact by two more interactions each day (d = 0.47, P = 0.001) and one more person each day (d = 0.39, P= 0.004), compared with both Monitor Only and control trainings. These findings describe a behavioral therapeutic target for improving social-relationship functioning; by fostering equanimity with feelings of loneliness and social disconnect, acceptance-skills training may allow loneliness to dissipate and encourage greater engagement with others in daily life.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6397548/Loneliness and social isolation are a growing public health concern, yet there are few evidence-based interventions for mitigating these social risk factors. Accumulating evidence suggests that mindfulness interventions can improve social-relationship processes. However, the active ingredients of mindfulness training underlying these improvements are unclear. Developing mindfulness-specific skills—namely, (i) monitoring present-moment experiences with (ii) an orientation of acceptance—may change the way people perceive and relate toward others. We predicted that developing openness and acceptance toward present experiences is critical for reducing loneliness and increasing social contact and that removing acceptance-skills training from a mindfulness intervention would eliminate these benefits. In this dismantling trial, 153 community adults were randomly assigned to a 14-lesson smartphone-based intervention: (i) training in both monitoring and acceptance (Monitor+Accept), (ii) training in monitoring only (Monitor Only), or (iii) active control training. For 3 d before and after the intervention, ambulatory assessments were used to measure loneliness and social contact in daily life. Consistent with predictions, Monitor+Accept training reduced daily-life loneliness by 22% (d = 0.44, P = 0.0001) and increased social contact by two more interactions each day (d = 0.47, P = 0.001) and one more person each day (d = 0.39, P= 0.004), compared with both Monitor Only and control trainings. These findings describe a behavioral therapeutic target for improving social-relationship functioning; by fostering equanimity with feelings of loneliness and social disconnect, acceptance-skills training may allow loneliness to dissipate and encourage greater engagement with others in daily life.

 

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/