Mindfulness Makes Teachers Better Teachers

Mindfulness Makes Teachers Better Teachers

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Most teacher training focuses primarily on content and pedagogy, overlooking the very real social, emotional, and cognitive demands of teaching itself. Luckily, learning and cultivating skills of mindfulness. . . can help us to promote the calm, relaxed, but enlivened classroom environment that children need to learn.” – Patricia Jennings

 

In a school setting, mindfulness not only affects teachers, but also the students. Mindfulness has been demonstrated to be helpful in reducing the psychological and physiological responses to stress and for treating and preventing burnout in schools. But the effects of mindfulness on elementary school teachers and their students need further exploration. Are mindful elementary school teachers better teachers?

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention for Teachers: a Study on Teacher and Student Outcomes.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8060685/ ) de Carvalho and colleagues recruited primary school teachers and randomly assigned them to a no-treatment control or to receive 30 hours of mindfulness training delivered over 10 weeks. They were measured before and after training for mindfulness, emotion regulation, self-compassion, self-efficacy, mental health, and burnout. They were also observed in the classroom and rated for “flexibility and ability to adapt to classroom situations, cooperation among students, and group cohesion.” They also recruited parents and students of the teachers. The students measured teacher involvement with students, and the students’ positive and negative emotions, mental health, and emotion control. Finally, the parents rated their child’s social behavior.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control group, after mindfulness training there were significant improvements in all teacher measurements including the classroom observation measurements. The students of the mindfulness trained teachers rated the teachers as having higher involvement with students and the students of these teachers also had better emotion regulation, higher positive emotions, lower negative emotions, higher well-being and parental ratings of social behavior.

 

It should be noted that the control teachers received no treatment whatsoever. This passive type of control does not allow for the conclusion that it was mindfulness training per se that was responsible for the improvements. Rather any kind of attention to the teachers might result in similar improvements. The study should be replicated comparing teacher mindfulness training to an active control condition such as teacher fitness training.

 

The findings for the teachers replicate previous findings that mindfulness training increases mindfulness, emotion regulation, self-compassion, self-efficacy, mental health, and reduces burnout. The results also demonstrate that teacher mindfulness training makes them more attentive to the needs of their students which improves the students’ emotional well-being and their interactions with others.

 

These findings are remarkable in that they demonstrate how teaching mindfulness to teachers affects the entire classroom system, altering the teachers’ behavior which in turn affects the students’ behavior and well-being. This further suggests that training elementary school teachers in mindfulness will improve the school experience for both the teachers and their students. This could lower teacher burnout while improving the emotional and social development of the children.

 

So, mindfulness makes teachers better teachers.

 

We see mental health benefits. We see some behavioral benefits. Youth are more likely not to engage in conflict — more likely to walk away from contentious discussions. They express greater acceptance of themselves.” – Erica Sibinga

 

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

 

de Carvalho, J. S., Oliveira, S., Roberto, M. S., Gonçalves, C., Bárbara, J. M., de Castro, A. F., Pereira, R., Franco, M., Cadima, J., Leal, T., Lemos, M. S., & Marques-Pinto, A. (2021). Effects of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention for Teachers: a Study on Teacher and Student Outcomes. Mindfulness, 1–14. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-021-01635-3

 

Abstract

Objectives

Teachers’ stress can affect their occupational health and negatively impact classroom climate and students’ well-being. This study aims to evaluate the proximal and distal effects of a mindfulness-based program, specially developed to promote teachers’ social-emotional competencies (SEC), across teachers, classroom climates, and students’ outcomes.

Methods

The study followed a randomized trial design with two data collection points (pretest and posttest). Participants in the experimental group (EG) included 123 elementary school teachers, their 1503 students, and these students’ parents (1494), while the control group (CG) comprised 105 elementary school teachers, their 947 students, and these students’ parents (913). A mixed data collection strategy was used that included teachers’ and students’ (self-) report, observational ratings of teachers’ classroom behaviors, and parents’ reports on students.

Results

After the intervention, EG teachers, compared to CG teachers, reported a significant increase in mindfulness and emotional regulation competencies, self-efficacy, and well-being and a decrease in burnout symptoms. Similarly, a significant improvement was found in EG teachers’ classroom behaviors related to students’ engagement. Additionally, significant improvements were also found in EG students’ perceptions of the quality of their teachers’ involvement in classroom relationships, self-reported effect, and social competencies perceived by their parents.

Conclusions

These findings further the knowledge on the role played by mindfulness-based SEC interventions in reducing teachers’ burnout symptoms and cultivating their SEC and well-being, in promoting a nurturing classroom climate and also in promoting the SEC and well-being of students.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8060685/

 

The Setting of Psychedelic Administration Affects the Obtained Psychological Benefits

The Setting of Psychedelic Administration Affects the Obtained Psychological Benefits

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

If you choose to take psychedelics, it is strongly recommended to have a sitter,” Gael said. “Ideally, this person is familiar with the psychedelic state and is someone you can trust to be a responsible, calm grounded presence.” – Sara Gael

 

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. Psychedelics produce effects that are similar to those that are reported in spiritual awakenings, a positive mood, with renewed energy and enthusiasm. It is easy to see why people find these experiences so pleasant and eye opening. They often report that the experiences changed them forever. 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. The setting in which psychedelic drugs are taken in the real world varies widely and there is little research on the effects of these settings on the experiences and their effects.

 

In today’s Research News article “Psychedelic Communitas: Intersubjective Experience During Psychedelic Group Sessions Predicts Enduring Changes in Psychological Wellbeing and Social Connectedness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8114773/ Kettner and colleagues recruited online adults who intended to attend a retreat where psychedelic drugs were used. They had them complete questionnaires at 5 time points; 2 weeks before and 3 hours before the retreat, the day after the psychedelic experience, after the retreat, and 4 weeks later. They were measured for experience details, preparedness, mental well-being, social connectedness, depression, anxiety, openness toward people, trait absorption, subjective psychedelic experiences, and retreat experiences. They used factor analysis to identify a combination of 8 questionnaire items that comprised a measure of communitas (experience of intense togetherness and shared humanity),

 

Psilocybin (80%) and ayahuasca (16%) were the drugs most frequently used at the retreats. They found that 4-weeks after the retreat social connectedness, well-being, and interpersonal tolerance, were significantly higher and anxiety and depression were significantly lower than at baseline. They also found that the higher the level of communitas the higher the levels of social connectedness and well-being. Using path analysis they found that overall communitas was associated with psychological well-being and social connectedness at follow-up and the overall communitas was associated with the communitas during the experience, trait absorption, rapport with the therapist, social support during the experience, and the level of self-disclosure.

 

This study was naturalistic in that it measured individuals who were engaged in naturally occurring psychedelic retreats. This provided varied retreat conditions in real world settings. This is distinct from laboratory research with psychedelics which provide for highly controlled circumstances. The results demonstrate very positive effects of psychedelic experiences even in varied environments like they have been shown to do in the laboratory.

 

The results suggest that the social conditions and setting surrounding psychedelic experiences affect the effects of the experiences on the mental and social well-being of the participants. In other words, the ability of psychedelics to produce positive effects on the participants does not happen in a vacuum. For optimum effectiveness there needs to be optimum social support conditions. Regardless, psychedelic experiences appear to promote social and psychological health.

 

So, the setting of psychedelic administration affects the obtained psychological benefits.

 

The science of how to use drug responsibly and effectively should be made accessible by educating the public on the principles of set and setting, a shared body of knowledge on the do’s and don’ts of responsible and effective drug use in a world where drug harms cannot be nullified but can doubtlessly be minimized.” – Ido Hartogsohn

 

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

 

Kettner, H., Rosas, F. E., Timmermann, C., Kärtner, L., Carhart-Harris, R. L., & Roseman, L. (2021). Psychedelic Communitas: Intersubjective Experience During Psychedelic Group Sessions Predicts Enduring Changes in Psychological Wellbeing and Social Connectedness. Frontiers in pharmacology, 12, 623985. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2021.623985

 

Abstract

Background: Recent years have seen a resurgence of research on the potential of psychedelic substances to treat addictive and mood disorders. Historically and contemporarily, psychedelic studies have emphasized the importance of contextual elements (‘set and setting’) in modulating acute drug effects, and ultimately, influencing long-term outcomes. Nevertheless, current small-scale clinical and laboratory studies have tended to bypass a ubiquitous contextual feature of naturalistic psychedelic use: its social dimension. This study introduces and psychometrically validates an adapted Communitas Scale, assessing acute relational experiences of perceived togetherness and shared humanity, in order to investigate psychosocial mechanisms pertinent to psychedelic ceremonies and retreats.

Methods: In this observational, web-based survey study, participants (N = 886) were measured across five successive time-points: 2 weeks before, hours before, and the day after a psychedelic ceremony; as well as the day after, and 4 weeks after leaving the ceremony location. Demographics, psychological traits and state variables were assessed pre-ceremony, in addition to changes in psychological wellbeing and social connectedness from before to after the retreat, as primary outcomes. Using correlational and multiple regression (path) analyses, predictive relationships between psychosocial ‘set and setting’ variables, communitas, and long-term outcomes were explored.

Results: The adapted Communitas Scale demonstrated substantial internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.92) and construct validity in comparison with validated measures of intra-subjective (visual, mystical, challenging experiences questionnaires) and inter-subjective (perceived emotional synchrony, identity fusion) experiences. Furthermore, communitas during ceremony was significantly correlated with increases in psychological wellbeing (r = 0.22), social connectedness (r = 0.25), and other salient mental health outcomes. Path analyses revealed that the effect of ceremony-communitas on long-term outcomes was fully mediated by communitas experienced in reference to the retreat overall, and that the extent of personal sharing or ‘self-disclosure’ contributed to this process. A positive relationship between participants and facilitators, and the perceived impact of emotional support, facilitated the emergence of communitas.

Conclusion: Highlighting the importance of intersubjective experience, rapport, and emotional support for long-term outcomes of psychedelic use, this first quantitative examination of psychosocial factors in guided psychedelic settings is a significant step toward evidence-based benefit-maximization guidelines for collective psychedelic use.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8114773/

Improve Health and Healthy Behaviors with Yoga and Pilates

Improve Health and Healthy Behaviors with Yoga and Pilates

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Multiple studies have confirmed the many mental and physical benefits of yoga. Incorporating it into your routine can help enhance your health, increase strength and flexibility and reduce symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety.” – Rachael Link

 

We tend to think that illness is produced by physical causes, disease, injury, viruses, bacteria, etc. But many health problems are behavioral problems or have their origins in maladaptive behavior. This is evident in car accident injuries that are frequently due to behaviors, such as texting while driving, driving too fast or aggressively, or driving drunk. Other problematic behaviors are cigarette smoking, alcoholism, drug use, or unprotected sex. Problems can also be produced by lack of appropriate behavior such as sedentary lifestyle, not eating a healthy diet, not getting sufficient sleep or rest, or failing to take medications according to the physician’s orders. Additionally, behavioral issues can be subtle contributors to disease such as denying a problem and failing to see a physician timely or not washing hands. In fact, many modern health issues, costing the individual or society billions of dollars each year, and reducing longevity, are largely preventable. Hence, promoting healthy behaviors and eliminating unhealthy ones has the potential to markedly improve health.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to promote health, healthy behaviors, and improve illness. It is well established that if patterns and habits of healthy behaviors can be promoted, ill health can be prevented. There is, however, little research on the effects of yoga and Pilates on health and healthy behaviors.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Impacts of Pilates and Yoga on Health-Promoting Behaviors and Subjective Health Status.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8038747/ )  Lim and colleagues recruited adults aged 30-49 years who did not have experience with yoga or Pilates and randomly assigned them to receive either no treatment or a 50 minute, 3 times per week for 8 weeks program of either yoga or Pilates. They were measured before and after training for health behaviors and health status.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment control group both the yoga and Pilates groups had significant improvements in health status and health related behaviors including eating healthy, avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, being responsible for their own health, maintaining healthy social relationships, managing stress, and emphasizing spiritual growth. But in all cases Pilates was significantly superior to yoga.

 

Both Pilates and yoga are exercises. So, the results demonstrate that engaging in exercises results in improvements in health and health behaviors. Further they demonstrate that Pilates produce superior results. “Pilates focuses more on core control and posture development. In contrast, yoga focuses more on static stretching and flexibility.” These differences in the programs may be responsible for Pilates superior effects on health behaviors.

 

The results, however do not show that yoga and Pilates are superior to other exercises such as aerobic training. Hence, it is not clear whether components specific to yoga and Pilates are important for health or if any exercise would produce comparable results.In addition, the control condition was no treatment. This leaves open the possibility that the participants expectation about the effectiveness of exercise were responsible for the results rather than the exercises themselves. It remains for future studies to address these issues.

 

Nevertheless, promoting health related behaviors are important for the health and well-being of the individual. Both yoga and Pilates were effective in doing this. So, participation in these exercises should be encouraged.

 

So, improve health and healthy behaviors with yoga and Pilates.

 

The benefits of various yoga techniques have been professed to improve body flexibility, performance, stress reduction, attainment of inner peace, and self-realization.” – Manoj Sharma

 

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

 

Lim, E. J., & Hyun, E. J. (2021). The Impacts of Pilates and Yoga on Health-Promoting Behaviors and Subjective Health Status. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(7), 3802. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18073802

 

Abstract

This study investigates whether Pilates and yoga lead people to adopt generally health-promoting lifestyle elements and feel better about their physical and mental fitness. To this end, we designed an 8 week exercise program of Pilates and yoga reviewed by veteran practitioners and conducted an experimental study through which we collected the data from 90 volunteered adult subjects between ages 30 and 49 (mean age = 35.47), equally represented by women and men without previous experience with Pilates or yoga. In the 8 week long experiment, we assigned the subjects to three groups, where subjects in the two exercise groups regularly took part in either Pilates or yoga classes, and the control group participated in neither exercise classes. All participants completed two surveys, the Health-Promoting Lifestyle Profile (HPLP II) and the Health Self-Rating Scale (HSRS), before and after their assigned program. In our analysis of pre- and post-treatment differences across the three groups, we ran ANOVA, ANCOVA, and Sheffé test, implemented using SPSS PASW Statistics 18.00. Our results indicate that Pilates and yoga groups exhibited a higher engagement in health-promoting behaviors than the control group after the program. Subjective health status, measured with HSRS, also improved significantly among Pilates and yoga participants compared to those in the control group after the program. The supplementary analysis finds no significant gender-based difference in these impacts. Overall, our results confirm that Pilates and yoga help recruit health-promoting behaviors in participants and engender positive beliefs about their subjective health status, thereby setting a positive reinforcement cycle in motion. By providing clear evidence that the promotion of Pilates or yoga can serve as an effective intervention strategy that helps individuals change behaviors adverse to their health, this study offers practical implications for healthcare professionals and public health officials alike.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8038747/

 

Reduce Negative Self-Representations and Improve Social Anxiety Disorder with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

Reduce Negative Self-Representations and Improve Social Anxiety Disorder with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

for dealing with social anxiety, it is much more useful to practice mindful focus during conversations and other situations around people in which we are uncomfortable.” – Larry Cohen

 

Being in a social situation can be stressful and anxiety producing. Most people can deal with the anxiety and can become quite comfortable. But many do not cope well and the anxiety is overwhelming, causing the individual to withdraw. Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is characterized by a persistent, intense, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others and feeling embarrassed or humiliated by their actions. This fear may be so severe that it interferes with work, school, and other activities and may negatively affect the person’s ability to form relationships.

 

Anxiety disorders 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 including Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). It is not known, however, how mindfulness training has its effects on SAD.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on Negative Self-Representations in Social Anxiety Disorder—A Randomized Wait-List Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8149603/ ) He and colleagues recruited online patients with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) and randomly assigned them to a wait-list control condition or to receive a 2.5 hour, once a week for 12-weeks program of  Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). MBSR involves discussion, meditation, body scan, and yoga. They were measured before and after training for social anxiety disorder. They also completed a reaction time task in which they responded as quickly as they could to the color of a negative emotional word that was either signaled as referring to themselves or to others. This was followed by a surprise memory test for the words.

 

They found that memory of the words was better for words signaled as referring to self. But after treatment the group that received Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).had poorer memory of self-related words and better memory of other-related words than the wait-list group. They also found that for the MBSR group the lower the difference between memory of self and other-related words the greater the decrease in Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).

 

This is an interesting study that demonstrates that patients with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) after Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).have poorer memory of negative words associated with themselves and better memory of these same words when associated with other people. This suggests a hypothesis of how MBSR improves the symptoms of  SAD.  It suggests that MBSR desensitizes these patients to self-referring negative representations. In addition, the results demonstrate that the greater the effects on memory produced by MBSR the greater the improvement in SAD. This further suggests that MBSR reduces the patients negative feelings about themselves which in turn reduces the symptoms of SAD.

 

So, reduce negative self-representations and improve social anxiety disorder with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

 

If you are suffering with the symptoms of social anxiety disorder (SAD), regular practice will eventually improve your self-concept and ability to handle negative emotions. You will also learn how to better respond to troubling thoughts and treat yourself with more compassion.” – Arlin Cuncic

 

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

 

He, L., Han, W., & Shi, Z. (2021). The Effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on Negative Self-Representations in Social Anxiety Disorder—A Randomized Wait-List Controlled Trial. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 12, 582333. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.582333

 

Abstract

This study examines the impact of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) vs. wait list (WL) on the self-reference effect involving negative adjectives in individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD). Eighty-five participants with SAD were randomly assigned to 12 weeks of MBSR or WL and completed an incidental SRE task that assessed treatment-related negative self-representations. Self-related negative adjectives were worse remembered in MBSR than in WL, and other-related negative adjectives were better remembered in MBSR than in WL. No differences emerged between the levels of self- and other-related processing for adjectives in MBSR. Moreover, the MBSR-related decreases in the difference in recognition memory performance between self and other conditions, that is, the treatment-related equilibrium, could predict the MBSR-related decreases in social anxiety symptoms. The selfless functioning and self-other control that can provide reasonable interpretations for these findings were discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8149603/

 

Improve Elementary School Children Behavior with Mindfulness

Improve Elementary School Children Behavior with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Research shows that mindfulness skills improve memory, organizational skills, reading and math scores, all while giving kids the tools they need to handle toxic stress.” – Michelle Kinder

 

Elementary school environments have a huge effect on development. They are also excellent times to teach children the skills to adaptively negotiate its environment. Mindfulness training in school, at all levels has been shown to have very positive effects. These include academic, cognitive, psychological, and social domains. Importantly, mindfulness training in school appears to improve the student’s self-concept. It also improves attentional ability and reduces stress, which are keys to successful learning in school. Since, what occurs in the early years of school can have such a profound, long-term effect on the child it is important to further study the impact of mindfulness training on elementary school children.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of a School-Based Mindfulness Program for Young Children.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8046640/ )  Sciutto and colleagues recruited kindergarten through 3rd grade children aged 5 to 9 years. They were assigned to either receive an 8-week 16 session mindfulness program or to a 4-week delay before the mindfulness program. The teachers rated the children’s behavior for emotional symptoms, conduct problems, hyperactivity, peer problems, prosocial behavior, and student engagement. Teacher engagement was also measured.

 

During the 4-week delay period there were no significant changes in the children’s behavior. But over the 8-week mindfulness training period there was a significant increase in prosocial behaviors and decrease in externalizing behaviors. This was true for all classes except kindergarten. They also found that the higher the levels of teacher engagement and student engagement, the higher the levels of prosocial behaviors and the lower the levels of externalizing behaviors.

 

These are interesting results that suggest that mindfulness training in elementary school children improves their behaviors. Prosocial behaviors including sharing, helping, and cooperating were improved. In fact, the mindfulness program specifically included training in mindful prosocial behavior. So, it was not surprising that these behaviors were improved. Externalizing behaviors including hyperactivity and conduct problems were also improved. Since, these behaviors interfere with instruction and student learning, it would be expected that their reduction would contribute to overall learning, although this was not measured.

 

In addition, the engagement in the program of teachers and students appears to be very important for the benefits to accrue. Hence, strides should be taken to insure engagement. Overall, the results indicate that the mindfulness program is beneficial for the children and the learning environment. It would be interesting to explore whether these effects are transitory or improve student behavior as they progress through the years.

 

So, improve elementary school children behavior 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.” – Annika Harris

 

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

 

Sciutto, M. J., Veres, D. A., Marinstein, T. L., Bailey, B. F., & Cehelyk, S. K. (2021). Effects of a School-Based Mindfulness Program for Young Children. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 1–12. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-021-01955-x

 

Abstract

Schools are an attractive setting for implementation of mindfulness-based programs because mindfulness practices, by their very nature, align with a wide range of core educational goals. The present study investigated the effects of an 8-week (16 session) school-based mindfulness program for young children across 8 classrooms (K through 2) using a quasi-experimental delayed-intervention control group design. Results indicated that the mindfulness program was associated with significant improvements in teacher ratings of externalizing and prosocial behaviors. Program outcomes were not associated with child sex or race/ethnicity, but did vary by grade. Descriptive analyses suggest that outcomes tended to be more positive in classrooms with higher levels of teacher and student engagement. Results of the present study add to the growing knowledge base on the positive effects of school-based mindfulness programs and point to a need for more rigorous inquiry into the extent to which students and teachers are engaged with mindfulness programs both during the program itself and in their day to day functioning.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8046640/

 

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/