Meditation could help anxiety and cardiovascular health

One hour of mindfulness meditation shown to reduce anxiety and some cardiovascular risk markers | Michigan Technological University | via ScienceDaily

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Preliminary data from a recent student-led study shows that even a single session of meditation can have cardiovascular and psychological benefits for adults with mild to moderate anxiety.

The mindfulness study included three sessions:

  • An orientation session during which researchers measured anxiety using the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and conducted cardiovascular testing by measuring heart rate variability, resting blood pressure and pulse wave analysis;
  • A meditation session that included repetition of the cardiovascular testing plus the mindfulness meditation—20 minutes introductory meditation, 30 minutes body scan and 10 minutes self-guided meditation—as well as repeating cardiovascular measurements immediately following meditation and 60 minutes after;
  • A post-meditation anxiety test one week later.

60 minutes after meditating the 14 study participants showed lower resting heart rates and reduction in aortic pulsatile load – the amount of change in blood pressure between diastole and systole of each heartbeat multiplied by heart rate. Additionally, shortly after meditating, and even one week later, the group reported anxiety levels were lower than pre-meditation levels.

Full detail: Michigan Technological University:  Meditation could help anxiety and cardiovascular health.

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Being in nature helps to support mindfulness practices

New research suggests mindfulness training can be improved if it is carried out in natural settings. The study published in the Consciousness and Cognition journal, demonstrate  how a natural environment can support mindfulness practices, as it less ‘effortful’ than traditional training which favour an exercise-based approach. 
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Abstract
Mindfulness courses conventionally use effortful, focused meditation to train attention. In contrast, natural settings can effortlessly support state mindfulness and restore depleted attention resources, which could facilitate meditation.
The researchers erformed two studies that compared conventional training with restoration skills training (ReST) that taught low-effort open monitoring meditation in a garden over five weeks. Assessments before and after meditation on multiple occasions showed that ReST meditation increasingly enhanced attention performance. Conventional meditation enhanced attention initially but increasingly incurred effort, reflected in performance decrements toward the course end.

With both courses, attentional improvements generalized in the first weeks of training. Against established accounts, the generalized improvements thus occurred before any effort was incurred by the conventional exercises. We propose that restoration rather than attention training can account for early attentional improvements with meditation. ReST holds promise as an undemanding introduction to mindfulness and as a method to enhance restoration in nature contacts.

Full reference: Lyemus, et al. |Building mindfulness bottom-up: Meditation in natural settings supports open monitoring and attention restoration |Consciousness and Cognition| Vol. 59 | March 2018| P. 40-56 | doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.concog.2018.01.008
The full article is available to request for Rotherham NHS staff here 

Mind the Hype: A Critical Evaluation and Prescriptive Agenda for Research on Mindfulness and Meditation

Van Dam, N. T. et al.| Mind the Hype: A Critical Evaluation and Prescriptive Agenda for Research on Mindfulness and Meditation | Perspectives on Psychological Science| Vol. 13| 1| p. 36-61 | https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691617709589

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Abstract

During the past two decades, mindfulness meditation has gone from being a fringe topic of scientific investigation to being an occasional replacement for psychotherapy, tool of corporate well-being and widely implemented educational practice. Yet the mindfulness movement and empirical evidence supporting it have not gone without criticism. Misinformation and poor methodology associated with past studies of mindfulness may lead public consumers to be harmed, misled, and disappointed.

This article discusses the difficulties of defining mindfulness, delineates the proper scope of research into mindfulness practices, and explicates crucial methodological issues for interpreting results from investigations of mindfulness.  The authors draw on their diverse areas of expertise to review the present state of mindfulness research, comprehensively summarizing what we do and do not know, while providing a prescriptive agenda for contemplative science, with a particular focus on assessment, mindfulness training, possible adverse effects, and intersection with brain imaging. They aim to inform interested scientists, the media, and the public, to minimize harm, curb poor research practices, and staunch the flow of misinformation about the benefits, costs, and future prospects of mindfulness meditation.

 

The full article is available to Rotherham NHS Staff on request

 

The effects of four days of intensive mindfulness meditation training on resilience to stress

The interest in mindfulness meditation interventions has surged due to their beneficial effects in fostering resilience and reducing stress in both clinical and non-clinical populations | Psychology, Health & Medicine

However, the relaxation benefits that may occur while practicing mindfulness meditation and long-term benefits of these interventions remain unclear.

Participants in both the Templestay program and Control groups showed significant increases in their scores on CAMS and RQT after completing the program. During the 3-month follow-up, a significant interaction effect of the intervention method and time was revealed for the individuals’ CAMS and RQT scores.

Our findings support the hypothesis that while relaxation practices may have certain stress reduction effects, the effects are predominantly mediated by the mindfulness meditation practice. Furthermore, the long-term benefits of increased resilience observed in the Templestay program group suggest that the practice may be a possible treatment strategy in clinical populations, such as patients with depression and anxiety.

Full reference: Jeong Hwang, W. et al. (2017) The effects of four days of intensive mindfulness meditation training (Templestay program) on resilience to stress: a randomized controlled trial. Psychology, Health & Medicine. Published online: 29 August 2017

Meditation Program and Healthcare Providers’ Interoceptive Awareness, Compassion Fatigue, and Burnout

Research suggests that meditation can relieve stress, cultivate self-regulation skills, improve ability to focus, and modify risk for compassion fatigue (CF) and burnout in healthcare providers | Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing

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This pilot study examined a novel 6-week technology-assisted meditation program, coherently grounded in the system of yoga therapy that required minimal time. Five 10- to 12-minute meditations were offered via smartphone apps supported by biweekly e-mails. Hospice and palliative professionals at a Midwestern US healthcare network participated in the program (n = 36). Each meditation integrated attention, synchronized breath, gentle movements and a meditation focus. Weekly e-mails introduced a new meditation and reminded participants how and why to practice.

The participants used the meditations a mean of 17.18(SD, 8.69) times. Paired t tests found significant presurvey to postsurvey improvements for CF/burnout (P < .05) and interoceptive awareness (P < .001). Participation significantly heightened perceived ability and propensity to direct attention to bodily sensations, increased awareness of physical sensations’ connections to emotions, and increased active body listening. The technology-assisted yoga therapy meditation program successfully motivated providers to meditate. The program required minimal time yet seemed to reduce CF/burnout and improve emotional awareness and self-regulation by heightening attention to present-moment bodily sensations.

Full reference: Heeter, C. et al. (2017) Effects of a Technology-Assisted Meditation Program on Healthcare Providers’ Interoceptive Awareness, Compassion Fatigue, and Burnout. Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing. Volume 19 (Issue 4) pp. 314–322

Women Benefit More Than Men in Response to College-based Meditation Training

Rojiani, R. et al. Frontiers in Psychology | Published online: 20th April 2017

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Objectives: While recent literature has shown that mindfulness training has positive effects on treating anxiety and depression, there has been virtually no research investigating whether effects differ across genders—despite the fact that men and women differ in clinically significant ways. The current study investigated whether college-based meditation training had different effects on negative affect for men and women.

 

Conclusion: These findings suggest that women may have more favorable responses than men to school-based mindfulness training, and that the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions may be maximized by gender-specific modifications.

Read the full article here

Mindfulness meditation versus relaxation therapy in the management of tinnitus.

Arif, M. et al. The Journal of Laryngology & Otology | Published online: 30 March 2017

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Psychotherapeutic interventions have been adopted effectively in the management of tinnitus for a long time. This study compared mindfulness meditation and relaxation therapy for management of tinnitus.

This study suggests that although both mindfulness meditation and relaxation therapy are effective in the management of tinnitus, mindfulness meditation is superior to relaxation therapy.

Read the full abstract here