And what he asked of his clients was truly dramatic: He asked them to recognize an OCD-related thought as soon as possible and relabel it as unreal — merely a symptom of their OCD — without giving in to it. The group responded enthusiastically, but things took off after an older woman in the group, Dottie, suddenly exclaimed: “It’s not me! It’s my OCD!”
This became a rallying cry for the group. And Schwartz realized he’d found his first step, relabeling.
If a patient suffered from a constant obsession with dirty hands and a compulsion to wash them, Schwartz advised the patient to think: This is not an urge to wash my hands. This is a bothersome thought brought about by my OCD. As soon as he hit on this method, his patients came back the next week and reported improvement, claiming they no longer felt the disease controlled them.
This became the second step: reattribute. He was teaching his patients to reattribute their OCD symptoms to some gnarled brain wiring, teaching them to see the functioning of their brain as meaningfully separate from their sense of self.
Over the following weeks, patients started to report victories regularly. At first these wins were small. Paula could hold off on questioning her boyfriend about his day for longer periods — first minutes, then an hour or more. She could get by while asking fewer questions. But as time passed, the patients reported something more remarkable: The intrusive thoughts of OCD were diminishing, occurring less frequently, and coming on with less power.
Schwartz believed that this was because his patients were in fact using the power of their minds to rewire their adult brains — a finding at odds with the view in those days that only children’s brains could go through such enormous change.
One evening, while out of the office, Schwartz realized his patients needed more to do, something to focus on besides the intrusive thoughts of OCD. He thought back over the practice of mindfulness and found an analogy he liked. In meditation, if he became emotionally invested in a particular train of thought, he sought to refocus himself by drawing his attention back to his breathing.
Using that same concept, he gave his patients license to replace monitoring their breath with whatever behavior they found most compelling. Some patients found it helpful to turn back to the same healthy behavior each time an OCD episode struck: going for a walk, perhaps, or gardening.
Schwartz had found three steps — relabel, reattribute and, now, refocus.
But he needed a final step, something to pull them all together. He called that step revaluing. The OCD thoughts that patients once considered so important were to be systematically deconstructed, understood and finally revalued as, in Schwartz’s words, “trash … not worth the gray matter they rode in on.” Conversely, Schwartz’s patients learned to value their alternative behavior highly.
Schwartz’s four steps worked, but it wasn’t easy. It took, and these words struck Schwartz as key, a tremendous force of will.
Meditation is more than just a way to calm our thoughts and lower stress levels: our brain processes more thoughts and feelings during meditation than when you are simply relaxing, a coalition of researchers from Norway and Australia has found.
This study was designed to test whether romantic partners' mindfulness-present moment, nonjudgmental awareness-during a conflict discussion could buffer the effects of negative partner behaviors on neuroendocrine stress responses. Heterosexual couples (n=88 dyads) provided 5 saliva samples for cortisol assay during a laboratory session involving a conflict discussion task. Conflict behaviors were coded by outside observers using the System for Coding Interactions in Dyads, and partners rated their mindfulness during the task using the Toronto Mindfulness Scale. Interactions tested using multilevel modeling revealed that participants with higher levels of mindfulness during the conflict showed either quicker cortisol recovery or an absence of slowed recovery in the presence of more negative partner behaviors. Whereas the attitudinal component of mindfulness (curiosity) moderated effects of negative partner engagement in the conflict (i.e., attempts to control, coerciveness, negativity and conflict), the attentional component of mindfulness (decentering) moderated the effect of partner disengagement (i.e., withdrawal). These findings lend support to the idea that mindfulness during a stressful interaction can mitigate the physiological impacts of negative behaviors.
Journal de Thérapie Comportementale et Cognitive - Vol. 26 - N° 1 - p. 32-48 - Effets de la pratique de la pleine conscience et du Tai Chi Chuan sur la santé mentale d’étudiants : une étude pilote contrôlée non randomisée - EM consulte
Mindfulness-based intervention effectiveness for physiological outcomes (glycaemic control and blood pressure) was mixed. Mindfulness-based interventions appear to have psychological benefits reducing depression, anxiety and distress symptoms across several studies.
Of the studies reviewed, participants included health care professionals and teachers; no studies included occupational therapy practitioners. Six of the 8 studies demonstrated statistically significant decreases in job burnout after mindfulness training. Seven of the studies were of fair to good quality.
Heart diseases especially Hypertension, Coronary Artery Diseases (CAD) and stroke are the leading causes of death all over the world. Hostility, anxiety, depression and increased reactivity to mental stress have been strongly associated with hypertension and CAD. Mental stress or anxiety causes increased sympathetic activation and poor vagus nerve control over heart. Imbalance between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system leads to vasospasm and has been associated with Hypertension, Coronary Artery Disease and Myocardial Infarction. Psychosocial stress has also been found to be responsible for imbalance in autonomic nervous system, causing sympathetic dominance over parasympathetic leading to acute coronary events. Meditation is a process of self-contemplation and purification of mind. Practitioner of meditation brings about desirable changes in their behaviour and lifestyle. During Meditation sympathetic activity is reduced and there is parasympathetic dominance over sympathetic. During meditation and after meditation person feels calm, quiet and relaxed. Meditation causes decrease in metabolic rate. The blood pressure may come to normal or falls, pulse rate comes to normal or low, vascular spasm if any, is reduced and myocardial perfusion increase. Thus meditation helps in preventing hypertension, coronary artery disease and other cardiac events. This may be beneficial before a person gets coronary event and post-myocardial infarction. In view of the beneficial effects of meditation, it may be introduced as primary intervention strategy in preventing Cardio-vascular Diseases. We did this review study to find out: (1) Can meditation bring about desirable changes in human mind and body in post-intervention group compared to control group? (2) Its effectiveness in prevention of heart diseases like hypertension, coronary events and post-MI complications. This review included all randomised controlled trials on patients above 18 years, both sexes, any setting with medication & meditation or meditation, Controlled group was on medication alone. Clustered and crossover studies were excluded.
Both dispositional mindfulness and mindfulness training may help to uncouple the degree to which distress is experienced in response to aversive internal experience and external events. Because emotional reactivity is a transdiagnostic process implicated in numerous psychological disorders, dispositional mindfulness and mindfulness training could exert mental health benefits, in part, by buffering emotional reactivity. The present studies examine whether dispositional mindfulness moderates two understudied processes in stress reactivity research: the degree of concordance between subjective and physiological reactivity to a laboratory stressor (study 1) and the degree of dysphoric mood reactivity to lapses in executive functioning in daily life (study 2). In both studies, lower emotional reactivity to aversive experiences was observed among individuals scoring higher in mindfulness, particularly non-judging, relative to those scoring lower in mindfulness. These findings support the hypothesis that higher dispositional mindfulness fosters lower emotional reactivity. Results are discussed in terms of implications for applying mindfulness-based interventions to a range of psychological disorders in which people have difficulty regulating emotional reactions to stress.
Studies investigating the feasibility and impact of mindfulness programs on emotional well-being when delivered by school teachers in pre-adolescence are scarce. This study reports the findings of a controlled feasibility pilot which assessed acceptability and emotional well-being outcomes of an 8-week mindfulness program (Paws b) for children aged 7–9 years. The program was delivered by school teachers within a regular school curriculum. Emotional well-being was measured using self-report questionnaires at baseline, post-training and 3 months follow-up, and informant reports were collected at baseline and follow-up. Seventy one participants aged 7–9 years were recruited from three primary schools in the UK (training group n = 33; control group n = 38). Acceptability of the program was high with 76% of children in the training group reporting ‘liking’ practicing mindfulness at school, with a strong link to wanting to continue practicing mindfulness at school (p < 0.001). Self-report comparisons revealed that relative to controls, the training group showed significant decreases in negative affect at follow-up, with a large effect size (p = 0.010, d = 0.84). Teacher reports (but not parental ratings) of meta-cognition also showed significant improvements at follow-up with a large effect size (p = 0.002, d = 1.08). Additionally, significant negative correlations were found between changes in mindfulness and emotion regulation scores from baseline to post-training (p = 0.038) and baseline to follow-up (p = 0.033). Findings from this study provide initial evidence that the Paws b program in children aged 7–9 years (a) can be feasibly delivered by primary school teachers as part of the regular curriculum, (b) is acceptable to the majority of children, and (c) may significantly decrease negative affect and improve meta-cognition.
Around the same time, Schwartz suggested the team investigate the caudate nucleus, a tail-shaped structure near the OFC that serves as the habit center of the brain. The caudate nucleus, he thought, might act as a kind of nexus for OCD — a traffic hub where rational thinking in the cerebral cortex meets the more primitive, emotion-ruled centers of the brain’s limbic system.
Objective: The aim of the present study was to analyze the effects of a mindfulness training psycho-educative program on impulsivity and aggression levels in a sample of high school students. Methods: A randomized controlled trial with pretest-posttest measurements was applied to an experimental group and a control group (waiting list). The Barratt Impulsivity Scale (BIS-11) (Barratt, 1995) and the Aggression Questionnaire (AQ) (Buss and Perry, 1992) were used. Results: Statistical analyses showed a significant decrease in the levels of impulsivity and aggressiveness in the experimental group compared with the control group. These results have important implications for improving the level of academic engagement and self-efficacy of students and for reducing school failure. Conclusion: This is one of the first studies showing the effectiveness of mindfulness training at reducing impulsive and aggressive behaviors in the classroom. The efficacy of mindfulness-based programs is emphasized.
Although our results provide evidence for the existence of a neural substrate underlying subjective happiness, they do not show that the construct is unchangeable. On the contrary, previous structural neuroimaging studies have shown that training in psychological activities, such as meditation, changed the structure of the precuneus gray matter32. These findings are consistent with those of previous studies showing that meditation training increased subjective happiness33. Together with these findings, our results suggest that psychological training that effectively increases gray matter volume in the precuneus may enhance subjective happiness.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) manifests by high levels of inattention, impulsiveness and hyperactivity. ADHD starts in childhood and results in impairments that continue into adulthood. While hyperactivity declines over time, inattention and executive function difficulties persist, leading to functional deficits. Adolescents and adults with ADHD have pervasive impairment in interpersonal and family relationships. They may develop addiction, delinquent behavior and comorbid psychiatric disorders. Despite advances in diagnosis and treatment, persistent residual symptoms are common, highlighting the need for novel treatment strategies. Mindfulness training, derived from Eastern meditation practices, may improve self-regulation of attention. It may also be a useful strategy to augment standard ADHD treatments and may be used as a potential tool to reduce impairments in patients with residual symptoms of ADHD. Clinically, this would manifest by an increased ability to suppress task-unrelated thoughts and distractions resulting in improved attention, completion of tasks and potential improvement in occupational and social function.
This paper focuses on evidence for mindfulness meditation-related benefits to executive functioning, processes important for much of human volitional behaviour. Miyake et al. (2000) have shown that executive functions can be fractionated into three distinct domains including
working memory updating, and
mental set shifting.
Considering these separable domains, it is important to determine whether the effects of mindfulness can generalize to all three sub-functions or are specific to certain domains. To address this, the current review applied Miyake et al.’s (2000) fractionated model of executive functioning to the mindfulness literature. Empirical studies assessing the benefits of mindfulness to measures tapping the inhibition, updating, and shifting components of executive functioning were examined. Results suggest a relatively specific as opposed to general benefit resulting from mindfulness, with consistent inhibitory improvement, but more variable advantages to the updating and shifting domains. Recommendations surrounding application of mindfulness practice and future research are discussed.
Overall, the results indicate that engaging in mindfulness meditation training improves the maintenance of goal-directed visuospatial attention and may be a useful strategy for counteracting cognitive decline associated with aging.
Although studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can improve self-reported measures of disease symptomatology, the effect that mindfulness meditation has on biological mechanisms underlying human aging and disease is less clear. To address this issue, we conducted the first comprehensive review of randomized controlled trials examining the effects of mindfulness meditation on immune system parameters, with a specific focus on five outcomes: (1) circulating and stimulated inflammatory proteins, (2) cellular transcription factors and gene expression, (3) immune cell count, (4) immune cell aging, and (5) antibody response. This analysis revealed substantial heterogeneity across studies with respect to patient population, study design, and assay procedures. The findings suggest possible effects of mindfulness meditation on specific markers of inflammation, cell-mediated immunity, and biological aging, but these results are tentative and require further replication. On the basis of this analysis, we describe the limitations of existing work and suggest possible avenues for future research. Mindfulness meditation may be salutogenic for immune system dynamics, but additional work is needed to examine these effects.
This study's objective was to evaluate the effect of two common components of meditation (mindfulness and slow breathing) on potential mechanistic pathways. METHODS:
A total of 102 combat veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were randomized to
(a) the body scan mindfulness meditation (MM),
(b) slow breathing (SB) with a biofeedback device,
(c) mindful awareness of the breath with an intention to slow the breath (MM+SB), or
(d) sitting quietly (SQ).
Participants had 6 weekly one-on-one sessions with 20 minutes of daily home practice.
The mechanistic pathways and measures were as follows:
(a) autonomic nervous system (hyperarousal symptoms, heart rate [HR], and heart rate variability [HRV]);
(b) frontal cortex activity (attentional network task [ANT] conflict effect and event-related negativity and intrusive thoughts); and
(c) hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (awakening cortisol). PTSD measures were also evaluated.
Meditation participants had significant but modest within-group improvement in PTSD and related symptoms, although there were no effects between groups. Perceived impression of PTSD symptom improvement was greater in the meditation arms compared with controls. Resting respiration decreased in the meditation arms compared with SQ. For the mechanistic pathways, (a) subjective hyperarousal symptoms improved within-group (but not between groups) for MM, MM+SB, and SQ, while HR and HRV did not; (b) intrusive thoughts decreased in MM compared with MM+SB and SB, while the ANT measures did not change; and (c) MM had lower awakening cortisol within-group (but not between groups).
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