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The capacity to stabilize the content of attention over time varies among individuals, and its impairment is a hallmark of several mental illnesses. Impairments in sustained attention in patients with attention disorders have been associated with increased trial-to-trial variability in reaction time and event-related potential deficits during attention tasks. At present, it is unclear whether the ability to sustain attention and its underlying brain circuitry are transformable through training. Here, we show, with dichotic listening task performance and electroencephalography, that training attention, as cultivated by meditation, can improve the ability to sustain attention. Three months of intensive meditation training reduced variability in attentional processing of target tones, as indicated by both enhanced theta-band phase consistency of oscillatory neural responses over anterior brain areas and reduced reaction time variability. Furthermore, those individuals who showed the greatest increase in neural response consistency showed the largest decrease in behavioral response variability. Notably, we also observed reduced variability in neural processing, in particular in low-frequency bands, regardless of whether the deviant tone was attended or unattended. Focused attention meditation may thus affect both distracter and target processing, perhaps by enhancing entrainment of neuronal oscillations to sensory input rhythms, a mechanism important for controlling the content of attention. These novel findings highlight the mechanisms underlying focused attention meditation and support the notion that mental training can significantly affect attention and brain function.
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<p>Mindfulness-based approaches are increasingly employed as interventions for treating a variety of psychological, psychiatric and physical problems. Such approaches include ancient Buddhist mindfulness meditations such as Vipassana and Zen meditations, modern group-based standardized meditations, such as mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and further psychological interventions, such as dialectical behavioral therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy. We review commonalities and differences of these interventions regarding philosophical background, main techniques, aims, outcomes, neurobiology and psychological mechanisms. In sum, the currently applied mindfulness-based interventions show large differences in the way mindfulness is conceptualized and practiced. The decision to consider such practices as unitary or as distinct phenomena will probably influence the direction of future research. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Clin Psychol 67:1-21, 2011.</p>

Interest in applications of mindfulness-based approaches with adults has grown rapidly in recent times, and there is an expanding research base that suggests these are efficacious approaches to promoting psychological health and well-being. Interest has spread to applications of mindfulness-based approaches with children and adolescents, yet the research is still in its infancy. I aim to provide a preliminary review of the current research base of mindfulness-based approaches with children and adolescents, focusing on MBSR/MBCT models, which place the regular practice of mindfulness meditation at the core of the intervention. Overall, the current research base provides support for the feasibility of mindfulness-based interventions with children and adolescents, however there is no generalized empirical evidence of the efficacy of these interventions. For the field to advance, I suggest that research needs to shift away from feasibility studies towards large, well-designed studies with robust methodologies, and adopt standardized formats for interventions, allowing for replication and comparison studies, to develop a firm research evidence base.

The high likelihood of recurrence in depression is linked to a progressive increase in emotional reactivity to stress (stress sensitization). Mindfulness-based therapies teach mindfulness skills designed to decrease emotional reactivity in the face of negative affect-producing stressors. The primary aim of the current study was to assess whether Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is efficacious in reducing emotional reactivity to social evaluative threat in a clinical sample with recurrent depression. A secondary aim was to assess whether improvement in emotional reactivity mediates improvements in depressive symptoms. Fifty-two individuals with partially remitted depression were randomized into an 8-week MBCT course or a waitlist control condition. All participants underwent the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) before and after the 8-week trial period. Emotional reactivity to stress was assessed with the Spielberger State Anxiety Inventory at several time points before, during, and after the stressor. MBCT was associated with decreased emotional reactivity to social stress, specifically during the recovery (post-stressor) phase of the TSST. Waitlist controls showed an increase in anticipatory (pre-stressor) anxiety that was absent in the MBCT group. Improvements in emotional reactivity partially mediated improvements in depressive symptoms. Limitations include small sample size, lack of objective or treatment adherence measures, and non-generalizability to more severely depressed populations. Given that emotional reactivity to stress is an important psychopathological process underlying the chronic and recurrent nature of depression, these findings suggest that mindfulness skills are important in adaptive emotion regulation when coping with stress.
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<p>Baer's review (2003; this issue) suggests that mindf ulness-based interventions are clinically efficacious, but that better designed studies are now needed to substantiate the field and place it on a firm foundation for future growth. Her review, coupled with other lines of evidence, suggests that interest in incorporating mindfulness into clinical interventions in medicine and psychology is growing. It is thus important that professionals coming to this field understand some of the unique factors associated with the delivery of mindfulness-based interventions and the potential conceptual and practical pitfalls of not recognizing the features of this broadly unfamiliar landscape. This commentary highlights and contextualizes (1) what exactly mindfulness is, (2) where it came from, (3) how it came to be introduced into medicine and health care, (4) issues of cross-cultural sensitivity and understanding in the study of meditative practices stemming from other cultures and in applications of them in novel settings, (5) why it is important for people who are teaching mind-fulness to practice themselves, (6) results from 3 recent studies from the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society not reviewed by Baer but which raise a number of key questions about clinical applicability, study design, and mechanism of action, and (7) current opportunities for professional training and development in mindfulness and its clinical applications.</p>

Using a randomized wait-list controlled design, this study evaluated the effects of a novel intervention, mindfulness-based relationship enhancement, designed to enrich the relationships of relatively happy, nondistressed couples. Results suggested the intervention was efficacious in (a) favorably impacting couples' levels of relationship satisfaction, autonomy, relatedness, closeness, acceptance of one another, and relationship distress; (b) beneficially affecting individuals' optimism, spirituality, relaxation, and psychological distress; and (c) maintaining benefits at 3-month follow-up. Those who practiced mindfulness more had better outcomes, and within-person analyses of diary measures showed greater mindfulness practice on a given day was associated on several consecutive days with improved levels of relationship happiness, relationship stress, stress coping efficacy, and overall stress.

<p>This study was designed to test the hypothesis that mindfulness involves sustained attention, attention switching, inhibition of elaborative processing and non-directed attention. Healthy adults were tested before and after random assignment to an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course (n = 39) or a wait-list control (n = 33). Testing included measures of sustained attention, attention switching, Stroop interference (as a measure of inhibition of elaborative processing), detection of objects in consistent or inconsistent scenes (as a measure of non-directed attention), as well as self-report measures of emotional well-being and mindfulness. Participation in the MBSR course was associated with significantly greater improvements in emotional well-being and mindfulness, but no improvements in attentional control relative to the control group. However, improvements in mindfulness after MBSR were correlated with improvements in object detection. We discuss the implications of these results as they relate to the role of attention in mindfulness. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley &amp; Sons, Ltd.</p>

Objective: Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a structured group program that employs mindfulness meditation to alleviate suffering associated with physical, psychosomatic and psychiatric disorders. The program, nonreligious and nonesoteric, is based upon a systematic procedure to develop enhanced awareness of moment-to-moment experience of perceptible mental processes. The approach assumes that greater awareness will provide more veridical perception, reduce negative affect and improve vitality and coping. In the last two decades, a number of research reports appeared that seem to support many of these claims. We performed a comprehensive review and meta-analysis of published and unpublished studies of health-related studies related to MBSR. Methods: Sixty-four empirical studies were found, but only 20 reports met criteria of acceptable quality or relevance to be included in the meta-analysis. Reports were excluded due to (I) insufficient information about interventions, (2) poor quantitative health evaluation, (3) inadequate statistical analysis, (4) mindfulness not being the central component of intervention, or (5) the setting of intervention or sample composition deviating too widely from the health-related MBSR program. Acceptable studies covered a wide spectrum of clinical populations (e.g., pain, cancer, heart disease, depression, and anxiety), as well as stressed nonclinical groups. Both controlled and observational investigations were included. Standardized measures of physical and mental well-being constituted the dependent variables of the analysis. Results: Overall, both controlled and uncontrolled studies showed similar effect sizes of approximately 0.5 (P <.0001) with homogeneity of distribution. Conclusion: Although derived from a relatively small number of studies, these results suggest that MBSR may help a broad range of individuals to cope with their clinical and nonclinical problems.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether completing a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program would affect the general health, health-related quality of life, sleep quality, and family harmony of Spanish- and English-speaking medical patients at an inner-city health center. MATERIALS AND METHODS: An intervention group of 68 patients (48 Spanish-speaking and 20 English-speaking) completed the SF-36 Health Survey and two additional questions about sleep quality and family harmony before and after completing the 8-week MBSR program. A comparison group of 18 Spanish-speaking patients who received no intervention completed the same questionnaire at the same intervals. RESULTS: Sixty-six percent of the total intervention group completed the 8-week MBSR program. There was significant comorbidity of medical and mental health diagnoses among the intervention and comparison groups, with no differences in the mean number of diagnoses of the total intervention group, the comparison group, or the Spanish- or English-speaking intervention subgroups. Compared with the comparison group, the intervention group showed statistically significant improvement on five of the eight SF-36 measures, and no improvement on the sleep quality or family harmony items. CONCLUSIONS: MBSR may be an effective behavioral medicine program for Spanish- and English-speaking inner-city medical patients. Suggestions are given for future research to help clarify the program’s effectiveness for this population.

This study examined the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on health-related quality of life and physical and psychological symptomatology in a heterogeneous patient population. Patients (n=136) participated in an 8-week MBSR program and were required to practice 20 min of meditation daily. Pre- and post-intervention data were collected by using the Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36), Medical Symptom Checklist (MSCL) and Symptom Checklist-90 Revised (SCL-90-R). Health-related quality of life was enhanced as demonstrated by improvement on all indices of the SF-36, including vitality, bodily pain, role limitations caused by physical health, and social functioning (all P&lt;.01). Alleviation of physical symptoms was revealed by a 28% reduction on the MSCL (P&lt;.0001). Decreased psychological distress was indicated on the SCL-90-R by a 38% reduction on the Global Severity Index, a 44% reduction on the anxiety subscale, and a 34% reduction on the depression subscale (all P&lt;.0001). One-year follow-up revealed maintenance of initial improvements on several outcome parameters. We conclude that a group mindfulness meditation training program can enhance functional status and well-being and reduce physical symptoms and psychological distress in a heterogeneous patient population and that the intervention may have long-term beneficial effects.

<p>The literature is replete with evidence that the stress inherent in health care negatively impacts health care professionals, leading to increased depression, decreased job satisfaction, and psychological distress. In an attempt to address this, the current study examined the effects of a short-term stress management program, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), on health care professionals. Results from this prospective randomized controlled pilot study suggest that an 8-week MBSR intervention may be effective for reducing stress and increasing quality of life and self-compassion in health care professionals. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.</p>

<p>Research has shown that mindfulness-based treatment interventions may be effective for a range of mental and physical health disorders in adult populations, but little is known about the effectiveness of such interventions for treating adolescent conditions. The present randomized clinical trial was designed to assess the effect of the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program for adolescents age 14 to 18 years with heterogeneous diagnoses in an outpatient psychiatric facility (intent-to-treat N 102). Relative to treatment-as-usual control participants, those receiving MBSR self-reported reduced symptoms of anxiety, depression, and somatic distress, and increased self-esteem and sleep quality. Of clinical significance, the MBSR group showed a higher percentage of diagnostic improvement over the 5-month study period and significant increases in global assessment of functioning scores relative to controls, as rated by condition-naı¨ve clinicians. These results were found in both completer and intent-to-treat samples. The findings provide evidence that MBSR may be a beneficial adjunct to outpatient mental health treatment for adolescents.</p>

OBJECTIVES: The objectives of this study were to assess the general acceptability and to assess domains of potential effect of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected and at-risk urban youth. METHODS: Thirteen-to twenty-one-year-old youth were recruited from the pediatric primary care clinic of an urban tertiary care hospital to participate in 4 MBSR groups. Each MBSR group consisted of nine weekly sessions of MBSR instruction. This mixed-methods evaluation consisted of quantitative data--attendance, psychologic symptoms (Symptom Checklist 90-Revised), and quality of life (Child Health and Illness Profile-Adolescent Edition)--and qualitative data--in-depth individual interviews conducted in a convenience sample of participants until interview themes were saturated. Analysis involved comparison of pre- and postintervention surveys and content analysis of interviews. RESULTS: Thirty-three (33) youth attended at least one MBSR session. Of the 33 who attended any sessions, 26 youth (79%) attended the majority of the MBSR sessions and were considered "program completers." Among program completers, 11 were HIV-infected, 77% were female, all were African American, and the average age was 16.8 years. Quantitative data show that following the MBSR program, participants had a significant reduction in hostility (p = 0.02), general discomfort (p = 0.01), and emotional discomfort (p = 0.02). Qualitative data (n = 10) show perceived improvements in interpersonal relationships (including less conflict), school achievement, physical health, and reduced stress. CONCLUSIONS: The data suggest that MBSR instruction for urban youth may have a positive effect in domains related to hostility, interpersonal relationships, school achievement, and physical health. However, because of the small sample size and lack of control group, it cannot be distinguished whether the changes observed are due to MBSR or to nonspecific group effects. Further controlled trials should include assessment of the MBSR program's efficacy in these domains.

<p>Background: Medical students confront significant academic, psychosocial, and existential stressors throughout their training. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is an educational intervention designed to improve coping skills and reduce emotional distress. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of the MBSR intervention in a prospective, nonrandomized, cohort-controlled study. Methods: Second-year students (n = 140) elected to participate in a 10-week MBSR seminar. Controls (n = 162) participated in a didactic seminar on complementary medicine. Profile of Mood States (POMS) was administered preintervention and postintervention. Results: Baseline total mood disturbance (TMD) was greater in the MBSR group compared with controls (38.7 ±33.3 vs. 28.0 ±31.2; p &lt;. 01). Despite this initial difference, the MBSR group scored significantly lower in TMD at the completion of the intervention period (31.8 ±33.8 vs. 38.6 ±32.8; p &lt; . 05). Significant effects were also observed on Tension-Anxiety, Confusion-Bewilderment, Fatigue-Inertia, and Vigor-Activity subscales. Conclusion: MBSR may be an effective stress management intervention for medical students.</p>

Stress within the teaching profession has a negative impact on the health and well-being of individual teachers and on retention and recruitment for the profession as a whole. There is increasing literature to suggest that Mindfulness is a useful intervention to address a variety of psychological problems, and that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a particularly helpful intervention for stress. We investigated the effects of teaching a MBSR course to primary school teachers to reduce stress. The MBSR course was taught to a group of primary school teachers and evaluated to establish its effects on levels of anxiety, depression, and stress, as well as movement towards a stated goal and changes in awareness. The results showed improvement for most participants for anxiety, depression, and stress, some of which were statistically significant. There were also significant improvements on two of the four dimensions of a mindfulness skills inventory. These results suggest that this approach could be a potentially cost-effective method to combat teacher stress and burnout.

<p>Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a potential candidate for learning to cope with stress in a high-stress professional environment. In a pilot study the authors evaluated the potential of MBSR for stress management. Workers participated in an MBSR training for stress-related problems (treatment, n = 12) or waited for such a course (control, n = 11). The authors conducted interviews and measured coping and well-being. Qualitative interviews indicated that subjects had attained more awareness of work-related problems contributing to stress and had grown more critical toward their work environment. In the treatment group, positive strategies of coping with stress increased and negative strategies of coping decreased (significant difference at post treatment: p = .039 compared to control). Eighty-two percent of the participants reported having reached their personal goal.</p>

OBJECTIVES: This study investigated the relationships between a mindfulness-based stress reduction meditation program for early stage breast and prostate cancer patients and quality of life, mood states, stress symptoms, lymphocyte counts, and cytokine production. METHODS: Forty-nine patients with breast cancer and 10 with prostate cancer participated in an 8-week MBSR program that incorporated relaxation, meditation, gentle yoga, and daily home practice. Demographic and health behavior variables, quality of life (EORTC QLQ C-30), mood (POMS), stress (SOSI), and counts of NK, NKT, B, T total, T helper, and T cytotoxic cells, as well as NK and T cell production of TNF, IFN-γ, IL-4, and IL-10 were assessed pre- and postintervention. RESULTS: Fifty-nine and 42 patients were assessed pre- and postintervention, respectively. Significant improvements were seen in overall quality of life, symptoms of stress, and sleep quality. Although there were no significant changes in the overall number of lymphocytes or cell subsets, T cell production of IL-4 increased and IFN-γ decreased, whereas NK cell production of IL-10 decreased. These results are consistent with a shift in immune profile from one associated with depressive symptoms to a more normal profile. CONCLUSIONS: MBSR participation was associated with enhanced quality of life and decreased stress symptoms in breast and prostate cancer patients. This study is also the first to show changes in cancer-related cytokine production associated with program participation.

Summary Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a program that has been shown to be beneficial for clinical and non-clinical populations. While much attention has been paid to participants’ outcomes, little work has been published concerning processes underlying improvements. Herein, women who had finished medical treatment for breast cancer completed questionnaires pre- and post-MBSR and were interviewed using focus group methodology such that quantitative and qualitative data were combined to explore potential mechanisms underlying changes. It was found that the Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale was a useful process measure to assess changes in mindfulness and that the Coping with Health Injuries and Problems questionnaire was useful in documenting changes in palliative (self-care) coping over the course of the 8 week program. Moreover, the Sense of Coherence questionnaire suggested that the women viewed life as more meaningful and manageable following MSBR. Our findings fit with Shapiro et al.'s theory that, over time, participants in an MBSR program “reperceive” what they encounter in their daily experiences.

<p>Mindfulness-based approaches are among the most innovative and interesting new approaches to mental health treatment. Mindfulness refers to patients developing an "awareness of present experience with acceptance." Interest in them is widespread, with presentations and workshops drawing large audiences all over the US and many other countries. This book provides a comprehensive introduction to the best-researched mindfulness-based treatments. It emphasizes detailed clinical illustration providing a close-up view of how these treatments are conducted, the skills required of therapists, and how they work. The book also has a solid foundation in theory and research and shows clearly how these treatments can be understood using accepted psychological principles and concepts. The evidence base for these treatments is concisely reviewed.* Comprehensive introduction to the best-researched mindfulness-based treatments* Covers wide range of problems &amp; disorders (anxiety, depression, eating, psychosis, personality disorders, stress, pain, relationship problems, etc)* Discusses a wide range of populations (children, adolescents, older adults, couples)* Includes wide range of settings (outpatient, inpatient, medical, mental health, workplace)* Clinically rich, illustrative case study in every chapter* International perspectives represented (authors from US, Canada, Britain, Sweden)</p>

<p>"Everyday life is so frantic and full of troubles that we have largely forgotten how to live a joyful existence. We try so hard to be happy that we often end up missing the most important parts of our lives. In Mindfulness, Oxford professor Mark Williams and award-winning journalist Danny Penman reveal the secrets to living a happier and less anxious, stressful, and exhausting life. Based on the techniques of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, the unique program developed by Williams and his colleagues, the book offers simple and straightforward forms of mindfulness meditation that can be done by anyone--and it can take just 10 to 20 minutes a day for the full benefits to be revealed"-- "From one of the leading thinkers on Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, a pioneering set of simple practices to dissolve anxiety, stress, exhaustion, and unhappiness. Everyday life is so frantic and full of troubles that we have largely forgotten how to live a joyful existence. We try so hard to be happy that we often end up missing the most important parts of our lives. In Mindfulness, Oxford professor Mark Williams and award-winning journalist Danny Penman reveal the secrets to living a happier and less anxious, stressful, and exhausting life. Based on the techniques of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, the unique program developed by Williams and his colleagues, the book offers simple and straightforward forms of mindfulness meditation that can be done by anyone--and it can take just 10 to 20 minutes a day for the full benefits to be revealed. "--</p>

Twenty-seven adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse participated in a pilot study comprising an 8-week mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction (MBSR) program and daily home practice of mindfulness skills. Three refresher classes were provided through final follow-up at 24 weeks. Assessments of depressive symptoms, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and mindfulness, were conducted at baseline, 4, 8, and 24 weeks. At 8 weeks, depressive symptoms were reduced by 65%. Statistically significant improvements were observed in all outcomes post-MBSR, with effect sizes above 1.0. Improvements were largely sustained until 24 weeks. Of three PTSD symptom criteria, symptoms of avoidance/numbing were most greatly reduced. Compliance to class attendance and home practice was high, with the intervention proving safe and acceptable to participants. These results warrant further investigation of the MBSR approach in a randomized, controlled trial in this patient population. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Clin Psychol 66: 1–18, 2010.

Objective Although the relationship between religious practice and health is well established, the relationship between spirituality and health is not as well studied. The objective of this study was to ascertain whether participation in the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program was associated with increases in mindfulness and spirituality, and to examine the associations between mindfulness, spirituality, and medical and psychological symptoms. Methods Forty-four participants in the University of Massachusetts Medical School's MBSR program were assessed preprogram and postprogram on trait (Mindful Attention and Awareness Scale) and state (Toronto Mindfulness Scale) mindfulness, spirituality (Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy—Spiritual Well-Being Scale), psychological distress, and reported medical symptoms. Participants also kept a log of daily home mindfulness practice. Mean changes in scores were computed, and relationships between changes in variables were examined using mixed-model linear regression. Results There were significant improvements in spirituality, state and trait mindfulness, psychological distress, and reported medical symptoms. Increases in both state and trait mindfulness were associated with increases in spirituality. Increases in trait mindfulness and spirituality were associated with decreases in psychological distress and reported medical symptoms. Changes in both trait and state mindfulness were independently associated with changes in spirituality, but only changes in trait mindfulness and spirituality were associated with reductions in psychological distress and reported medical symptoms. No association was found between outcomes and home mindfulness practice. Conclusions Participation in the MBSR program appears to be associated with improvements in trait and state mindfulness, psychological distress, and medical symptoms. Improvements in trait mindfulness and spirituality appear, in turn, to be associated with improvements in psychological and medical symptoms.

<p>The effects of randomization to mindfulness training (MT) or to a waitlist-control condition on psychological and physiological indicators of teachers’ occupational stress and burnout were examined in 2 field trials. The sample included 113 elementary and secondary school teachers (89% female) from Canada and the United States. Measures were collected at baseline, post-program, and 3-month follow-up; teachers were randomly assigned to condition after baseline assessment. Results showed that 87% of teachers completed the program and found it beneficial. Teachers randomized to MT showed greater mindfulness, focused attention and working memory capacity, and occupational self-compassion, as well as lower levels of occupational stress and burnout at post-program and follow-up, than did those in the control condition. No statistically significant differences due to MT were found for physiological measures of stress. Mediational analyses showed that group differences in mindfulness and self-compassion at post-program mediated reductions in stress and burnout as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression at follow-up. Implications for teaching and learning are discussed.</p>
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