<p>The dynamic interactions among physiological rhythms imbedded in the heart rate signal can give valuable insights into autonomic modulation in conditions of reduced outward attention. Therefore, in this study we analyzed the heart rate variability (HRV) in different levels of practice in Zen meditation (Zazen). Nineteen subjects with variable experience took part in this study. In four special cases we collected both HRV and respiration data. The time series were analyzed in frequency domain and also using the Continuous Wavelet Transform, which detects changes in the time domain and in the frequency domain simultaneously. The shifts in the respiratory modulation of heart rate, or respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), reflect the different levels of practice among practitioners with variable experience in Zazen; in turn the modulation of the RSA may reflect changes in the breathing pattern as in the parasympathetic outflow related to the quality and focus of attention in each stage.</p>
Objectives: Past research of the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) lacks clear results regarding its factorial validity, item fitting, mindfulness in the general population, and on the higher order structure of mindfulness. We derived an alternative two-factor higher order structure for the FFMQ, delineating the attentional and experiential aspects of mindfulness. Method: Data of 640 persons from the Austrian community were used for primary analyses, and data of 333 Austrian students were used for cross-validation. Confirmatory analyses and exploratory structural equation modeling (ESEM) were utilized to investigate psychometric and structural properties. Associations with related variables and indicators of mental health were examined. Results: Confirmatory models fitted only poorly on the full 39-item FFMQ. Fit was acceptable in an abridged 20-item version in both samples. The Nonreact scale had only weak psychometric properties. ESEM analyses suggested a good fit of two higher order factors and revealed structural differences between the samples. Beneficial effects of mindfulness appeared to be uniquely associated with the experiential aspects of mindfulness. Strategies of emotion regulation showed differential associations with the two higher order factors in the two samples. Conclusions: Our findings are relevant both with regard to conceptual issues on mindfulness and the assessment of mindfulness with the FFMQ. Replications in meditating samples and in patients are needed.
<p>The union of samatha (tranquility meditation) and vipasyana (insight meditation) is the unique Buddhist path to deliverance. This dissertation explores various schemes of samatha developed in distinct meditation systems, so as to analyze the different degrees of sam adhi which affect the power of insight in eradication of defilements. The nature of dhyana/jhana is explained quite different in the canonical and commentarial materials of Buddhist schools. How a meditator practices mindfulness of breathing is based on how a meditator interprets what the dhyana/jh ana is. This dissertation provides various possible explanations for the diverse dispositions of meditators in meditation practice. In insight meditation, when consciousness acts with skillful mental qualities, one is able to penetrate the true nature of all physical and mental phenomena; in the cycle of rebirth, consciousness links the present existence and the next. The different roles of consciousness in rebirth, and deliverance are investigated. This dissertation is mainly based on the Chinese Canon to examine key issues in meditation practice, revolving around the significance of tranquility meditation and insight meditation.</p>
Mindfulness-based meditation interventions have become increasingly popular in contemporary psychology. Other closely related meditation practices include loving-kindness meditation (LKM) and compassion meditation (CM), exercises oriented toward enhancing unconditional, positive emotional states of kindness and compassion. This article provides a review of the background, the techniques, and the empirical contemporary literature of LKM and CM. The literature suggests that LKM and CM are associated with an increase in positive affect and a decrease in negative affect. Preliminary findings from neuroendocrine studies indicate that CM may reduce stress-induced subjective distress and immune response. Neuroimaging studies suggest that LKM and CM may enhance activation of brain areas that are involved in emotional processing and empathy. Finally, preliminary intervention studies support application of these strategies in clinical populations. It is concluded that, when combined with empirically supported treatments, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, LKM and CM may provide potentially useful strategies for targeting a variety of different psychological problems that involve interpersonal processes, such as depression, social anxiety, marital conflict, anger, and coping with the strains of long-term caregiving. Highlights ► We review the literature on loving-kindness and compassion meditation. ► Neuroendocrine studies suggest that compassion meditation reduces subjective distress and immune response to stress. ► Neuroimaging studies suggest that both meditation practices enhance activation of emotion centers of the brain. ► Preliminary intervention studies support the application of these strategies in clinical populations. ► We conclude that these techniques are effective for treating social anxiety, marital conflict, anger, and strains of long-term caregiving.
<p>Abstract The performance of concentrative and mindfulness meditators on a test of sustained attention (Wilkins' counting test) was compared with controls. Both groups of meditators demonstrated superior performance on the test of sustained attention in comparison with controls, and long-term meditators were superior to short-term meditators. Mindfulness meditators showed superior performance in comparison with concentrative meditators when the stimulus was unexpected but there was no difference between the two types of meditators when the stimulus was expected. The results are discussed in relation to the attentional mechanisms involved in the two types of meditation and implications drawn for mental health.</p>
Many philosophical and contemplative traditions teach that “living in the moment” increases happiness. However, the default mode of humans appears to be that of mind-wandering, which correlates with unhappiness, and with activation in a network of brain areas associated with self-referential processing. We investigated brain activity in experienced meditators and matched meditation-naive controls as they performed several different meditations (Concentration, Loving-Kindness, Choiceless Awareness). We found that the main nodes of the default-mode network (medial prefrontal and posterior cingulate cortices) were relatively deactivated in experienced meditators across all meditation types. Furthermore, functional connectivity analysis revealed stronger coupling in experienced meditators between the posterior cingulate, dorsal anterior cingulate, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices (regions previously implicated in self-monitoring and cognitive control), both at baseline and during meditation. Our findings demonstrate differences in the default-mode network that are consistent with decreased mind-wandering. As such, these provide a unique understanding of possible neural mechanisms of meditation.
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.
The present study was designed to examine mindfulness and stress levels in beginner and advanced practitioners of Hatha Yoga. Participants (N = 52) were recruited through Hatha Yoga schools local to western Massachusetts. Beginner practitioners (n = 24) were designated as those with under 5 years (M = 3.33) experience and advanced practitioners (n = 28) as those with over 5 years (M = 14.53) experience in Hatha Yoga. The participants completed the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS; Brown and Ryan 2003) and the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS; Cohen et al. 1983) directly preceding a regularly scheduled Hatha Yoga class. Based on two independent-samples t-tests, advanced participants scored significantly higher in mindfulness levels (P < .05) and significantly lower in stress levels (P < .05) when compared to beginner participants. Additionally, a significant negative correlation (r = —. 45, P = .00) was found between mindfulness and stress levels. No significant correlations were found between experience levels and mindfulness and stress levels. Hatha Yoga may be an effective technique for enhancing mindfulness and decreasing stress levels in practitioners.
Mindfulness-based interventions have been shown to alleviate symptoms of a wide range of physical and mental health conditions. Regular between-session practice of mindfulness meditation is among the key factors proposed to produce the therapeutic benefits of mindfulness-based programs. This article reviews the mindfulness intervention literature with a focus on the status of home practice research and the relationship of practice to mindfulness program outcomes. Of 98 studies reviewed, nearly one-quarter (N = 24) evaluated the associations between home practice and measures of clinical functioning, with just over half (N = 13) demonstrating at least partial support for the benefits of practice. These findings indicate a substantial disparity between what is espoused clinically and what is known empirically about the benefits of mindfulness practice. Improved methodologies for tracking and evaluating the effects of home practice are recommended.
<p>Mindfulness refers to a set of practices as well as the psychological state and trait produced by such practices. The state, trait, and practice of mindfulness may be broadly characterized by a present-oriented, nonjudgmental awareness of cognitions, emotions, sensations, and perceptions without fixation on thoughts of past or future. Research on mindfulness has proliferated over the past decade. Given the explosion of scientific interest in this topic, mindfulness-based therapies are attracting the attention of clinical social workers, who seek to implement these interventions in numerous practice settings. Concomitantly, research on mindfulness is now falling within the scope and purview of social work scholars. In response to the growing interest in mindfulness within academic social work, the present article outlines six conceptual and methodological recommendations for the conduct of future empirical studies on mindfulness. These recommendations have practical importance for advancing mindfulness research within and beyond social work.</p>
Classical Tibetan meditation texts are used to specify the most important variables in meditation that can be subjected to empirical test. There are 3 kinds of variables: (a) nonspecific variables, common to all meditation systems; (b) specific variables, limited to spec & types of meditation practice; and (c) timedependent variables, changing over the course of meditation practice. The latter, time-dependent variables, comprise the majority of meditation variables. One set of time-dependent variables for classical concentrative meditation is explored. Using the semantic-field method of translating, technical terms most important in each level of the entire phenomenology of concentrative meditation are discussed. These terms are translated into hypotheses, which are worded in terms of traditional constructs from cognitive psychology. Supporting empirical research is presented and suggestions for further research are made. Certain similarities are noted between the Yogic texts and the constructivist theories of perception, information-processing, and affect. The overall direction of change in concentrative meditation follows an invariant sequence of levels of consciousness.
<p>The onset of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) is unevenly distributed over the 24 h and the week. While presence of a morning peak is generally agreed upon, contrasting results had been obtained regarding other periods of the day, probably due to differences of origin, size and composition of the populations. The 24 h and weekly distributions were studied within 6 h from the beginning of the symptoms in a population following a Latin life-style, who were enrolled in the GISSI2 Study (n=11472). Subgroups (smokers, the elderly (>65 years), diabetics, hypertensives) were also considered. Six hour periods starting at midnight were tested for uniformity. Circadian non-uniformity was found. Events increased in the morning hours and reduced during the night regardless of the day of the week. The night and day difference was attenuated in smokers and diabetics. Non-uniformity of the events was also found among the days of the week. AMI significantly increased in non-smokers on Monday. We suggest that there is a night-day gradient (characterized by the short time interval between the two frequency extremes) in the time of onset of AMI. The different distribution in smokers stresses the possible unfavourable and masking effect of a heightened sympathetic tone during the day while the general protective role of the night hours is preserved. Moreover, the increased incidence of events on Monday may suggest the importance of the shift from a period of non-scheduled to scheduled activity.</p>
Studies of homework effects in psychotherapy outcome have produced inconsistent results. Although these findings may reflect the comparability of psychotherapy with and without homework assignments, many of these studies may not have been sensitive enough to detect the effects sizes (ESs) likely to be found when examining homework effects. The present study evaluated the power of homework research and showed that, on average, current power levels are relatively weak in controlled studies ranging from 0.58 for large ESs to 0.09 for small ESs. Thus, inconsistent findings between studies may very well be due to low statistical power.
<p>In this meta-analysis, we give a comprehensive overview of the effects of meditation on psychological variables that can be extracted from empirical studies, concentrating on the effects of meditation on nonclinical groups of adult meditators. Mostly because of methodological problems, almost ¾ of an initially identified 595 studies had to be excluded. Most studies appear to have been conducted without sufficient theoretical background. To put the results into perspective, we briefly summarize the major theoretical approaches from both East and West. The 163 studies that allowed the calculation of effect sizes exhibited medium average effects ( = .28 for all studies and = .27 for the n = 125 studies from reviewed journals), which cannot be explained by mere relaxation or cognitive restructuring effects. In general, results were strongest (medium to large) for changes in emotionality and relationship issues, less strong (about medium) for measures of attention, and weakest (small to medium) for more cognitive measures. However, specific findings varied across different approaches to meditation (transcendental meditation, mindfulness meditation, and other meditation techniques). Surprisingly, meditation experience only partially covaried with long-term impact on the variables examined. In general, the dependent variables used cover only some of the content areas about which predictions can be made from already existing theories about meditation; still, such predictions lack precision at present. We conclude that to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of why and how meditation works, emphasis should be placed on the development of more precise theories and measurement devices.</p>
<p>Psychotherapeutic interventions containing training in mindfulness meditation have been shown to help participants with a variety of somatic and psychological conditions. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a meditation-based psychotherapeutic intervention designed to help reduce the risk of relapse of recurrent depression. There is encouraging early evidence from multi-centre randomized controlled trials. However, little is known of the process by which MBCT may bring therapeutic benefits. This study set out to explore participants' accounts of MBCT in the mental-health context. Seven participants were interviewed in two phases. Interview data from four participants were obtained in the weeks following MBCT. Grounded theory techniques were used to identify several categories that combine to describe the ways in which mental-health difficulties arose as well as their experiences of MBCT. Three further participants who have continued to practise MBCT were interviewed so as to further validate, elucidate and extend these categories. The theory suggested that the preconceptions and expectations of therapy are important influences on later experiences of MBCT. Important areas of therapeutic change ('coming to terms') were identified, including the development of mindfulness skills, an attitude of acceptance and 'living in the moment'. The development of mindfulness skills was seen to hold a key role in the development of change. Generalization of these skills to everyday life was seen as important, and several ways in which this happened, including the use of breathing spaces, were discussed. The study emphasized the role of continued skills practice for participants' therapeutic gains. In addition, several of the concepts and categories offered support to cognitive accounts of mood disorder and the role of MBCT in reducing relapse.</p>
<p>This exploratory study examined differences in normal narcissism between mindfulness meditation practitioners (n = 76), comprised of men (30%) and women (70%) between the ages of 18 and 79, and a control group (n = 36) of nonmeditators with spiritual interests, comprised of men (19%) and women (81%) between the ages of 31 and 78. Normal narcissism was defined as a concentration of psychological interest upon the representational self (i.e., ego-identity). Quantitative analysis was conducted using the Kruskal-Wallis ANOVA and Fisher's Least Significant Differences (LSD) test. The study's measures included (a) the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) measuring normal, overt narcissism and (b) the Transpersonally Oriented Narcissism Questionnaire (TONQ)--a piloted measure of normal narcissism designed to assess overt, covert, and transformative aspects of 4 core narcissistic features: (a) self-centeredness, (b) grandiosity, (c) need-for-mirroring/admiration, and (d) emptiness. Quantitative results are informed by qualitative analysis utilizing heuristic, hermeneutical, and phenomenological principles. Results indicate no differences in NPI scores among the various meditator variables: (a) years of practice, (b) amount of meditation per week, (c) duration of meditation per sitting, and (d) retreat experience or between meditators ( n = 76) and control (n = 36). Differences exist among all 4 meditator variables (a) - (d) and control group regarding (a) overall transformation of narcissism, (b) emptiness as the ultimate potential (e.g., sunnata), and (c) self-centeredness, with controls having higher means than meditators on overall narcissism-transformation and narcissistic emptiness, and lower means on self-centeredness subscales. Differences exist between 3 meditator variables and control regarding narcissistic emptiness, with controls having higher means than meditators. Differences exist between 2 meditator variables and control regarding transforming grandiosity, where controls report higher means than meditators. This exploratory research demonstrates that the transpersonal study of narcissism is possible despite the many methodological complications and numerous theoretical questions it raises.</p>
- Contexts of Contemplation Project,
- Classical Buddhist Contemplation Practices,
- Buddhist Contemplation by Applied Subject,
- Contemplation by Applied Subject,
- Contemplation by Tradition,
- Four Foundations of Mindfulness (Satipatthana),
- Psychology and Buddhist Contemplation,
- Science and Buddhist Contemplation,
- Practices of Buddhist Contemplation,
- Insight (vipashyana, lhaktong),
- Psychology and Contemplation,
- Science and Contemplation,
- Buddhist Contemplation
Test-retest reliability of resting regional cerebral metabolic rate of glucose (rCMR) was examined in selected subcortical structures: the amygdala, hippocampus, thalamus, and anterior caudate nucleus. Findings from previous studies examining reliability of rCMR suggest that rCMR in small subcortical structures may be more variable than in larger cortical regions. We chose to study these subcortical regions because of their particular interest to our laboratory in its investigations of the neurocircuitry of emotion and depression. Twelve normal subjects (seven female, mean age = 32.42 years, range 21-48 years) underwent two FDG-PET scans separated by approximately 6 months (mean = 25 weeks, range 17-35 weeks). A region-of-interest approach with PET-MRI coregistration was used for analysis of rCMR reliability. Good test-retest reliability was found in the left amygdala, right and left hippocampus, right and left thalamus, and right and left anterior caudate nucleus. However, rCMR in the right amygdala did not show good test-retest reliability. The implications of these data and their import for studies that include a repeat-test design are considered.
<p>Objective. To critically review the evidence on the effectiveness of complementary therapies for patients with RA. Randomized controlled trials, published in English up to May 2011, were identified using systematic searches of bibliographic databases and searching of reference lists. Information was extracted on outcomes and statistical significance in comparison with alternative treatments and reported side effects. The methodological quality of the identified studies was determined using the Jadad scoring system. All outcomes were considered but with a focus on patient global assessment and pain reporting. Eleven eligible trials were identified covering seven therapies. Three trials that compared acupuncture with sham acupuncture reported no significant difference in pain reduction between the groups but one out of two reported an improvement in patient global assessment. Except for reduction in physicianʼs global assessment of treatment and disease activity reported in one trial, no other comparative benefit of acupuncture was seen. There were two studies on meditation and one each on autogenic training, healing therapy, progressive muscle relaxation, static magnets and tai chi. None of these trials reported positive comparative effects on pain but some positive effects on patient global assessment were noted at individual time points in the healing therapy and magnet therapy studies. A small number of other outcomes showed comparative improvement in individual trials. There were no reports of major adverse events. The very limited evidence available indicates that for none of the practitioner-based complementary therapies considered here is there good evidence of efficacy or effectiveness in the management of RA</p>
The information processing capacity of the human mind is limited, as is evidenced by the attentional blink-a deficit in identifying the second of two targets (T1 and T2) presented in close succession. This deficit is thought to result from an overinvestment of limited resources in T1 processing. We previously reported that intensive mental training in a style of meditation aimed at reducing elaborate object processing, reduced brain resource allocation to T1, and improved T2 accuracy [Slagter, H. A., Lutz, A., Greischar, L. L., Francis, A. D., Nieuwenhuis, S., Davis, J., et al. Mental training affects distribution of limited brain resources. PloS Biology, 5, e138, 2007]. Here we report EEG spectral analyses to examine the possibility that this reduction in elaborate T1 processing rendered the system more available to process new target information, as indexed by T2-locked phase variability. Intensive mental training was associated with decreased cross-trial variability in the phase of oscillatory theta activity after successfully detected T2s, in particular, for those individuals who showed the greatest reduction in brain resource allocation to T1. These data implicate theta phase locking in conscious target perception, and suggest that after mental training the cognitive system is more rapidly available to process new target information. Mental training was not associated with changes in the amplitude of T2-induced responses or oscillatory activity before task onset. In combination, these findings illustrate the usefulness of systematic mental training in the study of the human mind by revealing the neural mechanisms that enable the brain to successfully represent target information.
BACKGROUND: Patterns of temporal variation of cardiac arrests may be important for understanding mechanisms leading to the onset of acute cardiovascular disorders. Previous studies have reported diurnal variation of the onset of cardiac arrests, with high incidence in the morning and in the evening, lack of daily variation during the week, and some seasonal variation. METHODS AND RESULTS: We explored weekly and yearly (seasonal) temporal variation in 6603 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests attended by the Seattle Fire Department. We observed daily variation that peaks on Monday and seasonal variation that peaks in the winter. CONCLUSIONS: Cardiac arrests do not occur randomly during the week or year but follow certain periodic patterns. These patterns are probably associated with patterns of activities.
<p>BACKGROUND Seasonal and circadian variations in the occurrence of myocardial infarction and sudden cardiac death have been documented, suggesting that triggering factors may play a role in the causation of cardiac events. However, there are only sparse and conflicting data on the weekly distribution of the disorders. METHODS AND RESULTS To determine the weekly variation of acute myocardial infarction and sudden cardiac death, 5596 consecutive patients (71% men; age, 63 +/- 1 years) were analyzed in a regionally defined population (n = 330,000; age, 25 to 74 years) monitored from 1985 to 1990. The exact time of onset of symptoms was used to determine the day of the event. Patients with myocardial infarction (n = 2636) demonstrated a significant weekly variation (P < .01) with a peak on Monday, whereas patients with sudden cardiac death (n = 2960) were evenly distributed throughout the week. A similar weekly pattern was observed in subgroups of patients with myocardial infarction defined with respect to age, sex, cardiac risk factors, prior cardiac medication, and infarct characteristics. The working population demonstrated a weekly variation of myocardial infarction as opposed to the nonworking population, with a 33% increase in relative risk of disease onset on Monday (P < .05) and a trough on Sunday compared with the expected number of cases, if homogeneity was assumed. CONCLUSIONS The onset of acute myocardial infarction demonstrates a peak on Monday primarily in the working population. If this finding is confirmed in other communities, it may aid in identifying acute triggering events of myocardial infarction and perhaps in improving prevention of the disease. (Copyright © 1994 by American Heart Association)</p>