The present study investigated the premise that individual differences in autonomic physiology could be used to specify the nature and consequences of information processing taking place in medial prefrontal regions during cognitive reappraisal of unpleasant pictures. Neural (blood oxygenation level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging) and autonomic (electrodermal [EDA], pupil diameter, cardiac acceleration) signals were recorded simultaneously as twenty-six older people (ages 64-66 years) used reappraisal to increase, maintain, or decrease their responses to unpleasant pictures. EDA was higher when increasing and lower when decreasing compared to maintaining. This suggested modulation of emotional arousal by reappraisal. By contrast, pupil diameter and cardiac acceleration were higher when increasing and decreasing compared to maintaining. This suggested modulation of cognitive demand. Importantly, reappraisal-related activation (increase, decrease>maintain) in two medial prefrontal regions (dorsal medial frontal gyrus and dorsal cingulate gyrus) was correlated with greater cardiac acceleration (increase, decrease>maintain) and monotonic changes in EDA (increase>maintain>decrease). These data indicate that these two medial prefrontal regions are involved in the allocation of cognitive resources to regulate unpleasant emotion, and that they modulate emotional arousal in accordance with the regulatory goal. The emotional arousal effects were mediated by the right amygdala. Reappraisal-related activation in a third medial prefrontal region (subgenual anterior cingulate cortex) was not associated with similar patterns of change in any of the autonomic measures, thus highlighting regional specificity in the degree to which cognitive demand is reflected in medial prefrontal activation during reappraisal.
OBJECTIVE: In this case study, we describe the effects of a particular individual's concentration/meditation technique on autonomic nervous system activity and the innate immune response. The study participant holds several world records with regard to tolerating extreme cold and claims that he can influence his autonomic nervous system and thereby his innate immune response. METHODS: The individual's ex vivo cytokine response (stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells with lipopolysaccharide [LPS]) was determined before and after an 80-minute full-body ice immersion during which the individual practiced his concentration/meditation technique. Furthermore, the individual's in vivo innate immune response was studied while practicing his concentration/mediation technique during human endotoxemia (intravenous administration of 2 ng/kg LPS). The results from the endotoxemia experiment were compared with a historical cohort of 112 individuals who participated in endotoxemia experiments in our institution. RESULTS: The ex vivo proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokine response was greatly attenuated by concentration/meditation during ice immersion, accompanied by high levels of cortisol. In the endotoxemia experiment, concentration/meditation resulted in increased circulating concentrations of catecholamines, and plasma cortisol concentrations were higher than in any of the previously studied participants. The individual's in vivo cytokine response and clinical symptoms after LPS administration were remarkably low compared with previously studied participants. CONCLUSIONS: The concentration/meditation technique used by this particular individual seems to evoke a controlled stress response. This response is characterized by sympathetic nervous system activation and subsequent catecholamine/cortisol release, which seems to attenuate the innate immune response.
<p>The purpose of this theoretical study was to investigate the potential compatibility of existential-humanistic psychotherapy and Buddhist meditation as they are practiced in the contemporary Western world. The fundamental philosophies and practices of Buddhist meditation, drawn from Tibetan, Zen, and Vipassana sources in Western publication, were presented. The principles and practices of existential-humanistic psychotherapy, represented by the works of May, Rogers, and Maslow, were next brought forth. After these presentations, the major ideologies and techniques of each discipline were compared and contrasted, with a view toward examining their essential similarities and significant points of departure. Following this examination, contemporary practices in the synthesis of existential-humanistic psychotherapy and Buddhist meditation were discussed as they exist in current usage in therapeutic situations. The voices of persons expressing opposition to a synthesis of Buddhist meditation and existential-humanistic psychotherapy were also brought forth for consideration. It was found that a sequential approach, wherein psychotherapy precedes meditation, is of overall greater benefit to the client and to both the disciplines of psychotherapy and meditation, than a blended approach. Among the reasons cited for the favoring of a linear progression from psychotherapy to meditation is a respect for the developmental tasks of each individual. In this regard, it was noted that the existential-humanistic therapy tasks of self-identification, emotional contact and expression, ego-development, and increase in self-esteem are necessary before the individual can undertake, in a serious way, the Buddhist meditational tasks of dis-identification for emotional and egoic concerns. In this light, another advantage of the sequential approach is the opportunity provided for the individual to be sufficiently prepared and matured for the discipline of meditation, which is a journey toward higher realms of consciousness not generally obtainable in existential-humanistic psychotherapy. Additionally, it was shown that although Buddhist meditation and existential-humanistic psychotherapy perform corollary functions in the enhancement of individual well-being, the intensification of present awareness, and the lifting of repressedness, there are philosophical differences that are of such sufficient degree that a separation is deemed advisable. It was further seen that a clear distinction between the two disciplines maintains the full integrity and power of each to best accomplish its stated aims. It was noted that meditative practice offers the student specific skills that facilitate the attainment of a still mind, a state of inner harmony, and a transformation and transcendence of the concerns of the pyschotherapeutic level of development.</p>
- Contexts of Contemplation Project,
- Buddhist Contemplation by Applied Subject,
- Contemplation by Applied Subject,
- Contemplation by Tradition,
- Psychiatry and Contemplation,
- Psychology and Buddhist Contemplation,
- Science and Buddhist Contemplation,
- Psychotherapy and Contemplation,
- Health Care and Contemplation,
- Buddhist Contemplation
This article discusses how loving-kindness can be used to treat traumatized refugees and minority groups, focusing on examples from our treatment, culturally adapted cognitive-behavioral therapy (CA-CBT). To show how we integrate loving-kindness with other mindfulness interventions and why loving-kindness should be an effective therapeutic technique, we present a typology of mindfulness states and the Nodal Network Model (NNM) of Affect and Affect Regulation. We argue that mindfulness techniques such as loving-kindness are therapeutic for refugees and minority populations because of their potential for increasing emotional flexibility, decreasing rumination, serving as emotional regulation techniques, and forming part of a new adaptive processing mode centered on psychological flexibility. We present a case to illustrate the clinical use of loving-kindness within the context of CA-CBT.
<p>A long-standing problem in stress research has been that individuals' reports of their tendencies to become anxious are often inconsistent with relevant behavioral and physiological indices. This study investigated the distinction between (a) truly low-anxious Ss, who report low trait anxiety on the Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale and low defensiveness on the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale, and (b) repressors, who report low anxiety but high defensiveness. These groups were compared with a moderately high-anxious one. Heart rate, spontaneous skin resistance responses, and forehead muscle tension were recorded from 40 male college students during a phrase association task. Significant differences in the 3 physiological measures as well as in 3 behavioral ones (reaction time, content avoidance, and verbal interference) all indicated that the repressors were more stressed than the low-anxious Ss despite their claims of lower trait anxiety. The high-anxious group exhibited a 3rd pattern suggesting an intermediate level of anxious responding. These data document the need to distinguish between repressors and truly low-anxious persons in research concerned with relations between self-reported anxiety and behavioral and physiological responses to stress. (42 ref)</p>
<p>Meditation is now one of the most enduring, widespread, and researched of all psychotherapeutic methods. However, to date the meeting of the meditative disciplines and Western psychology has been marred by significant misunderstandings and by an assimilative integration in which much of the richness and uniqueness of meditation and its psychologies and philosophies have been overlooked. Also overlooked have been their major implications for an understanding of such central psychological issues as cognition and attention, mental training and development, health and pathology, and psychological capacities and potentials. Investigating meditative traditions with greater cultural and conceptual sensitivity opens the possibility of a mutual enrichment of both the meditative traditions and Western psychology, with far-reaching benefits for both.</p>
This study used a qualitative approach to explore family physicians' beliefs, attitudes, and practices regarding the integration of patient spirituality into clinical care. Participants included family medicine residents completing training in the Southwest USA. The qualitative approach drew upon phenomenology and elements of grounded-theory. In-depth interviews were conducted with each participant. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and coded using grounded-theory techniques. Four main themes regarding physicians' attitudes, beliefs, and practices were apparent from the analyses; (1) nature of spiritual assessment in practice, (2) experience connecting spirituality and medicine, (3) personal barriers to clinical practice, and (4) reflected strengths of an integrated approach. There was an almost unanimous conviction among respondents that openness to discussing spirituality contributes to better health and physician-patient relationships and addressing spiritual issues requires sensitivity, patience, tolerance for ambiguity, dealing with time constraints, and sensitivity to ones "own spiritual place." The residents' voices in this study reflect an awareness of religious diversity, a sensitivity to the degree to which their beliefs dier from those of their patients, and a deep respect for the individual beliefs of their patients. Implications for practice and education are discussed.
A new framework for maintaining mental health and well-being.From the author of the internationally-acclaimed best-selling text The Developing Mind, and esteemed leader and educator in the field of mental health, comes the first book ever to integrate neuroscience research with the ancient art of mindfulness. The result is a groundbreaking approach to not simply mental health, but life in general, which shows readers how personal awareness and attunement can actually stimulate emotional circuits in the brain, leading to a host of physiological benefits, including greater well-being, resilience, emotional balance, and improved cardiac and immune function. For clinicians and laypeople alike, Siegel’s illuminating discussions of the power of the focused mind provide a wealth of ideas that can transform our lives and deepen our connections with others, and with ourselves.
Contextualizing the back-to-the-land experience with mindfulness, a variant of meditative phenomena, within deep ecology's contention that humankind requires a fundamental shift in consciousness in order to insure ecological sustainability, this study compares and contrasts those variables that explain variance in mindfulness, ope rationalized as a quasi-religious indicator, with those that explain variance in church attendance, a measure of formal religious behavior. Drawing on a national sample for a mailed questionnaire survey of back-to-the-landers, the study found that the predictor variables for mindfulness share little overlap with those that explain variance for church attendance. The exception is spiritual mindedness, itself a quasi-religious measure, which has a statistically significant relationship with both mindfulness and church attendance. The data suggest, then, that the religious and the quasi-religious are relatively independent spheres of human behavior and sentiment. It would appear, consequently, at least in terms of the back-to-the-land sample and the assumptions of deep ecology, that the adherents of organized religion are not as likely to be disposed towards ecologically sustainable frames of mind as those who center their spirituality on quasi-religious practices such as mindfulness.
<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>
In theory, mindfulness has a role to play in resolving intercultural conflicts. This suggestion rests upon the relatively untested presumption that mindfulness operates similarly across cultures. In a test of this presumption, university students from two countries that are often in conflict at the governmental level, Iran (N=723) and the United States (N=900), responded to the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (Brown and Ryan Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84(4):822-848, 2003), along with an array of other psychological measures. This Mindfulness Scale displayed structural complexities in both societies, but a measurement invariant subscale was nevertheless identified. Similar cross-cultural evidence of concurrent validity was obtained in relationships with wide-ranging measures of adjustment. Nonsignificant linkages with Public Self-Consciousness and Self-Monitoring demonstrated discriminant validity in both societies. These data identified mindfulness as a cross-culturally similar psychological process that could plausibly have a role in resolving intercultural conflicts.
This paper examines mindfulness as a popular and paradigmatic alternative healing practice within the context of contemporary medicalization trends. In recognition of the increasingly influential role popular media play in shaping ideas about illness and healing, what follows is a discursive analysis of bestselling mindfulness meditation self-help books and audio recordings by Jon Kabat-Zinn. The central and contradictory elements of this do-it-yourself healing practice as presented in these materials are best understood as aligned with medicalization trends for three principal reasons. First, mindfulness represents a significant expansion in the definition of disease beyond that advanced by mainstream medicine. Second, its etiological model intensifies the need for therapeutic surveillance and intervention. Third, by defining healing as a never-ending process, it permanently locates individuals within a disease-therapy cycle. In sum, the definition, cause, and treatment of disease as articulated by popular mindfulness resources expands the terrain of experiences and problems that are mediated by medical concepts. The case of mindfulness is a potent illustration of the changing character of medicalization itself.
<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>
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.
The article discusses the ways in which humanists and atheists view meditation and mindfulness, focusing on the value that the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) meditation program has for mental and physical health. Topics include MBSR's focus on the present moment, its relation to the humanism's philosophy of life, and secular, evidence-based elements of meditation.
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>In this article, we attempt to distinguish between the properties of moderator and mediator variables at a number of levels. First, we seek to make theorists and researchers aware of the importance of not using the terms moderator and mediator interchangeably by carefully elaborating, both conceptually and strategically, the many ways in which moderators and mediators differ. We then go beyond this largely pedagogical function and delineate the conceptual and strategic implications of making use of such distinctions with regard to a wide range of phenomena, including control and stress, attitudes, and personality traits. We also provide a specific compendium of analytic procedures appropriate for making the most effective use of the moderator and mediator distinction, both separately and in terms of a broader causal system that includes both moderators and mediators.</p>