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High school students' self-esteem and locus of control were evaluated before, during, and after exposure to either a health curriculum based on elicitation of the relaxation-response with follow-up or a control health curriculum followed by the relaxation-response. The experimental group significantly increased self-esteem and internal locus of control. (SM)
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Freezing is an adaptive defensive behavior that is expressed in response to an imminent threat. In prior studies with rhesus monkeys, stable individual differences in animals' propensities to freeze have been demonstrated. To understand the factors associated with these individual differences, freezing behavior was examined in infant rhesus monkeys and their mothers, in conjunction with levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol. In both mothers and infants, basal cortisol levels were positively correlated with freezing duration. Additionally, the number of offspring a mother had was negatively correlated with her infant's cortisol level. These findings suggest a link between basal cortisol levels and an animal's propensity to freeze, as well as a mechanism by which maternal experience may affect infants' cortisol levels.
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<p>A growing number of children are experiencing marital transition. The effects of divorce on children have typically been considered deleterious, although factors can buffer the difficulty of postdivorce adjustment. One of these factors is a positive relationship with a parental figure. Unfortunately, divorce often overwhelms parents with a series of changes that compromise their parenting skills. One new approach to improving parenting after divorce is mindful parenting, which aims to enhance interpersonal and emotional connection in the parent–child relationship. This program is intended to facilitate parents' self-awareness, their mindfulness, and their intentionality in responding to their child's needs. The present study reports on the implementation of the Mindful Parenting Program, delivered in two groups to 12 recently divorced parents with preschool-aged children. Program effectiveness was conducted on two levels. First, mindfulness measured by the Toronto Mindfulness Scale revealed significant increases over the intervention and posttest period. Second, in-home behavioral observations conducted pre- and postintervention revealed no changes in parent–child relationships. These findings are discussed within the larger context of facilitating effective parenting postdivorce. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Clin Psychol 63: 1231–1238, 2007.</p>

Ambivalence is widely assumed to prolong grief. To examine this hypothesis, the authors developed a measure of ambivalence based on an algorithmic combination of separate positive and negative evaluations of one's spouse. Preliminary construct validity was evidenced in relation to emotional difficulties and to facial expressions of emotion. Bereaved participants, relative to a nonbereaved comparison sample, recollected their relationships as better adjusted but were more ambivalent. Ambivalence about spouses was generally associated with increased distress and poorer perceived health but did not predict long-term grief outcome once initial outcome was controlled. In contrast, initial grief and distress predicted increased ambivalence and decreased Dyadic Adjustment Scale scores at 14 months postloss, regardless of initial scores on these measures. Limitations and implications of the findings are discussed.
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We discuss preliminary findings from a study that investigated the effectiveness of a Holistic Arts-Based Group Program (HAP) for the development of resilience in children in need. The HAP teaches mindfulness using arts-based methods, and aims to teach children how to understand their feelings and develop their strengths. We assessed the effectiveness of the HAP by using comparison and control groups, and standardized measures. We hypothesized that children who participated in the HAP would have better scores on resilience and self-concept compared with children who took part in an Arts and Crafts group (the comparison group), and children who were waiting to attend the HAP (the control group). A total of 36 children participated in the study; 20 boys aged 8–13 years and 16 girls aged 8–14 years. A mixed-designed MANOVA was conducted using scores from 21 participants. We found evidence that the HAP program was beneficial for the children in that they self-reported lower emotional reactivity (a resilience measure) post-intervention. No changes were noted for perceptions of self-concept. Consideration should be given to how we can attend to young people’s needs in relevant ways as resilience is a condition of a community’s ability to provide resources as much as it is part of an individual’s capacity for growth. Programs such as the HAP can engage children in a creative and meaningful process that is enjoyable and strengths-based.
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Drawing on E. Goffman's concepts of face and strategic interaction, the authors define a tease as a playful provocation in which one person comments on something relevant to the target. This approach encompasses the diverse behaviors labeled teasing, clarifies previous ambiguities, differentiates teasing from related practices, and suggests how teasing can lead to hostile or affiliative outcomes. The authors then integrate studies of the content of teasing. Studies indicate that norm violations and conflict prompt teasing. With development, children tease in playful ways, particularly around the ages of 11 and 12 years, and understand and enjoy teasing more. Finally, consistent with hypotheses concerning contextual variation in face concerns, teasing is more frequent and hostile when initiated by high-status and familiar others and men, although gender differences are smaller than assumed. The authors conclude by discussing how teasing varies according to individual differences and culture.
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Social contact promotes enhanced health and well-being, likely as a function of the social regulation of emotional responding in the face of various life stressors. For this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, 16 married women were subjected to the threat of electric shock while holding their husband's hand, the hand of an anonymous male experimenter, or no hand at all. Results indicated a pervasive attenuation of activation in the neural systems supporting emotional and behavioral threat responses when the women held their husband's hand. A more limited attenuation of activation in these systems occurred when they held the hand of a stranger. Most strikingly, the effects of spousal hand-holding on neural threat responses varied as a function of marital quality, with higher marital quality predicting less threat-related neural activation in the right anterior insula, superior frontal gyrus, and hypothalamus during spousal, but not stranger, hand-holding.
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Dozens of studies in different nations have revealed that socioeconomic status only weakly predicts an individual's subjective well-being (SWB). These results imply that although the pursuit of social status is a fundamental human motivation, achieving high status has little impact on one's SWB. However, we propose that sociometric status-the respect and admiration one has in face-to-face groups (e.g., among friends or coworkers)-has a stronger effect on SWB than does socioeconomic status. Using correlational, experimental, and longitudinal methodologies, four studies found consistent evidence for a local-ladder effect: Sociometric status significantly predicted satisfaction with life and the experience of positive and negative emotions. Longitudinally, as sociometric status rose or fell, SWB rose or fell accordingly. Furthermore, these effects were driven by feelings of power and social acceptance. Overall, individuals' sociometric status matters more to their SWB than does their socioeconomic status.
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Despite the vast literature that has implicated asymmetric activation of the prefrontal cortex in approach-withdrawal motivation and emotion, no published reports have directly explored the neural correlates of well-being. Eighty-four right-handed adults (ages 57-60) completed self-report measures of eudaimonic well-being, hedonic well-being, and positive affect prior to resting electroencephalography. As hypothesized, greater left than right superior frontal activation was associated with higher levels of both forms of well-being. Hemisphere-specific analyses documented the importance of goal-directed approach tendencies beyond those captured by approach-related positive affect for eudaimonic but not for hedonic well-being. Appropriately engaging sources of appetitive motivation, characteristic of higher left than right baseline levels of prefrontal activation, may encourage the experience of well-being.
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Self-conscious emotions such as embarrassment and shame are associated with 2 aspects of theory of mind (ToM): (a) the ability to understand that behavior has social consequences in the eyes of others and (b) an understanding of social norms violations. The present study aimed to link ToM with the recognition of self-conscious emotion. Children with and without autism identified facial expressions conscious of self-conscious and non-self-conscious emotions from photographs. ToM was also measured. Children with autism performed more poorly than comparison children at identifying self-conscious emotions, though they did not differ in the recognition of non-self-conscious emotions. When ToM ability was statistically controlled, group differences in the recognition of self-conscious emotion disappeared. Discussion focused on the links between ToM and self-conscious emotion.
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<p>Stress-related illness presents an ever-increasing burden to society, and thus has become the target of numerous complementary and integrative medicine interventions. One such clinical intervention, mindfulness meditation, has gained eminence for its demonstrated efficacy in reducing stress and improving health outcomes. Despite its prominence, little is known about the mechanics through which it exerts its treatment effects. This article details the therapeutic mechanisms of mindfulness with a novel causal model of stress, metacognition, and coping. Mindfulness is hypothesized to bolster coping processes by augmenting positive reappraisal, mitigating catastrophizing, and engendering self-transcendence. Reviews of stress and mindfulness are then framed by the perspective of second-order cybernetics, a transdisciplinary conceptual framework which builds on extant theory by highlighting the recursion between the individual and their environment.</p>
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<p>This article describes the design and advocacy of the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Jazz and Contemplative Studies curriculum at The University of Michigan School of Music. The curriculum combines meditation practice and related studies with jazz and overall musical training and is part of a small but growing movement in academia that seeks to integrate contemplative disciplines within the educational process. The article considers issues such as the structure of the curriculum, the reconciliation of contemplative studies and conventional notions of academic rigor, the avoidance of possible conflicts between church and state, and other challenges encountered in gaining support for this plan, after weeks of intensive debate, from a 2/3 majority of the faculty.</p>

<p>This article argues that meditation guided by a competent teacher can be a positive influence in contemporary American society and even a force for progressive social change. A number of critical issues requiring further study are identified, including the need for a better understanding of meditation from the perspective of developmental psychology and of the relation between meditation and psychotherapy. The article proposes that American educational institutions can benefit from a deeper appreciation of the contemplative dimension of life. Special attention is given to how the American undergraduate college can provide students with opportunities to learn about and experience various forms of meditation. The role of teachers, chaplains, psychological counselors, and health care professionals in introducing meditation to students is discussed.</p>

<p>The practice of mindfulness is being used with increased frequency in schools around the world. In the current literature review we outline some of the core concepts and practices associated with mindfulness and discuss studies analysing the process of mindfulness teacher training. Preliminary research in this emerging field suggests that mindfulness has the potential to improve classroom management, teacher-student relationships and instructional strategies. Mindfulness instructors recommend that before teachers can feel comfortable and effectively teach mindfulness in the classroom they need to embody and practice mindfulness in their own lives. It is proposed that in order to improve our knowledge base in this area a critical synthesis and analysis of school-based mindfulness programs is required.</p>

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.

Responding to growing interest among psychotherapists of all theoretical orientations, this practical book provides a comprehensive introduction to mindfulness and its clinical applications. The authors, who have been practicing both mindfulness and psychotherapy for decades, present a range of clear-cut procedures for implementing mindfulness techniques and teaching them to patients experiencing depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and other problems. Also addressed are ways that mindfulness practices can increase acceptance and empathy in the therapeutic relationship. The book reviews the philosophical underpinnings of mindfulness and presents compelling empirical findings. User-friendly features include illustrative case examples, practice exercises, and resource listings.

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