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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.
Children with a cancer diagnosis experience symptom distress, including anxiety, because of the disease and its treatment. Parents experience stress and anxiety because of the uncertainty of the disease as well as the suffering of their children. Yoga is a complementary intervention that has physiological and psychological benefits in healthy children and healthy and chronically ill adults. On an inpatient hematology/oncology unit, 11 children aged 6 to 12 years, 5 adolescents aged 13 to 18 years, and 33 parents participated in a single yoga session tailored to the needs and abilities of the patients and parents. Sense of well-being pre- and postclass was measured with the Spielberger State Anxiety Scale. Children had normal anxiety scores preclass that did not change. Adolescents and parents experienced significant decreases in anxiety scores, and all cohorts gave positive feedback about the experience. The authors conclude that yoga is a feasible intervention for this population and is beneficial to adolescents and parents.