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Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a promising intervention for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression; however, a more detailed examination of the different elements of MBSR and various facets of mindfulness to determine what works best for whom is warranted. One hundred and two veterans with PTSD were randomly assigned to one of four arms: (a) body scan (BS; n = 27), (b) mindful breathing (MB; n = 25), (c) slow breathing (SB; n = 25), or (d) sitting quietly (SQ; n = 25). The purpose of this study was to (a) examine two separate components of MBSR (i.e., body scan and mindful breathing) among veterans with PTSD when compared to a nonmindfulness intervention (SB) and a control group (SQ), (b) assess if changes in specific mindfulness facets were predictive of post-treatment PTSD and depression for individuals who participated in a mindfulness intervention (BS vs. MB), and (c) investigate if type of mindfulness intervention received would moderate the relationship between pre- to post-treatment changes in mindfulness facets and post-treatment outcomes in PTSD and depression. Participants in the mindfulness groups experienced significant decreases in PTSD and depression symptom severity and increases in mindfulness, whereas the nonmindfulness groups did not. Among veterans who participated in a mindfulness group, change in the five facets of mindfulness accounted for 23 % of unique variance in the prediction of post-treatment depression scores. Simple slope analyses revealed that type of mindfulness intervention moderated the relationship among changes in facets of mindfulness and post-treatment depression.
The science of meditation has grown tremendously in the last two decades. Most studies have focused on evaluating the clinical effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions, neural and other physiological correlates of meditation, and individual cognitive and emotional aspects of meditation. Far less research has been conducted on more challenging domains to measure, such as group and relational, transpersonal and mystical, and difficult aspects of meditation; anomalous or extraordinary phenomena related to meditation; and post-conventional stages of development associated with meditation. However, these components of meditation may be crucial to people’s psychological and spiritual development, could represent important mediators and/or mechanisms by which meditation confers benefits, and could themselves be important outcomes of meditation practices. In addition, since large numbers of novices are being introduced to meditation, it is helpful to investigate experiences they may encounter that are not well understood. Over the last four years, a task force of meditation researchers and teachers met regularly to develop recommendations for expanding the current meditation research field to include these important yet often neglected topics. These meetings led to a cross-sectional online survey to investigate the prevalence of a wide range of experiences in 1120 meditators. Results show that the majority of respondents report having had many of these anomalous and extraordinary experiences. While some of the topics are potentially controversial, they can be subjected to rigorous scientific investigation. These arenas represent largely uncharted scientific terrain and provide excellent opportunities for both new and experienced researchers. We provide suggestions for future directions, with accompanying online materials to encourage such research.