Children learning to sit still and silent

Veilleux, Colleen M. The Implementation of a Silence Area into the Environment and How it Impacts the Social-Emotional Behavior of the Students. Diss. University of Wisconsin-River Falls, 2017. Full text.

Abstract. Modern children are plagued with struggles that were unheard of decades ago. Due to busy lifestyles and limitless use of technology, the social-emotional and physical well-being of children is at stake. Children today have increased attention problems, anxiety, and a lack of self-regulation and self-awareness. Mindfulness is the practice of sitting still and silent, focusing attention inward. Mindful practices cultivate peace and calm within the child, better equipping him/her to handle the stressors of life.

The implementation of a silence area into a Montessori environment facilitates these practices by providing children with a space devoted to being still and silent. This action research study surrounds the implementation of a silence area as a means to benefit the social-emotional behavior of students. The students’ use of the area was recorded each day. Behavior data was gathered to observe the impact the silence area had on the students. The findings showed a decrease in the amount of behavior that required redirection. Parent surveys were also conducted to gather data and observations of student behavior at home.

Those survey results suggested an increase in self-awareness and self-regulation as observed by the parents. Overall, the results of this study have shown that regular use of the silence area not only provides students with moments of solitude, but also benefits their social-emotional development through gains of self-regulation and self-awareness. Although more research on the topic of “mindfulness and children” is emerging, research concurs with these findings and their promising effects.

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Online mindfulness intervention to decrease caregiver burden

Tkatch, R., et al. “A Pilot Online Mindfulness Intervention to Decrease Caregiver Burden and Improve Psychological Well-Being.” Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 2017, 2156587217737204. Full text.

Abstract: Interventions to reduce caregiver burden are of great interest as the number of informal family caregivers continues to grow. The purpose of this study was to test the feasibility of an online mindfulness meditation intervention for community-dwelling older adult caregivers and to evaluate its impact on quality of life, caregiver burden, and psychological well-being. A total of 40 caregivers were recruited from 2 community center support groups to participate in an 8-week online mindfulness intervention.

Pre and post surveys were administered. Retention rates were high with 55% completing the post surveys and attending at least 5 out of 8 sessions. Matched pairs t test indicated that the intervention reduced caregiver burden, perceived stress, anxiety, and loneliness and improved mental well-being.

Online interventions offer flexibility for caregivers regardless of their responsibilities. Future research should expand this opportunity and explore the scalability of online mindfulness interventions.

A critical evaluation and prescriptive agenda for research on mindfulness and meditation

Van Dam, Nicholas T., et al. “Mind the hype: A critical evaluation and prescriptive agenda for research on mindfulness and meditation.” Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2017. Full text online.

Abstract. During the past two decades, mindfulness meditation has gone from being a fringe topic of scientific investigation to being an occasional replacement for psychotherapy, tool of corporate well-being, widely implemented educational practice, and “key to building more resilient soldiers.” Yet the mindfulness movement and empirical evidence supporting it have not gone without criticism. Misinformation and poor methodology associated with past studies of mindfulness may lead public consumers to be harmed, misled, and disappointed.

Addressing such concerns, the present article discusses the difficulties of defining mindfulness, delineates the proper scope of research into mindfulness practices, and explicates crucial methodological issues for interpreting results from investigations of mindfulness. For doing so, the authors draw on their diverse areas of expertise to review the present state of mindfulness research, comprehensively summarizing what we do and do not know, while providing a prescriptive agenda for contemplative science, with a particular focus on assessment, mindfulness training, possible adverse effects, and intersection with brain imaging.

Our goals are to inform interested scientists, the news media, and the public, to minimize harm, curb poor research practices, and staunch the flow of misinformation about the benefits, costs, and future prospects of mindfulness meditation.

Mindfulness-based intervention and happiness

Malboeuf-Hurtubise, Catherine, et al. “The Impact of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention on Happiness: A Reflection on the Relevance of Integrating a Positive Psychology Framework within Mindfulness Research in Youth.” International Journal of Applied Positive Psychology, 2017, pp. 1-15. Full text.

Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are increasingly implemented in school settings to alleviate psychological distress in elementary and high school students. Recently, authors have brought forward the fact that the focus and aims of MBIs in clinical settings are largely placed on reducing negative variables and symptoms associated to mental health disorders. Thus, these may not allow us to fully understand how and in which contexts MBIs can be useful in adult populations. As MBIs aim to help people bring focus to the present moment and awareness to all aspects of experience, both the positive and the negative, it appears relevant to study their potential to improve on positive variables, such as happiness.

This paper aims to engage in a reflection on the relevance of incorporating a positive psychology framework within MBI research in youth. Specifically, the importance of measuring the impact of MBIs on positive variables such as happiness are discussed.

Potential antitode to stress-induced eating

Masih, Tasmiah, et al. “Stress-induced eating and the relaxation response as a potential antidote: A review and hypothesis.” Appetite, online 5 Aug 2017. 

Abstract. There is an accumulating body of evidence to indicate that stress leads to the consumption of unhealthy, energy-dense, palatable food, potentially contributing to the alarming global prevalence of chronic diseases, including obesity. However, comparatively little research has been devoted to addressing how best to remedy this growing problem.

We provide an overview of the influence of stress on dietary intake, and then explore the novel, yet simple, possibility that regular elicitation of the relaxation response may effectively reduce stress-induced eating via both physiological and psychological pathways. If shown to be effective, the regular practice of relaxation may provide a convenient, cost efficient, patient-centered therapeutic practice to assist in the prevention of unhealthy weight gain and other negative consequences of unhealthy food intake.

All you can eat Buffets and mindful eating

Ali, Zeeshan, et al. “All you can eat Buffets, obesity, mindfulness, and mindful eating: An exploratory investigation.” Journal of Psychology and Psychiatry, vol 1, no. 1, 2017, pp. 1-5. Full text.

Abstract. Obesity has been mostly explained through the change in our everyday environments and the increased availability of foods. All-You-Can-Eat-Buffets (AYCEB) is a typical example of the developing ‘obesogenic’ environment, but there is a paucity of research, which fails to explore both internal and external contributing aspects to
eating behaviour.

In two studies, the frequency of visits at AYCEB is investigated against the Body Mass Index (BMI), psychological traits (i.e., mindfulness and selfcompassion, (n=210) and eating behaviors (i.e., mindful eating, n=183) which have been found to assist weight regulation.

Results indicated that frequency of visits and BMI are unrelated. Significant relationships were found only with two subscales, where buffet visits negatively correlated with awareness within mindful eating, while a positive correlation was found between buffet visits and self-kindness. While results fit within the limited literature available, the generic future applicability of mindfulness-based constructs and interventions in eating behaviours is discussed.

Fibromyalgia

Adler-Neal, Adrienne L., and Fadel Zeidan. “Mindfulness Meditation for Fibromyalgia: Mechanistic and Clinical Considerations.” Current Rheumatology Reports, vol. 19, no. 9, 2017, pp. 59. Full text.

Summary. Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread pain and a spectrum of psychological comorbidities, rendering treatment difficult and often a financial burden. Fibromyalgia is a complicated chronic pain condition that requires a multimodal therapeutic approach to optimize treatment efficacy. Thus, it has been postulated that mind-body techniques may prove fruitful in treating fibromyalgia.

Mindfulness meditation, a behavioral technique premised on non-reactive sensory awareness, attenuates pain and improves mental health outcomes. However, the impact of mindfulness meditation on fibromyalgia-related outcomes has not been comprehensively characterized.

The present review delineates the existing evidence supporting the effectiveness and hypothesized mechanisms of mindfulness meditation in treating fibromyalgia-related outcomes.