Doing no harm in mindfulness-based programs (review)

Baer, R., et al. (2019). Doing no harm in mindfulness-based programs: conceptual issues and empirical findings. Clinical psychology review. Full text. In Press.

Abstract. The benefits of empirically supported mindfulness-based programs (MBPs) are well documented, but the potential for harm has not been comprehensively studied. The available literature, although too small for a systematic review, suggests that the question of harm in MBPs needs careful attention. We argue that greater conceptual clarity will facilitate more systematic research and enable interpretation of existing findings.

After summarizing how mindfulness, mindfulness practices, and MBPs are defined in the evidence-based context, we examine how harm is understood and studied in related approaches to physical or psychological health and wellbeing, including psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, and physical exercise.

We also review research on harmful effects of meditation in contemplative traditions. These bodies of literature provide helpful parallels for understanding potential harm in MBPs and suggest three interrelated types of factors that may contribute to harm and require further study: program-related factors, participant-related factors, and clinician- or teacher-related factors. We discuss conceptual issues and empirical findings related to these factors and end with recommendations for future research and for protecting participants in MBPs from harm.

Prevalence, patterns, and predictors of meditation use among US children

Wang, C., et al.  (2019). Prevalence, patterns, and predictors of meditation use among US children: Results from the National Health Interview Survey. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. In Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2019.02.004.

Highlights

•  Overall meditation use has increased substantially from 1.6% in 2012 to 7.4% in 2017 among children in the US.

• In particular, the rates of mantra and mindfulness meditation use have quadrupled. The prevalence of spiritual meditation use has increased sevenfold in 2017.

• Given the rapidly increasing use of spiritual meditation among pediatric population in the past few years, future studies aimed to explore the benefits of spiritual meditation are warranted.

• Mantra meditation use had an inverse relation with regularly taking prescription medication.

• Children who have difficulties affording mental health care are more likely to use mindfulness meditation points towards the feasibility and affordability of mindfulness meditation as a complementary health approach for maintaining psychological health in pediatric population.

Mindfulness-based approaches with children and adolescents: meditation vs walking

Burke, C. A. (2010). Mindfulness-based approaches with children and adolescents: A preliminary review of current research in an emergent field. Journal of child and family studies19(2), 133-44, 10.5455/jbh.20180727033842. Full text.

Extract from Abstract. We conducted a side-to-side comparison of mindfulness meditation versus mindfulness-based walking on psychological functioning.

Participants (23 young adults) completed three laboratory visits (1-week apart). Session 1 included a familiarization trial. Sessions 2 and 3 (counterbalanced) included either a 10-minute guided mindfulness session or a 10-minute mindfulness-based treadmill walk (employing mindfulness meditation techniques while walking). . . .

The psychological outcomes, assessed before and after each visit, included various cognitive (e.g., executive function), affect (e.g., perceived valence, distinct emotions, and arousal), and psychological (e.g., anxiety and fatigue) outcomes.

Both mindfulness meditation and mindfulness-based walking had similar effects on improving various cognitive, affect, and psychological parameters. Such findings demonstrate the health-enhancing effects of these brief interventions and provide individuals and health professionals with various options (based on preference) to choose from to facilitate improved psychological well-being.

Reducing blood pressure and stress

Ponte, P., et al. (2018). Benefits Of Mindfulness Meditation In Reducing Blood Pressure And Stress In Patients With Arterial Hypertension. Journal of Hypertension36, e294-e295.

From the Abstract. The objective of this randomized controlled trial is to evaluate the benefits of mindfulness meditation in controlling ambulatory blood pressure (BP) and the impact of the intervention on anxiety, stress and depression levels in a Mediterranean population.

Twenty-four and 18 patients [n = 42; mean age 56.5 (7.7) years; similar men and women proportions] with high-normal BP or grade I hypertension were enrolled to an intervention and a control group, respectively.

For 2 h/week over 8 weeks, the intervention group received mindfulness training and the control group attended health education talks. The patients attended pre-intervention, week 4, week 8 and week 20 follow-up visits. . . .

Improvements were observed in the intervention group in terms of being less judgemental, more accepting and less depressed. In conclusion, by week 8 the mindfulness group had lower clinically measured SBP, 24-h SBP, at-rest SBP and diastolic BP values.

A self-awareness approach to weight management

Brown, Michelle. (2018). “Mindfulness Meditation: A Self-Awareness Approach to Weight Management.” Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Nursing, Walden University.  Full text.

From the Abstract. Obesity is a crucial health care issue that has a global effect on the health care industry. Not only does obesity decrease the patients’ quality of life, it also places an astronomical burden on health care delivery systems. The purpose of this quality improvement project was to establish a weight management program derived from evidence-based research. 

The research question: can the utilization of mindfulness meditations and practices with traditional weight loss methodologies produce sustainable weight loss?

This project developed a turnkey solution to a community health problem consisting of the following strategies: executing mindfulness meditations and practices as part of their
daily rituals, reading food labels and making healthier food selections, exercising 30 to 40 minutes a day, and documenting their progression or obstacles in a journal.

Since the project consisted of only 20 participants, it is recommended that a larger population and region be utilized for future studies. This project has the potential for societal change by improving the quality of life of and productivity of patients struggling with obesity by decreasing their chances of developing chronic illnesses which can become debilitating.

Mindfulness meditation and the perception of beauty

Langer, Alvaro I., Carlos Schmidt, and Edwin Kroghet. „Mindfulness Meditation and the Perception of Beauty: Implications for an Ecological Well-Being.” In: Perception of Beauty, Martha Peaslee Levine, ed., InTechOpen, 2017, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.69529. Full access to this chapter.

Abstract. Meditation is a first-person method for contemplating ourselves and the world, with more than 2500 years of history, rooted in the philosophical and contemplative traditions of the east. The present chapter aims to explore this worldview in order to demonstrate its relevance to our capacity for the appreciation of beauty. To this end, the aesthetic experience, the contemplative experience and their relationship with the practice of mindfulness are analysed.

We suggest that the contemplative meditative experience bestows a state of consciousness and acceptance of life which places the practitioner in a progressive encounter with a self-concept that begins to detach from a static sense of the self and from the categories that define it, so that it may be experienced as an ongoing mental event, removed from cultural ideals of beauty or positivity.

The result of this de-identification from the static self is a greater degree of psychological flexibility and a more genuine way of seeing the world, leading to a new perception of the self that is connected to an experience of freedom, and contributes to one’s own well-being, as well as to that of others and of the environment.

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.