Postpartum women after mindfulness childbirth classes

Kantrowitz‐Gordon, I., et al. (2018). Experiences of Postpartum Women after Mindfulness Childbirth Classes: A Qualitative Study. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, https://doi.org/10.1111/jmwh.12734. Online ahead of publication.

From the Abstract. The postpartum period can be a challenging experience for many women as they adjust to the physical and social changes after childbirth.

Mindfulness‐based interventions have been developed for stress reduction in a variety of health contexts, including pregnancy. These interventions provide strategies that may help new mothers handle the physical, emotional, and relationship challenges of the postpartum period and increase acceptance of postpartum physical changes and body image. 

Limited research has explored whether women use skills learned in prenatal mindfulness classes for the postpartum experience and parenting. The purpose of this study was to explore women’s experience with mindfulness in the year after childbirth.

. . .  Mindfulness skills helped class participants cope with physical and emotional challenges postpartum and fostered positive meaningful relationships with partners and newborns. Findings have implications for future research on mindfulness‐based interventions and the postpartum experience.

Improving psychological symptoms of depression and stress in people with diabetes

Pearson, S., Wills, K., Woods, M. et al. Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Distress and HbA1c in People with Diabetes. Mindfulness (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-0908-1

Abstract (excerpt). Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a prevalent chronic condition that is associated with a high degree of psychological distress. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a novel approach to delivering an intervention of mindfulness practice (IMP) to a patient population with a demonstrated need for psychological support.

The novel approach utilised a self-directed audio compact disc (CD) recording of mindfulness practice. In this randomised controlled trial, 67 participants with T2DM (mean age = 59.4), attending outpatient clinics, were randomised to an IMP (n = 31) or a control (n = 36) group.

Participants receiving the IMP reported significant reductions in depression and stress when compared with the control group. At the 12-week follow-up, there was an overall reduction in depression and stress in the IMP group relative to the control group.

The current study has shown that an easily accessible self-directed IMP was effective in improving psychological symptoms of depression and stress.

*IMP = intervention of mindfulness practice

Mindfulness and ADHD

Hoxhaj, E., et al., (2018). Mindfulness vs psychoeducation in adult ADHD: a randomized controlled trial. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00406-018-0868-4. Summary and References

From the Abstract:

BACKGROUND. Mindfulness training is a promising treatment approach in adult ADHD. However, there has not yet been a randomized controlled trial comparing mindfulness to an active control condition. In this study, we assessed the efficacy of a mindfulness training program (MAP) compared to structured psychoeducation (PE).

CONCLUSIONS. In the current study, MAP was not superior to PE regarding symptom reduction in adult ADHD. Both interventions, mindfulness meditation and PE, were efficacious in reducing symptom load in adult ADHD. Furthermore in exploratory post hoc tests the study provides evidence for a potential gender-specific treatment response in adult ADHD.

Children learn to cultivate peace and calm within

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.

Improved visual, motor, anxiety, and mindfulness among grade 4-5 children

Tarrasch, Ricardo, Lilach Margalit-Shalom, and Rony Berger. “Enhancing Visual Perception and Motor Accuracy among School Children through a Mindfulness and Compassion Program.” Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 8, 2017, pp. 281. Full text.

From the Introduction. The present study assessed the effects of the mindfulness/compassion cultivating program on the performance in visual perception (VP) and motor accuracy, as well as on anxiety levels and self-reported mindfulness among 4th and 5th grade students.

One hundred and thirty-eight children participated in the program for 24 weekly sessions, while 78 children served as controls. . . . [T]ests revealed significant improvements in the four aforementioned measures in the experimental group only. In addition, significant correlations were obtained between the improvement in motor accuracy and the reduction in anxiety and the increase in mindfulness.

Since VP and motor accuracy are basic skills associated with quantifiable academic characteristics, such as reading and mathematical abilities, the results may suggest that mindfulness practice has the ability to improve academic achievements.

For people with multiple sclerosis

Spitzer, Elizabeth, and Kenneth I. Pakenham. “Evaluation of a brief community‐based mindfulness intervention for people with multiple sclerosis: A pilot study.” Clinical Psychologist (2016). Abstract.

Objective. Mindfulness-based interventions can improve quality of life (QoL) in people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS); however, the potential benefits of brief mindfulness group programs delivered in community settings have not been investigated with this population. This pilot study evaluated a brief (five-session) community-based group mindfulness program for PwMS.

Method. Participants were 23 PwMS recruited through Multiple Sclerosis Queensland, Australia. The study had a single intervention condition with pre-intervention, post-intervention and eight-week follow-up assessments. Primary outcomes were QoL, psychological distress and fatigue, and secondary outcomes were mindfulness, self-compassion, and acceptance.

Results. Analyses revealed improvements in psychological distress, perceived stress, the mental health QoL dimension, mindfulness, self-compassion, and acceptance. All participants agreed they would recommend the program to others with multiple sclerosis and most reported that the program was helpful and enjoyable. Qualitative data showed that participants gained in present moment awareness, coping skills, self-compassion, acceptance, support, and changed perspectives.

Conclusions. Results suggest that brief mindfulness interventions may improve psychological wellbeing in PwMS; however, a longer intervention period or programs that incorporate mindful movement activities may be needed to bring about improvements in physical health QoL dimensions and fatigue.

Significant reductions in rumination and loneliness

Thamboo, P. A. (2016). The Effects of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention on Feelings of Loneliness and Ruminative Thinking. MA thesis, The College at Brockport: State University of New York. Full text

From the Abstract: Loneliness is a very distressing experience provoked by perceived deficiencies in interpersonal social contact. In recent years, considerable attention has been oriented towards the transformative changes associated with the practice of mindfulness. Thus, many mindfulness based interventions have emerged and demonstrated efficacy for ameliorating various forms of psychological distress. However, few studies have examined whether the therapeutic benefits are applicable for alleviating loneliness.

Prior research has suggested that the mechanisms of change underlying mindfulness may occur via reductions in rumination, which has been implicated in prolonged feelings of loneliness. The present study concerns the effects of a randomized controlled trial … a mindfulness-based group intervention on self-reported changes in mindfulness, rumination, and loneliness.

Participants (N=82) were randomly assigned to either a treatment or wait-list control group, all of which were assessed at two time periods, pre-intervention and post-intervention. The results revealed that participants in the treatment groups reported significant increases in mindfulness in addition to reductions in rumination and loneliness from pre- to post-intervention in comparison to those in the wait-list control groups. The effect of the intervention on loneliness remained significant even after statistically controlling for self-reported depressive symptoms.

Cultivating teacher mindfulness

Crain, T. L., Schonert-Reichl, K. A., & Roeser, R. W. (2016). Cultivating Teacher Mindfulness: Effects of a Randomized Controlled Trial on Work, Home, and Sleep Outcomes. Full text ahead of inclusion in an issue.

From the abstract: The effects of randomization to a workplace mindfulness training (WMT) or a waitlist control condition on teachers’ well-being (moods and satisfaction at work and home), quantity of sleep, quality of sleep, and sleepiness during the day were examined in 2 randomized, waitlist controlled trials (RCTs).

The combined sample of the 2 RCTs, conducted in Canada and the United States, included 113 elementary and secondary school teachers (89% female). Measures were collected at baseline, postprogram, and 3-month follow-up; teachers were randomly assigned to condition after baseline assessment.

Results showed that teachers randomized to WMT reported less frequent bad moods at work and home, greater satisfaction at work and home, more sleep on weekday nights, better quality sleep, and decreased insomnia symptoms and daytime sleepiness.

Stress among adolescents

Volanen, S. M., Hankonen, N., Knittle, K., Beattie, M., Salo, G., & Suominen, S. (2015). Building resilience among adolescents: First Results of a school-based mindfulness intervention. The European Journal of Public Health, 25(suppl 3), ckv168-056.

Excerpts. In Finland, 15–25% of adolescents suffer from mental health problems, and there is increasing concern over stress-related mental health problems. There is initial evidence that mindfulness (MF) interventions might hold some promise. For MF interventions to have the intended effects, it is critical that participants continue practice of MF after the program.

Results: 49% of students reported having practiced MF at home after six months. Overall, descriptive norms (i.e. beliefs about what their peers were doing) were the greatest predictor of MF practice. Students who continued practice of MF at home six months after the intervention reported the following benefits: better concentration in class (79%); better concentration on hobbies (76%); managing stress better (69%); coping better with difficult emotions (77%); sleeping better (79%); getting better grades in exams (75%); getting along better with friends (85%); and getting along better with family members (84%).

Mindfulness, awareness, and sensitive inquiry

O’Donnell, A. (2015). Contemplative Pedagogy and Mindfulness: Developing Creative Attention in an Age of Distraction. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 49(2), 187-202. Abstract.

Over the last decade, there has been a considerable expansion of mindfulness programmes into a number of different domains of contemporary life, such as corporations, schools, hospitals and even the military. Understanding the reasons for this phenomenon involves, I argue, reflecting upon the nature of contemporary capitalism and mapping the complexity of navigating new digital technologies that make multiple and accelerated solicitations upon attention and our affective lives.

Whilst acknowledging the benefits of mindfulness practice, this article argues that it is equally important to attend to the ethical framework that gives orientation to these practices and the outer conditions that shape lived daily experience, such as school or work environments. I suggest that the well-meaning efforts to secularise mindfulness, provide scientific evidence for its effectiveness, and introduce it to wider publics may have served to impoverish the rich contribution that practices of mindfulness, situated within a broader ethical framework, can make to human lives, and arguably contribute to the educational endeavour. For example, the emphasis on transforming inner conditions of students’ lives can lead to the neglect of outer conditions, such as structural inequality, or unhealthy and exploitative work practices. This can result in practices that privilege individual wellbeing over compassion and concern for the happiness of others, providing a buffer against loving attention to the world and others.

Instead, I ask how mindfulness in educational settings could come to be viewed in a different light if we reflect upon the ways in which school environments and curricula can promote mindfulness, awareness, sensitive inquiry, and contemplative practices through the day, rather than offering it as a discrete intervention focused on the self and wellbeing.