Mindfulness training supports political compromise

Alkoby, Alon, et al. “Increased Support for Political Compromise in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Following an 8-Week Mindfulness Workshop.” Mindfulness, first online March 31, 2017, pp. 1-9, DOI: 10.1007/s12671-017-0710-5.
Abstract. We examined whether it would reduce negative emotions and perceptions and lead to increased support for compromise in the context of prolonged intergroup conflict. We also examined the effect of an intervention that combines mindfulness with cognitive reappraisal, a method that enhances emotion regulation.

Israeli students participated in a mindfulness course that either began in the winter semester (mindfulness group) or in the spring semester (control group). After the termination of the mindfulness course, all participants were invited to a laboratory session in which they were randomly assigned to either receive or not a short cognitive reappraisal training.

The results showed that after being presented with anger-inducing information related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, participants in the mindfulness condition only, the reappraisal condition only or the combined group (mindfulness and reappraisal), were more supportive of conciliatory policies compared to participants that received no mindfulness nor reappraisal training.

The increased support for conciliatory policies was mediated by a decrease in negative emotions in all groups, while in the mindfulness group, it was also mediated by reduction in negative perceptions. The combined impact of mindfulness and reappraisal did not reveal any additional effect.

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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.

Loving-Kindness meditation for self-criticism

Shahar, Ben, et al. “A Wait‐List Randomized Controlled Trial of Loving‐Kindness Meditation Programme for Self‐Criticism.” Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, vol. 22, no. 4, 2015, pp. 346-356. Full text.

From the Abstract. Self-criticism is a vulnerability risk factor for a number of psychological disorders, and it predicts poor response to psychological and pharmacological treatments.

In the current study, we evaluated the efficacy of a loving-kindness meditation (LKM) programme designed to increase self-compassion in a sample of self-critical individuals. Thirty-eight individuals with high scores on the self-critical perfectionism subscale of the Dysfunctional Attitude Scale were randomized to an LKM condition (n=19) or a waitlist condition (n=19).

Measures of self-criticism, self-compassion and psychological distress were administered before and immediately following the intervention. participants received the intervention immediately after the waiting period. Both groups were assessed 3 months post-intervention. … A follow-up … in both groups together (n=20) showed that these gains were maintained 3 months after the intervention.

These preliminary results suggest that LKM may be efficacious in alleviating self-criticism, increasing self-compassion and improving depressive symptoms among self-critical individuals

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.

Strengthening self-nature interconnectedness

Unsworth, S., Palicki, S. K., & Lustig, J. (2016). The Impact of Mindful Meditation in Nature on Self-Nature Interconnectedness. Mindfulness, 1-9.

Previous research has shown that mindfulness and spending time in nature are both related to perceived self-nature interconnectedness, with implications for environmental and psychological well-being.

… Results from pre- and post-trip surveys showed that the combined influence of mindful meditation in nature on self-nature interconnectedness is greater than nature exposure that does not include mindful meditation. One focus of the present research was to examine cognitive dimensions of nature connectedness, given that mindfulness meditation is based on cognitive processes such as selective attention.

… Together, the results from the present research suggest that mindful meditation in nature can be used to re-establish or strengthen concepts of self-nature interconnectedness nature for urban adults.

See Abstract for research design details.