Decreasing stress and implicit racism

Fitzgerald, Carey J., and Adam K. Lueke. “Mindfulness increases analytical thought and decreases just world beliefs.” Current Research in Social Psychology, 2017. Published online. Full text.

Excerpts. growing body of research has found that engaging in mindfulness may alter thought processes in a range of different manners, such as increasing psychological well-being, decreasing stress, decreasing implicit racism, and many other positive psychological effects. The present study investigated whether engaging in mindfulness meditation would influence analytical thought processes.

The results from this study are consistent with previous mindfulness studies that have also found cognitive improvements when participants enter a mindfulness state. This study adds to the growing body of literature another positive effect of mindfulness that had not yet been studied – analytical perspectives and beliefs in a just world. This experiment, much like the previous mindfulness experiments, illustrates the importance of implementing mindfulness on a larger scale. This technique improves memory, self-control, implicit biases, and rational thinking.

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Regulating eating behavior

Duarte, Cristiana, José Pinto‐Gouveia, and R. James Stubbs. “Compassionate Attention and Regulation of Eating Behaviour: A pilot study of a brief low‐intensity intervention for binge eating.” Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 2017, doi: 10.1002/cpp.2094, online 13 Jun 2017.

Abstract. A low-intensity 4-week intervention that included components of compassion, mindfulness, and acceptance was delivered to women diagnosed with binge eating disorder. Participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 conditions: intervention (n = 11) or waiting list control (n = 9).

Participants in the intervention condition were invited to practise mindfulness, soothing rhythm breathing, and compassionate imagery practices with a focus on awareness and acceptance of emotional states and triggers to binge eating and engagement in helpful actions.

Results revealed that, in the intervention group, there were significant reductions in eating psychopathology symptoms, binge eating symptoms, self-criticism, and indicators of psychological distress; there were significant increases in compassionate actions and body image-related psychological flexibility. Data suggest that developing compassion and acceptance competencies may improve eating behaviour and psychological well-being in individuals with binge eating disorder.

Enhances body image in breast cancer patients

Pintado, Sheila, and Sandra Andrade. “Randomized controlled trial of mindfulness program to enhance body image in patients with breast cancer.” European Journal of Integrative Medicine, online June 1, 2017, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eujim.2017.05.009.

Introduction. Breast cancer affects the thoughts and emotions related to patient’s body image and it has a negative impact in their quality of life. The purpose of this study was to conduct a randomized controlled trial in patients with breast cancer comparing mindfulness training to improve body image with a program based on personal image advice.

Method. A total of 29 women with breast cancer were randomly allocated into one of 2 groups: an experimental (mindfulness program) and control (personal image advice) group. The assessment tools were semi-structured interviews and the BIS and SBC questionnaires. Data was analyzed using quantitative techniques.

Results. The mindfulness program was effective in decreasing negative thoughts and emotions related to body image and dissociation (p < .01), and in increasing positive thoughts and body awareness (p<.01). Moreover, there were significant differences in body image between control and experimental group (F(1,28) = 12.616; p<.01; ηp2=.335).

Conclusion. The mindfulness program was useful in improving psychological and emotional changes related to body image in breast cancer patients. Changes in body image are a key component in the treatment of breast cancer patients with the ability to improve the patient’s quality of life.

Mindfulness and insomnia (zzzzz)

Ong, Jason C., and Christine E. Smith. Current Sleep Medicine Reports, first online 2017, pp. 1-9, doi:10.1007/s40675-017-0068-1. [See also: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3060715/%5D

Abstract. The goal of this review is to provide an update on the use of mindfulness meditation for the treatment of insomnia, including conceptual models and empirical evidence from randomized controlled trials.

A metacognitive model of insomnia has been proposed as a conceptual model to explain the application of mindfulness principles for reducing insomnia-related arousal. Furthermore, the evidence base for mindfulness-based therapies has grown with the results of several randomized controlled trials published in the past 3 years. Treatment effects appear to be strongest on self-report measures compared to objective measures of sleep.

Treatment programs featuring mindfulness meditation appear to be viable treatment options for people with insomnia. Further research is needed to determine who is likely to benefit from mindfulness-based therapies and how these interventions work. Additionally, further work is needed to resolve issues related to the delivery and implementation of mindfulness-based therapies.

Mindful with your baby

Potharst, Eva, et al. “Mindful with Your Baby: Feasibility, Acceptability, and Effects of a Mindful Parenting Group Training for Mothers and Their Babies in a Mental Health Context.” Mindfulness, first online 13 Apr 2017, DOI: 10.1007/s12671-017-0699-9. Full text.

From the Abstract: Many mothers experience difficulties after the birth of a baby. Mindful parenting may have benefits for mothers and babies, because it can help mothers regulate stress, and be more attentive towards themselves and their babies, which may have positive effects on their responsivity.

This study examined the effectiveness of . . . an 8-week mindful parenting group training for mothers with their babies. The presence of the babies provides on-the-spot practicing opportunities and facilitates generalization of what is learned. Forty-four mothers with their babies (0–18 months), who were referred to a mental health clinic because of elevated stress or mental health problems of the mother, infant (regulation) problems, or mother-infant interaction problems, participated in 10 groups, each comprising of three to six mother-baby dyads.

Questionnaires were administered at pretest, post-test, 8-week follow-up, and 1-year follow-up. Dropout rate was 7%. At post-test, 8-week follow-up, and 1-year follow-up, a significant improvement was seen in mindfulness, self-compassion, mindful parenting, (medium to large effects), as well as in well-being, psychopathology, parental confidence, responsivity, and hostility (small to large effects).

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.

Mindfulness practices as part of Weight Watchers program

Smith, Deborah. “Exploring the effects of introducing short, manageable mindfulness practises to adults seeking to lose weight in a UK Weight Watchers meeting.”  Proceedings. Dissertation projects, MA in Positive Psychology, Buckinghamshire New University, UK. pp. 43-58.

From the Abstract: Mindfulness and mindful eating are becoming recognised as effective methods in helping people to achieve a healthy weight.  Previous studies have involved relatively lengthy introductions to the practises, sometimes expecting participants to practise the mindfulness meditations for forty-five minutes per day. 

However this study examines participants’ experiences using brief introductions to mindful eating, breathing meditation and loving kindness meditation.  Integrated within a regular weekly Weight Watchers meeting, over a six week period, a fifteen minute introduction was given; a ten minute explanation and five minutes practise.  Two, five or ten minute meditations were suggested for home practise. 

Seven people out of the twenty-five participants were chosen to participate in the focus group used for feedback on the experience.  The interview explored the participants’ experiences of the practises and thematic analysis was used to identify themes within the participants’ accounts.  

The main conclusions from this study are that overweight people seeking to lose weight experience multiple benefits from the brief introductions and mindfulness practises; i.e., reduced stress, increased self-compassion and a more positive relationship with food was developed.  Participants reported an ease of engagement and unanimously wanted to continue practicing mindfulness as part of their on-going weight loss programme and possibly beyond.