Loving-kindness meditation for veterans with PTSD

Kearney, D. J., McManus, C., Malte, C. A., Martinez, M. E., Felleman, B., & Simpson, T. L. (2014). Loving-Kindness Meditation and the Broaden-and-Build Theory of Positive Emotions Among Veterans With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Medical care, 52, S32-S38.

From the Abstract. Loving-kindness meditation (LKM) is a practice intended to enhance feelings of kindness and compassion for self and others.

Objectives: To assess whether participation in a 12-week course of LKM for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with improved positive emotions, decentering, and personal resources.

Design: In an open-pilot trial, 42 veterans with active PTSD (40% female ) were assessed at baseline, after the course, and 3 months later. Emotions, decentering, psychological wellbeing including autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relations, purpose in life, self-acceptance, and sense of social support were measured at each time point.

Conclusions: Overall, positive emotions increased, and enhancement of personal resources occurred over time. Further investigation of LKM for PTSD is warranted.

Mindful breathing compared to other stress management approaches

Feldman, G., Greeson, J., & Senville, J. (2010). Differential effects of mindful breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and loving-kindness meditation on decentering and negative reactions to repetitive thoughts. Behavior Research and Therapy, 48 (10), 1002-11. Full text (unedited manuscript).

From the Abstract: Decentering has been proposed as a potential mechanism of mindfulness-based interventions but has received limited empirical examination to date in experimental studies comparing mindfulness meditation to active comparison conditions.

In the present study, we compared the immediate effects of mindful breathing (MB) to two alternative stress-management techniques: progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) and loving-kindness meditation (LKM) to test whether decentering is unique to mindfulness meditation or common across approaches.

Novice meditators (190 female undergraduates) were randomly assigned to complete one of three 15-min stress-management exercises (MB, PMR, or LKM) presented by audio recording. Immediately after the exercise, participants completed measures of decentering, frequency of repetitive thoughts during the exercise, and degree of negative reaction to thoughts. As predicted, participants in the MB condition reported greater decentering relative to the other two conditions.

Taken together, results help to provide further evidence of decentering as a potential mechanism that distinguishes mindfulness practice from other credible stress-management approaches.