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OBJECTIVE: The underlying changes in biological processes that are associated with reported changes in mental and physical health in response to meditation have not been systematically explored. We performed a randomized, controlled study on the effects on brain and immune function of a well-known and widely used 8-week clinical training program in mindfulness meditation applied in a work environment with healthy employees. METHODS: We measured brain electrical activity before and immediately after, and then 4 months after an 8-week training program in mindfulness meditation. Twenty-five subjects were tested in the meditation group. A wait-list control group (N = 16) was tested at the same points in time as the meditators. At the end of the 8-week period, subjects in both groups were vaccinated with influenza vaccine. RESULTS: We report for the first time significant increases in left-sided anterior activation, a pattern previously associated with positive affect, in the meditators compared with the nonmeditators. We also found significant increases in antibody titers to influenza vaccine among subjects in the meditation compared with those in the wait-list control group. Finally, the magnitude of increase in left-sided activation predicted the magnitude of antibody titer rise to the vaccine. CONCLUSIONS: These findings demonstrate that a short program in mindfulness meditation produces demonstrable effects on brain and immune function. These findings suggest that meditation may change brain and immune function in positive ways and underscore the need for additional research.

Western psychotherapy tends to regard the mind and mental distress in terms of differing theoretical models. Mental distress can be also be usefully viewed as the result of erroneous reification—the confusing of symbols and concepts with reality. This paper describes the theory and practice of analytic meditative therapy. Inspired by non-dual Buddhist and other eastern wisdom traditions, it uses meditative and cognitive processes to control anxiety, deconstruct reified symbols and encourage contemplative resting in non-dual mental space, where reality and its appearance are coemergent and coalesced but distinct, and healing occurs naturally without the need for any specific additional effort.
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Context  Primary care physicians report high levels of distress, which is linked to burnout, attrition, and poorer quality of care. Programs to reduce burnout before it results in impairment are rare; data on these programs are scarce.Objective  To determine whether an intensive educational program in mindfulness, communication, and self-awareness is associated with improvement in primary care physicians' well-being, psychological distress, burnout, and capacity for relating to patients.Design, Setting, and Participants  Before-and-after study of 70 primary care physicians in Rochester, New York, in a continuing medical education (CME) course in 2007-2008. The course included mindfulness meditation, self-awareness exercises, narratives about meaningful clinical experiences, appreciative interviews, didactic material, and discussion. An 8-week intensive phase (2.5 h/wk, 7-hour retreat) was followed by a 10-month maintenance phase (2.5 h/mo).Main Outcome Measures  Mindfulness (2 subscales), burnout (3 subscales), empathy (3 subscales), psychosocial orientation, personality (5 factors), and mood (6 subscales) measured at baseline and at 2, 12, and 15 months.Results  Over the course of the program and follow-up, participants demonstrated improvements in mindfulness (raw score, 45.2 to 54.1; raw score change [Δ], 8.9; 95% confidence interval [CI], 7.0 to 10.8); burnout (emotional exhaustion, 26.8 to 20.0; Δ = −6.8; 95% CI, −4.8 to −8.8; depersonalization, 8.4 to 5.9; Δ = −2.5; 95% CI, −1.4 to −3.6; and personal accomplishment, 40.2 to 42.6; Δ = 2.4; 95% CI, 1.2 to 3.6); empathy (116.6 to 121.2; Δ = 4.6; 95% CI, 2.2 to 7.0); physician belief scale (76.7 to 72.6; Δ = −4.1; 95% CI, −1.8 to −6.4); total mood disturbance (33.2 to 16.1; Δ = −17.1; 95% CI, −11 to −23.2), and personality (conscientiousness, 6.5 to 6.8; Δ = 0.3; 95% CI, 0.1 to 5 and emotional stability, 6.1 to 6.6; Δ = 0.5; 95% CI, 0.3 to 0.7). Improvements in mindfulness were correlated with improvements in total mood disturbance (r = −0.39, P < .001), perspective taking subscale of physician empathy (r = 0.31, P < .001), burnout (emotional exhaustion and personal accomplishment subscales, r = −0.32 and 0.33, respectively; P < .001), and personality factors (conscientiousness and emotional stability, r = 0.29 and 0.25, respectively; P < .001).Conclusions  Participation in a mindful communication program was associated with short-term and sustained improvements in well-being and attitudes associated with patient-centered care. Because before-and-after designs limit inferences about intervention effects, these findings warrant randomized trials involving a variety of practicing physicians.

Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2011; 34: 363–373SummaryBackground Stress perception and GI-specific anxiety play key roles in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a widely available stress reduction course, which has not been evaluated for IBS.Aim To determine whether participation in MBSR is associated with improvement in bowel symptoms, GI-specific anxiety, and IBS-Quality of Life.Methods This is a prospective study of 93 participants in MBSR. We applied measures of Rome III IBS status, bowel symptoms (IBS-Severity Scoring System, IBS-SSS), IBS-Quality of Life (IBS-QOL), GI-specific anxiety (Visceral Sensitivity Index, VSI), mindfulness (Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire-FFMQ), and functional status (SF-8) at baseline and 2 and 6 months after enrolment.Results At 2 months, participation in MBSR was associated with small nonsignificant changes in IBS-SSS, IBS-QOL and VSI: d = −0.25, d = 0.08, d = −0.16, respectively. At 6 months, there was no significant change in IBS-SSS (d = −0.36); whereas for IBS-QOL and VSI there were significant improvements (IBS-QOL: d = 0.33, P = 0.044; VSI: d = −0.40, P = 0.014). For patients meeting Rome III IBS criteria (n = 43), changes in IBS-SSS, IBS-QOL and VSI were not statistically significant, but there was a significant correlation between the change in VSI and the change in FFMQ across the three time periods (r = 0.33).Conclusions Participation in MBSR is associated with improvement IBS-related quality of life and GI-specific anxiety. Randomised controlled trials are warranted to further assess the role of MBSR for IBS symptomatology.

The aim of this study was to measure the effects of a bi-weekly Raj yoga program on rheumatoid arthritis (RA) disease activity. Subjects were recruited from among RA patients in Dubai, United Arab Emirates by email invitations of the RA database. Demographic data, disease activity indices, health assessment questionnaire (HAQ), and quality of life (QOL) by SF-36 were documented at enrollment and after completion of 12 sessions of Raj yoga. A total of 47 patients were enrolled: 26 yoga and 21 controls. Baseline demographics were similar in both groups. Patients who underwent yoga had statistically significant improvements in DAS28 and HAQ, but not QOL. Our pilot study of 12 sessions of yoga for RA was able to demonstrate statistically significant improvements in RA disease parameters. We believe that a longer duration of treatment could result in more significant improvements.

Note: This book includes a spoken-word audio CD, which is not available with the digital ebook edition.The newest treatment for pain is one of the oldest, most effective strategies for pain-free living: meditation. With Break Through Pain, meditation expert Shinzen Young teaches you how to retrain your relationship to pain through traditional meditation practices. Drawing from 30 years of results in the field, this widely respected teacher offers the essential techniques that have proven successful at pain management centers around the country.Break Through Pain adapts the core principles of mindfulness training to a practical process that can treat even extreme, chronic pain effectively, possibly reducing the need for drugs or surgery. You will learn that, by observing and opening to pain, you can stop resisting it and step outside physical suffering. Step-by-step techniques taught in plain language show how to overcome internal resistance the key to transforming physical pain into a flow of pure energy. With regular practice, you can tap into your mind's own power to overcome physical pain.

The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of how Buddhist philosophy can be applied in the treatment of individuals with substance abuse problems (alcohol, smoking, and illicit drug use) and other addictive behaviors (e.g., compulsive eating and gambling). First I describe the background of my own interest in meditation and Buddhist psychology, followed by a brief summary of my prior research on the effects of meditation on alcohol consumption in heavy drinkers. In the second section, I outline some of the basic principles of Buddhist philosophy that provide a theoretical underpinning for defining addiction, how it develops, and how it can be alleviated. The third and final section presents four principles within Buddhist psychology that have direct implications for the cognitive-behavioral treatment of addictive behavior: mindfulness meditation, the Middle Way philosophy, the Doctrine of Impermanence, and compassion and the Eightfold Noble Path. Clinical interventions and case examples are described for each of these four principles based on my research and clinical practice with clients seeking help for resolving addictive behavior problems.

This study reviews literature concerning any effects meditation may have upon the psychological health and practice of psychotherapists. A number of anecdotal accounts were explored in order to extract key claims made for meditation. These claims were found to include that meditation promotes attentive ability, a calm psychophysiological state, heightened awareness, and a reflexive self (an objective, observant sub-personality). It was suggested that these effects were personally therapeutic, and that this could facilitate therapists' practice. Of the experimental studies reviewed, most found that meditation had significant positive effects upon various measures of psychophysiological health. These included increases in measures of self-efficacy and attentional absorption, and decreases in indicators of anxiety, stress, and depression. However, many experimental studies were methodologically flawed. These problems were often related to characteristics of meditation that render it problematic to investigate. For example, it may take at least one year of daily practice to bring about effects, and researchers have found it difficult to complete experiments where randomly assigned participants all adhere to such a demanding regimen. In addition, current quantitative research techniques may not be sophisticated enough to allow the effects of meditation to be accurately gauged. It is suggested that qualitative techniques could be more successful in exploring the effects of meditation.

To enhance psychological adjustment, Vipassana meditation assists individuals to perceive the transitory nature of the self. Because the consequences of this potentially troubling insight are not well understood, changes in self-concept and ego defense mechanisms of two cohorts (N1=222, N2=216) of young (M = 18.03 years) Thai participants who attended separate seven-day Vipassana meditation retreats and a nontreated control group (N = 281) were compared. Multivariate statistical analysis revealed positive gains in all areas of self-representation among meditators relative to controls (p < .001). Ego defense mechanisms of the meditation participants also underwent significant change (p < .0001) with coping becoming characterized by greater maturity and tolerance of common stressors. Increases in Buddhist beliefs were significantly correlated with heightened self-esteem and less impulsiveness (ps < .001). Theoretical and applied implications of the findings are discussed.

This study investigated the effects of imagery on flexibility and the relations among verbal and non-verbal and spontaneous and adaptive flexibility measures. Finally, the effects of brain damage on flexibility and imagery were investigated. Historical and more recent concepts of the cognitive rigidity flexibility dimension were discussed with special emphasis on the effects of brain damage. Forty female and fourteen male volunteer students were tested with verbal and non-verbal flexibility tests. Measures of spontaneous flexibility were the Word Fluency Test and the Five Point Test and measures of adaptive flexibility were the Stroop Test and a newly introduced concept identification test, assessing imagery and interference concepts. Furthermore, a questionnaire to assess individual imagery styles was employed as well as the vocabulary and block design subtests of the WAIS. The results of brain damaged subjects were compared to a matched control group. Furthermore, z-score profiles were prepared to compare the test patterns between the different patient groups. Four dimensions of cognitive flexibility-rigidity were found in healthy subjects. Furthermore it was found that individual imagery styles had little influence on the performance in flexibility tests. A trend was showing that "habitual verbalizers" had no advantage in solving the tests and had in fact more difficulty with the identification of non-verbal concepts. No significant gender effects were found. Brain damaged patients performed significantly more poorly than normal subjects in all flexibility tests. Several test- and subject variables that effect the performance on flexibility tests were discussed. It was concluded that rigidity-flexibility measures represent different dimensions depending on stimulus mode and type of task. It was further concluded that behavioral rigidity-flexibility is not only the function of test variables, but also of various subject variables namely imagery style, intelligence, age, gender and brain damage. In healthy people, the performance on one test was not found to be predictive for the performance on another flexibility test. On the other hand, in brain damaged subjects rigid behavior seems to extend to a wider range of test performance. Finally, different performance patterns were described for different lesion sites in brain damaged.

The heart rate, breathing rate, and skin resistance were recorded for 20 community home girls (Home group) and for 20 age-matched girls from a regular school (School group). The former group had a significantly higher rate of breathing and a more irregular breath pattern known to correlate with high fear and anxiety, than the School group. Skin resistance was significantly lower in the School group, which may suggest greater arousal, 28 girls of the Home group formed 14 pairs, matched for age and duration of stay in the home. Subjects of a pair were randomly assigned to either yoga or games groups. For the former emphasis was on relaxation and awareness, whereas for the latter increasing physical activity was emphasized. At the end of an hour daily for six months both groups showed a significant decrease in the resting heart rate relative to initial values (Wilcoxon paired-sample rest), and the yoga group showed a significant decrease in breath rate, which appeared more regular but no significant increase in the skin resistance. These results suggest that a yoga program which includes relaxation, awareness, and graded physical activity is a useful addition to the routine of community home children.
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This new and up-to-the-minute compendium of reliable and authoritative information on complementary and alternative therapies seeks to provide information that older adults may use as they seek to improve their health and quality of life. Covering dietary means; physical, mental, and spiritual methods of treatment; and various types of therapies, this handbook is the most comprehensive and up-to-date resource on complementary and alternative medicine available today.

The complex process of health has, until recently, been understood devoid of a spiritual component. The present article offers a model of health inclusive of spirituality with implications for the health communication field. Amending the assumptive non-relevance of spirituality to individual health, a growing body of scholarship in various disciplines recognizes the ways in which spirituality connects to overall wellness. As a whole, this literature equates spirituality with seeking, striving, and forward movement. Given the potential for health communication scholars to make significant contributions at the forefront of this research, this article proposes a dynamic model of health inclusive not only of the physical and mental, but of the spiritual as well. Recognizing its centrality to wellbeing, the model locates the spiritual self at the center. Specifically, the spiritual self is described as engaging action, hope, and connection to self, others, and/or the universe.

Purpose Although quantitative benefits of mindfulness training have been demonstrated in youth, little is known about the processes involved. The aim of this study was to gain a detailed understanding of how young people engage with the ideas and practices known as mindfulness using qualitative enquiry. Methods Following completion of a six-week mindfulness training program with a nonclinical group of 11 young people (age 16–24), a focus group (N = 7) and open-ended interviews (n = 5) were held and audio-recorded. Qualitative data, collected at eight time points over three months from the commencement of training, were coded with the aid of computer software. Grounded theory methodology informed the data collection process and generation of themes and an explanatory model that captured participants' experiences. Results Participants described their daily lives as beset by frequent experiences of distress sometimes worsened by their unhelpful or destructive reactions. With mindfulness practice, they initially reported greater calm, balance, and control. Subsequently they commented on a clearer understanding of themselves and others. Mindfulness was then described as a “mindset” associated with greater confidence and competence and a lessened risk of future distress. Conclusions Participants demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of and engagement with mindfulness principles and practice. Their reported experience aligned well with qualitative research findings in adults and theoretical literature on mindfulness. An encouraging finding was that, with ongoing mindfulness practice and within a relatively short time, participants were able to move beyond improved emotion regulation and gain greater confidence in their ability to manage life challenges.
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The goal of this course is to explore meditative and contemplative tradition in various cultures and spiritual traditions, and study the ways in which contemplative practice can contribute to psychotherapy, both indirectly through the meditative practice of the therapist, and directly through application in the therapy proper.


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