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<p>Contemplative practices, from meditation to Zen, are growing in popularity as methods to inspire physical and mental health. "Contemplative Practices in Action: Spirituality, Meditation, and Health" offers readers an introduction to these practices and the ways they can be used in the service of well being, wisdom, healing, and stress reduction. Bringing together various traditions from the East and West, this thought-provoking work summarizes the history of each practice, highlights classic and emerging research proving its power, and details how each practice is performed. Expert authors offer step-by-step approaches to practice methods including the 8-Point Program of Passage Meditation, Centering Prayer, mindful stress management, mantram meditation, energizing meditation, yoga, and Zen. Beneficial practices from Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu, and Islamic religions are also featured. Vignettes illustrate each of the practices, while the contributors explain how and why they are effective in facing challenges as varied as the loss of a partner or child, job loss, chronic pain or disease, or psychological disorders.</p>

<p>ABSTRACT Poor sleep is common in substance use disorders (SUDs) and is a risk factor for relapse. Within the context of a multicomponent, mindfulness-based sleep intervention that included mindfulness meditation (MM) for adolescent outpatients with SUDs (n = 55), this analysis assessed the contributions of MM practice intensity to gains in sleep quality and self-efficacy related to SUDs. Eighteen adolescents completed a 6-session study intervention and questionnaires on psychological distress, sleep quality, mindfulness practice, and substance use at baseline, 8, 20, and 60 weeks postentry. Program participation was associated with improvements in sleep and emotional distress, and reduced substance use. MM practice frequency correlated with increased sleep duration and improvement in self-efficacy about substance use. Increased sleep duration was associated with improvements in psychological distress, relapse resistance, and substance use–related problems. These findings suggest that sleep is an important therapeutic target in substance abusing adolescents and that MM may be a useful component to promote improved sleep.</p>

While much attention has been devoted to examining the beneficial effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programs on patients' ability to cope with various chronic medical conditions, most studies have relied on self-report measures of improvement. Given that these measures may not accurately reflect physiological conditions, there is a need for an objective marker of improvement in research evaluating the beneficial effects of stress management programs. Cortisol is the major stress hormone in the human organism and as such is a promising candidate measure in the study of the effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programs. In conjunction with other biological measures, the use of cortisol levels as a physiological marker of stress may be useful to validate self-reported benefits attributed to this program. In the current manuscript, we review the available literature on the role of cortisol as a physiological marker for improvement with regards to mindfulness practice, and make recommendations for future study designs.

Demands faced by health care professionals include heavy caseloads, limited control over the work environment, long hours, as well as organizational structures and systems in transition. Such conditions have been directly linked to increased stress and symptoms of burnout, which in turn, have adverse consequences for clinicians and the quality of care that is provided to patients. Consequently, there exists an impetus for the development of curriculum aimed at fostering wellness and the necessary self-care skills for clinicians. This review will examine the potential benefits of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) programs aimed at enhancing well-being and coping with stress in this population. Empirical evidence indicates that participation in MBSR yields benefits for clinicians in the domains of physical and mental health. Conceptual and methodological limitations of the existing studies and suggestions for future research are discussed.

<p>Objective: A strong relation between negative affect and craving has been demonstrated in laboratory and clinical studies, with depressive symptomatology showing particularly strong links to craving and substance abuse relapse. Mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP), shown to be efficacious for reduction of substance use, uses mindfulness-based practices to teach alternative responses to emotional discomfort and lessen the conditioned response of craving in the presence of depressive symptoms. The goal in the current study was to examine the relation between measures of depressive symptoms, craving, and substance use following MBRP. Method: Individuals with substance use disorders (N = 168; mean age 40.45 years, SD = 10.28; 36.3% female; 46.4% non-White) were recruited after intensive stabilization, then randomly assigned to either 8 weekly sessions of MBRP or a treatment-as-usual control group. Approximately 73% of the sample was retained at the final 4-month follow-up assessment. Results: Results confirmed a moderated-mediation effect, whereby craving mediated the relation between depressive symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory) and substance use (Timeline Follow-Back) among the treatment-as-usual group but not among MBRP participants. MBRP attenuated the relation between postintervention depressive symptoms and craving (Penn Alcohol Craving Scale) 2 months following the intervention (ƒ² = .21). This moderation effect predicted substance use 4 months following the intervention (ƒ² = .18). Conclusion: MBRP appears to influence cognitive and behavioral responses to depressive symptoms, partially explaining reductions in postintervention substance use among the MBRP group. Although results are preliminary, the current study provides evidence for the value of incorporating mindfulness practice into substance abuse treatment and identifies a potential mechanism of change following MBRP.</p>

Mindfulness meditation practices (MMPs) are a subgroup of meditation practices which are receiving growing attention. The present paper reviews current evidence about the effects of MMPs on objective measures of cognitive functions. Five databases were searched. Twenty three studies providing measures of attention, memory, executive functions and further miscellaneous measures of cognition were included. Fifteen were controlled or randomized controlled studies and 8 were case–control studies. Overall, reviewed studies suggested that early phases of mindfulness training, which are more concerned with the development of focused attention, could be associated with significant improvements in selective and executive attention whereas the following phases, which are characterized by an open monitoring of internal and external stimuli, could be mainly associated with improved unfocused sustained attention abilities. Additionally, MMPs could enhance working memory capacity and some executive functions. However, many of the included studies show methodological limitations and negative results have been reported as well, plausibly reflecting differences in study design, study duration and patients' populations. Accordingly, even though findings here reviewed provided preliminary evidence suggesting that MMPs could enhance cognitive functions, available evidence should be considered with caution and further high quality studies investigating more standardized mindfulness meditation programs are needed.

Losses in relationships, work, and other areas of life often accompany the physical discomfort of chronic pain. Often the depth and intensity of the grief associated with chronic pain are overlooked or possibly misdiagnosed and treated as depression. We used an 8-week mindfulness meditation program to determine its effectiveness in addressing the grieving process among 39 patients diagnosed with chronic pain. Eighteen patients volunteered to be in a comparison group. The study was conducted in a regional hospital's pain clinic and patients completed the Response to Loss Scale (measuring grief), the Beck Depression Inventory, and the State Trait Anxiety Inventory. Results indicated that the treatment group advanced significantly more quickly through the initial stages of grieving than the comparison group. In addition, the treatment group demonstrated significant reductions in depression and state anxiety, but no significant differences emerged when comparing groups on the final stages of grieving or trait anxiety.

The inability to cope successfully with the enormous stress of medical education may lead to a cascade of consequences at both a personal and professional level. The present study examined the short-term effects of an 8-week meditation-based stress reduction intervention on premedical and medical students using a well-controlled statistical design. Findings indicate that participation in the intervention can effectively (1) reduce self-reported state and trait anxiety, (2) reduce reports of overall psychological distress including depression, (3) increase scores on overall empathy levels, and (4) increase scores on a measure of spiritual experiences assessed at termination of intervention. These results (5) replicated in the wait-list control group, (6) held across different experiments, and (7) were observed during the exam period. Future research should address potential long-term effects of mindfulness training for medical and premedical students.

Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction, a stress-reduction program, has increasing empirical support as a patient-care intervention. Its emphasis on self-care, compassion, and healing makes it relevant as an intervention for helping nurses manage stress and reduce burnout. This article describes the implementation of Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction in a hospital system as a way to lower burnout and improve well-being among nurses, using both quantitative and qualitative data.

This article is the second in a series reporting on research exploring the effects of Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction on nurses and describes the quantitative data. The third article describes qualitative data. Treatment group participants reduced scores on 2 of 3 subscales of the Maslach Burn...

Part III of the study on mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) describes qualitative data and discusses the implications of the findings. Study analysis revealed that nurses found MBSR helpful. Greater relaxation and self-care and improvement in work and family relationships were among reported benefits. Challenges included restlessness, physical pain, and dealing with difficult emotions.

Objective This study sought to investigate the effects of yoga on the quality of life in patients with breast cancer. Design Twenty patients between 30 and 50 years of age presently under treatment for breast cancer were included in the study. The physical characteristics of the patients were recorded and general physiotherapy assessments performed. Eight sessions of a yoga program including warming and breathing exercises, asanas, relaxation in supine position, and meditation were applied to participants. Main outcome measures The pre- and post-yoga quality of life assessments for the patients were conducted using the Nottingham Health Profile (NHP). Patients' stress levels were assessed using the STAI-I and STAI-II anxiety inventory. Their satisfaction levels about the yoga program was evaluated using the visual analog scale (VAS). Results It was found that patients' quality of life scores after the yoga program were better than scores obtained before the yoga program (p &lt; 0.05). After sessions, there was a statistically significant decrease in their STAI-I (measuring the reactions of anxiety) scores and STAI-II (measuring the permanence of anxiety) scores (p &lt; 0.05). It was found out that the satisfaction score concerning the yoga program was considerably increased after the yoga program (p &lt; 0.05). Conclusions It can be concluded that yoga is valuable in helping to achieve relaxation and diminish stress, helps cancer patients perform daily and routine activities, and increases the quality of life in cancer patients. This result was positively reflected in patients satisfaction with the yoga program.

Objective: The diagnosis of breast cancer, the most common type of cancer among American women, elicits greater distress than any other diagnosis regardless of prognosis. Therefore, the present study examined the efficacy of a stress reduction intervention for women with breast cancer. Methods: As part of a larger, randomized, controlled study of the effects on measures of stress of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) intervention for women with breast cancer, the current analyses examined the effects on sleep complaints. Results: Analyses of the data indicated that both MBSR and a free choice (FC) control condition produced significant improvement on daily diary sleep quality measures though neither showed significant improvement on sleep-efficiency. Participants in the MBSR who reported greater mindfulness practice improved significantly more on the sleep quality measure most strongly associated with distress. Conclusion: MBSR appears to be a promising intervention to improve the quality of sleep in woman with breast cancer whose sleep complaints are due to stress.

Alchemists sought to transform lead into gold. In the same way, says Tara Bennett-Goleman, we all have the natural ability to turn our moments of confusion or emotional pain into insightful clarity.Emotional Alchemy maps the mind and shows how, according to recent advances in cognitive therapy, most of what troubles us falls into ten basic emotional patterns, including fear of abandonment, social exclusion (the feeling we don't belong), and vulnerability (the feeling that some catastrophe will occur). Through the simple practice of mindfulness taught in this book, we can free ourselves of such patterns and replace them with empathy for ourselves and others, as well as the freedom to be more creative and alive.You'll find the very latest research in neuroscience--including the neurological "magic quarter second," during which it is possible for a thought to be "caught" before it turns into an emotional reaction. And you'll discover the fascinating parallels of this science with the wisdom of ancient Buddhism--for Buddhists knew centuries ago that we can end our self-destructive habits.This remarkable book also teaches the practice of mindfulness, an awareness that lets us see things as they truly are without distortion or judgment, giving the most insightful explanation of how mindfulness can change not only our lives, but the very structure of our brains. Here is a beautifully rendered work full of Buddhist wisdom and stories of how people have used mindfulness to conquer their self-defeating habits. The result is a whole new way of approaching our relationships, work, and internal lives.From the Hardcover edition.

<p>S. L. Shapiro and colleagues (2006) have described a testable theory of the mechanisms of mindfulness and how it affects positive change. They describe a model in which mindfulness training leads to a fundamental change in relationship to experience (reperceiving), which leads to changes in self-regulation, values clarification, cognitive and behavioral flexibility, and exposure. These four variables, in turn, result in salutogenic outcomes. Analyses of responses from participants in a mindfulness-based stress-reduction program did not support the mediating effect of changes in reperceiving on the relationship of mindfulness with those four variables. However, when mindfulness and reperceiving scores were combined, partial support was found for the mediating effect of the four variables on measures of psychological distress. Issues arising in attempts to test the proposed theory are discussed, including the description of the model variables and the challenges to their assessment. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Clin Psychol 65: 1–14, 2009.</p>

<p>A number of issues important to the clinical utility of mindfulness require systematic study. These include the most parsimonious definition of mindfulness for clinical purposes, how mindfulness is best described to be most approachable to patients, and the extent to which mindfulness shares common mechanisms with other mind-body programs. The discussion includes a brief review of the transition of mindfulness from traditional into clinical settings as well as the components commonly contained within clinical descriptions of mindfulness. A model based on facility in the use of attention is proposed, and a description of mechanisms by which attentional skill may lead to the recognition of internal associational processes and account for psychological outcomes is given. Using constructs already familiar to patients, an attention-based conception may also be more accessible to patients than more elaborate descriptions and have greater utility in identifying commonalities that mindfulness training may have with other mind-body programs.</p>

In this paper the author shares some of his experiences of using silence in therapy. He presents one of the modes of practicing silence, namely the meditation technique known as Contemplative Prayer, and shows advantages of using this technique in the process of self-purification and self-balancing of the therapist. The author stipulates that silence is a royal way to discovering God. Finding this divine particle within oneself and client changes the whole outlook of therapy. The therapist is no longer alone with the client, but God becomes an active participant in the therapeutic process through His love for both therapist and client.

<p>In this commentary I discuss the integration of mindful procedures in cognitive therapy of generalized anxiety disorder (CAD) and attempt to answer questions concerning the effects of mindfulness on information processing and on mechanisms purported to maintain CAD in the meta-cognitive model of this disorder. Different techniques that promote mindfulness can be identified, including mindfulness meditation and attention training. These techniques are intended to disrupt repetitive styles of dysfunctional thinking. I argue that the effect of mindfulness strategies on information processing in emotional disorder can be conceptualized in meta-cognitive terms as (a) activating a meta-cognitive mode of processing; (b) disconnecting the influence of maladaptive beliefs on processing; (c) strengthening flexible responding to threat; and (d) strengthening meta-cognitive plans for controlling cognition. Although mindfulness meditation may have general treatment applications, the meta-cognitive model of CAD suggests caution in using this treatment in CAD. It is unclear which dimension of worry should be targeted, and mindfulness meditation does not contain information that can lead to unambiguous disconfirmation of erroneous beliefs about worry.</p>

<p>One out of every five Harvard graduates has lined up to hear Tal Ben-Shahar's lectures on that ever-elusive subject: happiness. Grounded in the revolutionary "positive psychology" movement, Ben-Shahar combines scientific studies, scholarly research, self-help advice, and spiritual enlightenment. He weaves them together into a set of principles that you can apply to your daily life.</p>
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