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BACKGROUND: Typical interventions for acute pain in children attempt to reduce pain by directing attention away from pain. Conversely, mindfulness involves devoting attention to one’s experience in an accepting and nonjudgmental way. However, the effect that instructing children to mindfully devote attention to acute pain has on pain outcomes is unknown. OBJECTIVES: To examine whether mindful attention can help children attend to pain without increasing pain intensity or decreasing pain tolerance; to compare the effects of mindful attention with a well-established intervention designed to take attention away from pain (guided imagery); and to test whether baseline coping style or trait mindfulness alter the effects of these interventions. METHODS: A total of 82 children (10 to 14 years of age) completed measures of coping style and trait mindfulness. Participants then received either mindful attention or guided imagery instructions designed to direct attention toward or away from pain, respectively, before participating in a cold pressor task. RESULTS: The mindful attention group reported more awareness of the physical sensations of pain and thoughts about those sensations. Overall, there were no between-group differences in measures of pain intensity or pain tolerance during the cold pressor task, and no evidence of an interaction between baseline characteristics of the child and experimental condition. CONCLUSIONS: Mindful attention was successful in helping children focus attention on experimental pain without increasing pain intensity or decreasing tolerance compared with a well-established intervention for acute pain reduction.
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Stress and negative mood during pregnancy increase risk for poor childbirth outcomes and postnatal mood problems and may interfere with mother–infant attachment and child development. However, relatively little research has focused on the efficacy of psychosocial interventions to reduce stress and negative mood during pregnancy. In this study, we developed and pilot tested an eight-week mindfulness-based intervention directed toward reducing stress and improving mood in pregnancy and early postpartum. We then conducted a small randomized trial ( n = 31) comparing women who received the intervention during the last half of their pregnancy to a wait-list control group. Measures of perceived stress, positive and negative affect, depressed and anxious mood, and affect regulation were collected prior to, immediately following, and three months after the intervention (postpartum). Mothers who received the intervention showed significantly reduced anxiety (effect size, 0.89; p < 0.05) and negative affect (effect size, 0.83; p < 0.05) during the third trimester in comparison to those who did not receive the intervention. The brief and nonpharmaceutical nature of this intervention makes it a promising candidate for use during pregnancy.

This study describes the effects of an 8-week course in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR; J. Kabat-Zinn, 1982, 1990) on affective symptoms (depression and anxiety), dysfunctional attitudes, and rumination. Given the focus of mindfulness meditation (MM) in modifying cognitive processes, it was hypothesized that the primary change in MM practice involves reductions in ruminative tendencies. We studied a sample of individuals with lifetime mood disorders who were assessed prior to and upon completion of an MBSR course. We also compared a waitlist sample matched with a subset of the MBSR completers. Overall, the results suggest that MM practice primarily leads to decreases in ruminative thinking, even after controlling for reductions in affective symptoms and dysfunctional beliefs.

Mindfulness is associated with low levels of neuroticism, anxiety, and depressive symptoms, as well as high levels of self-esteem and satisfaction with life (Brown & Ryan, 2003). As part of a 3-month randomized waitlist-controlled trial of the effects of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program on university students (N=295), we examined the impact of TM practice on mindfulness as measured by the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS; Baer, Smith, & Allen, 2004). A repeated measures ANOVA on total KIMS scores showed a significant time×treatment interaction, with the TM participants reporting greater increases in mindfulness than the waitlist participants. All KIMS subscales were positively intercorrelated at pretreatment, and there were no differences over time or as a function of treatment condition in subscale intercorrelations. Therefore, previously published findings of a positive correlation between subscales measuring the skills of observing and accepting-without-judgment one's inner experiences only among those with meditation experience may have reflected a self-selection effect rather than a change in the relation of these mindfulness components resulting directly from meditation practice. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Clin Psychol 65: 1–16, 2009.

Effortless Mindfulness promotes genuine mental health through the direct experience of awakened presence—an effortlessly embodied, fearless understanding of and interaction with the way things truly are. The book offers a uniquely modern Buddhist psychological understanding of mental health disorders through a scholarly, clinically relevant presentation of Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhist teachings and practices. Written specifically for Western psychotherapeutic professionals, the book brings together traditional Buddhist theory and contemporary psychoneurobiosocial research to describe the conditioned and unconditioned mind, and its in-depth exploration of Buddhist psychology includes complete instructions for psychotherapists in authentic, yet clinically appropriate Buddhist mindfulness/heartfulness practices and Buddhist-psychological inquiry skills. The book also features interviews with an esteemed collection of Buddhist teachers, scholars, meditation researchers and Buddhist-inspired clinicians.
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Drawing on G. H. Mead and Merleau-Ponty, this paper aims to extend our understanding of self-reflexivity beyond the notion of a discursive, abstract, and symbolic process. It offers a framework for embodied self-reflexivity, which anchors the self in the reflexive capacity of bodily sensations. The data consist of two years of ethnographic observations and in-depth interviews of vipassana meditation practitioners in Israel and the United States. The findings illustrate how bodily sensations are used as indexes to psychological states, emotions, and past experiences, while constant awareness of embodied responses is used as a tool for self-monitoring. The paper follows the interaction between discursive and embodied modes of reflexivity and the attempt to shift from one mode to the other. I suggest that currently popular practices of embodied awareness, from meditation to yoga, are based on embodied self-reflexivity and are part of the postindustrial culture of self-awareness.

Advanced meditators in the Zen tradition occasionally experience traumatic physical seizures accompanied by powerful, disruptive emotions, a development consistently taken by meditation masters as signs of progress toward enlightenment. Using data from LSD research, this paper suggests that these seizures are emerging birth-trauma memories. Interpreting these perinatal memories as memories of fetal impingement, it then turns to object-relations theory to study the effect of impingement and impingement-generated fear on ego-development in order to understand why embodied impingement memories should manifest in the ego-dissolving context of meditation. It argues that a coherent explanation for the manifestation of these symptoms can be had by combining insights from these two fields with the understanding of meditation and consciousness emerging in transpersonal psychology.

Over the past 30 years the practice of meditation has become increasingly popular in clinical settings. In addition to evidence-based medical uses, meditation may have psychiatric benefits. In this review, the literature on the role of meditation in addressing psychiatric issues, and specifically substance use disorders, is discussed. Each of the three meditation modalities that have been most widely studied—transcendental meditation, Buddhist meditation, and mindfulness-based meditation—is critically examined in terms of its background, techniques, mechanisms of action, and evidence-based clinical applications, with special attention given to its emerging role in the treatment of substance use disorders. The unique methodological difficulties that beset the study of meditation are also considered. A brief discussion then integrates the research that has been completed thus far, elucidates the specific ways that meditation may be helpful for substance use disorders, and suggests new avenues for research.

This article presents a framework for emotional intelligence, a set of skills hypothesized to contribute to the accurate appraisal and expression of emotion in oneself and in others, the effective regulation of emotion in self and others, and the use of feelings to motivate, plan, and achieve in one's life. We start by reviewing the debate about the adaptive versus maladaptive qualities of emotion. We then explore the literature on intelligence, and especially social intelligence, to examine the place of emotion in traditional intelligence conceptions. A framework for integrating the research on emotion-related skills is then described. Next, we review the components of emotional intelligence. To conclude the review, the role of emotional intelligence in mental health is discussed and avenues for further investigation are suggested.

This study examined the effects of meditation on mental imagery, evaluating Buddhist monks' reports concerning their extraordinary imagery skills. Practitioners of Buddhist meditation were divided into two groups according to their preferred meditation style: Deity Yoga (focused attention on an internal visual image) or Open Presence (evenly distributed attention, not directed to any particular object). Both groups of meditators completed computerized mental-imagery tasks before and after meditation. Their performance was compared with that of control groups, who either rested or performed other visuospatial tasks between testing sessions. The results indicate that all the groups performed at the same baseline level, but after meditation, Deity Yoga practitioners demonstrated a dramatic increase in performance on imagery tasks compared with the other groups. The results suggest that Deity meditation specifically trains one's capacity to access heightened visuospatial processing resources, rather than generally improving visuospatial imagery abilities.

Mindfulness meditation is an increasingly popular intervention for the treatment of physical illnesses and psychological difficulties. Using intervention strategies with mechanisms familiar to cognitive behavioral therapists, the principles and practice of mindfulness meditation offer promise for promoting many of the most basic elements of positive psychology. It is proposed that mindfulness meditation promotes positive adjustment by strengthening metacognitive skills and by changing schemas related to emotion, health, and illness. Additionally, the benefits of yoga as a mindfulness practice are explored. Even though much empirical work is needed to determine the parameters of mindfulness meditation's benefits, and the mechanisms by which it may achieve these benefits, theory and data thus far clearly suggest the promise of mindfulness as a link between positive psychology and cognitive behavioral therapies.

Elaborating on our understanding of the construct of mindfulness is currently a priority as mindfulness-based therapeutic interventions proliferate (Bishop et al., 2004). Two studies examined the relationship between measures of everyday mindfulness, mindfulness during meditation, and the five-factor model personality domains. These studies also investigated the effect of sitting meditation on mood. Two samples were largely naïve to formal sitting meditation, and the third sample was screened for meditation experience. The first study found that everyday mindfulness correlated positively with agreeableness and conscientiousness, and correlated negatively with neuroticism. Little to no relationship was found between mindfulness during meditation and everyday mindfulness across all three samples. Changes in mood following meditation varied across studies.

This study examined the relation of self-compassion to positive psychological health and the five factor model of personality. Self-compassion entails being kind toward oneself in instances of pain or failure; perceiving one’s experiences as part of the larger human experience; and holding painful thoughts and feelings in balanced awareness. Participants were 177 undergraduates (68% female, 32% male). Using a correlational design, the study found that self-compassion had a significant positive association with self-reported measures of happiness, optimism, positive affect, wisdom, personal initiative, curiosity and exploration, agreeableness, extroversion, and conscientiousness. It also had a significant negative association with negative affect and neuroticism. Self-compassion predicted significant variance in positive psychological health beyond that attributable to personality.

Studies have primarily examined meditation's effects as a self regulation strategy for stress management. Fewer studies have examined its utility as a self exploration strategy for enhancing psychological health in psychotherapy and behavior change. And, few studies have examined meditation's effect regarding its original religious purpose as a self liberation strategy to enhance spiritual growth and wisdom, and cultivate compassionate service. This article examines the reasons underlying this differential proportion of studies on each of the above variables and details the merits and limitations of research that attempted to remove the religious and philosophical context of meditation in order to focus on its content. The article then examines why it has been necessary to reintroduce the context of meditation as a variable, whether that context be stress management, psychotherapy, or a religious perspective. Finally, based on the mentalist and cognitive revolution, this article asks: "Is God always a confounding variable in meditation research?"

Metacognition refers to any knowledge or cognitive process that monitors or controls cognition. We highlight similarities between metacognitive and executive control functions, and ask how these processes might be implemented in the human brain. A review of brain imaging studies reveals a circuitry of attentional networks involved in these control processes, with its source located in midfrontal areas. These areas are active during conflict resolution, error correction, and emotional regulation. A developmental approach to the organization of the anatomy involved in executive control provides an added perspective on how these mechanisms are influenced by maturation and learning, and how they relate to metacognitive activity.

Background Transcendental Meditation (TM), a sitting meditation technique designed to quiet the mind and induce physical and mental relaxation, has been widely studied in adults. Objective Our objective was to explore systematically the first-person experience of young adolescents who practice TM. Design A descriptive, qualitative study using semistructured interviews. Setting Middle school setting. Participants Participants included 10 seventh grade students who have practiced TM for a one-year period of time. Results Themes described by students resulting from meditation included the following: (1) an increasing state of restful alertness; (2) improvement in skills indicative of emotional intelligence (self-control, self-reflection/awareness, and flexibility in emotional response); and (3) improvement in academic performance. The state of restful alertness induced by meditation appeared central to facilitating growth in social-emotional capacities, academic performance, and flexibility in emotional response. The inner state of restful alertness provided students with greater capacity to expand their ways of looking inwardly at themselves and their relationships with others (emotional intelligence) as well as focusing their attention on controlling their behavior and keeping on task in school. Conclusions Students described beneficial effects of TM: an increased state of restful alertness and greater capacity for self-reflection, self-control, and flexibility as well as improved academic performance. The state of restful alertness induced by meditation may facilitate the growth of social-emotional capacities necessary for regulating the emotional labiality and interpersonal stress of adolescence. Future empirical validation is needed to analyze systematically the impact of this practice on students’ social-emotional and cognitive development and to determine whether its practice can serve as a protective function for helping students successfully meet the challenges of adolescence.
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Youth in underserved, urban communities are at risk for a range of negative outcomes related to stress, including social-emotional difficulties, behavior problems, and poor academic performance. Mindfulness-based approaches may improve adjustment among chronically stressed and disadvantaged youth by enhancing self-regulatory capacities. This paper reports findings from a pilot randomized controlled trial assessing the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary outcomes of a school-based mindfulness and yoga intervention. Four urban public schools were randomized to an intervention or wait-list control condition (n = 97 fourth and fifth graders, 60.8% female). It was hypothesized that the 12-week intervention would reduce involuntary stress responses and improve mental health outcomes and social adjustment. Stress responses, depressive symptoms, and peer relations were assessed at baseline and post-intervention. Findings suggest the intervention was attractive to students, teachers, and school administrators and that it had a positive impact on problematic responses to stress including rumination, intrusive thoughts, and emotional arousal.
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