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Although there is growing interest among health and social care professionals in the social and therapeutic value of horticulture, there is little evidence that demonstrates the range of outcomes for vulnerable groups, including those with learning difficulties and mental health problems. This report addresses this gap in knowledge and presents the findings of the Growing Together project, the first detailed study of horticulture and gardening projects across the UK. The report is aimed at policy makers, professionals, researchers and students in the fields of health and social care and occupational and horticultural therapy who are hungry for hard evidence in this new field, as well as anyone interested in addressing the needs of vulnerable and socially excluded adults. The Growing Together project is a partnership between Loughborough University and Thrive and has been funded by the Big Lottery Fund. This report complements a practice guide, Growing together: A practice guide to promoting social inclusion through gardening and horticulture, which is also available from The Policy Press.

The hectic pace of contemporary life is a major source of acute and chronic stress, which may have a deleterious impact on body health . In the field of cardiovascular disease, acute emotional stress has been associated with coronary spasm and Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, whereas the manifestations of chronic stress have been overlooked, and most underlying pathophysiology remains to be elucidated. Chronic stress affects the neuronal circuitry composed of cortico-limbic structures and the nuclei regulating autonomic function, eliciting a sympatho-vagal imbalance, characterised by adrenergic activation and vagal withdrawal. Sympathetic terminals are connected to cardiomyocytes in a quasi-synaptic way, producing the so called 'neuro-cardiac junction'. During chronic stress, norepinephrine release is increased, leading to overstimulation of cardiomyocytes via beta1-adrenergic receptors, influencing mainly calcium dynamics, and beta2-adrenergic receptors, which control housekeeping functions. The circadian rhythm of cardiomyocytes is then impaired, with elongation of the catabolic ('light' phase) over the anabolic ('nocturnal') phase. This leads to a depletion of cell energy storage, and a decreased turnover of cell constituents. Even cell interactions are affected, as coupling between cardiomyocytes decreases while coupling between cardiomyocytes and fibroblasts increases. The ultimate results are changes in the shape and velocity of action potential, fibroblast activation and deposition of extracellular matrix. These alterations may predispose to arrhythmias and may favour the development of a stress-related cardiomyopathy. A better comprehension of this cascade of events may allow us to identify screening protocols and treatment strategies (meditation, yoga, physical activity, psychological assistance, beta-blockers) to prevent or relieve ongoing cardiac damage.

Whilst urban-dwelling individuals who seek out parks and gardens appear to intuitively understand the personal health and well-being benefits arising from ‘contact with nature’, public health strategies are yet to maximize the untapped resource nature provides, including the benefits of nature contact as an upstream health promotion interven- tion for populations. This paper presents a summary of empirical, theoretical and anecdotal evidence drawn from a literature review of the human health benefits of contact with nature. Initial findings indicate that nature plays a vital role in human health and well-being, and that parks and nature reserves play a significant role by providing access to nature for individuals. Implications suggest contact with nature may provide an effective population-wide strategy in prevention of mental ill health, with potential application for sub-populations, communit- ies and individuals at higher risk of ill health. Recommenda- tions include further investigation of ‘contact with nature’ in population health, and examination of the benefits of nature-based interventions. To maximize use of ‘contact with nature’ in the health promotion of populations, collab- orative strategies between researchers and primary health, social services, urban planning and environmental manage- ment sectors are required. This approach offers not only an augmentation of existing health promotion and prevention activities, but provides the basis for a socio-ecological approach to public health that incorporates environmental sustainability.

The present study examines the relationships between mindfulness and rumination, repetitive negative thinking, and depressive symptoms, employing a newly developed paradigm for the assessment of mindfulness. Derived from a central exercise of mindfulness-based interventions, 42 undergraduates were asked to observe their breath for about 18 min. Within this time period, they were prompted 22 times at irregular intervals to indicate whether they had lost mindful contact with their breath as a result of mind wandering. The results show negative correlations between the degree of the ability to stay mindfully in contact with the breath and measures of rumination, repetitive negative thinking, and depression. Moreover, positive associations with self-report data of mindfulness and a negative relationship to fear of bodily sensations support the construct validity of our new approach for the assessment of mindfulness. In summary, findings suggest the healthy quality of mindful breathing regarding depression-related processes.

The present study examines the relationships between mindfulness and rumination, repetitive negative thinking, and depressive symptoms, employing a newly developed paradigm for the assessment of mindfulness. Derived from a central exercise of mindfulness-based interventions, 42 undergraduates were asked to observe their breath for about 18 min. Within this time period, they were prompted 22 times at irregular intervals to indicate whether they had lost mindful contact with their breath as a result of mind wandering. The results show negative correlations between the degree of the ability to stay mindfully in contact with the breath and measures of rumination, repetitive negative thinking, and depression. Moreover, positive associations with self-report data of mindfulness and a negative relationship to fear of bodily sensations support the construct validity of our new approach for the assessment of mindfulness. In summary, findings suggest the healthy quality of mindful breathing regarding depression-related processes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

"This is the text that preservice teachers will take into practice and practicing teachers will turn to again and again to improve classroom culture and learning, with clear guidelines for essential SEL and academic linkages, a wealth of selective extensive teaching resources in multiple media and feedback from real teachers who have adopted this work in their classrooms"--

Neuroscientist Richard Davidson presents his research on how social and emotional learning can affect the brain. Read more about the topic, including how to use social and emotional learning to stop bullying, on our Edutopia website: http://www.edutopia.org/social-emotio...

"A call to advance integrative teaching and learning in higher education. From Parker Palmer, best-selling author of The Courage to Teach, and Arthur Zajonc, professor of physics at Amherst College and director of the academic program of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, comes this call to revisit the roots and reclaim the vision of higher education. The Heart of Higher Education proposes an approach to teaching and learning that honors the whole human being--mind, heart, and spirit--an essential integration if we hope to address the complex issues of our time. The book offers a rich interplay of analysis, theory, and proposals for action from two educators and writers who have contributed to developing the field of integrative education over the past few decades. Presents Parker Palmer's powerful response to critics of holistic learning and Arthur Zajonc's elucidation of the relationship between science, the humanities, and the contemplative traditions. Explores ways to take steps toward making colleges and universities places that awaken the deepest potential in students, faculty, and staff. Offers a practical approach to fostering renewal in higher education through collegiality and conversation. The Heart of Higher Education is for all who are new to the field of holistic education, all who want to deepen their understanding of its challenges, and all who want to practice and promote this vital approach to teaching and learning on their campuses"--Provided by publisher.

A call to advance integrative teaching and learning in higher education. From Parker Palmer, best-selling author of The Courage to Teach, and Arthur Zajonc, professor of physics at Amherst College and director of the academic program of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, comes this call to revisit the roots and reclaim the vision of higher education. The Heart of Higher Education proposes an approach to teaching and learning that honors the whole human being--mind, heart, and spirit--an essential integration if we hope to address the complex issues of our time. The book offers a rich interplay of analysis, theory, and proposals for action from two educators and writers who have contributed to developing the field of integrative education over the past few decades. Presents Parker Palmer's powerful response to critics of holistic learning and Arthur Zajonc's elucidation of the relationship between science, the humanities, and the contemplative traditions. Explores ways to take steps toward making colleges and universities places that awaken the deepest potential in students, faculty, and staff. Offers a practical approach to fostering renewal in higher education through collegiality and conversation. The Heart of Higher Education is for all who are new to the field of holistic education, all who want to deepen their understanding of its challenges, and all who want to practice and promote this vital approach to teaching and learning on their campuses

<p>The dynamic interactions among physiological rhythms imbedded in the heart rate signal can give valuable insights into autonomic modulation in conditions of reduced outward attention. Therefore, in this study we analyzed the heart rate variability (HRV) in different levels of practice in Zen meditation (Zazen). Nineteen subjects with variable experience took part in this study. In four special cases we collected both HRV and respiration data. The time series were analyzed in frequency domain and also using the Continuous Wavelet Transform, which detects changes in the time domain and in the frequency domain simultaneously. The shifts in the respiratory modulation of heart rate, or respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), reflect the different levels of practice among practitioners with variable experience in Zazen; in turn the modulation of the RSA may reflect changes in the breathing pattern as in the parasympathetic outflow related to the quality and focus of attention in each stage.</p>
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Cardiac vagal tone can be seen as a stable marker for the ability to sustain attention and regulate emotion, two factors associated with the quality of meditation. In this study, heart rate variability (HRV) has been monitored in different forms of Shamatha quiescence meditation: three breath meditations, Settling the Mind in its natural state, Awareness of Awareness, Loving-kindness and Tonglen. Establish and test a practical means of monitoring neurobiological effects of meditation. Over 6 weeks, two experimental groups practiced Shamatha meditation on a daily basis (n = 20). HRV patterns and cortisol tests were monitored at three measuring points during these weeks, and an attention focus test was performed at the start and after 6 weeks. Six weeks of regular practice in Shamatha meditation were associated with HRV indices suggesting improvements in the homeostatic regulation of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) in 85% of the HRV recordings (tachogram and frequency specter) of all 20 subjects. Further, a substantial decrease in cortisol levels was also noted. The attention focus test showed a significant increase of 18.7% in sustained attention, moving from medium to high attention focus, with a significant result of t(20) = - 8.764 and p < 0.001. Participants reported positive subjective changes in attention focus, sense of happiness and calmness and increased abilities in emotional regulation and attunement. Six weeks of regular practice in Shamatha meditation contributes to a substantial increase of attention focus and a decrease in stress levels evidenced in changes in diurnal cortisol measures. HRV biofeedback shows that the sympathetic nervous system is counterbalanced by increased vagal tone, and autonomic balance is enhanced by all Shamatha meditations, not only breath meditations, but also mind meditations: Settling the Mind in its natural state, Awareness of Awareness, Loving-kindness and Tonglen. Although these results are promising, further research is recommended with HRV biofeedback instruments to report statistical analysis and to understand unique HRV patterns in Shamatha mind meditation.

Cardiac vagal tone can be seen as a stable marker for the ability to sustain attention and regulate emotion, two factors associated with the quality of meditation. In this study, heart rate variability (HRV) has been monitored in different forms of Shamatha quiescence meditation: three breath meditations, Settling the Mind in its natural state, Awareness of Awareness, Loving-kindness and Tonglen. Establish and test a practical means of monitoring neurobiological effects of meditation. Over 6 weeks, two experimental groups practiced Shamatha meditation on a daily basis (n = 20). HRV patterns and cortisol tests were monitored at three measuring points during these weeks, and an attention focus test was performed at the start and after 6 weeks. Six weeks of regular practice in Shamatha meditation were associated with HRV indices suggesting improvements in the homeostatic regulation of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) in 85% of the HRV recordings (tachogram and frequency specter) of all 20 subjects. Further, a substantial decrease in cortisol levels was also noted. The attention focus test showed a significant increase of 18.7% in sustained attention, moving from medium to high attention focus, with a significant result of t(20) = - 8.764 and p < 0.001. Participants reported positive subjective changes in attention focus, sense of happiness and calmness and increased abilities in emotional regulation and attunement. Six weeks of regular practice in Shamatha meditation contributes to a substantial increase of attention focus and a decrease in stress levels evidenced in changes in diurnal cortisol measures. HRV biofeedback shows that the sympathetic nervous system is counterbalanced by increased vagal tone, and autonomic balance is enhanced by all Shamatha meditations, not only breath meditations, but also mind meditations: Settling the Mind in its natural state, Awareness of Awareness, Loving-kindness and Tonglen. Although these results are promising, further research is recommended with HRV biofeedback instruments to report statistical analysis and to understand unique HRV patterns in Shamatha mind meditation.

Day time activities are known to influence the sleep on the following night. Cyclic meditation (CM) has recurring cycles. Previously, the low frequency (LF) power and the ratio between low frequency and high frequency (LF/HF ratio) of the heart rate variability (HRV) decreased during and after CM but not after a comparable period of supine rest (SR). In the present study, on thirty male volunteers, CM was practiced twice in the day and after this the HRV was recorded (1) while awake and (2) during 6 h of sleep (based on EEG, EMG and EGG recordings). This was similarly recorded for the night’s sleep following the day time practice of SR. Participants were randomly assigned to the two sessions and all of them practiced both CM and SR on different days. During the night following day time CM practice there were the following changes; a decrease in heart rate, LF power (n.u.), LF/HF ratio, and an increase in the number of pairs of Normal to Normal RR intervals differing by more than 50 ms divided by total number of all NN intervals (pNN50) (P < 0.05, in all cases, comparing sleep following CM compared with sleep following SR). No change was seen on the night following SR. Hence yoga practice during the day appears to shift sympatho-vagal balance in favor of parasympathetic dominance during sleep on the following night.

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and respiratory sinus arrhythmia are directly associated with autonomic flexibility, self-regulation and well-being, and inversely associated with physiological stress, psychological stress and pathology. Yoga enhances autonomic activity, mitigates stress and benefits stress-related clinical conditions, yet the relationship between autonomic activity and psychophysiological responses during yoga practices and stressful stimuli has not been widely explored. This experimental study explored the relationship between HRV, mood states and flow experiences in regular yoga practitioners (YP), non-yoga practitioners (NY) and people with metabolic syndrome (MetS), during Mental Arithmetic Stress Test (MAST) and various yoga practices. The study found that the MAST placed a cardio-autonomic burden in all participants with the YP group showing the greatest reactivity and the most rapid recovery, while the MetS group had significantly blunted recovery. The YP group also reported a heightened experience of flow and positive mood states compared to NY and MetS groups as well as having a higher vagal tone during all resting conditions. These results suggest yoga practitioners have a greater homeostatic capacity and autonomic, metabolic and physiological resilience. Further studies are now needed to determine if regular yoga practice may improve autonomic flexibility in non-yoga practitioners and metabolic syndrome patients. Clinical Trial No 'ACTRN 2614001075673'.

Amidst the doom and gloom that dominates the headlines, a different kind of story about an alternative future is unfolding. The players are activists, visionaries and cultural innovators, the backdrop is the tipping point of our global and environmental challenges, and the narrative is the molding of a new paradigm to shape our collective future.


The first yoga text to outline a step-by-step sequence for developing a complete practice according to viniyoga--yoga adapted to the needs of the individual.• A contemporary classic by a world-renowned teacher. • This new edition adds thirty-two poems by Krishnamacharya that capture the essence of his teachings. Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who lived to be over 100 years old, was one of the greatest yogis of the modern era. Elements of Krishnamacharya's teaching have become well known around the world through the work of B. K. S. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, and Indra Devi, who all studied with Krishnamacharya. Krishnamacharya's son T. K. V. Desikachar lived and studied with his father all his life and now teaches the full spectrum of Krishnamacharya's yoga. Desikachar has based his method on Krishnamacharya's fundamental concept of viniyoga, which maintains that practices must be continually adapted to the individual's changing needs to achieve the maximum therapeutic value. In The Heart of Yoga Desikachar offers a distillation of his father's system as well as his own practical approach, which he describes as "a program for the spine at every level--physical, mental, and spiritual." This is the first yoga text to outline a step-by-step sequence for developing a complete practice according to the age-old principles of yoga. Desikachar discusses all the elements of yoga--poses and counterposes, conscious breathing, meditation, and philosophy--and shows how the yoga student may develop a practice tailored to his or her current state of health, age, occupation, and lifestyle.

OBJECTIVE: Cortisol reactivity to stress is associated with affective eating, an important behavioral risk factor for obesity and related metabolic diseases. Yoga practice is related to decreases in stress and cortisol levels, thus emerging as a potential targeted complementary intervention for affective eating. This randomized controlled trial examined the efficacy of a heated, hatha yoga intervention for reducing cortisol reactivity to stress and affective eating. METHOD: Females (N = 52; ages 25-46 years; 75% White) at risk for obesity and related illnesses were randomly assigned to 8 weeks of Bikram Yoga practice or to waitlist control. Cortisol reactivity to a laboratory stress induction were measured at Weeks 0 (pretreatment) and 9 (posttreatment). Self-reported binge eating frequency and coping motives for eating were assessed at Weeks 0, 3, 6, and 9. RESULTS: Among participants with elevated cortisol reactivity at pretreatment ("high reactors"), those randomized to the yoga condition evidenced greater pre- to posttreatment reductions in cortisol reactivity (p = .042, d = .85), but there were not significant condition differences for the "low reactors" (p = .178, d = .53). Yoga participants reported greater decreases in binge eating frequency (p = .040, d = .62) and eating to cope with negative affect (p = .038, d = .54). CONCLUSIONS: This study provides preliminary support for the efficacy of heated hatha yoga for treating physiological stress reactivity and affective eating among women at risk for obesity-related illnesses. (PsycINFO Database Record

We present a new subcortical structure shape modeling framework using heat kernel smoothing constructed with the Laplace-Beltrami eigenfunctions. The cotan discretization is used to numerically obtain the eigenfunctions of the Laplace-Beltrami operator along the surface of subcortical structures of the brain. The eigenfunctions are then used to construct the heat kernel and used in smoothing out measurements noise along the surface. The proposed framework is applied in investigating the influence of age (38-79 years) and gender on amygdala and hippocampus shape. We detected a significant age effect on hippocampus in accordance with the previous studies. In addition, we also detected a significant gender effect on amygdala. Since we did not find any such differences in the traditional volumetric methods, our results demonstrate the benefit of the current framework over traditional volumetric methods.
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