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The beneficial clinical effects of mindfulness practices are receiving increasing support from empirical studies. However, the functional neural mechanisms underlying these benefits have not been thoroughly investigated. Some authors suggest that mindfulness should be described as a ‘top–down’ emotion regulation strategy, while others suggest that mindfulness should be described as a ‘bottom–up’ emotion regulation strategy. Current discrepancies might derive from the many different descriptions and applications of mindfulness. The present review aims to discuss current descriptions of mindfulness and the relationship existing between mindfulness practice and most commonly investigated emotion regulation strategies. Recent results from functional neuro-imaging studies investigating mindfulness training within the context of emotion regulation are presented. We suggest that mindfulness training is associated with ‘top–down’ emotion regulation in short-term practitioners and with ‘bottom–up’ emotion regulation in long-term practitioners. Limitations of current evidence and suggestions for future research on this topic are discussed.

After years of meditating, are you still saddled with many of the same personal conflicts and interpersonal inhibitions that plagued you before you began? Rubin explores the hidden flaws in the meditative method itself. He explores Buddhism's ambivalent relationship to emotional life, and the negative consequences of "letting go" of experience. Detaching from experience may result in renouncing vital aspects of ourselves, such as constructive passion. The author argues that real meditation is transformative not tranquilizing, fostering a dynamic way of living.

Most research on the impact of mind-body training does not ask about participants' baseline experience, expectations, or preferences for training. To better plan participant-centered mind-body intervention trials for nurses to reduce occupational stress, such descriptive information would be valuable.

Objective  To explore participants’ experience in placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials (RCTs) specifically in relationship to their expectations. Background  Aspects of being in RCTs, such as informed consent, perception of benefit and understanding of randomization, have been examined. In contrast, little is known concerning the formation of patient expectations before and during trials. Methods  Qualitative methods using in-depth interviews with a semi-structured interview guide of nine patients from four different RCTs. Data analysis was conducted using a codebook format arranging participant responses under broad analytical headings. The interviewer used a semi-structured interview guide to direct the conversation from one broad topic to the next within the context of the ongoing conversation. A checklist of topics encouraged participants to describe their experiences in RCTs. Narratives concerning expectation, blinding and placebo  were compared  to  identify  common  themes. Results  Patient anticipatory processes were influenced and modified both before and during the trial from multiple inputs. Such factors as past experiences in RCTs, past experiences of ineffective treatment, stress of being off regular medications, fear of being a ‘placebo responder’, input of non-study doctors or other health professionals, the experience of other participants, measurements of health parameters made during the trial and the presence or absence of side-effects all   affected   patient   expectation. Conclusion  Expectations in RCTs are not fixed and instead may be viewed as continuously shaped by multiple inputs that include experience and information received both before and during the trial. Variability in placebo response observed in previous studies may be related to the fluid nature of expectations. Trying to control and equalize expectations in RCTs may be more difficult than previously assumed.
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The aim of this article is to investigate how a contemplative orientation to teaching may facilitate wholeness for teachers and students through a portrait of Diana, a kindergarten teacher working in a contemplative elementary school. The portrait, one of three portraits from a larger study, illustrates three central features of contemplative teaching: compassion, integrity, and mindful awareness. These three central features develop internally within individual teachers and are animated and influenced externally through their role as teachers. The context of their teaching, relationships with students, parents, and colleagues, and pedagogical choices, in turn influence the three central features. The emphasis on wholeness, unity, and integration of a contemplative orientation to teaching moves us toward a view of teachers and students as beings with not only minds and heads but also hearts and bodies. Contemplative teaching offers educational communities a path toward transformational, holistic, and integrative learning and teaching.

The effectiveness of meditation as a tool to recover from stress has already been widely established. However, less is known about the potential psychological mediating and moderating mechanisms affecting its effectiveness. The present study aimed to advance insight in this respect by examining the mediating role of the recovery experiences "relaxation", "mastery", and "detachment", and by studying the moderating role of intrinsic motivation. To this purpose, after completion of a stress-inducing speech preparation task, 100 participants were randomly assigned to either a 15-minute guided imagery meditation exercise or to a 15-minute radio interview on meditation. Subjectively experienced stress and serenity were included as measures of (recovery from) stress. These measures were completed after the speech preparation task and after the meditation exercise/radio interview. Results showed that participants who meditated reported a larger increase in serenity and decrease in subjectively experienced stress than those who listened to the radio fragment. Furthermore, it turned out that this superior effect of meditation could be partly explained by the mediating effects of "relaxation" and "mastery" (but not "detachment"). The recovery effects of meditation were also stronger for participants who were highly intrinsically motivated for this activity. Altogether, results of this study provide insight into the underlying mediating and moderating mechanisms that explain the effectiveness of meditation as a recovery activity.
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The theme of this edition of the "Journal of Experimental Education" is "new perspectives" on motivation. As understood in this article, new perspectives means synthesis and new understanding of old ideas about motivation rather than outright abandonment of accepted thinking. This article has both a theoretical and an empirical objective: First, and theoretically, a new conceptual model of self-regulation, reflective intentionality, in which motivation to act is based heavily on one's conception of self and on higher order processes--specifically reflective self-awareness, emotion, and volition--is described. Second, findings are presented from a study that represents the seminal stages of a program of research to validate the proposed model. The findings tentatively suggest the value of a process-content view of motivation. According to this view, motivation can be understood as being a self-determining process emanating out of the ongoing self-regulatory interaction among self as process (i.e., levels of consciousness, emotion, and volition), the self as content (i.e., self-conception), and the environment. When this ongoing self-regulatory interaction involves higher order consciousness, one's motivation is reflectively intentional.

This exploratory study examined differences in normal narcissism between mindfulness meditation practitioners (n = 76), comprised of men (30%) and women (70%) between the ages of 18 and 79, and a control group (n = 36) of nonmeditators with spiritual interests, comprised of men (19%) and women (81%) between the ages of 31 and 78. Normal narcissism was defined as a concentration of psychological interest upon the representational self (i.e., ego-identity). Quantitative analysis was conducted using the Kruskal-Wallis ANOVA and Fisher's Least Significant Differences (LSD) test. The study's measures included (a) the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) measuring normal, overt narcissism and (b) the Transpersonally Oriented Narcissism Questionnaire (TONQ)--a piloted measure of normal narcissism designed to assess overt, covert, and transformative aspects of 4 core narcissistic features: (a) self-centeredness, (b) grandiosity, (c) need-for-mirroring/admiration, and (d) emptiness. Quantitative results are informed by qualitative analysis utilizing heuristic, hermeneutical, and phenomenological principles. Results indicate no differences in NPI scores among the various meditator variables: (a) years of practice, (b) amount of meditation per week, (c) duration of meditation per sitting, and (d) retreat experience or between meditators ( n = 76) and control (n = 36). Differences exist among all 4 meditator variables (a) - (d) and control group regarding (a) overall transformation of narcissism, (b) emptiness as the ultimate potential (e.g., sunnata), and (c) self-centeredness, with controls having higher means than meditators on overall narcissism-transformation and narcissistic emptiness, and lower means on self-centeredness subscales. Differences exist between 3 meditator variables and control regarding narcissistic emptiness, with controls having higher means than meditators. Differences exist between 2 meditator variables and control regarding transforming grandiosity, where controls report higher means than meditators. This exploratory research demonstrates that the transpersonal study of narcissism is possible despite the many methodological complications and numerous theoretical questions it raises.

Human beings can be proactive and engaged or, alternatively, passive and alienated, largely as a function of the social conditions in which they develop and function. Accordingly, research guided by self-determination theory has focused on the social–contextual conditions that facilitate versus forestall the natural processes of self-motivation and healthy psychological development. Specifically, factors have been examined that enhance versus undermine intrinsic motivation, self-regulation, and well-being. The findings have led to the postulate of three innate psychological needs—competence, autonomy, and relatedness—which when satisfied yield enhanced self-motivation and mental health and when thwarted lead to diminished motivation and well-being. Also considered is the significance of these psychological needs and processes within domains such as health care, education, work, sport, religion, and psychotherapy.

A humanistic and transpersonal approach to personal growth necessitates careful inquiry into the often pathological world of egoistic functioning—where the psyche is engaged in a continual, defensive, and ruminative effort to assert the uniqueness, power, and positivity of an independent symbolic self. This article describes narrative research, conducted at the beginning of several undergraduate courses in personality theory, in which students (n = 229) were encouraged to introspect into the process of objectifying and evaluating the self. After undergoing brief mindfulness training, individuals spent 1 week journaling about salient upward and downward social comparisons, with particular attention to those experiences that triggered strong feelings of inferiority and superiority. Prototypic journal passages are quoted to illustrate central findings. Participants expressed a remarkably intense array of self-evaluative episodes, particularly along the dimensions of physical appearance and intellect. Discussion focuses on the very high frequency of social comparisons reported, the cyclical nature of self-evaluation and its implications for persistent suffering, and the spontaneous experiences of insight into ego transcendence and deeper levels of self-awareness. This work advances the humanistic project by detailing a novel mechanism for facilitating self-realization in an educational context.

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