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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.

The great variety of meditation techniques found in different contemplative traditions presents a challenge when attempting to create taxonomies based on the constructs of contemporary cognitive sciences. In the current issue of Consciousness and Cognition, Travis and Shear add ‘automatic self-transcending’ to the previously proposed categories of ‘focused attention’ and ‘open monitoring’, and suggest characteristic EEG bands as the defining criteria for each of the three categories. Accuracy of current taxonomies and potential limitations of EEG measurements as classifying criteria are discussed.

Experienced Qigong meditators who regularly perform the exercises “Thinking of Nothing” and “Qigong” were studied with multichannel EEG source imaging during their meditations. The intracerebral localization of brain electric activity during the two meditation conditions was compared using sLORETA functional EEG tomography. Differences between conditions were assessed using t statistics (corrected for multiple testing) on the normalized and log-transformed current density values of the sLORETA images. In the EEG alpha-2 frequency, 125 voxels differed significantly; all were more active during “Qigong” than “Thinking of Nothing,” forming a single cluster in parietal Brodmann areas 5, 7, 31, and 40, all in the right hemisphere. In the EEG beta-1 frequency, 37 voxels differed significantly; all were more active during “Thinking of Nothing” than “Qigong,” forming a single cluster in prefrontal Brodmann areas 6, 8, and 9, all in the left hemisphere. Compared to combined initial–final no-task resting, “Qigong” showed activation in posterior areas whereas “Thinking of Nothing” showed activation in anterior areas. The stronger activity of posterior (right) parietal areas during “Qigong” and anterior (left) prefrontal areas during “Thinking of Nothing” may reflect a predominance of self-reference, attention and input-centered processing in the “Qigong” meditation, and of control-centered processing in the “Thinking of Nothing” meditation.

The aim of this study was to investigate the Effects of Muslim Praying Meditation (MPM) and Transcendental Meditation (TM) Program on Mindfulness among the University of Nizwa students. The sample of the study consisted of (354) students. The questionnaires of MPM (Al-Kushooa) and Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS) were applied before training to answer the first question, while the KIMS only was applied again as posttesting after 3 months of training on TM. The results showed that there is a relationship between MPM (Al-Ku- shooa) and KIMS which means that MPM can predicting the (KIMS) in prevalence of 0.61. The results also revealed an effect for (TM) in enhancing the level of KIMS after 3 months of training.

Research in mindfulness-based methods with young people is just emerging in the practice/research literature. While much of this literature describes promising approaches that combine mindfulness with cognitive-behavioral therapy, this paper describes an innovative research-based group program that teaches young people in need mindfulness-based methods using arts-based methods. The paper presents qualitative research findings that illustrate how young people in need (children and youth involved with child protection and/or mental health systems) can benefit from a creative approach to mindfulness that can teach them emotional regulation, social and coping skills, and that can improve aspects of their self-awareness, self-esteem, and resilience.

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.
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Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE) is a professional development program designed to reduce stress and improve teachers' performance. Two pilot studies examined program feasibility and attractiveness and preliminary evidence of efficacy. Study 1 involved educators from a high-poverty urban setting (n = 31). Study 2 involved student teachers and 10 of their mentors working in a suburban/semi-rural setting (n = 43) (treatment and control groups). While urban educators showed significant pre-post improvements in mindfulness and time urgency, the other sample did not, suggesting that CARE may be more efficacious in supporting teachers working in high-risk settings. (Contains 2 tables, 1 figure and 1 footnote.)

We discuss preliminary findings from a study that investigated the effectiveness of a Holistic Arts-Based Group Program (HAP) for the development of resilience in children in need. The HAP teaches mindfulness using arts-based methods, and aims to teach children how to understand their feelings and develop their strengths. We assessed the effectiveness of the HAP by using comparison and control groups, and standardized measures. We hypothesized that children who participated in the HAP would have better scores on resilience and self-concept compared with children who took part in an Arts and Crafts group (the comparison group), and children who were waiting to attend the HAP (the control group). A total of 36 children participated in the study; 20 boys aged 8–13 years and 16 girls aged 8–14 years. A mixed-designed MANOVA was conducted using scores from 21 participants. We found evidence that the HAP program was beneficial for the children in that they self-reported lower emotional reactivity (a resilience measure) post-intervention. No changes were noted for perceptions of self-concept. Consideration should be given to how we can attend to young people’s needs in relevant ways as resilience is a condition of a community’s ability to provide resources as much as it is part of an individual’s capacity for growth. Programs such as the HAP can engage children in a creative and meaningful process that is enjoyable and strengths-based.
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Objectives: Past research of the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) lacks clear results regarding its factorial validity, item fitting, mindfulness in the general population, and on the higher order structure of mindfulness. We derived an alternative two-factor higher order structure for the FFMQ, delineating the attentional and experiential aspects of mindfulness. Method: Data of 640 persons from the Austrian community were used for primary analyses, and data of 333 Austrian students were used for cross-validation. Confirmatory analyses and exploratory structural equation modeling (ESEM) were utilized to investigate psychometric and structural properties. Associations with related variables and indicators of mental health were examined. Results: Confirmatory models fitted only poorly on the full 39-item FFMQ. Fit was acceptable in an abridged 20-item version in both samples. The Nonreact scale had only weak psychometric properties. ESEM analyses suggested a good fit of two higher order factors and revealed structural differences between the samples. Beneficial effects of mindfulness appeared to be uniquely associated with the experiential aspects of mindfulness. Strategies of emotion regulation showed differential associations with the two higher order factors in the two samples. Conclusions: Our findings are relevant both with regard to conceptual issues on mindfulness and the assessment of mindfulness with the FFMQ. Replications in meditating samples and in patients are needed.
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Little is known about placebo effects with scientific precision. Poor methodology has confounded our understanding of the magnitude and even the existence of the placebo effect. Investigating placebo effects presents special research challenges including: the design of appropriate controls for studying placebo effects including separating such effects from natural history and regression to the mean, the need for large sample sizes to capture expected small effects, and the need to understand such potential effects from a patient's perspective. This article summarizes the methodology of an ongoing NIH-funded randomized controlled trial aimed at investigating whether the placebo effect in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) exists and whether the magnitude of such an effect can be manipulated to vary in a manner analogous to “dose dependence.” The trial also uses an innovative combination of quantitative and qualitative methods.
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The union of samatha (tranquility meditation) and vipasyana (insight meditation) is the unique Buddhist path to deliverance. This dissertation explores various schemes of samatha developed in distinct meditation systems, so as to analyze the different degrees of sam adhi which affect the power of insight in eradication of defilements. The nature of dhyana/jhana is explained quite different in the canonical and commentarial materials of Buddhist schools. How a meditator practices mindfulness of breathing is based on how a meditator interprets what the dhyana/jh ana is. This dissertation provides various possible explanations for the diverse dispositions of meditators in meditation practice. In insight meditation, when consciousness acts with skillful mental qualities, one is able to penetrate the true nature of all physical and mental phenomena; in the cycle of rebirth, consciousness links the present existence and the next. The different roles of consciousness in rebirth, and deliverance are investigated. This dissertation is mainly based on the Chinese Canon to examine key issues in meditation practice, revolving around the significance of tranquility meditation and insight meditation.

Mindfulness-based meditation interventions have become increasingly popular in contemporary psychology. Other closely related meditation practices include loving-kindness meditation (LKM) and compassion meditation (CM), exercises oriented toward enhancing unconditional, positive emotional states of kindness and compassion. This article provides a review of the background, the techniques, and the empirical contemporary literature of LKM and CM. The literature suggests that LKM and CM are associated with an increase in positive affect and a decrease in negative affect. Preliminary findings from neuroendocrine studies indicate that CM may reduce stress-induced subjective distress and immune response. Neuroimaging studies suggest that LKM and CM may enhance activation of brain areas that are involved in emotional processing and empathy. Finally, preliminary intervention studies support application of these strategies in clinical populations. It is concluded that, when combined with empirically supported treatments, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, LKM and CM may provide potentially useful strategies for targeting a variety of different psychological problems that involve interpersonal processes, such as depression, social anxiety, marital conflict, anger, and coping with the strains of long-term caregiving. Highlights ► We review the literature on loving-kindness and compassion meditation. ► Neuroendocrine studies suggest that compassion meditation reduces subjective distress and immune response to stress. ► Neuroimaging studies suggest that both meditation practices enhance activation of emotion centers of the brain. ► Preliminary intervention studies support the application of these strategies in clinical populations. ► We conclude that these techniques are effective for treating social anxiety, marital conflict, anger, and strains of long-term caregiving.

Patients in the placebo arms of randomized controlled trials (RCT) often experience positive changes from baseline. While multiple theories concerning such “placebo effects” exist, peculiarly, none has been informed by actual interviews of patients undergoing placebo treatment. Here, we report on a qualitative study (n = 27) embedded within a RCT (n = 262) in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Besides identical placebo acupuncture treatment in the RCT, the qualitative study patients also received an additional set of interviews at the beginning, midpoint, and end of the trial. Interviews of the 12 qualitative subjects who underwent and completed placebo treatment were transcribed. We found that patients (1) were persistently concerned with whether they were receiving placebo or genuine treatment; (2) almost never endorsed “expectation” of improvement but spoke of “hope” instead and frequently reported despair; (3) almost all reported improvement ranging from dramatic psychosocial changes to unambiguous, progressive symptom improvement to tentative impressions of benefit; and (4) often worried whether their improvement was due to normal fluctuations or placebo effects. The placebo treatment was a problematic perturbation that provided an opportunity to reconstruct the experiences of the fluctuations of their illness and how it disrupted their everyday life. Immersion in this RCT was a co-mingling of enactment, embodiment and interpretation involving ritual performance and evocative symbols, shifts in bodily sensations, symptoms, mood, daily life behaviors, and social interactions, all accompanied by self-scrutiny and re-appraisal. The placebo effect involved a spectrum of factors and any single theory of placebo—e.g. expectancy, hope, conditioning, anxiety reduction, report bias, symbolic work, narrative and embodiment—provides an inadequate model to explain its salubrious benefits.
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Patients in the placebo arms of randomized controlled trials (RCT) often experience positive changes from baseline. While multiple theories concerning such “placebo effects” exist, peculiarly, none has been informed by actual interviews of patients undergoing placebo treatment. Here, we report on a qualitative study (n = 27) embedded within a RCT (n = 262) in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Besides identical placebo acupuncture treatment in the RCT, the qualitative study patients also received an additional set of interviews at the beginning, midpoint, and end of the trial. Interviews of the 12 qualitative subjects who underwent and completed placebo treatment were transcribed. We found that patients (1) were persistently concerned with whether they were receiving placebo or genuine treatment; (2) almost never endorsed “expectation” of improvement but spoke of “hope” instead and frequently reported despair; (3) almost all reported improvement ranging from dramatic psychosocial changes to unambiguous, progressive symptom improvement to tentative impressions of benefit; and (4) often worried whether their improvement was due to normal fluctuations or placebo effects. The placebo treatment was a problematic perturbation that provided an opportunity to reconstruct the experiences of the fluctuations of their illness and how it disrupted their everyday life. Immersion in this RCT was a co-mingling of enactment, embodiment and interpretation involving ritual performance and evocative symbols, shifts in bodily sensations, symptoms, mood, daily life behaviors, and social interactions, all accompanied by self-scrutiny and re-appraisal. The placebo effect involved a spectrum of factors and any single theory of placebo – e.g. expectancy, hope, conditioning, anxiety reduction, report bias, symbolic work, narrative and embodiment – provides an inadequate model to explain its salubrious benefits.
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