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Publisher's description: Buddha Mind in Contemporary Art documents the growing presence of Buddhist perspectives in contemporary culture. This shift began in the nineteenth century and is now pervasive in many aspects of everyday experience. In the arts especially, the increasing importance of process over product has promoted a profound change in the relationship between artist and audience. But while artists have been among the most perceptive interpreters of Buddhism in the West, art historians and critics have been slow to develop the intellectual tools to analyze the impact of Buddhist concepts. This timely, multi-faceted volume explores the relationships between Buddhist practice and the contemporary arts in lively essays by writers from a range of disciplines and in revealing interviews with some of the most influential artists of our time. Elucidating the common ground between the creative mind, the perceiving mind, and the meditative mind, the contributors tackle essential questions about the relationship of art and life. Among the writers are curators, art critics, educators, and Buddhist commentators in psychology, literature, and cognitive science. They consider the many Western artists today who recognize the Buddhist notion of emptiness, achieved through focused meditation, as a place of great creative potential for the making and experiencing of art. The artists featured in the interviews, all internationally recognized, include Maya Lin, Bill Viola, and Ann Hamilton. Extending earlier twentieth-century aesthetic interests in blurring the boundaries of art and life, the artists view art as a way of life, a daily practice, in ways parallel to that of the Buddhist practitioner. Their works, woven throughout the book, richly convey how Buddhism has been both a source for and a lens through which we now perceive art.

Objective: The use of mindfulness-based therapy (MBT) in oncology settings has become increasingly popular, and research in the field has rapidly expanded. The objective was by means of a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the current evidence for the effect of MBT on symptoms of anxiety and depression in adult cancer patients and survivors. Method: Electronic databases were searched, and researchers were contacted for further relevant studies. Twenty-two independent studies with a total of 1,403 participants were included. Studies were coded for quality (range: 0–4), and overall effect size analyses were performed separately for nonrandomized studies (K = 13, n = 448) and randomized controlled trials (RCTs; K = 9, n = 955). Effect sizes were combined using the random-effects model. Results: In the aggregated sample of nonrandomized studies (average quality score: 0.5), MBT was associated with significantly reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression from pre- to posttreatment corresponding to moderate effect sizes (Hedges\'s g) of 0.60 and 0.42, respectively. The pooled controlled effect sizes (Hedges\'s g) of RCTs (average quality score: 2.9) were 0.37 for anxiety symptoms (p < .001) and 0.44 for symptoms of depression (p < .001). These effect sizes appeared robust. Furthermore, in RCTs, MBT significantly improved mindfulness skills (Hedges\'s g = 0.39). Conclusion: While the overall quality of existing clinical trials varies considerably, there appears to be some positive evidence from relatively high-quality RCTs to support the use of MBT for cancer patients and survivors with symptoms of anxiety and depression.

We examined the effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) on symptom severity of depression, complicated grief, posttraumatic stress, and working memory in elderly bereaved people with long-term bereavement-related distress. A non-randomized, controlled pilot design was used in a sample of elderly bereaved people (mean age = 77 years) with long-term bereavement-related distress. Results were compared between MBCT intervention group completers (n = 12), intervention group intention to treat (n = 18), and wait list controls (n = 18) at pre- and post-intervention and at a 5-month follow-up. Compared to wait list controls, MBCT reduced depressive symptoms significantly in intervention completers at follow-up (Hedges’ g = 0.84, p = 0.04) with significant interaction between group and time (Hedges’ g = 0.88, p = 0.02). No other significant outcome differences between groups were observed, although the interaction effect on working memory at post-intervention approached a significant level (Hedges’ g = 0.35, p = 0.09). In the wait list group, 29 % had elevated depressive symptoms both before intervention and at follow-up. In the intervention group, 50 % of the completers had elevated depressive symptoms before intervention, but 0 % had elevated symptoms at follow-up. MBCT appears to reduce depressive symptoms in this sample of elderly bereaved people, but further studies of the effects of MBCT in this population are needed for firm conclusions.


The ability to focus one's attention underlies success in many everyday tasks, but voluntary attention cannot be sustained for extended periods of time. In the laboratory, sustained-attention failure is manifest as a decline in perceptual sensitivity with increasing time on task, known as the vigilance decrement. We investigated improvements in sustained attention with training (~ 5 hr/day for 3 months), which consisted of meditation practice that involved sustained selective attention on a chosen stimulus (e.g., the participant's breath). Participants were randomly assigned either to receive training first (n = 30) or to serve as waiting-list controls and receive training second (n = 30). Training produced improvements in visual discrimination that were linked to increases in perceptual sensitivity and improved vigilance during sustained visual attention. Consistent with the resource model of vigilance, these results suggest that perceptual improvements can reduce the resource demand imposed by target discrimination and thus make it easier to sustain voluntary attention.
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The capacity to focus one's attention for an extended period of time can be increased through training in contemplative practices. However, the cognitive processes engaged during meditation that support trait changes in cognition are not well characterized. We conducted a longitudinal wait-list controlled study of intensive meditation training. Retreat participants practiced focused attention (FA) meditation techniques for three months during an initial retreat. Wait-list participants later undertook formally identical training during a second retreat. Dense-array scalp-recorded electroencephalogram (EEG) data were collected during 6 min of mindfulness of breathing meditation at three assessment points during each retreat. Second-order blind source separation, along with a novel semi-automatic artifact removal tool (SMART), was used for data preprocessing. We observed replicable reductions in meditative state-related beta-band power bilaterally over anteriocentral and posterior scalp regions. In addition, individual alpha frequency (IAF) decreased across both retreats and in direct relation to the amount of meditative practice. These findings provide evidence for replicable longitudinal changes in brain oscillatory activity during meditation and increase our understanding of the cortical processes engaged during meditation that may support long-term improvements in cognition.


The high likelihood of recurrence in depression is linked to a progressive increase in emotional reactivity to stress (stress sensitization). Mindfulness-based therapies teach mindfulness skills designed to decrease emotional reactivity in the face of negative affect-producing stressors. The primary aim of the current study was to assess whether Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is efficacious in reducing emotional reactivity to social evaluative threat in a clinical sample with recurrent depression. A secondary aim was to assess whether improvement in emotional reactivity mediates improvements in depressive symptoms. Fifty-two individuals with partially remitted depression were randomized into an 8-week MBCT course or a waitlist control condition. All participants underwent the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) before and after the 8-week trial period. Emotional reactivity to stress was assessed with the Spielberger State Anxiety Inventory at several time points before, during, and after the stressor. MBCT was associated with decreased emotional reactivity to social stress, specifically during the recovery (post-stressor) phase of the TSST. Waitlist controls showed an increase in anticipatory (pre-stressor) anxiety that was absent in the MBCT group. Improvements in emotional reactivity partially mediated improvements in depressive symptoms. Limitations include small sample size, lack of objective or treatment adherence measures, and non-generalizability to more severely depressed populations. Given that emotional reactivity to stress is an important psychopathological process underlying the chronic and recurrent nature of depression, these findings suggest that mindfulness skills are important in adaptive emotion regulation when coping with stress.

Mindfulness-based stress interventions are well suited to reduce the anxiety of clients living with employment uncertainty. With the advent of globalization, increased job flux, and at-will employment policies, feelings of insecurity are becoming more prevalent, contributing to work-related stress (D. L. Blustein, 2006), which in turn is associated with lowered job satisfaction, elevated turnover intentions, and increased cardiovascular risk (C. D. Spielberger, P. R. Vagg, & C. F. Wasala, 2003). Mindfulness, an intentional consciousness learned through meditation, can reduce psychological suffering by reducing the anticipation anxiety experienced by employed workers who face a high degree of employment uncertainty.

Employing data from a mailed survey of a sample of ecologically and spiritually aware respondents (N = 829), the study tests the hypothesized relationship between ecologically sustainable behavior (ESB) and subjective well-being (SWB). The proposed link between ESB and SWB is the spiritual practice of mindfulness meditation (MM). In multiple regression equations ESB and MM independently explain statistically significant amounts of variance in SWB, indicating, for at least the study's sample, that there can be a relationship between personal and planetary well-being. The inter-relationships among SWB, ESB and MM suggest that for specific segments of the general population (e.g., the spiritually inclined) there may not necessarily be an insurmountable conflict between an environmentally responsible lifestyle and personal quality of life. The research reported here also points to the potential for meditative/mindful experiences to play a prominent role in the explanation of variance in SWB, a direction in QoL studies recently highlighted by several researchers (Layard 2005, pp. 189–192; Nettle 2005, pp. 153–160; Haidt 2006).

Yoga contains sub-components related to its physical postures (asana), breathing methods (pranayama), and meditation (dhyana). To test the hypothesis that specific yoga practices are associated with reduced psychological distress, 186 adults completed questionnaires assessing life stressors, symptom severity, and experience with each of these aspects of yoga. Each yoga sub-component was found to be negatively correlated with psychological distress indices. However, differing patterns of relationship to psychological distress symptoms were found for each yoga sub-component. Experience with asana was negatively correlated with global psychological distress (r = −.21, p < .01), and symptoms of anxiety (r = −.18, p = .01) and depression (r = −.17, p = .02). These relationships remained statistically significant after accounting for variance attributable to Social Readjustment Rating Scale scores (GSI: r = −.19, p = .01; BSI Anxiety: r = −.16, p = .04; BSI Depression: r = −.14, p = .05). By contrast, the correlations between other yoga sub-components and symptom subscales became non-significant after accounting for exposure to life stressors. Moreover, stressful life events moderated the predictive relationship between amount of asana experience and depressive symptoms. Asana was not related to depressive symptoms at low levels of life stressors, but became associated at mean (t[182] = −2.73, p < .01) and high levels (t[182] = −3.56, p < .001). Findings suggest asana may possess depressive symptom reduction benefits, particularly as life stressors increase. Additional research is needed to differentiate whether asana has an effect on psychological distress, and to better understand potential psychophysiological mechanisms of action.

BackgroundThe investigation of treatment mechanisms in randomized controlled trials has considerable clinical and theoretical relevance. Despite the empirical support for the effect of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) in the treatment of recurrent major depressive disorder (MDD), the specific mechanisms by which MBCT leads to therapeutic change remain unclear. Objective By means of a systematic review we evaluate how the field is progressing in its empirical investigation of mechanisms of change in MBCT for recurrent MDD. Method To identify relevant studies, a systematic search was conducted. Studies were coded and ranked for quality. Results The search produced 476 articles, of which 23 were included. In line with the theoretical premise, 12 studies found that alterations in mindfulness, rumination, worry, compassion, or meta-awareness were associated with, predicted or mediated MBCT's effect on treatment outcome. In addition, preliminary studies indicated that alterations in attention, memory specificity, self-discrepancy, emotional reactivity and momentary positive and negative affect might play a role in how MBCT exerts its clinical effects. Conclusion The results suggest that MBCT could work through some of the MBCT model's theoretically predicted mechanisms. However, there is a need for more rigorous designs that can assess greater levels of causal specificity.

BACKGROUND: Many anecdotes and several uncontrolled case series have suggested that emotionally stressful events, and more specifically, anger, immediately precede and appear to trigger the onset of acute myocardial infarction. However, controlled studies to determine the relative risk of myocardial infarction after episodes of anger have not been reported. METHODS AND RESULTS: We interviewed 1623 patients (501 women) an average of 4 days after myocardial infarction. The interview identified the time, place, and quality of myocardial infarction pain and other symptoms, the estimated usual frequency of anger during the previous year, and the intensity and timing of anger and other potentially triggering factors during the 26 hours before the onset of myocardial infarction. Anger was assessed by the onset anger scale, a single-item, seven-level, self-report scale, and the state anger subscale of the State-Trait Personality Inventory. Occurrence of anger in the 2 hours preceding the onset of myocardial infarction was compared with its expected frequency using two types of self-matched control data based on the case-crossover study design. The onset anger scale identified 39 patients with episodes of anger in the 2 hours before the onset of myocardial infarction. The relative risk of myocardial infarction in the 2 hours after an episode of anger was 2.3 (95% confidence interval, 1.7 to 3.2). The state anger subscale corroborated these findings with a relative risk of 1.9 (95% confidence interval, 1.3 to 2.7). Regular users of aspirin had a significantly lower relative risk (1.4; 95% confidence interval, 0.8 to 2.6) than nonusers (2.9; 95% confidence interval, 2.0 to 4.1) (P<.05). CONCLUSIONS: Episodes of anger are capable of triggering the onset of acute myocardial infarction, but aspirin may reduce this risk. A better understanding of the manner in which external events trigger the onset of acute cardiovascular events may lead to innovative preventive strategies aimed at severing the link between these external stressors and their pathological consequences.
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