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S. L. Shapiro and colleagues (2006) have described a testable theory of the mechanisms of mindfulness and how it affects positive change. They describe a model in which mindfulness training leads to a fundamental change in relationship to experience (reperceiving), which leads to changes in self-regulation, values clarification, cognitive and behavioral flexibility, and exposure. These four variables, in turn, result in salutogenic outcomes. Analyses of responses from participants in a mindfulness-based stress-reduction program did not support the mediating effect of changes in reperceiving on the relationship of mindfulness with those four variables. However, when mindfulness and reperceiving scores were combined, partial support was found for the mediating effect of the four variables on measures of psychological distress. Issues arising in attempts to test the proposed theory are discussed, including the description of the model variables and the challenges to their assessment. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Clin Psychol 65: 1–14, 2009.

A number of issues important to the clinical utility of mindfulness require systematic study. These include the most parsimonious definition of mindfulness for clinical purposes, how mindfulness is best described to be most approachable to patients, and the extent to which mindfulness shares common mechanisms with other mind-body programs. The discussion includes a brief review of the transition of mindfulness from traditional into clinical settings as well as the components commonly contained within clinical descriptions of mindfulness. A model based on facility in the use of attention is proposed, and a description of mechanisms by which attentional skill may lead to the recognition of internal associational processes and account for psychological outcomes is given. Using constructs already familiar to patients, an attention-based conception may also be more accessible to patients than more elaborate descriptions and have greater utility in identifying commonalities that mindfulness training may have with other mind-body programs.

The mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program was designed to be long enough for participants to grasp the principles of self-regulation through mindfulness and develop skill and autonomy in mindfulness practice. It traditionally consists of 26 hours of session time including eight classes of 2-1/2 hours and an all-day class. The circumstances of some groups exclude them from participating in this standard form and a number of trials have evaluated programs with abbreviated class time. If lower program time demands can lead to similar outcomes in psychological functioning, it would support their utility in these settings and might lead to greater participation. However, the effect of variation in class hours on outcomes has not been systematically studied. To obtain preliminary information related to this question we examined effect sizes for psychological outcome variables in published studies of MBSR, some of which had adapted the standard number of class hours. The correlation between mean effect size and number of in-class hours was nonsignificant for both clinical and nonclinical samples and suggests that adaptations that include less class time may be worthwhile for populations for whom reduction of psychological distress is an important goal and for whom longer time commitment may be a barrier to their ability or willingness to participate. However, the standard MBSR format has accrued the most empirical support for its efficacy and session time may be important to the development of other kinds of program outcomes. The result points to the importance of empirical studies systematically examining this question. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Clin Psychol 65: 1–12, 2009.

Therapeutic interventions that incorporate training in mindfulness meditation have become increasingly popular, but to date, little is known about neural mechanisms associated with these interventions. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), one of the most widely used mindfulness training programs, has been reported to produce positive effects on psychological well-being and to ameliorate symptoms of a number of disorders. Here, we report a controlled longitudinal study to investigate pre-post changes in brain gray matter concentration attributable to participation in an MBSR program. Anatomical MRI images from sixteen healthy, meditation-naïve participants were obtained before and after they underwent the eight-week program. Changes in gray matter concentration were investigated using voxel-based morphometry, and compared to a wait-list control group of 17 individuals. Analyses in a priori regions of interest confirmed increases in gray matter concentration within the left hippocampus. Whole brain analyses identified increases in the posterior cingulate cortex, the temporo-parietal junction, and the cerebellum in the MBSR group compared to the controls. The results suggest that participation in MBSR is associated with changes in gray matter concentration in brain regions involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.

Objective Although the relationship between religious practice and health is well established, the relationship between spirituality and health is not as well studied. The objective of this study was to ascertain whether participation in the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program was associated with increases in mindfulness and spirituality, and to examine the associations between mindfulness, spirituality, and medical and psychological symptoms. Methods Forty-four participants in the University of Massachusetts Medical School's MBSR program were assessed preprogram and postprogram on trait (Mindful Attention and Awareness Scale) and state (Toronto Mindfulness Scale) mindfulness, spirituality (Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy—Spiritual Well-Being Scale), psychological distress, and reported medical symptoms. Participants also kept a log of daily home mindfulness practice. Mean changes in scores were computed, and relationships between changes in variables were examined using mixed-model linear regression. Results There were significant improvements in spirituality, state and trait mindfulness, psychological distress, and reported medical symptoms. Increases in both state and trait mindfulness were associated with increases in spirituality. Increases in trait mindfulness and spirituality were associated with decreases in psychological distress and reported medical symptoms. Changes in both trait and state mindfulness were independently associated with changes in spirituality, but only changes in trait mindfulness and spirituality were associated with reductions in psychological distress and reported medical symptoms. No association was found between outcomes and home mindfulness practice. Conclusions Participation in the MBSR program appears to be associated with improvements in trait and state mindfulness, psychological distress, and medical symptoms. Improvements in trait mindfulness and spirituality appear, in turn, to be associated with improvements in psychological and medical symptoms.

Relationships were investigated between home practice of mindfulness meditation exercises and levels of mindfulness, medical and psychological symptoms, perceived stress, and psychological well-being in a sample of 174 adults in a clinical Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. This is an 8- session group program for individuals dealing with stress-related problems, illness, anxiety, and chronic pain. Participants completed measures of mindfulness, perceived stress, symptoms, and well-being at pre- and post-MBSR, and monitored their home practice time throughout the intervention. Results showed increases in mindfulness and well-being, and decreases in stress and symptoms, from pre- to post-MBSR. Time spent engaging in home practice of formal meditation exercises (body scan, yoga, sitting meditation) was significantly related to extent of improvement in most facets of mindfulness and several measures of symptoms and well-being. Increases in mindfulness were found to mediate the relationships between formal mindfulness practice and improvements in psychological functioning, suggesting that the practice of mindfulness meditation leads to increases in mindfulness, which in turn leads to symptom reduction and improved well-being

In this study, the authors both developed and validated a self-report mindfulness measure, the Toronto Mindfulness Scale (TMS). In Study 1, participants were individuals with and without meditation experience. Results showed good internal consistency and two factors, Curiosity and Decentering. Most of the expected relationships with other constructs were as expected. The TMS scores increased with increasing mindfulness meditation experience. In Study 2. criterion and incremental validity of the TMS were investigated on a group of individuals participating in 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction programs. Results showed that TMS scores increased following treatment, and Decentering scores predicted improvements in clinical outcome. Thus, the TMS is a promising measure of the mindfulness state with good psychometric properties and predictive of treatment outcome. Keywords: Toronto Mindfulness Scale; self-report assessment: mindfulness; meditation; psychometric characteristics
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