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Mechanisms of Mindfulness – Deconstructing the concept into psychological and neurobiological terms

A new paper has come out in the November issue of Perspectives in Psychological Science [Link]

This paper is one of the first to begin deconstructing the concept into component processes for investigation both at the clinical and basic science level. Previous attempts at operationalizing the concept have relied on the most widely cited definition:

paying attention in a particular way, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. This definition comes from Jon Kabat-Zinn‘s book, “Coming to Our Senses” as:

moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness, cultivated by paying attention in a specific way, that is, in the present moment, and as non-reactively, as non-judgmentally, and openheartedly as possible. When it is cultivated intentionally, it is sometimes referred to as deliberate mindfulness. When it spontaneously arises, as it tends to do more and more the more it is cultivated intentionally, it is sometimes referred to as effortless mindfulness.

Other attempts at operationalizing the concept have relied on this definition for a framework. See table below

Here, we unpack the definition by illustrating very specific core neurocognitive processes that appear to be targeted in cultivating mindfulness as a state and trait. These processes are supported by the extant literature with specific neuroanatomical targets as well

I elaborate a bit more on dismantling mindfulness here [Link]

see vol 12 (2011) of Contemporary Buddhism for some great commentary on the difficulty of operationalizing mindfulness [Link]:

  • Dreyfus, G. (2011). “Is mindfulness present-centred and non-judgmental? A discussion of the cognitive dimensions of mindfulness.” Contemporary Buddhism: An Interdisciplinary Journal 12(1): 41 – 54.
  • Dunne, J. (2011). “Toward an understanding of non-dual mindfulness.” Contemporary Buddhism: An Interdisciplinary Journal 12(1): 71 – 88.
  • Williams, J. M. G. and J. Kabat-Zinn (2011). “Mindfulness: diverse perspectives on its meaning, origins, and multiple applications at the intersection of science and dharma.” Contemporary Buddhism: An Interdisciplinary Journal 12(1): 1 –
  • Gethin, R. (2011). “On some definitions of mindfulness.” Contemporary Buddhism: An Interdisciplinary Journal 12(1): 263 – 279.

Many researchers now agree that mindfulness can be thought of as multi-dimensional set of skills that can be developed through the practice of specific types of meditation; however, we need to be careful not to confuse the concept of mindfulness with the common every-day usage of the term and contextualize the concept as a state, trait, type of practice, and intervention.

Media coverage for this paper:

Psych Central: “Meditation improves quality of life” [Link]

Huffington Post: “Why Mindfulness Meditation makes us healthier” [Link]

The Secular Buddhist interviews Dr. Holzel concerning this paper here [Link]

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Some Statistics RE: explosion of research in Contemplative Sciences

Hi all,

Through my work with the Mind and Life Institute, I kept some statistics on the number and types of grants that were being awarded in the area of contemplative science. I also kept track of publication records. Here are some of those statistics (through 2010) to give you a sense of where this field is coming from and the steep slope indicating where it may be going.

Allocation of Grants from NIH - keyterm "meditation"

Allocation of Grants from NIH - keyterm "mindfulness"

Allocation of Grants from NIH - keyterm "yoga"

Peer-reviewed Publications (through 2010)

Peer-reviewed publications as referenced by PubMed (through 2010) is indicated. Pubmed is a division of the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health. It comprises more than 20 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites. The dotted line indicates when the Mind and Life Institute’s Summer Research Institute began in 2004.

NIH Grant funding (through 2010)

The graph above represents the number of grants awarded by the NIH through 2010. The RePorter database reports data and analyses of NIH research activities

The 2011 Mind & Life Summer Research Institute

The Mind & Life Summer Research Institute was yet again a successful week-long venture into the depths of contemplative science. For a description of the program and its purpose see [Link]. For pictures see picasa [Link] or Flikr [Link] and a montage with Ottmar Liebert is on youtube [Link]. (photos by Dave Vago and Dave Womack)

This was my 7th year attending the SRI and every year since 2005, scientists in this field grapple with operationalizing and deconstructing concepts that originate from an incredibly rich and complex historical context – The Buddhist “science of mind” . With an explosion of research and interest in the domain of mindfulness, science has yet to grasp the subtleties surrounding the heterogeneity of meditation practice and specifically those that seemingly cultivate mindfulness as a state, trait, and in terms of clinical interventions.

This year’s theme was devoted to the theme of ”New Frontiers in the Contemplative Sciences.” It was also paying tribute to Franciso Varela, the pioneer of neurophenomenology and the Mind and Life dialogues. A continued in-depth tri-logue has been the prescription that emerges for pushing this emerging field of contemplative science further…a trilogue between scientists, contemplative scholars/practitioners, and academics who have the ability to translate what one perspective or source of information can benefit in dissemination or integration with the other two.  By continuing this trilogue, scientists will better be able to distinguish between what they should be studying, what they think they should be studying, and what they truly are studying….

This also translates to the practitioner him/herself who must distinguish between what he/she is doing while meditating in a specific style of practice, what they think they should be doing while practicing, and what they actually are doing.  John Dunne, a Buddhist contemplative scholar/academic provided one of the more thought provoking presentations by challenging our conceptions of meditation and mindfulness as ‘Black box’ terms. He emphasized, “Historical contexts are not important if people are practicing something else”. Essentially, as scientists in this field, we MUST be absolutely clear what states of mind we are studying when we claim to be studying mindfulness.

More about Pain and Meditation

Can meditation practice eliminate pain? NO, but it can it reduce the emotional intensity in which it is anticipated and experienced!

There have been a few studies up to today (jan. 4, 2012) that have investigated the effects of specific meditative practices that involve the state of mindfulness on the experience of pain. Some studies suggest that pain centers (Anterior cingulate cortex, insular cortex, sensory cortex, pre-frontal cortex) that are normally active during acute pain are significantly reduced in activity while performing specific meditative practices. Other studies show the same reduction during resting brain activity of chronic pain sufferers in response to practicing these meditative states, specifically, and in contrast to allowing one’s mind to wander. These reports typically show increased pre-frontal cortex activity as a regulatory mechanism for suppressing the sensory and affective experience of pain. See this typical report from the BBC:

BBC news on mindfulness

However, there are other reports that suggest meditators are not suppressing the sensory or affective experience of pain, but rather increasing their sensory and affective experience of pain, but without a prolonged, dull, or negative quality. In this case, research is beginning to reveal what may be more akin to equanimity and embodiment, two qualities that typically are cultivated along with mindfulness during specific meditative practices. Equanimity refers to the ability to experience the sensory event fully, with awareness, but to return back to some normative baseline rapidly once the sensory event is over. There is no ruminative quality, or perseveration of the emotion in response to the sensory event. Embodiment refers to the whole-body visceral experience of the sensory event. These studies have been showing increased activation in brain areas responsible for primary and associative sensory processing along with interoception (internal bodily experience).

———————

One example comes from a study by friend and colleague, Fadel Zeidan, who recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience, ” Brain Mechanisms Supporting the Modulation of Pain by Mindfulness Meditation” [Link]


Focused Attention meditation reduced BOLD activity related to afferent processing of pain stimulus (primary sensory cortex). Meditation was also associated with deactivations in areas related to ruminative types of thinking (Default areas).  Decreased pain intensity ratings were also found to be associated with increased activity in ACC and right anterior insula, suggesting a site for pain modulation.

the NPR story is here [Link]

The CNN-health story is here [Link]

Huffington Post [Link]

Men’s Health [Link]

Music for Meditation [Link]

Live Science [Link]

Neural targets for Depression – a Neurocircuitry Model

Hi all,

Over 3 decades of neuroimaging research has begun to reveal a distinct neurocircuitry model for depression and psychopathology that involves Cortical-Striatal-Pallido-Insular-Thalamic-Temporal connectivity and dynamic activity. Check out the link below for a recent publication that proposes this model based on decades of research from the area of neuropsychiatry.

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The use of Mindfulness training for acute and chronic pain

There have been a number of studies investigating the effects of mindfulness and other forms of meditation training on the experience of pain, acutely or in chronic states. Below are just a few examples from 2009-2010

1. Brown, C. A. & Jones, A. K. P. (2010). Meditation experience predicts less negative appraisal of pain: Electrophysiological evidence for the involvement of anticipatory neural responses. Pain, 150(3), 428-438.
2. Cho, S., Heiby, E. M., McCracken, L. M., Lee, S. M., & Moon, D. E. (2010). Pain-Related anxiety as a mediator of the effects of mindfulness on physical and psychosocial functioning in chronic pain patients in Korea. The Journal of Pain, 11(8), 789-97.
3. Cusens, B., Duggan, G. B., Thorne, K., & Burch, V. (2010). Evaluation of the breathworks mindfulness-based pain management programme: Effects on well-being and multiple measures of mindfulness. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 17(1), 63-78.
4. Goyal, M., Haythornthwaite, J., Levine, D., Becker, D., Vaidya, D., Hill-Briggs, F., et al. (2010). Intensive meditation for refractory pain and symptoms. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 16(6), 627-31.
5. Grant, J. A., Courtemanche, J., Duerden, E. G., Duncan, G. H., & Rainville, P. (2010). Cortical thickness and pain sensitivity in Zen meditators. Emotion, 10(1), 43-54.
6. Perlman, D. M., Salomons, T. V., Davidson, R. J., & Lutz, A. (2010). Differential effects on pain intensity and unpleasantness of two meditation practices. Emotion, 10(1), 65-71.
7. Rosenzweig, S., Greeson, J. M., Reibel, D. K., Green, J. S., Jasser, S. A., & Beasley, D. (2010). Mindfulness-Based stress reduction for chronic pain conditions: Variation in treatment outcomes and role of home meditation practice. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 68(1), 29-36.
8. Teixeira, E. (2010). The effect of mindfulness meditation on painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy in adults older than 50 years. Holistic Nursing Practice, 24(5), 277-83.
9. Zeidan, F., Johnson, S. K., Diamond, B. J., David, Z., & Goolkasian, P. (2010). Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training. Consciousness and Cognition, 19(2), 597-605.
10. Grant, J. A., & Rainville, P. (2009). Pain sensitivity and analgesic effects of mindful states in zen meditators: A crosssectional study. Psychosom Med, 71(1), 106.
11. McCracken, L. M., & Keogh, E. (2009). Acceptance, mindfulness, and values-based action may counteract fear and avoidance of emotions in chronic pain: An analysis of anxiety sensitivity. Journal of Pain, 10(4), 408-415.
12. Rosenzweig, S., Greeson, J. M., Reibel, D. K., Green, J. S., Jasser, S. A., & Beasley, D. (2009). Mindfulness-Based stress reduction for chronic pain conditions: Variation in treatment outcomes and role of home meditation practice. J Psychosom Res.
13. Zeidan, F., Gordon, N. S., Merchant, J., & Goolkasian, P. (2009). The effects of brief mindfulness meditation training on experimentally induced pain. Journal of Pain.

This also brings up the issue of PLACEBO. There are plenty of studies to demonstrate that negative expectation can enhance the negative experience. For example, a recent study published in Science Translational Medicine by Bingel and colleagues (“The Effect of Treatment Expectation on Drug Efficacy: Imaging the Analgesic Benefit of the Opioid Remifentanil” – [Link]) found that the effectiveness of pain killers on thermal pain decreased with expectation of receiving pain killers, while just the expectation alone of NOT receiving pain killers exacerbated the pain. In other words, the amount of potent opioid received was constant and the reported experience of pain changed in intensity depending upon expectancy.

I bring up Placebo not to make a point that  the effects of mindfulness or meditation training can be reduced to a placebo response, but more so to emphasize the powerful capability of the mind to profoundly change experience of the world depending upon OUR EXPECTATION!

As it turns out, the mechanisms of pain may be fairly clear (see Melzack’s original 1965 SCIENCE article HERE), but the biopsychsocial influences on the interpretation of pain signals is far from being completely understood.  Although over 50 billion dollars is spent on the global pain industry in prescription and over-the-counter pills…these remedies are typically little help, while some like morphine and other opiates can be highly addictive and subject to abuse.

Contemplative Science & Mindfulness Meditation Centers Across the World

The following list includes Education, Dharma, and research-related centers across the world interested in mindfulness and meditation

Contemplative & Mindfulness-related Resources (Centers and websites)

1. Mind and Life Institute [Link]

2. UMASS – center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society (JKZ) [Link]

3. UK Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy – [Link]

2. Mindful.org – A Shambhala Sun publication [Link]

3. Mindfulness.org.au – [Link]

4. Mind Body Awareness Project [Link]

5. Mindful Research Guide (David Black) – [Link]

6. The Mindfulness Center [Link]

7. Mindsight Institute [Link]

8. Shinzen Young – Meditation in Action [Link]

9. Upaya Zen Center (Roshi Joan Halifax) [Link]

10. Metro-Area Research Group on Awareness & Meditation (MARGAM) [Link]

Mindfulness-related Research Centers

1. Harvard Medical School –

a. Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory (BWH) – [Link]

b. Benson Henry Institute for Mind-body Medicine – [Link]

c. Lazar lab (MGH) – [Link]

d. Neuroscience of Meditation, Healing, and Sense of Touch  (Kerr lab) – [Link]

e. Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders (Hoge Lab) – [Link]

f. Khalsa Lab on Yoga Research [Link]

2. Roemer Research Team at UMASS – Boston [Link]

3. Emotion, Brain & Behavior lab at Tufts University [Link]

4. Center for Investigating Healthy Minds – University of Wisconsin (Richie Davidson lab) – [Link]; Lab for Affective Neuroscience[Link]

5. Stanford cCARE – Center for Compassion & Altruism Research & Education [Link]

6. Stanford Center on Stress and Health [Link]

7. University of California, Davis Center for Mind and Brain – Saron Lab (Shamatha project) [Link]

8. Britton lab (Brown) of Contemplative, Clinical, and Affective Neuroscience [Link]

9. University of California, San Francisco Osher Center for Integrative Medicine [Link] and Department of Psychiatry [link]

9. Kent State University – Psychopathology and Emotion Regulation (Fresco) lab  [Link]

10. The Jha Lab – University of Miami – Exploring the Stability and Mutability of Attention & Working Memory [Link]

11. Penn Program for Mindfulness [Link]

12. University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill – Integrative Medicine [Link]

13. University of California – San Diego Center for Mindfulness [Link]

14. University of Toronto – dept. of psychiatry (Zindel Segal) – [Link]

15. Atlanta Mindfulness Institute [Link]

16. Institute for Mindfulness-Based Approaches (Germany) [Link]

17. Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies [Link]

18. Seattle Pacific University Lustyk Lab [link]

19. University of California, Los Angeles Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) [link] & Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology [link]

20. University of California, San Diego Center for Mindfulness [link]

Mindfulness-related Clinical-based Research Centers

1. Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy – Boston [link]

2. Society for Clinical Mindfulness and Meditation [link]

3. Duke Integrative Medicine [link]

4. Center for Mindfulness and Psychotherapy – LA [link]

5. Center for Therapeutic Neuroscience – Yale (Jud Brewer) [Link]

6. Center for Mindful Eating [link]

7. National Center for Complimentary & Alternative Medicine [link]

7. Mindfulness Practice Center at the University of Missouri [link]

8. Mindfulness Practice Center at the University of Vermont [link]

9. Mindfulness Training Institute of Washington [link]

10. Mindfulness-based Relapse Prevention (Univ. of Washington) [Link]

11. eMindful Evidence-Based Mind Body Wellness [Link]

12. Mindful Living Center [Link]

Mindfulness-related Education Centers

1. Association for Mindfulness in Education [Link]

2. EDUTOPIA – The George Lucas Educational Foundation [Link]

3. SMART – Stress Management and Relaxation Techniques in Education [Link]

4. CASEL – Collaborative for Social and Emotional Learning [Link]

5. Brown University Contemplative Sciences Initiative [Link]

6. Center for Contemplative Mind in Society [Link]

7. Garrison Institute – CARE – Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education [Link]

8. Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education [Link]

9. Lifespan Learning Institute [Link]

Mindfulness-related Dharma Centers

1. Insight Meditation Society (IMS), Barre, MA  [link]

2. Spirit Rock Meditation Center [Link]

3. Cambridge Insight Meditation Society [Link]

4. Boston Rigpa Meditation Center [Link]

5. Still Quiet Place [link]

Evidence-based Mindfulness Interventions

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1982). An outpatient program in behavioral medicine for chronic pain patients based on the practice of mindfulness meditation: Theoretical considerations and preliminary results. General Hospital Psychiatry, 4(1), 33-47.

Kabat-Zinn, J., Lipworth, L., & Burney, R. (1985). The clinical use of mindfulness meditation for the self-regulation of chronic pain. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 8(2), 163-90.

Kabat-Zinn, J., Lipworth, L., Burncy, R., & Sellers, W. (1986). Four-Year follow-up of a meditation-based program for the self-regulation of chronic pain: Treatment outcomes and compliance. Clinical Journal of Pain, 2(3), 159.

Kabat-Zinn, J. & Chapman-Waldrop, A. (1988). Compliance with an outpatient stress reduction program: Rates and predictors of program completion. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 11(4), 333-352.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. New York: Dell Publishing.

Kabat-Zinn, J., Massion, A. O., Kristeller, J., Peterson, L. G., Fletcher, K. E., Pbert, L., et al. (1992). Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 149(7), 936-43.

Miller, J. J., Fletcher, K., & Kabat-Zinn, J. (1995). Three-Year follow-up and clinical implications of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction intervention in the treatment of anxiety disorders. General Hospital Psychiatry, 17(3), 192-200.

Kabat-Zinn, J., Wheeler, E., Light, T., Skillings, A., Scharf, M. J., Cropley, T. G., et al. (1998). Influence of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction intervention on rates of skin clearing in patients with moderate to severe psoriasis undergoing phototherapy (UVB) and photochemotherapy (PUVA). Psychosomatic Medicine, 60(5), 625.

Carlson, L. E., Speca, M., Patel, K. D., & Goodey, E. (2003). Mindfulness-Based stress reduction in relation to quality of life, mood, symptoms of stress, and immune parameters in breast and prostate cancer outpatients. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65(4), 571-81.

Grossman, P., Niemann, L., Schmidt, S., & Walach, H. (2004). Mindfulness-Based stress reduction and health benefits. A meta-analysis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 57(1), 35-43.

Carlson, L. E. & Garland, S. N. (2005). Impact of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on sleep, mood, stress and fatigue symptoms in cancer outpatients. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 12(4), 278-85.

Carlson, L. E., Speca, M., Faris, P., & Patel, K. D. (2007). One year pre-post intervention follow-up of psychological, immune, endocrine and blood pressure outcomes of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) in breast and prostate cancer outpatients. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 21(8), 1038-49.

Carmody, J. and R.A. Baer, Relationships between mindfulness practice and levels of mindfulness, medical and psychological symptoms and well-being in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program. J Behav Med, 2007.

Davis, J. M., Fleming, M. F., Bonus, K. A., & Baker, T. B. (2007). A pilot study on mindfulness based stress reduction for smokers. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 7(2), 1-7.

Biegel, G. M., Brown, K. W., Shapiro, S. L., & Schubert, C. M. (2009). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for the treatment of adolescent psychiatric outpatients: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 77(5), 855-66.

Chiesa, A. & Serretti, A. (2009). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for stress management in healthy people: A review and meta-analysis. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine , 15(5), 593-600.

Gross, C., Cramer-Bornemann, M., Frazier, P., Ibrahim, H., Kreitzer, M. J., Nyman, J., et al. (2009). Results of a double-controlled trial of mindfulness-based stress reduction to reduce symptoms in transplant patients. Explore, 5(3), 156-156.

Bazzano, A., Wolfe, C., Zylovska, L., Wang, S., Schuster, E., Barrett, C., et al. (2010). Stress-Reduction and improved well-being following a pilot community-based participatory mindfulness-based stress-reduction (MBSR) program for parents/caregivers of children with developmental disabilities. Disability and Health Journal, 3(2), e6-7.

Goldin, P.R. and J.J. Gross, Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on emotion regulation in social anxiety disorder. Emotion, 2010. 10(1): p. 83-91.

Winbush, N.Y., C.R. Gross, and M.J. Kreitzer, The effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on sleep disturbance: a systematic review. Explore (NY), 2007. 3(6): p. 585-91.

Rosenzweig, S., et al., Mindfulness-based stress reduction for chronic pain conditions: variation in treatment outcomes and role of home meditation practice. J Psychosom Res, 2010. 68(1): p. 29-36.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

Heidenreich, T., Tuin, I., Pflug, B., Michal, M., & Michalak, J. (1998). Mindfulness-Based cognitive therapy for persistent insomnia: A pilot study. Movement Disorders, 32, 692-698.

Williams, J. M., Teasdale, J. D., Segal, Z. V., & Soulsby, J. (2000). Mindfulness-Based cognitive therapy reduces overgeneral autobiographical memory in formerly depressed patients. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 109(1), 150.

Teasdale, J. D., Segal, Z. V., Williams, J. M., Ridgeway, V. A., Soulsby, J. M., & Lau, M. A. (2000). Prevention of relapse/recurrence in major depression by mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68(4), 615-23.

Teasdale, J. D., Moore, R. G., Hayhurst, H., Pope, M., Williams, S., & Segal, Z. V. (2002). Metacognitive awareness and prevention of relapse in depression: Empirical evidence. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70(2), 275-87.

Ma, S. H. & Teasdale, J. D. (2004). Mindfulness-Based cognitive therapy for depression: Replication and exploration of differential relapse prevention effects. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72(1), 31.

Coelho, H. F., Canter, P. H., & Ernst, E. (2007). Mindfulness-Based cognitive therapy: Evaluating current evidence and informing future research. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 75(6), 1000-1005.

Bertschy, G. B., Jermann, F., Bizzini, L., Weber-Rouget, B., Myers-Arrazola, M., & van der Linden, M. (2008). Mindfulness based cognitive therapy: A randomized controlled study on its efficiency to reduce depressive relapse/recurrence. Journal of Affective Disorders, 107, 59-60.

Kuyken, W., Byford, S., Taylor, R. S., Watkins, E., Holden, E., White, K., et al. (2008). Mindfulness-Based cognitive therapy to prevent relapse in recurrent depression. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76(6), 966-978.

Allen, M., Bromley, A., Kuyken, W., & Sonnenberg, S. J. (2009). Participants’ experiences of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy:“It changed me in just about every way possible”. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 37(4), 413-430.

Barnhofer, T., Crane, C., Hargus, E., Amarasinghe, M., Winder, R., & Williams, J. M. G. (2009). Mindfulness-Based cognitive therapy as a treatment for chronic depression: A preliminary study. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 47(5), 366-373.

Bondolfi, G., Jermann, F., der Linden, M. V., Gex-Fabry, M., Bizzini, L., Rouget, B. W., et al. (2010). Depression relapse prophylaxis with mindfulness-based cognitive therapy: Replication and extension in the swiss health care system. Journal of Affective Disorders, 122(3), 224-31.

Britton, W. B., Haynes, P. L., Fridel, K. W., & Bootzin, R. R. (2010). Polysomnographic and subjective profiles of sleep continuity before and after mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in partially remitted depression. Psychosomatic Medicine, 72.

Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP)

Witkiewitz, K., Marlatt, G. A., & Walker, D. (2005). Mindfulness-Based relapse prevention for alcohol and substance use disorders. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 19(3), 211-228.

Witkiewitz, K., Marlatt, G. A., & Walker, D. D. (2006). Mindfulness-Based relapse prevention for alcohol use disorders: The meditative tortoise wins the race. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 19, 221-228.

Bowen, S., Chawla, N., Collins, S. E., Witkiewitz, K., Hsu, S., Grow, J., et al. (2009). Mindfulness-Based relapse prevention for substance use disorders: A pilot efficacy trial. Substance Abuse, 30(4), 295-305.

Witkiewitz, K. & Bowen, S. (2010). Depression, craving, and substance use following a randomized trial of mindfulness-based relapse prevention. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(3), 362-74.

Chawla, N., Collins, S., Bowen, S., Hsu, S., Grow, J., Douglass, A., et al. (2010). The mindfulness-based relapse prevention adherence and competence scale: Development, interrater reliability, and validity. Psychotherapy Research, 4, 1-10.

Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting (MBCP)

Dumas, J. E. (2005). Mindfulness-Based parent training: Strategies to lessen the grip of automaticity in families with disruptive children. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 34(4), 779.

Altmaier, E. & Maloney, R. (2007). An initial evaluation of a mindful parenting program. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 63(12), 1231-1238.

Vieten, C. & Astin, J. (2008). Effects of a mindfulness-based intervention during pregnancy on prenatal stress and mood: Results of a pilot study. Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 11(1), 67-74.

Bögels, S. M., Lehtonen, A., & Restifo, K. (2010). Mindful parenting in mental health care. Mindfulness, 9(2), 1-14.

Duncan, L. G. & Bardacke, N. (2010). Mindfulness-Based childbirth and parenting education: Promoting family mindfulness during the perinatal period. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 19(2), 190-202.

Mindfulness-Based Relationship Enhancement (MBRE)

Carson, J. W., Carson, K. M., Gil, K. M., & Baucom, D. H. (2004). Mindfulness-Based relationship enhancement. Behavior Therapy, 35(3), 471-494.

Carson, J. W., Carson, K. M., Gil, K. M., & Baucom, D. H. (2006). Mindfulness-Based relationship enhancement (MBRE) in couples. In Baer, R (ed.). Mindfulness-Based Treatment Approaches: Clinician’s Guide to Evidence Base and Applications. Burlingham, MA: Academic Press, pp. 309-31.

Other Secularized Contemplative training programs:

Basic Mindfulness Program (BMP) [Link] –  Shinzen Young leads mini retreats that emphasize a specific theme such as working with emotions, managing physical discomfort, dealing with difficulty concentrating, maintaining practice in daily life and so forth. Taken together they represent a unified ongoing curriculum covering all facets of Mindfulness practice.

Young, S. (2000)Applications of Mindfulness Meditation in the Study of Human Consciousness. Towards a Science of Consciousness Conference. Tuscon, Arizona

Cultivating Emotional Balance (CEB) – A research project at the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies

Stress Management and Relaxation Techniques in Education (SMART) [Link] – eight-week teacher renewal program, is designed specifically for (K-12) educators and administrators

Contemplation in Education – Garrison Institute Report [Link]

Davidson, RJ, Dunne, J, Eccles, JS,  Engle, A, Greenberg, M, Jennings, P, Jha, A, Jinpa, T, Lantieri, L., Meyer, D., Roeser, RW, Vago, DR. (in press) Contemplative practices and mental training: Prospects for American education. Child Development Perspectives.

Roeser, R.W. & Peck, S. (2009). An education in awareness: Self, motivation, and self-regulated learning in contemplative perspective. Educational Psychologis. [Link]

Mindsight [Link]

Integrative Program in Interpersonal Neurobiology with Dr. Dan Siegel

Siegel DJ. (2007). The mindful brain: Reflection and attunement in the cultivation of wellbeing. New York: Norton.

Benson-Henry institute for Mind-Body Medicine – Relaxation Response

[Link]

The Relaxation Response (RR) is a state elicited by techniques such as meditation. RR Intervention is a program developed by BHI that includes training in RR techniques and learning about the effects of stress on health.

Being With Dying Program

Professional training program in contemplative end-of-life care from Upaya

Short term “integrative body-mind training” (IBMT) improves self- and autonomic regulation

A group from Univ. of Oregon in collaboration with the Institute of Neuroinformatics and Laboratory for Body and Mind, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian, China has found more evidence (see 2007, 2009 and 2010 articles) that short-term meditation in the form of IBMT can improve self-regulation and components of attention.

What is IBMT? According to the authors, it was developed in the 1990s as a technique adopted from traditional Chinese medicine and incorporates aspects of meditation and mindfulness training. “IBMT achieves the desired state by first giving a brief instructional period on the method (we call it initial mind setting and its goal is to induce a cognitive or emotional set that will influence the training). The method stresses no effort to control thoughts, but instead a state of restful alertness that allows a high degree of awareness of body, breathing, and external instructions from a compact disc. It stresses a balanced state of relaxation while focusing attention. Thought control is achieved gradually through posture and relaxation, body–mind harmony, and balance with the help of the coach rather than by making the trainee attempt an internal struggle to control thoughts in accordance with instruction. Training is typically presented in a standardized way by compact disc and guided by a skillful IBMT coach”.

This group has been showing (2009) that Five days of integrative body–mind training (IBMT) (20 min/day) improves attention and self-regulation in comparison with the same amount of relaxation training. During and after training, the IBMT group showed significantly better physiological reactions in heart rate, respiratory amplitude and rate, and skin conductance response (SCR) than the relaxation control. Differences in heart rate variability (HRV) and EEG power suggested greater involvement of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) in the IBMT group during and after training. Imaging data demonstrated stronger subgenual and adjacent ventral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) activity in the IBMT group. Frontal midline ACC theta was correlated with highfrequency HRV, suggesting control by the ACC over parasympathetic activity. These results indicate that after 5 days of training, the IBMT group shows better regulation of the ANS by a ventral midfrontal brain system than does the relaxation group.

The most recent 2010 article demonstrates that changes in white matter connectivity can result from small amounts of mental training. In this case, 11 h of IBMT increases fractional anisotropy (FA), an index indicating the integrity and efficiency of white matter in the corona radiata, an important white-matter tract connecting the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) to other structures. 45 undergraduates to an IBMT or relaxation group for 11 h of training, 30 min per session over a 1-mo period. Before and after training we acquired brain images from each participant at rest for analysis of white matter by diffusion tensor imaging and gray matter by voxel-based morphometry.

The group goes a little far in speculating “IBMT could provide a means for improving self-regulation and perhaps reducing or preventing various mental disorders”, but the research is certainly promising for demonstrating plasticity in response to mental training

Upaya – Zen Brain retreat provides great research on Mindfulness and Contemplative Practice

The Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, NM led by Roshi Joan Halifax continually provides access to top scientists discussing the latest research on mindfulness and contemplative practice. These series of lectures/dialogue provide insight into the effects of mindfulness practice on well-being and flourishing, emotion regulation and transformation.

the podcasts see:
http://www.upaya.org/dharma/

I particularly liked Jim Austin and Shauna Shapiro’s talks (part 2 and 4 of 19)

Another good lecture by Shauna is below:

Enjoy!

Measures of Mindfulness (revisiting the problems of defining the concept)

As clinicians, researchers, and basic scientists, we are slowly operationalizing the concept of mindfulness. It is important that we consider the cultural context from which the term arises and clearly distinguish it from secular practices like:

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (E.Jacobson)
Relaxation Response (H.Benson)
Biofeedback-induced relaxation
Situational Awareness (E. Langer)

These practices all involve:
Cultivation of Mental Discipline, primarily through discursive strategies.
Heightened ability to stop and start thoughts and emotions
Reduced susceptibility to mental habits; increased ability to develop new habits

In order of personal preference: 1. Five Factor Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) – (Baer et al., 2006) – The FFMQ, revised from the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills, is used to assess the construct of mindfulness. Previous research on assessment of mindfulness by self-report suggests that it may include five component skills: observing, describing, acting with awareness, nonjudging of inner experience, and nonreactivity to inner experienc … Read More

via Contemplative Mind in Life

Opening of Center for Creating Healthy Minds in Madison: A sign of the times

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been instrumental in forging a close relationship between Buddhist teachers, Rinpoches, monks, and Scientists. Scientists across multiple disciplines have started to take note of the possibilities for investigating positive human qualities and the effects of types of practices that can influence our minds and our physical nature in an adaptive fashion. A new center has opened in Wisconsin called:

Center for Creating Healthy Minds.

It is a center for studying not one way of developing a healthy mind, but the many factors and that can potentially influence the mind towards developing a particularly health-promoting disposition. Richie Davidson and his lab have been pioneers in this emerging field of contemplative neuroscience. There has been an explosion of research since 2004 in this area and the opening of such a lab (and there are now many others as well), is indicative of the times….a revolution of sorts for humanity. It is no longer sufficient to study biopsychosocial models of disease and dysfunction, but to investigate the explicit factors and specific practices that reduce the risks of developing mental disease and related physical ailments. Essentially, how do we weather the storms of life, while also focusing beyond ourselves!

Excessive focus on the self clearly contributes to psychopathology (e.g., see Northoff, 2007). In the laboratory, we are now beginning to see physical benefits of less self-focus, compassion and empathy for others. The Dalai Lama noted in the talk today with Richie Davidson and Dan Goleman that deeply rooted Self-confidence apparently reduces fear, mistrust, and decreases hostile behavior.  On the other hand, primary self-focus alone is likely to produce insecurities that further lead into selfish behavior leading to mistrust, increased fear, and more hostile behavior. Therefore, taking care of others well-being will directly benefit your SELF.

One example of research in this area is in one study where people were give $50 and asked to spend it on either one self or on other people. They were then asked the subjective level of happiness. Those individuals who were asked to spend it on themselves were found to be less happy than those individuals who spent the money on others.

So…I gather you will go out today and tip your Barista a little more or give that extra dollar to the homeless guy…because truly this selfless action is what will be preventing you from developing a form of depression or psychopathology later.

🙂