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Building mindful awareness to help people in need

Posted 03.24.2015 | by AMRA

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Can mindfulness training increase real-life compassionate behavior, and can it do so when the training is delivered via a smartphone? If mindfulness training improves compassion, does it do so by enhancing one’s ability to accurately judge other people’s emotional states, or by some other means? To address these questions, Lim et al. [PLOS One] randomly assigned 69 college undergraduates to either a mindfulness meditation (MM) or cognitive skills (CS) training program. Both programs were delivered over self-guided web-based smartphone applications.

A total of 56 participants completed the three week long interventions. The MM participants engaged in 14 mindfulness meditation sessions lasting an average of 12 minutes each. The sessions did not include loving-kindness or compassion content. The CS participants engaged in 14 game-playing sessions designed to enhance memory, attention, speed, and problem solving.

After completing training, participants were asked to return to a lab waiting area that contained three chairs, two of which were already occupied by alleged “participants,” who were actually researcher confederates (i.e. actors who played participants), and the third of which was to be occupied by the participant. As they sat waiting, another confederate entered with crutches and a walking boot, acting as if in pain. The seated confederates showed indifference to the newcomer.

Researchers then observed whether or not the participants yielded their seats to the newcomer. Following this assessment of compassionate behavior, participants were assessed on their ability to identify emotions from photographs and audio clips, a test of whether the mindfulness training had also improved their ability to read other people’s emotions.

MM participants were more than twice as likely to yield their chairs than were CS participants (37% […]

March 24th, 2015|News|

Mindfulness Makes Men Feel More Connected

Posted: 02.10.2014 | by AMRA

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Up to 90% of couples report a decline in relationship quality after becoming parents. Gambrel and Piercy [Journal of Marital and Family Therapy] developed a 4-week relationship enhancement intervention called the Mindful Transition to Parenthood Program (MTPP) for couples expecting their first child. MTPP offers skill-based relationship education within an abbreviated MBSR format to develop attunement, presence, perspective taking, and empathic responsiveness in couples.

To assess its effectiveness, 33 couples were randomly assigned to either MTPP or a wait-list control. MTPP men reported significant increases in mindfulness (as measured by the FFMQ) and relationship satisfaction, and a significant decrease in negative affect when compared with wait-list controls. Female partners showed no significant differences. Couples in this study reported unusually high baseline marital satisfaction, with the average couple reporting greater baseline satisfaction than even the happiest couples in prior research using the Couples Satisfaction Index. This limited the degree to which satisfaction could increase on the quantitative measures, and limits the ability to generalize the results to couples with lower marital satisfaction.

In an accompanying article, the same authors also performed a qualitative analysis of the themes that emerged in a post-intervention interview held with participants. MTPP women reported appreciating their partner’s participation and increased understanding of their pregnancy and connection to their baby. As they felt amply supported by female friends and family, they didn’t especially feel the need for MTPP group support. Men felt more connected to their baby, more identified with being fathers, and more understanding of their partners due to being in the program. As they felt little support or recognition from friends and family regarding impending fatherhood, they valued connecting […]

February 9th, 2014|News|

Mindfulness Meditation Superior to Sleep Hygiene for Cancer Survivors

Posted from archive: 02.07.2013 | by AMRA

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Nakamura et al [Journal of Cancer Survivorship] compared three interventions in 57 cancer survivors with self-reported problems sleeping. Participants were randomly assigned to sleep hygiene education (SHE), mindfulness meditation (MM), or mind, body bridging (MBB). All interventions were delivered in three 2-hour group sessions, with home practice left to the participants’ discretion.

MM was a shortened version of MBSR that included sitting and walking meditation, the body scan, and a forgiveness meditation. MBB shares features with MM (sensory awareness, non, judgmental attitude, decontextualization of thought) but doesn’t include formal meditation practice. It trains participants to “rest” their “identify systems” through sensory awareness, identify the irrational demands the system places on reality and on oneself, and disengage from those demands in a friendly manner, thus loosening an identification with a false sense of self, and getting in touch with an undamaged sense of wholeness.

All three interventions significantly improved self-reported sleep quality, with both MBB and MM proving superior to SHE. MBB participants also showed significant improvement on secondary measures of self-reported depression, mindfulness, and self-compassion when compared with the SHE control group, while MM participants showed a nonsignificant trend in the same direction of benefit.

Reference:

Nakamura, Y., Lipschitz, D. L., Kuhn, R., Kinney, A. Y., & Donaldson, G. W. (2013). Investigating efficacy of two brief mind-body intervention programs for managing sleep disturbance in cancer survivors: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Journal of Cancer Survivorship: Research and Practice, 7(2):165-82. [PMID: 23338490]

[Link to abstract]

December 26th, 2013|News|