Posts tagged ‘MBSR’

April 22, 2011

Meditation May Help the Brain ‘Turn Down the Volume’ on Distractions

ScienceDaily (Apr. 21, 2011) — The positive effects of mindfulness meditation on pain and working memory may result from an improved ability to regulate a crucial brain wave called the alpha rhythm. This rhythm is thought to “turn down the volume” on distracting information, which suggests that a key value of meditation may be helping the brain deal with an often-overstimulating world.

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology report that modulation of the alpha rhythm in response to attention-directing cues was faster and significantly more enhanced among study participants who completed an eight-week mindfulness meditation program than in a control group. The report will appear in the journal Brain Research Bulletin and has been released online.

“Mindfulness meditation has been reported to enhance numerous mental abilities, including rapid memory recall,” says Catherine Kerr, PhD, of the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at MGH and the Osher Research Center at Harvard Medical School, co-lead author of the report. “Our discovery that mindfulness meditators more quickly adjusted the brain wave that screens out distraction could explain their superior ability to rapidly remember and incorporate new facts.”

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April 15, 2011

Mindfulness meditation practice changes the brain

Mindfulness meditation alters regions of the brain associated with memory, awareness of self, and compassion, according to a brain imaging study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. Other studies have found differences in the brains of experienced meditators compared with non-meditators, but this is the first investigation to document brain changes occurring over time in people learning how to meditate mindfully. Results were published in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging (Jan. 30, 2011).

Mindfulness meditation is the practice of paying attention to what you’re experiencing from moment to moment without drifting into thoughts about the past or concerns about the future and without analyzing (or making judgments about) what is going on around you. It’s not a new idea. Religious texts have extolled mindfulness for centuries, and it’s central to Buddhism and other contemplative traditions.

Since the early 1980s, mindfulness meditation has increasingly found a place in mainstream health care and medicine because of evidence that it’s good for emotional and physical health — for example, helping to reduce anxiety, stress, depression, chronic pain, psoriasis, headache, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Some studies suggest that it can improve immune function. And research has found an association between mindfulness meditation–induced improvements in psychological well-being and increased activity of telomerase, an enzyme important to the long-term health of cells. With advances in neuroimaging, scientists have begun to explore the brain mechanisms that may underlie these benefits.

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April 11, 2011

Meditation as Medicine: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

April 11, 2011

Effect of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction on Immune Function, Quality of Life and Coping In Women Newly Diagnosed with Early Stage Breast Cancer

This investigation used a non-randomized controlled design to evaluate the effect and feasibility of a mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) program on immune function, quality of life (QOL), and coping in women recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Early stage breast cancer patients, who did not receive chemotherapy, self-selected into an 8-week MBSR program or into an assessment only, control group. Outcomes were evaluated over time. The first assessment was at least 10 days after surgery and prior to adjuvant therapy, as well as before the MBSR start-up. Further assessments were mid-MBSR, at completion of MBSR, and at 4-weeks post MBSR completion. Women with breast cancer enrolled in the control group (Non-MBSR) were assessed at similar times. At the first assessment (i.e., before MBSR start), reductions in peripheral blood mononuclear cell NK cell activity (NKCA) and IFN gamma production with increases in IL-4, IL-6, and IL-10 production and plasma cortisol levels were observed for both the MBSR and Non-MBSR groups of breast cancer patients. Over time women in the MBSR group re-established their NKCA and cytokine production levels. In contrast, breast cancer patients in the Non-MBSR group exhibited continued reductions in NKCA and IFN gamma production with increased IL-4, IL-6, and IL-10 production. Moreover, women enrolled in the MBSR program had reduced cortisol levels, improved QOL, and increased coping effectiveness compared to the Non-MBSR group. In summary, MBSR is a program that is feasible for women recently diagnosed with early stage breast cancer and the results provide preliminary evidence of beneficial effects of MBSR on immune function, QOL, and coping effectiveness.

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April 11, 2011

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook

Mindfulness is about being fully aware of whatever is happening in the present moment, without filters or the lens of judgment. It can be brought to any situation. Put simply, mindfulness consists of cultivating awareness of the mind and body and living in the here and now. While mindfulness as a practice is historically rooted in ancient Buddhist meditative disciplines, it’s also a universal practice that anyone can benefit from. And indeed, being present and mindful is an important concept in many spiritual traditions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Taoism.

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Today mindfulness has expanded beyond its spiritual roots and even beyond psychology and mental and emotional well-being. Physicians are prescribing training in mindfulness practice to help people deal with stress, pain, and illness….In the words of Walpola Rahula, author of the Buddhist classic “What the Buddha Taught,” “[Mindfulness] is simply observing, watching, examining. You are not a judge but a scientist.”

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It’s also available as an online GoogleBook

April 11, 2011

Justice Canada wants to ease workers’ stress: Buddhist-style ‘mindfulness’ sessions planned

Stressed-out employees at Justice Canada in Ottawa will soon be able to seek relief in a taxpayer-funded program that uses the Buddhist concept of mindfulness to help them cope with personal and workplace pressures.

The department invited bids recently for two nineweek “mindfulness-based stress reduction” sessions designed to help up to 40 public servants “learn to relate more consciously and compassionately to the challenges of work and personal life.”

According to Justice Canada’s request for proposals, the program will help employees “deal more effectively with difficult thought and emotions that can keep you feeling stuck in everyday life.

“The practice of mindfulness can support you to work with and understand the nature of your thought and perceptions so that you can take control and responsibility for your health and well-being,” the document says.

The maximum budget for each of the two sessions is $11,000 plus GST. The request for proposals gives the depart-ment the option of adding four more sessions later this year, which would increase the cost by up to $44,000.

Asked why the program was necessary, a departmental spokesman said the need for effective tools to manage stress and promote mental health in the workplace is “widely recognized. The beneficial effects of this program are well documented.”

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) was founded in 1979 by Jon KabatZinn, a medical professor at the University of Massachusetts. According to the web-site mindfulnet.org, 18,000 people have since completed MBSR programs.

It’s now used in hospitals, schools, courtrooms, prisons and boardrooms around the world. Corporate disciples include Apple, Yahoo!, Google, Starbucks and Procter & Gamble.

“Obviously, we’re not opposed to programs that could improve workers’ health and well-being,” she said. “But we’re also mindful of the fact that prevention programs seem to have the most significant impact on people’s ability to work in environments that are busy and stressful.”

Justice Canada certainly qualifies as one of those, she said. “I know that it’s a stressful work environment. Some of these files that people are juggling are very high-profile files that have really significant ramifications if people miss deadlines or screw up.”

Wellness programs such as MBSR focus on the individual, she said, rather than addressing the workplace environment that gives rise to the stress.

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