Mindfulness research has shown that through practicing mindfulness, you not only improve your mind and have more control over your emotions, but you also improve your physical health and well being.
Dr Linda Carlson’s mindfulness research from the Department of Oncology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, produced a paper in August 2012: Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Physical Conditions: A Narrative Review Evaluating Levels of Evidence. Is great reading!
Mindfulness research shows…
Carlson assessed 211 MBI ( Mindfulness-based Interventions) papers, studies and trials relating to and for people coping with a wide array of physical diseases and conditions. Carlson produced a comprehensive study of methods outcomes and comments. Showing that Mindfulness positively helped and altered the outcomes of the conditions below.
- Chronic pain
- Low back pain
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Cardiovascular disease
- HIV/ Aids
- Organ transplants
Outcomes of mindfulness research data
Most outcomes assessed are psychological in nature and show substantial benefit, although some physical and disease-related parameters have also been evaluated.
‘What we see is an improvement in emotional regulation strategies employed by people with physical illnesses who undergo mindfulness training. They ruminate on the past and worry about the future less and engage in less experiential avoidance of difficult feelings and situations.’
Mindfulness alters Cellular activity
Lengacher, Reich et al. Jan 2014 produced a paper, The Biological research for nursing, The influence of (MBSR) Mindfulness-based stress reduction on Telomerase activity in women with breast cancer.
These results provide preliminary evidence that MBSR increases (TA )Telomere Activity in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from Breast Cancer patients and have implications for understanding how MBSR may extend cell longevity at a cellular level.
Putting the two of these together, we can deduce that Mindfulness-based Interventions affect stress levels that directly affect the cellular level even when discussing illnesses as chronic and important as cancer!
Not only does mindfulness reduce anxiety and worry, but it physically affects the way the cells work.
This work was also carried out by Elizabeth Blackburn, who won a noble prize for her work with telomeres and telomerase.
Telomerase and Mindfulness search
Elissa Epel, Elizabeth Blackburn. Dynamics of telomere activity in response to psychological stress 2010 May 24.24(4) 531-539:Pub Med, Brain Behavior. and immunology NIHAT) The successful maintenance of telomeres, the protective caps at the end of chromosomes, is critical to human health. Normal telomere maintenance requires the cellular enzyme telomerase. It adds telomeric DNA to shortened telomeres, thus extending telomere length and protecting the chromosomes.
Shortened telomeres and lower telomerase are linked to age-related risk factors and disease. Several studies report that short telomeres predict early mortality.
Several studies have shown that chronic life stress is linked to shortened telomeres.
Biological effects of Mindfulness
Simon Young, PHD from dept of Psychiatry, McGill university march 2011. Biological effects of mindfulness:
MBCT ( mindfulness-based cognitive therapy) offers protection against relapse/ recurrence on par with that of maintenance anti-depressant pharmacotherapy.
Reviews of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) suggests that it decreases depression, anxiety and psychological distress in people with chronic somatic diseases. And it reduces stress, ruminative thinking and trait anxiety in healthy people.
Mindfulness has been described as “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally.”
Slow the rate of aging?
Can meditation slow the rate of cellular ageing? Cognitive stress, mindfulness, and telomeres. Elissa Epel, J Daubenmier, J Moskowitz, S Folkman, Elizabeth BlackburnPhDAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences Volume 1172, Longevity, Regeneration, and Optimal Health Integrating Eastern and Western Perspectives pages 34–53, August 2009
Telomeres are the protective cap at the ends of chromosomes. The length of the telomeres offers some insight into mitotic cell and possibly organism longevity.
Telomere length has been linked to chronic stress exposure and depression. This raises the question of how might cellular ageing be modulated by psychological functioning. Two psychological processes or states that are in opposition to one another.
Threat cognition <——>Mindfulness
Psychological stress conditions, particularly appraisals of threat and ruminative thought, can lead to prolonged states of reactivity. In contrast, mindfulness meditation techniques appear to cognitive appraisals from threat to challenge, decrease ruminative thought, and reduce stress arousal. Mindfulness may also directly increase positive arousal states.
Some forms of mediation may have salutary effects on telomere length by reducing cognitive stress and stress arousal and increasing positive states of mind and hormonal factors that may promote telomere maintenance.
Research work and published papers on Mindfulness and chronic illness and ageing.
Mindfulness research and obesity and eating disorders
Mindfulness-based interventions for Obesity-related eating behaviours. O’Reilly, Cook et al.: international association for the study of obesity. Mar 18 2014. doi:1111/obr.12156 The results of this first review on the topic support the efficacy of MBI’s for changing obesity eating behaviours, specifically binge eating, emotional eating and external eating.
Mindfulness and chronic pain
The relationship between greater mindfulness and less subjective experience of Chronic pain. Wright, C.J. and Schutte, N.S. 2013: Australian Jnl of Psychology.doi:10.1111ajpy12041. Greater Mindfulness was associated with less subjective experience of pain, greater pain management self-efficacy and more emotional intelligence.
Mindfulness research and aging and neurodegenerative disease
The effect of meditation on cognitive functions in the context of Aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Marciniak, R. Sheardova, K et al. Front Behav Neurosci. 2014; 8: 17. Published online Jan 27, 2014. Overall, reviewed studies suggested a positive effect of meditation techniques, particularly in attention and memory, verbal fluency, and cognitive flexibility.
Mindfulness research and living with HIV/AIDS
Mindfulness-based stress reduction for people living with HIV/AIDS. Kirsten E Riley: Seth Kalichman: Health Psychology Review; DOI:10.1080/17437199.2014.895928. The preliminary outcomes support MBSR to decrease emotional distress with mixed evidence for impact on disease progression.
Mindfulness research and Mental Health
Work-related Mental Health and job performance: Can Mindfulness Help? Van Gordon: Shonin: et al. International Journal of mental health and addiction February 2014. Therefore, MBIs may constitute cost-effective organizational-level interventions due to not actually requiring any modifications to human resource management systems and practices. It is concluded that MBIs appear to be viable interventional options for organizations wishing to improve the mental health of their employees.
Recent Papers and Research into Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction MBSR
Bohlmeijer E, Prenger R, Taal E and Cuijpers P (2010), “The effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy on the mental health of adults with a chronic medical disease: A meta-analysis”, Journal of psychosomatic research. Vol. 68(6), pp. 539-544.
Objectives The objective of this study was to examine the effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on depression, anxiety and psychological distress across populations with different chronic somatic diseases.
Conclusions It can be concluded that MBSR has effects on depression, anxiety and psychological distress in people with chronic somatic diseases. Integrating MBSR in behavioural therapy may enhance the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions.
Mindfulness research, practice, meditation exercises.
Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 55 Lake Ave North, Worcester, MA 01655, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Relationships were investigated between the home practice of mindfulness meditation exercises and levels of mindfulness, medical and psychological symptoms, perceived stress, and psychological well-being.
Objective: The objective of this study was to describe possible changes in physical and psychologic symptoms among outpatients completing a 12-week mind-body medical symptom reduction program related to chronic medical conditions.
Design: The program’s cornerstone is eliciting the relaxation response, and the curriculum also incorporates training on mind-body interactions, cognitive restructuring, nutrition, and physical activity. The Medical Symptom Checklist (MSCL), Health-Promoting Lifestyle Profile-II (HPLP-II) and Symptom Checklist-90R (SCL-90-R) were used to assess 331 patients’ physical and psychologic symptoms before and after the intervention.
Results: Significant post-treatment improvements in symptom frequency occurred for 12 individual symptoms on the MSCL, all 6 of the HPLP-II subscales, and 8 of the 9 SCL-90-R subscales from pre- to post-treatment.
Conclusions: The results from this uncontrolled study suggest that a comprehensive mind-body intervention program might be useful as a complementary or adjunct therapy for the treatment of chronic medical symptoms.