Mindfulness Meditation – The Evidence 2. The Details

August saw the publication, by the American Journal of Psychiatry, of a seminal study into the effects of mindfulness training on a group of US Marines taught during their counter-insurgency training prior to deployment to Afghanistan.

This was the culmination of five years work by Elizabeth Stanley and her colleagues from the Mind Fitness Training Institute – M-Fit.

One of the difficulties in studying human experience is how to isolate individuals from external events that may affect their responses and so invalidate the findings of the studies. This is one of the reasons, along with a wide range of measures, rigorous analysis and adequate controls that makes this study so important.

The study, entitled: ‘Modifying Resilience Mechanisms in At-Risk Individuals: A Controlled Study of Mindfulness Training in Marines Preparing for Deployment’ is available here .

A useful synopsis article from Science Daily is available here.

I can’t conceive of a group more difficult to convince of the benefits of mindfulness than the military. Here is a quotation lifted from the Washington Times  from US Marine Sergeant Nathan Hampton on his mindfulness training. You can see what his initial position might have been when he was told about it. :)

“A lot of people thought it would be a waste of time. Why are we sitting around a classroom doing weird meditative stuff? But over time, I felt more relaxed. I slept better. Physically, I noticed that I wasn’t tense all the time. It helps you think more clearly and decisively in stressful situations. There was a benefit.”

It is important to understand the context of this study. These guys are going back into an environment that has seen them losing their friends and suffering greatly. Some of their comrades may well be suffering from PTSD or they may have recovered from it themselves The counter-insurgency traing is held in a simulated environment that is apparently just like being in Afghanistan. You can see it here.

According to the authors this is “the first study of the effect of mindfulness training utilizing multiple domains of measurement”.
There were *significant* positive differences between the mindfulness training group and the control group using the following measures:

  • Heart rate
  • Breathing rate
  • Neuropeptide Y (stress hormone indicator)
  • Interoception measured via Insula activity (body awareness, critical for effective decision making)
  • The Response to Stressful Experiences Scale

I think this is a ground-breaking study and adds extremely valuable evidence to the already reliable body of evidence accruing to prove the benefits of mindfulness meditation.

If you want to find out more, drop me a line at robert@middlewayconsulting.com

Mindfulness Meditation – The Evidence

2014 has been an important year for the awareness of mindfulness meditation in the United States. In February, Time Magazine announced on its cover that there is a “Mindful Revolution”.

The November 2014 cover of Scientific American announced that meditation “changes the brain boosting focus and reducing stress”.

August saw the release, by the American Journal of Psychiatry, of what I feel to be the single most compellingly credible study to date on the benefits of mindfulness meditation which bears the impressive title of: ‘Modifying Resilience Mechanisms in At-Risk Individuals: A Controlled Study of Mindfulness Training in Marines Preparing for Deployment’. This seminal research (more of which in a future post), is part of an ongoing, rigorous, controlled study of the effects of mindfulness meditation on the levels of stress encountered by US Marines during their counter-insurgency training prior to deployment. The study reported ‘significant’ reductions in stress for the meditating group in each of the five measures used in comparison to the control group. I shall also post at a later date on how mindfulness meditation is being used to assist in managing Post Traumatic Stress in operatives that have returned from combat.

There is a significant and growing body of scientific evidence that increasingly proves that the wellness benefits of mindfulness meditation are significant and far-reaching. This body of evidence currently consists of over 3000 research publications filed on the NCBI databases. This is being added to at a prodigious rate. 477 studies were initiated in 2012. Mindfulness Research publishes the highlights on a monthly basis which consists of 30 papers per month.

 

Mindfulness and walking by Eckhart Tolle

If you go into a forest with your mind only, you’ll only notice the sounds and the mind will try to interpret them. You might think you’re present; but you’re not really, you’re simply judging what you hear. But if you become aware of the silent dimension underneath the sounds and in between the sounds, then you become present because the moment you become aware of the silence, you also have become silent.Eckhart Tolle

Mindfulness tip of the day – turn mobile data off by default

Being bombarded with a constant stream of messages is a First World Problem but it is a very real one.

Not only endless notifications but more importantly the pull of the Twitter and Facebook streams is a real issue for some of us. It is difficult to tell people to turn our phones off in this day and age, but turning off data means you can still be contacted by your nearest and dearest, but the lure and distraction of the alternative digital world is abated for a while.

When you *really need* to tweet or check Facebook, you can just turn it back on again.

Have a mindful day…