Mindfulness: Towards A Critical Relational Perspective

A critical perspective of mindfulness. Understanding the contemporary mindfulness movement in a wider perspective.


Author: Steven Stanley

Year: 2013

Title: Mindfulness: Towards A Critical Relational Perspective

Summary: This research acknowledges the increasing role of mindfulness in the west; enabling people to engage with new approaches to cope with issues connected to subjective wellbeing such as stress, depression and anxiety. It also discusses the appropriation of ‘mindfulness’ by psychology and the potential for conflict between its role in traditional and modern westernised meditation movements. A social critique, exposing the failure (and thus the potential opportunity) of psychology to integrate mindfulness as a personal and social practice.

Perspective: Social psychology, discursive psychology

Links: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1751-9004.2012.00454.x/abstract

Loving-kindness Meditation for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Pilot Study

What is the effect of loving kindness meditation for post traumatic stress disorder


Authors: Kearney DJ, Malte CA, McManus C, Martinez ME, Felleman B, Simpson TL.

Year: 2013

Title: Loving-kindness Meditation for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Pilot Study

Summary: A trial of loving kindness meditation was undertaken with veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Participants were given 12 weeks training in loving-kindness meditation and measured for PTSD, depression, self-compassion, and mindfulness at different stages. The effects of this pilot demonstrated a range of benefits for participants from the meditation and concluded that the practice was both “safe” and “acceptable”. A pilot study but really strong participant attendance (74% involved in 9 to 12 classes) and fascinating results:

  • self-compassion increased with large effect
  • mindfulness increased with medium to large effect
  • PSTD symptoms subject to a large effect at 3-month follow-up (d = -0.89)
  • depression  subject to a medium effect at 3 months

Perspective: Health psychology, positive psychology, clinical psychology

Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23893519

The Benefits of Being Present: Mindfulness and Its Role in Psychological Well-being

Authors: Brown KW, Ryan RM

Year: 2003

Title: The Benefits of Being Present: Mindfulness and Its Role in Psychological Well-being

Summary: Research assessing mindfulness practice from empirical and theoretical perspectives. In conclusion a clinical intervention study indicates a relationship between increasing mindfulness and reduced stress in cancer patients.

Perspective: Social psychology, health psychology

Link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12703651/

Neural correlates of attentional expertise in long-term meditation practitioners

Authors: J. A. Brefczynski-Lewis, A. Lutz, H. S. Schaefer, D. B. Levinson and R. J. Davidson

Year: 2007

Title: Neural correlates of attentional expertise in long-term meditation practitioners

Summary: With the use of fMRI it was found that people with an average of 19.000 hours of meditation experience had greater activation of brain regions associated with sustained attention than novice meditators. However it appears that experienced meditators with an average of 44,000 hours meditation had less activation of the same regions (inverted u-shaped curve distribution). When compared to novices, experienced meditators appear to have less brain activation in regions related to discursive thoughts but greater activation in response inhibition regions.

Perspective: Neuroscience

Link: http://www.pnas.org/content/104/27/11483.long#sec-5

Effects of Mindful-attention and Compassion Meditation Training on Amygdala Response to Emotional Stimuli in an Ordinary, Non-meditative State

Authors: Gaëlle Desbordes, Lobsang T. Negi, Thaddeus W. W. Pace, B. Alan Wallace, Charles L. Raison and Eric L. Schwartz

Year: 2012

Title: Effects of Mindful-attention and Compassion Meditation Training on Amygdala Response to Emotional Stimuli in an Ordinary, Non-meditative State

Summary: There is a long standing association between the amygdala and emotional processing. Previous research has indicated that in a meditative state amygdala response to emotional stimuli could be reduced. However this investigation points to the possibility that the effect of meditation training on emotional processing may exert an influence beyond the meditative-state. Participants were given training in either Mindful Attention Training (MAT) or Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT).

Perspective: Neuroscience

Link: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fnhum.2012.00292/full

Regulation of the Neural Circuitry of Emotion by Compassion Meditation: Effects of Meditative Expertise

Authors: Antoine Lutz, Julie Brefczynski-Lewis, Tom Johnstone, Richard J. Davidson

Year: 2008

Title: Regulation of the Neural Circuitry of Emotion by Compassion Meditation: Effects of Meditative Expertise

Summary: Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) investigation of the insula and anterior cingulate cortices in empathic response during loving-kindness, compassionate meditation. The contrast between rest and meditation states indicated increased activation in amygdala, right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ), and right posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS). The findings when taken in their entirety suggests the cultivation of positive emotional states through meditation creates changes to the activation of circuitries  linked to empathy and theory of mind in response to emotional stimuli.

Perspective: Neuroscience

Link: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0001897

Open Hearts Build Lives: Positive Emotions, Induced Through Loving-Kindness Meditation, Build Consequential Personal Resources

Authors: Barbara L. Fredrickson,  Michael A. Cohn, Kimberly A. Coffe, Jolynn Pek and Sandra M. Finkel.

Year: 2008

Title: Open Hearts Build Lives: Positive Emotions, Induced Through Loving-Kindness Meditation, Build Consequential Personal Resources

Summary: Does meditation practice produce a cumulative effect? Is there a relationship between meditation and positive emotions, which, in turn produce increased personal resources connected to life satisfaction and reduced depressive symptoms.

Perspective: Social Psychology, Positive Psychology

Link: http://www.unc.edu/peplab/publications/Fredrickson%20et%20al%202008.pdf

Loving-Kindness Meditation for Chronic Low Back Pain

Authors: James W. Carson, Francis J. Keefe, Thomas R. Lynch, Kimberly M. Carson, eeraindar Goli, Anne Marie Fras and Steven R. Thorp

Year: 2005

Title: Loving-Kindness Meditation for Chronic Low Back Pain

Summary: A pilot study on the effects of an eight week loving-kindness meditation program for patients suffering with chronic low back pain. Participants measured for pain, anger, and psychological distress. Analyses of data suggested a relationship between loving-kindness meditation and  lower pain on the day of meditation and a lower experience of anger the following day.

Perspective: Social Cognitive, Health Psychology

Link: http://jhn.sagepub.com/content/23/3/287.abstract

Loving-kindness Meditation Increases Social Connectedness

Loving kindness meditation

Authors: Hutcherson CA, Seppala EM, Gross JJ.

Year: 2008

Title: Loving-kindness meditation increases social connectedness

Summary: This research examines the relationship between social connectedness and meditation. It discusses whether social connectedness could be created toward strangers in a controlled laboratory context. The findings imply that even brief exposure to loving kindness meditation (LKM) may offer some relief from the experience from social isolation.

Perspective: Social cognitive, neuroscience

Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18837623