Project

The applications of Meditation Awareness Training in applied psychological settings

Goal: The applications of Meditation Awareness Training in applied psychological settings

Methods: Randomized Controlled Trial, Randomized Clinical Trial

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Project log

William Van Gordon
added a research item
Montero-Marín, J., Navarro-Gil, M., Puebla, M., Luciana, J. V., Van Gordon, W., Shonin, E., & García-Campayo, J. (2017). Efficacy of ‘Attachment-Based Compassion Therapy’ in the treatment of fibromyalgia: A randomized controlled trial. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 8, 307, DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00307.
William Van Gordon
added a research item
Van Gordon, W., & Shonin, E. (2017). Mindfulness: The art of being human. Mindfulness, Advanced Online Edition, DOI: 10.1007/s12671-017-0819-6.
Dr Edo Shonin
added 2 research items
If a person is referred to as ignorant then according to the widely accepted meaning of this term, it is generally understood that they have a low level of knowledge or intelligence. However, within Buddhism and other Eastern contemplative traditions, the term ignorance assumes a somewhat different meaning. According to Buddhist thought, if a person is said to be ignorant it normally means that they are ignorant as to the ultimate manner in which the self and phenomena exist. The practice of mindfulness of ignorance is concerned with cultivating awareness of the ignorant beliefs, behaviours, and perceptions that we have allowed to become established in the mind.
Whenever we are travelling or teaching in the West and we meet new people, they invariably initially respond in one of three ways. The first way is to immediately state or exclaim that ‘you are monks’. We haven’t quite worked out yet whether this is supposed to be a manner of greeting, an expression of shock or just a statement of fact. The second response—which also happens to be the one we prefer most—is for people to either shake our hands or to put their palms together before all parties gently bow. The third response that we frequently encounter— which brings us onto the subject of this article—is for people to forgo even saying hello and to straightaway ask the question ‘What lineage are you?’ We don’t encounter people asking this question quite so much when we are in the East, but in theWest, people seem to place a great deal of importance on establishing which particular lineage a person ‘belongs’ to.
Dr Edo Shonin
added 3 research items
Findings supporting the clinical applications of mindfulness have stimulated research into other meditation techniques. In particular, there is growing scientific enquiry into the effectiveness of Buddhist-derived compassion techniques for treating a wide variety of health-related disorders. Compassion-Based Interventions (CBIs) usually employ compassion meditation as a central therapeutic technique and invariably follow a secular format (with minimal use of Buddhist terminology). Compassion meditation is described as the meditative development of affective empathy as part of the visceral sharing of others’ suffering.1 The technique involves the patient using meditative imagery and/or breathing practices in order to intentionally direct compassionate feelings towards 1) themselves (known as self-compassion); 2) an individual (for example, a friend or person deemed to be a cause of distress, such as a difficult work colleague); 3) a group of individuals (or ‘living beings’ in general); and/or 4) a situation (for example, the devastation caused by a natural disaster or war).1 While cultivating such feelings, the patient has conviction that they are …
We never cease to be amazed by how popular mindfulness is becoming and by the number of individuals wishing to train as mindfulness teachers. The explanations people provide for wanting to become mindfulness teachers are numerous and wide-ranging but the most common reasons we have come across are spiritual development, personal development, professional development and/or financial gain. Personally, we would like to see the integration of mindfulness into applied settings unfold at a much slower pace and for a greater number of mindfulness stakeholders to appreciate the importance of developing strong practice foundations.We would also like to see people teach mindfulness only after many years of tuition and focussed daily practice. However, given the level of public interest and the growing demand for mindfulness teachers, such an approach is probably not realistic and so perhaps the next best thing to do is to try to raise awareness of the factors that—whether according to traditional Buddhist thinking or contemporary research findings—are deemed to facilitate effective and authentic mindfulness teaching. Accordingly, here we outline what we believe are ten practical recommendations for teaching mindfulness effectively.
Findings supporting the clinical applications of mindfulness have stimulated research into other meditation techniques. In particular, there is growing scientific enquiry into the effectiveness of Buddhist derived compassion techniques for treating a wide variety of health-related disorders. Compassion-Based Interventions (CBIs) usually employ compassion meditation as a central therapeutic technique and invariably follow a secular format (with minimal use of Buddhist terminology). Compassion meditation is described as the meditative development of affective empathy as part of the visceral sharing of others’ suffering. The technique involves the patient using meditative imagery and/or breathing practices in order to intentionally direct compassionate feelings towards 1) themselves (known as self-compassion); 2) an individual (for example, a friend or person deemed to be a cause of distress, such as a difficult work colleague); 3) a group of individuals (or ‘living beings’ in general); and/or 4) a situation (for example, the devastation caused by a natural disaster or war).1 While cultivating such feelings, the patient has conviction that they are enhancing the wellbeing of the person or persons concerned. Examples of CBIs include 8- to 12-week group interventions such as Compassion-Cultivation Training, Compassion-Focused Therapy, and Cognitively Based Compassion Training (CBCT). An increasing number of mindfulness-based interventions — particularly those categorised as second-generation mindfulness-based interventions— have also integrated compassion and compassion-related meditation techniques (for example, Compassion-Mindfulness Therapy, Mindful Self-Compassion Programme, Attachment-Based Compassion Therapy, and Meditation Awareness Training).
Dr Edo Shonin
added 4 research items
Objectives. The purpose of this study was to conduct the first randomized controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate the effectiveness of a second-generation mindfulness-based intervention (SG-MBI) for treating fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). Compared to first generation mindfulness-based interventions, SG-MBIs are more acknowledging of the spiritual aspect of mindfulness. Design. A RCT employing intent-to-treat analysis. Methods. Adults with FMS received an 8-week SG-MBI known as meditation awareness training (MAT; n = 74) or an active control intervention known as cognitive behaviour theory for groups (n = 74). Assessments were performed at pre-, post-, and 6-month follow-up phases. Results. Meditation awareness training participants demonstrated significant and sustained improvements over control group participants in FMS symptomatology, pain perception, sleep quality, psychological distress, non-attachment (to self, symptoms, and environment), and civic engagement. A mediation analysis found that (1) civic engagement partially mediated treatment effects for all outcome variables, (2) non-attachment partially mediated treatment effects for psychological distress and sleep quality, and (3) non-attachment almost fully mediated treatment effects for FMS symptomatology and pain perception. Average daily time spent in meditation was found to be a significant predictor of changes in all outcome variables. Conclusions. Meditation awareness training may be a suitable treatment for adults with FMS and appears to ameliorate FMS symptomatology and pain perception by reducing attachment to self.
The purpose of this study was to conduct the first randomized controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate the effectiveness of a second-generation mindfulness-based intervention (SG-MBI) for treating fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). Compared to first generation mindfulness-based interventions, SG-MBIs are more acknowledging of the spiritual aspect of mindfulness. Design. A RCT employing intent-to-treat analysis. Methods. Adults with FMS received an 8-week SG-MBI known as meditation awareness training (MAT; n = 74) or an active control intervention known as cognitive behaviour theory for groups (n = 74). Assessments were performed at pre-, post-, and 6-month follow-up phases. Results. Meditation awareness training participants demonstrated significant and sustained improvements over control group participants in FMS symptomatology, pain perception, sleep quality, psychological distress, non-attachment (to self, symptoms, and environment), and civic engagement. A mediation analysis found that (1) civic engagement partially mediated treatment effects for all outcome variables, (2) non-attachment partially mediated treatment effects for psychological distress and sleep quality, and (3) non-attachment almost fully mediated treatment effects for FMS symptomatology and pain perception. Average daily time spent in meditation was found to be a significant predictor of changes in all outcome variables. Conclusions. Meditation awareness training may be a suitable treatment for adults with FMS and appears to ameliorate FMS symptomatology and pain perception by reducing attachment to self.
Dr Edo Shonin
added 2 research items
Working on the assumption that the average healthy individual completes 15 breath cycles each minute, an individual that is fortunate enough to live until they are 100 years old will take approximately 786 million in-breaths and the same number of out-breaths. From the meditator’s perspective, this equates to almost 1.6 billion opportunities to attain enlightenment. The breath, when correctly observed and attended to, can become a potent means of cultivating awakened perception. However, despite the numerous opportunities provided by the process of breathing to become more spiritually aware, it is unfortunately the case that there exist a significant number of people that live out their entire life without being aware of a single breath in or out. The breath can be used in meditation to collect, calm and focus the mind. Using this meditative calm as a basis, the breath can then be used to cultivate insight into the true nature of reality. In our experience, it is important that the meditation unfolds in this sequence. If an individual attempts to investigate the true nature of reality with a mind that lacks clarity and focus, it is inevitable that the outcome of their investigation will be confused. Therefore, as a given meditation session progresses, there should be a gradual ‘opening up’ of awareness and a smooth transition from a form of meditative awareness that is more focused on establishing mental stability, to one that is more orientated towards meditative investigation.
Despite the fact that there is increasing integration of Buddhist principles and practices into Western mental health and applied psychological disciplines, there appears to be limited understanding in Western psychology of the assumptions that underlie a Buddhist model of mental illness. The concept of ontological addiction was introduced and formulated in order to narrow some of the disconnect between Buddhist and Western models of mental illness and to foster effective assimilation of Buddhist practices and principles into mental health research and practice. Ontological addiction refers to the maladaptive condition whereby an individual is addicted to the belief that they inherently exist. The purposes of the present paper are to (i) classify ontological addiction in terms of its definition, symptoms, prevalence, and functional consequences, (ii) examine the etiology of the condition, and (iii) appraise both the traditional Buddhist and contemporary empirical literature in order to outline effective treatment strategies. An assessment of the extent to which ontological addiction meets the clinical criteria for addiction suggests that ontological addiction is a chronic and valid—albeit functionally distinct (i.e., when compared to chemical and behavioral addictions)—form of addiction. However, despite the protracted and pervasive nature of the condition, recent empirical findings add support to ancient Buddhist teachings and suggest that addiction to selfhood can be overcome by a treatment process involving phases of (i) becoming aware of the imputed self, (ii) deconstructing the imputed self, and (iii) reconstructing a dynamic and non-dual self.
William Van Gordon
added a project goal
The applications of Meditation Awareness Training in applied psychological settings