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Objective: Studying personal narratives can generate understanding of how people experience physical and mental illness. However, few studies have explored narratives of engagement in health positive behaviours, with none focusing on men specifically. Thus, we sought to examine men's experiences of their efforts to engage in and maintain healthy behaviours, focusing on meditation as an example of such behaviour. Design: We recruited 30 male meditators, using principles of maximum variation sampling, and conducted two in-depth interviews with each, separated by a year. Main outcome measures: We sought to elicit men's narratives of their experiences of trying to maintain a meditation practice. Results: We identified an overall theme of a 'positive health trajectory,' in particular, making 'progress' through meditation. Under this were six main accounts. Only two articulated a 'positive' message about progress: Climbing a hierarchy of practitioners, and progress catalysed in other areas of life. The other four reflected the difficulties around progress: Progress being undermined by illness; disappointment with progress; progress 'forgotten' (superseded by other concerns); and progress re-conceptualised due to other priorities. Conclusion: Men's narratives reveal the way they experience and construct their engagement with meditation - as an example of health behaviour - in terms of progress.
... Qualitative interview studies indicate that the most frequently reported barriers to meditation include negative emotional experiences and thoughts, difficulties associated with the length of mindfulness practice, and difficulties maintaining regular practice and fitting it into one's daily routines (Banerjee et al., 2017;Laurie & Blandford, 2016). In turn, engagement with meditation is fostered by the positive experiences of one's ongoing progress (Banerjee et al., 2017;Lomas et al., 2014). ...
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Background: The benefits of mindfulness interventions are well-known, but their challenges and individual differences in reactions to these challenges are much less clear. Methods: The study used a mixed-methods design to investigate the individual trajectories of daily experiences during meditation in a sample of novice volunteers participating in a 3-week, distance-based, guided meditation intervention (N = 175). Results: Multilevel modelling revealed individual differences in the change trajectories of the experiences of effort, meaning, and boredom during meditation, indicating that meditation gradually became less effortful, less boring, more interesting, and more important over the 3 weeks. The individual differences in the levels of these experiences and their change trends were associated with baseline differences in well-being, reflective processes, self-management, and self-control skills, as well as autonomous motivation to engage in the course. Conclusions: Individuals who are initially more autonomous and mindful find it easier to engage with online mindfulness interventions and draw more benefits from the process, whereas those with lower self-regulation skills or higher proneness to rumination are more likely to experience mindfulness as effortful and boring, and, eventually, to give it up.
... In addition, understanding the factors underlying gender differences in yoga practice is important given the higher rates of lifestyle-related morbidity in men and challenges around engaging men in health protective behaviours. 47 Further exploration of the gender differential is warranted and could draw on the perceptions of yoga in Western countries compared with those in India. ...
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Objectives Despite the popularity of yoga and evidence of its positive effects on physical and mental health, little is known about yoga practice in the UK. This study investigated the characteristics of people who practise yoga, reasons for initiating and maintaining practice, and perceived impact of yoga on health and well-being. Design, setting and participants A cross-sectional online anonymous survey distributed through UK-based yoga organisations, studios and events, through email invites and flyers. 2434 yoga practitioners completed the survey, including 903 yoga teachers: 87% were women, 91% white and 71% degree educated; mean age was 48.7 years. Main outcome measures Perceived impact of yoga on health conditions, health outcomes and injuries. Relationships between yoga practice and measures of health, lifestyle, stress and well-being. Results In comparison with national population norms, participants reported significantly higher well-being but also higher anxiety; lower perceived stress, body mass index and incidence of obesity, and higher rates of positive health behaviours. 47% reported changing their motivations to practise yoga, with general wellness and fitness key to initial uptake, and stress management and spirituality important to current practice. 16% of participants reported starting yoga to manage a physical or mental health condition. Respondents reported the value of yoga for a wide range of health conditions, most notably for musculoskeletal and mental health conditions. 20.7% reported at least one yoga-related injury over their lifetime. Controlling for demographic factors, frequency of yoga practice accounted for small but significant variance in health-related regression models (p<0.001). Conclusion The findings of this first detailed UK survey were consistent with surveys in other Western countries. Yoga was perceived to have a positive impact on physical and mental health conditions and was linked to positive health behaviours. Further investigation of yoga’s role in self-care could inform health-related challenges faced by many countries.
... These results are similar to Lomas et al. who studied personal narratives of male meditators and found similar reasons for use accompanied by the experience of not progressing in practice to a place of experiencing benefits. 12 Upchurch and Johnson contextualized their study by aligning it with the Andersen Behavioral Model, which is well tested, familiar, and useful to clinicians. Their suggestion that women may have ''greater health literacy'' compared with men is an interesting one that merits future research. ...
... noted, failure to track such participation is a perennial issue in MBI research, and this trend was observed in the studies analysed here. Additionally, beyond people simply participating in an MBI, much more knowledge is needed about the extent and quality of their involvement with meditation.In that respect, besides quantitatively tracking participation, studies could incorporate a qualitative element to their assessment (seeLomas, Cartwright, Edginton, and Ridge (2013, 2014a, 2014b, 2016 on the value of qualitative analyses in relation to mindfulness practice). Third, where possible, trials should involve well-established MBIs (i.e., rather than bespoke adaptations), to better enable comparison and aggregation across studies. ...
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Efforts to improve the well-being of healthcare professionals include mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs). To understand the value of such initiatives, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of empirical studies pertaining to the use of MBIs with healthcare professionals. Databases were reviewed from the start of records to January 2016 (PROSPERO registration number: CRD42016032899). Eligibility criteria included empirical analyses of well-being outcomes acquired in relation to MBIs. Forty-one papers met the eligibility criteria, consisting of a total of 2101 participants. Studies were examined for two broad classes of well-being outcomes: (a) “negative” mental health measures such as anxiety, depression, and stress; (b) “positive” indices of well-being, such as life satisfaction, together with outcomes associated with well-being, such as emotional intelligence. MBIs were generally associated with positive outcomes in relation to most measures (albeit with moderate effect sizes), and mindfulness does appear to improve the well-being of healthcare professionals. However, the quality of the studies was inconsistent, so further research is needed, particularly high-quality randomised control trials.
... Nearly all boys presented a narrative of progress (as did the male meditators in Lomas, Cartwright, Edginton, and Ridge, 2014). Half the participants reported finding mindfulness hard at first; F was typical in experiencing it as "quite difficult to focus." ...
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Teenage boys are a source of considerable concern in society, with generally poorer health, educational, and social outcomes than their female counterparts. Of particular concern are “at-risk” adolescents, who by definition are liable to poorer outcomes than peers not deemed at-risk. However, there are indications that activities such as mindfulness may offer opportunities for such adolescents to negotiate more positive constructions of masculinity. This study piloted a new four-week mindfulness-based intervention, created specifically for a group of eight at-risk adolescent boys at a school in London. In-depth, semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with participants before and after the intervention and analyzed using grounded theory. The data revealed an overarching theme of “pressure control.” Participants depicted themselves as facing multiple pressures, many of which related to making the difficult transition from childhood to adulthood. However, the context of the intervention enabled them to generate a masculine construction in which they were able to reclaim agency and self-control. Notably, such control was often exercised in the direction of facilitating emotional connection and agility, thus subverting traditional masculine expectations. The results show that at-risk adolescent boys are capable of more nuanced and skilled emotional competencies than they are often given credit for.
... Interestingly, research on converts to Buddhism in Western countries suggest that many people do indeed go on this journey of discovery -from utilising mindfulness in a de-contextualised 'secular' way, to then being intrigued by the broader and potentially more far-reaching possibilities for wellbeing offered by Buddhism. For example, qualitative interviews with meditators in London revealed that although most initially just took up meditation as a stress-management technique (Lomas et al., 2013), nearly all subsequently became interested in the wider Buddhist context of meditation (Lomas et al., 2014b), and many went on to become practising Buddhist to some extent (Lomas et al., 2014a). So, what relevance to such Buddhist teachings hold for PP? ...
Chapter
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Mindfulness has had a profound and dramatic impact upon academic psychology, and indeed upon Western Society more generally, being adopted and adapted in a multitude of contexts. However, while this interest is to be greatly welcomed, it is worth noting that mindfulness has tended to be conceptualised and taught in a secular way, decontextualized from the Buddhist nexus of theory and practice in which it was originally developed. This has meant that the practice has been denuded of some of its power and significance, and its potential as a means for psychospiritual growth has been curtailed. As such, this chapter argues that it is worth now aiming to 're-contextualise' mindfulness, exploring the way in which we might benefit from also engaging with the wider framework of Buddhist teachings in which mindfulness was originally situated. In particular, the chapter suggests that Buddhism actually identifies three different 'forms' or 'levels' of mindfulness, captured by various Pali words: sati (awareness suffused with spirit of recollection); appamada (awareness suffused with an ethos of ethical care); and sampajañña (awareness suffused with a sense of spiritual development). So far, only the first of these (sati) has really been explored by contemporary psychology; however, the chapter makes the case that we have much to gain from also engaging with the potential ethical and spiritual dimensions of mindfulness.
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Religion, Spirituality, and Masculinity provides concrete, practical suggestions for mental health professionals. Drawing from decades of clinical experience working with men and interdisciplinary insights from psychology, sociology, religion, and more, the authors explore some of the most salient aspects of men’s mental and spiritual health. Chapters focus on topics such as men’s relationships to religion and to masculinity, shame, and forgiveness, and concerns such as pornography use and drifting between religious affiliations. In addition to relevant theory and research, each chapter includes a case study and clear, science-informed strategies that can be incorporated into everyday practice in ways that improve men’s health and wellbeing.
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Introduction: Teenage boys are a source of considerable concern in society, with poorer health, educational and social outcomes than their female counterparts. Of particular concern are ‘at-risk’ adolescents, who by definition are liable to poorer outcomes. Methods: This study piloted a new mindfulness-based intervention, created specifically for at-risk adolescent boys. This involved four weekly sessions, featuring mindfulness activities designed to engender emotional management skills. Eight participants aged 13-14 were recruited from a school in London. In-depth semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with participants before and after the intervention, and analysed using grounded theory. Results: The data revealed an overarching theme of pressure, with participants facing three main intersecting forms of pressure, relating to school, growing up, and gender. The intervention was reported by participants as having had a positive effect, with mindfulness serving as a ‘pressure valve’ enabling participants to better deal with their negative emotions. Other positive outcomes included increased self-reported focus and attention, facilitating better performance in class. Discussion: Overall, mindfulness has promise as an intervention for helping at-risk adolescent boys deal with the considerable pressures they face in life, though further research will be needed to explore its effectiveness further.
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The relevance of the arts to wellbeing has been recognised within clinical fields, as reflected in therapeutic forms based on various art modalities, from music to drama therapy. However, there has hitherto been little appreciation in fields such as positive psychology of the broader potential of the arts as a vehicle for flourishing and fulfilment. As such, this paper proposes the creation of ‘positive art’ as a field encompassing theory and research concerning the wellbeing value of art. To show the scope and possibilities of this proposed field, the paper provides an indicative summary of literature pertaining to four major art forms: visual art, music, literature and drama. Moreover, the paper identifies five main positive outcomes that are consistently found in the literature across all these forms: sense-making, enriching experience, aesthetic appreciation, entertainment, and bonding. The paper aims to encourage a greater focus on the arts in fields like positive psychology, enabling science to more fully understand and appreciate the positive power of the arts.
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Objectives To report the findings of a literature review of the concept of wellbeing and consider its operational and heuristic potential within a range of disciplines. Design A literature review to examine the philosophical roots of wellbeing and the contributions of the main disciplines uncovered by the review; economics, psychology, health studies, sociology, anthropology and biomedicine. Setting 'Wellbeing' is a concept of increasing interest to those working in health promotion, social and public health medicine and medical sociology. Despite its popularity, wellbeing lacks a clear conceptual base and there is little consensus about how it may be identified, measured and achieved. Method Although conducted rigorously this was more of a scoping exercise than a systematic review. The reviewer was given a fairly broad exploratory brief including qualitative and quantitative dimensions. The search was restricted to articles in the English Language between the years 1980-2001. Results Most disciplines tended to be biased towards one or two aspects of the three major aspects of physical, social and psychological Wellbeing, with the main exception of child wellbeing studies. Those working in economics made a significant contribution to understanding conceptual elements of wellbeing. The fields of psychology and biomedicine were more concerned with negative than positive affect. There was a particular lack of consensus and research around social wellbeing. Conclusion Although wellbeing may indeed be extremely useful as a unifying concept for all those involved in health improvement or health research,at present it is being used unreflectively, thus potentially masking differences.
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Traditional masculine norms around emotions (e.g., inexpressiveness) can mean men have difficulties managing their emotions, contributing to potential mental health problems. However, it is recognized that men and masculinities are diverse, and that some men can positively self-manage their mental health, although this has received little attention in the literature. Uniquely, we sought to find men who had discovered ways to engage constructively with their emotions, in this case through meditation. Thirty male meditators, recruited using a maximum variation sampling strategy, participated in a longitudinal mixed-methods study in the United Kingdom. Participants undertook 2 cognitive neuroscience sessions, approximately 1 year apart, composed of cognitive assessments of attention combined with electroencephalograph measurement during task performance and meditation. In-depth narrative interviews exploring men's experiences of meditation were also conducted at both time points, analyzed using a modified constant comparison approach. Taken together, the quantitative and qualitative results suggest that men developed attention skills through meditation, although there were variations according to previous meditation experience (e.g., a sharper longitudinal increase in theta amplitude under meditation for novice practitioners). Moreover, development of attention appeared to enhance men's emotional intelligence, which in turn could be conducive to well-being. The results have implications for psychologists working with men, pointing to the potential for teaching men about better regulating their emotions for improved well-being.
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Lauren Berlant explores individual and collective affective responses to the unraveling of the U.S. and European economies by analzying mass media, literature, television, film, and video.
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Background: Mindfulness may be viewed as a supra-cognitive state of consciousness focussed on the decentred, objective and compassionate observation of transient mental and physical phenomena that may be attained through meditation practices. Mindfulness meditation is thought to be beneficial in the management of various physical and mental health conditions. Objective: To assess the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation practice as a healthcare intervention. Methods: Systematic computerised and hand literature searches for randomised controlled trials and evaluation using methodological quality criteria. Results: The higher quality studies analysed in this review have demonstrated replicated statistically significant improvements in spirituality and positive health measures and decreases in depressive relapse, depressive recurrence and psychological distress. Conclusions: Despite the lack of specific, reliable and validated mindfulness measures, mindfulness shows potential as a positive healthcare intervention and continued investigation is warranted. Further research using improved methodology and utilising specific mindfulness outcome measures in trials with long-term follow up, larger populations and a wider demographic range is recommended.
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Background: Women outlive men in all but the poorest and most unequal of countries, despite recent increases in male life expectancy that have exceeded those amongst women. This study identifies sources of disparity in longevity between sexes. Methods: Canadian data on age and cause of all deaths recorded in 1999 are grouped and analyzed to identify sex differences in mortality. Results: The overall ratio of male to female deaths (1.09 to 1) varies across ages, from a maximum of 2.6 male for every 1 female death between ages 15 and 29 years, to a minimum of 0.80 to 1 amongst those over 74 years old. The source of greatest disadvantage for men under age 45 years is behaviours attributable to gender. Accidents, injuries, and suicides account for the majority of the male mortality excess in this group, and for more male than female deaths amongst all but the most elderly. Before age 60 years, risk-taking behaviour claims more male lives than does circulatory disease. Conclusions: Data presented show the significance of gender as a determinant of longevity, and suggest the value of interventions to ameliorate this effect.