Mindfulness and meditation practice are powerful tools for healing, and finding well-being and peace.
There is substantial research showing that mindfulness-based treatments can reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. These are also some of the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress. There are various ongoing studies assessing the impact of mindfulness on Post Traumatic Stress. The preliminary indications are very promising, though there is general agreement that further research is needed.
Impacts of Mindfulness on Mind-Body
The Center for Mindfulness, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, states that “A large body of research has established the efficacy of these mindfulness-based practices in reducing the symptoms of a number of disorders, including anxiety, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders and chronic pain, as well as improving wellbeing and quality of life. Link to their Study
Conceptual and Methodological Issues in Research on Mindfulness and Meditation
Richard J. Davidson Alfred W. Kaszniak
October 2015 American Psychologist
Both basic science and clinical research on mindfulness, meditation, and related constructs have dramatically increased in recent years. However, interpretation of these research results has been challenging. This article addresses unique conceptual and methodological problems posed by research in this area.
Intensive Meditation Training Influences Emotional Responses to Suffering
Erika L. Rosenberg, Anthony P. Zanesco, Brandon G. King, Stephen R. Aichele, Tonya L. Jacobs, David A. Bridwell, Katherine A. MacLean, Phillip R. Shaver, Emilio Ferrer, Baljinder K. Sahdra, Shiri Lavy, B. Alan Wallace, and Clifford D. Saron
American Psychological Association 2015
These results suggest that intensive meditation training encourages emotional responses to suffering characterized by enhanced sympathetic concern for, and reduced aversion to, the suffering of others.
Loving-Kindness Meditation Increases Social Connectedness
Cendri A. Hutcherson, Emma M. Seppala, and James J. Gross
Stanford University American Psychological Association 2008
The need for social connection is a fundamental human motive, and it is increasingly clear that feeling socially connected confers mental and physical health benefits. The results of this study suggest that using a Loving-Kindness meditation may help to increase positive social emotions and decrease social isolation.
Impacts of Mindfulness on Post Traumatic Stress
The Department of Defense Deployment Health Clinical Center (DHCC) conducted a feasibility study, funded by Samuelli Institute, on the use of Yoga Nidra, also known as iRest, as an adjunctive therapy to treat symptoms of PTSD in soldiers returning from battle. The DHCC has, for over 3 years, successfully incorporated the modality into the Specialized Care Program (SCP), a multi-disciplinary treatment program for active duty soldiers with PTSD and Medically Unexplained Physical Symptom. Reports indicate iRest is relieving the impact of PTSD-related symptoms manifesting in psychological and physical conditions.This is lessening the stress on families, improving social/family relationships, and restoring a sense of interconnectedness with all of aspects life.
University of Michigan, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System: Anthony P. King, Ph.D., research assistant professor in the U-M Department of Psychiatry, performed a study involving veterans with Post Traumatic Stress in collaboration with psychologists at the Veterans Health Administration Ann Arbor Healthcare System and stated “Mindfulness techniques seemed to lead to a reduction in symptoms and might be a potentially effective novel therapeutic approach to PTSD and trauma-related conditions.” The study was published online in Depression and Anxiety.
Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison: They are currently investigating the impacts of Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) meditation on veterans with PTSD. Preliminary studies from their teams show promise for substantially reducing PTSD symptoms in combat veterans trained in the use of SKY meditation techniques, to include veterans previously shown to be treatment resistant and who have polytrauma.
The Center for Mind-Body Medicine has been awarded a research grant by the Defense Center of Excellence (DCoE) for Psychological Health (PH) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), within the Department of Defense, to study the effects of mind-body skills groups on veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The study will be performed at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Healthcare System (SLVHCS) in collaboration with investigators there. They will be measuring the effect of mind-body skills groups on PTSD, anger, quality of sleep, depression, anxiety, health-related quality of life, and posttraumatic growth (positive psychological changes that can occur as a result of trauma exposure). http://cmbm.org/research/research-in-progress-2/
Senior researcher, Norman Rosenthal, M.D., clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School: Veterans of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars showed a 50% reduction in their symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after just eight weeks of practicing the stress-reducing Transcendental Meditation technique, according to a pilot study published in the June 2011 issue of Military Medicine (Volume 176, Number 6).
Impact of Nature and Awe
Dacher Keltner is engaged in a study with the Sierra Club on the impact of awe and nature on veterans. As the study is underway there are not yet any published results. (http://www.sierraclub.org/outdoors/2015/02/reviewing-great-outdoors-lab-conference) Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, UC Berkeley
Resources to monitor for future, related studies
Mindful magazine online (http://www.mindful.org/research-roundup/)
Veterans Health Administration (http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/treatment/therapy-med/mindful-ptsd.asp)