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Mindful : December 2013
Research Roundup Smokers using a form of mindfulness meditation called integrative body-mind training were able to reduce their smoking by 60%—without even knowing it. In a recent study, participants believed they were learning to meditate for stress reduction, but researchers from the University of Oregon were actually monitoring their smoking behavior. Many participants realized they were smoking less only after seeing the results of a test measuring their exhaled carbon monoxide.1 Researchers at the University of Cape Town in South Africa recently studied the impact of mindfulness- based cognitive therapy on the core symptoms of bipolar disorder. Results suggested that MBCT improves emotion regulation and reduces anxiety in people with the disorder. Brain scans also showed increased activity in the medial prefrontal cor tex, a region associated with cognitive flexibility. 3 Want to be healthier and live longer? Be helpful. A five-year study by three universities—Buffalo, Stony Brook, and Grand Valley State—concluded that being helpful to others reduces the negative effects of stress. Individuals who regularly provided tangible assistance—from running errands to babysitting—lived longer than those who didn’t. 4 Would you give up your seat if someone on crutches entered the room and had no place to sit? You’re more likely to if you meditate. Research- ers from Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospi- tal, and Nor theastern University staged just such a scenario and observed par ticipants’ behavior. Of the people who had never meditated, 16% offered their seat. The proportion rose to 50% among those who had taken an eight-week meditation course. 5 ● Try to Resist A study done at California State University–Dominguez Hills sheds some light on how easily students are distracted by technology. Students from middle school to university were asked to work on an assignment for 15 minutes, but on average they did only 10 minutes of concentrated work. The main distractions? Texting and social media. 2 1 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, August 2013. 2 Computers in Human Behavior, May 2013. 3 Journal of Affective Disorders, June 2013 (online). 4 American Journal of Public Health, September 2013. 5 Psychological Science, April 2013 (online). Special thanks to Mindfulness Research Monthly and Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life for highlighting notable research. December 2013 mindful 19