Autonomic system modification in zen practitioners

Nevner mye om hvordan pustefrekvens påvirker HRV og  andre faktorer. Og spesielt hvordan dette endrer den normale pusten på lang sikt.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24469560

http://www.indianjmedsci.org/article.asp?issn=0019-5359;year=2013;volume=67;issue=7;spage=161;epage=167;aulast=Fiorentini

Background: Meditation in its various forms is a traditional exercise with a potential benefit on well-being and health. On a psychosomatic level these exercises seem to improve the salutogenetic potential in man.Especially the cardiorespiratory interaction seems to play an important role since most meditation techniques make use of special low frequency breathing patterns regardless of whether they result from a deliberate guidance of breathing or other mechanisms, for example, the recitation of specific verse. During the different exercises of Zen meditation the depth and the duration of each respiratory cycle is determined only by the process of breathing. Respiratory manoeuvres during Zazen meditation may produce HR variability changes similar to those produces during biofeedback.Recognition that the respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) was mediated by efferent vagal activity acting on the sinus node led investigators to attempt to quantify the fluctuations in R-R intervals that were related to breathing. Materials and Methods: Nine Zen practitioners with five years of experience took part in the study. Autonomic nervous system function was evaluated by heart rate variability (HRV) analysis during 24-hours ECG recording during zen meditation and at rest. Results: The data of this small observational study confirm that ZaZen breathing falls within the range of low frequency HR spectral bands. Our data suggest that the modification of HR spectral power remained also in normal day when the subject have a normal breathing. Conclusion: We suggest that the changes in the breathing rate might modify the chemoreflex and the continuous practice in slow breathing can reduce chemoreflex. This change in the automonic control of respiration can be permanent with a resetting of endogenous circulatory rhythms.

Figure 1: Power spectrum analysis of heart rate variability during zen meditation

Figure 2: Power spectrum analysis of heart rate variability to rest

In conclusion, repeated training to slow down breathing reduces the spontaneous breathing rate with long term effects on the cardiovascular control mechanisms. Indeed, when respiration slows to about 6 cycles/min, as in Zen practitioners and in the frequency range of the spontaneous LF oscillation, the cardiovascular fluctuations become maximal. The changes in the breathing rate might modify the chemoreflex and the continuous practice in slow breathing can reduce chemoreflex. This change in the autonomic control of respiration can be permanent with a resetting of endogenous circulatory rhythms.

Rapid changes in histone deacetylases and inflammatory gene expression in expert meditators.

Om hvordan 1 hel dag med meditasjon endrer genene som styrer betennelser.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24485481/

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

A growing body of research shows that mindfulness meditation can alter neural, behavioral and biochemical processes. However, the mechanisms responsible for such clinically relevant effects remain elusive.

METHODS:

Here we explored the impact of a day of intensive practice of mindfulness meditation in experienced subjects (n=19) on the expression of circadian, chromatin modulatory and inflammatory genes in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). In parallel, we analyzed a control group of subjects with no meditation experience who engaged in leisure activities in the same environment (n=21). PBMC from all participants were obtained before (t1) and after (t2) the intervention (t2-t1=8h) and gene expression was analyzed using custom pathway focused quantitative-real time PCR assays. Both groups were also presented with the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST).

RESULTS:

Core clock gene expression at baseline (t1) was similar between groups and their rhythmicity was not influenced in meditators by the intensive day of practice. Similarly, we found that all the epigenetic regulatory enzymes and inflammatory genes analyzed exhibited similar basal expression levels in the two groups. In contrast, after the brief intervention we detected reduced expression of histone deacetylase genes (HDAC 2, 3 and 9), alterations in global modification of histones (H4ac; H3K4me3) and decreased expression of pro-inflammatory genes (RIPK2 and COX2) in meditators compared with controls. We found that the expression of RIPK2 and HDAC2 genes was associated with a faster cortisol recovery to the TSST in both groups.

CONCLUSIONS:

The regulation of HDACs and inflammatory pathways may represent some of the mechanisms underlying the therapeutic potential of mindfulness-based interventions. Our findings set the foundation for future studies to further assess meditation strategies for the treatment of chronic inflammatory conditions.

 

The inflammatory reflex: the role of the vagus nerve in regulation of immune functions

Nevner mekanismene bak hvordan vagus nerven demper betennelsesreaksjoner og kan bidra i autoimmune sykdommer.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22263327

Abstract

Experimental studies published in past years have shown an important role of the vagus nerve in regulating immune functions. Afferent pathways of this cranial nerve transmit signals related to tissue damage and immune reactions to the brain stem. After central processing of these signals, activated efferent vagal pathways modulate inflammatory reactions through inhibiting the synthesis and secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines by immune cells. Therefore, pathways localized in the vagus nerve constitute the afferent and efferent arms of the so-called «inflammatory reflex» that participates in negative feedback regulation of inflammation in peripheral tissues. Activation of efferent pathways of the vagus nerve significantly reduces tissue damage in several models of diseases in experimental animals. Clinical studies also indicate the importance of the vagus nerve in regulating inflammatory reactions in humans. It is suggested that alteration of the inflammatory reflex underlies the etiopathogenesis of diseases characterized by exaggerated production of pro-inflammatory mediators. Therefore, research into the inflammatory reflex may create the basis for developing new approaches in the treatment of diseases with inflammatory components.

You cannot wash off blood with blood: entering the mind through the body.

The old Zen saying, «You cannot wash off blood with blood,» refers to the conviction that it is difficult to control thoughts with other thoughts.

This saying implies that the way to control the mind is through the body. In Zen meditation (zazen), this is accomplished through the regulation of breathing and posture. The purpose of this article is to examine the relationship between breathing, posture and concentration in one tradition of Zen. I will explore how this relationship may be relevant to the practice of psychotherapy and the healing arts, as well as its implications for future research in these fields.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22742675

http://www.explorejournal.com/article/S1550-8307(12)00076-6/fulltext

Brain Mechanisms Supporting the Modulation of Pain by Mindfulness Meditation

En studie som gir en tydelig beskrivelse av hvor mye mindfulness demper smerte. De fant ingen korrelasjon mellom pustefrekvens og smertereduksjon, men det kan være flere faktorer som spiller inn der.  I denne studien gjorde de f.eks. kun 20 min meditasjon i 4 dager, med mennesker som ikke har meditert først. De andre studiene inkluderer mennesker som har meditert lenge. I tillegg kan man tydelig se at etter 4 dager med meditasjon så blir pustefrekvensen lavere når man blir påført vond varme, noe som tyder på at de begynner å bruke pusten som smertereduksjon. Det var motsatt før de hadde fått instruksjon i meditasjon.

http://www.jneurosci.org/content/31/14/5540.full

After 4 d of mindfulness meditation training, meditating in the presence of noxious stimulation significantly reduced pain unpleasantness by 57% and pain intensity ratings by 40% when compared to rest.

Meditation-induced reductions in pain intensity ratings were associated with increased activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and anterior insula, areas involved in the cognitive regulation of nociceptive processing. Reductions in pain unpleasantness ratings were associated with orbitofrontal cortex activation, an area implicated in reframing the contextual evaluation of sensory events. Moreover, reductions in pain unpleasantness also were associated with thalamic deactivation, which may reflect a limbic gating mechanism involved in modifying interactions between afferent input and executive-order brain areas. Together, these data indicate that meditation engages multiple brain mechanisms that alter the construction of the subjectively available pain experience from afferent information.

Mindfulness-based mental training.

Mindfulness-based mental training was performed in four separate, 20 min sessions conducted by a facilitator with >10 years of experience leading similar meditation regimens. Subjects had no previous meditative experience and were informed that such training was secular and taught as the cognitive practice of Shamatha or mindfulness meditation. Each training session was held with one to three participants.

On mindfulness meditation training day 1, subjects were encouraged to sit with a straight posture, eyes closed, and to focus on the changing sensations of the breath occurring at the tips of their nostrils. Instructions emphasized acknowledging discursive thoughts and feelings and to return their attention back to the breath sensation without judgment or emotional reaction whenever such discursive events occurred. On training day 2, participants continued to focus on breath-related nostril sensations and were instructed to “follow the breath,” by mentally noting the rise and fall of the chest and abdomen. The last 10 min were held in silence so subjects could develop their meditative practice. On training day 3, the same basic principles of the previous sessions were reiterated. However, an audio recording of MRI scanner sounds was introduced during the last 10 min of meditation to familiarize subjects with the sounds of the scanner. On the final training session (day 4), subjects received minimal meditation instruction but were required to lie in the supine position and meditate with the audio recording of the MRI sounds to simulate the scanner environment. Contrary to traditional mindfulness-based training programs, subjects were not required to practice outside of training.

Subjects also completed the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory short-form (FMI), a 14-item assessment that measures levels of mindfulness, before psychophysical pain training and after MRI session 2. The FMI is a psychometrically validated instrument with high internal consistency (Cronbach α = 0.86) (Walach et al., 2006). Statements such as “I am open to the experience of the present moment” are rated on a five-point scale from 1 (rarely) to 5 (always). Higher scores indicate more skill with the mindfulness technique.

Decreases in respiration rate have been reported previously to predict reductions in pain ratings (Grant and Rainville, 2009Zautra et al., 2010). In the present data (MRI session 2; n = 14), no significant relationship between the decreased respiration rates and pain intensity (p = 0.22, r = −0.35), pain unpleasantness (p = 0.41, r = −0.24), or FMI ratings (p = 0.42, r = 0.24) was found.

CBF Respiration rate Heart rate
Session 1
    Rest: neutral 74.12 (3.01) 19.97 (1.29) 72.53 (2.33)
    Rest: heat 71.51 (2.93) 20.45 (1.11) 74.79 (2.39)
    ATB: neutral 70.69 (3.56) 17.05 (1.00) 70.46 (1.79)
    ATB: heat 67.90 (3.08) 19.32 (1.33) 74.07 (2.19)
Session 2
    Rest: neutral 68.57 (3.17) 16.72 (0.82) 74.82 (3.08)
    Rest: heat 66.82 (2.59) 17.12 (0.93) 77.32 (2.95)
    Meditation: neutral 65.09 (3.59) 11.55 (0.74) 73.62 (2.77)
    Meditation: heat 65.47 (3.86) 9.47 (0.67)a 75.38 (2.70)

In the present investigation, meditation reduced all subjects’ pain intensity and unpleasantness ratings with decreases ranging from 11 to 70% and from 20 to 93%, respectively.

Meditation likely modulates pain through several mechanisms. First, brain areas not directly related to meditation exhibited altered responses to noxious thermal stimuli. Notably, meditation significantly reduced pain-related afferent processing in SI (Fig. 5), a region long associated with sensory-discriminative processing of nociceptive information (Coghill et al., 1999). Executive-level brain regions (ACC, AI, OFC) are thought to influence SI activity via anatomical pathways traversing the SII, insular, and posterior parietal cortex (Mufson and Mesulam, 1982Friedman et al., 1986;Vogt and Pandya, 1987). However, because meditation-induced changes in SI were not specifically correlated with reductions in either pain intensity or unpleasantness, this remote tuning may take place at a processing level before the differentiation of nociceptive information into subjective sensory experience.

Second, the magnitude of decreased pain intensity ratings was associated with ACC and right AI activation (Fig. 6). Activation in the mid-cingulate and AI overlapped between meditation and pain, indicating a likely substrate for pain modulation. Converging lines of evidence suggest that these regions play a major role in the evaluation of pain intensity and fine-tuning afferent processing in a context-relevant manner (Koyama et al., 2005Oshiro et al., 2009;Starr et al., 2009). Such roles are consistent with the aspect of mindfulness meditation that involves reducing appraisals that normally impart significance to salient sensory events.

Third, OFC activation was associated with decreases in pain unpleasantness ratings (Fig. 6). The OFC has been implicated in regulating affective responses by manipulating the contextual evaluation of sensory events (Rolls and Grabenhorst, 2008) and processing reward value in the cognitive modulation of pain (Petrovic and Ingvar, 2002). Meditation directly improves mood (Zeidan et al., 2010a), and positive mood induction reduces pain ratings (Villemure and Bushnell, 2009). Therefore, meditation-related OFC activation may reflect altered executive-level reappraisals to consciously process reward and hedonic experiences (e.g., immediate pain relief, positive mood) (O’Doherty et al., 2001Baliki et al., 2010Peters and Büchel, 2010).

Mindfulness starts with the body: somatosensory attention and top-down modulation of cortical alpha rhythms in mindfulness meditation

Studie som nevner at Mindfulness øker alpha-bølger i hjernen, som bidrar til reduksjon i smerte.

http://www.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00012/full

Using a common set of mindfulness exercises, mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) have been shown to reduce distress in chronic pain and decrease risk of depression relapse. These standardized mindfulness (ST-Mindfulness) practices predominantly require attending to breath and body sensations.

Based on multiple randomized clinical trials, there is good evidence for the efficacy of these ST-Mindfulness programs for preventing mood disorders in people at high risk of depression (Teasdale et al., 2000a,bMa and Teasdale, 2004Segal et al., 2010Fjorback et al., 2011Piet and Hougaard, 2011), improving mood and quality of life in chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia (Grossman et al., 2007Sephton et al., 2007Schmidt et al., 2011) and low-back pain (Morone et al., 2008a,b), in chronic functional disorders such as IBS (Gaylord et al., 2011) and in challenging medical illnesses, including multiple sclerosis (Grossman et al., 2010) and cancer (Speca et al., 2000). ST-Mindfulness has also been shown to decrease stress in healthy people undergoing difficult life situations (Cohen-Katz et al., 2005), such as caring for a loved-one with Alzheimer’s disease (Epstein-Lubow et al., 2006).

Numerous behavioral and neural mechanisms have been proposed to explain these positive outcomes. Proposed mechanisms include changes in neural networks underlying emotion regulation (Holzel et al., 2008), illustrated by findings showing decreased amygdala response after ST-Mindfulness in social anxiety patients exposed to socially threatening stimuli (Goldin and Gross, 2010). Other neural mechanisms highlighted in recent reviews include changes in self-processing (Vago and Silbersweig, 2012) based on multiple studies including a report showing decreases in activation in midline cortical areas used in self-related processing in ST-Mindfulness trained subjects (Farb et al., 2007).

In the first 2 weeks of the 8-week ST-Mindfulness sequence, all formal practice is devoted to a meditative body scan practice of “moving a focused spotlight of attention from one part of the body to another.” Through this exercise, practitioners are said to learn to feel (1) how to control the attentional spotlight even when focusing on painful, aversive sensations (2) how even familiar body sensations change and fluctuate from moment to moment.

In the last 5–6 weeks of class, participants continue to use embodied practices, especially sitting meditation focused on sensations of breathing. These embodied practices are said to teach practitioners (1) how to directlyfeel when the mind has wandered from its sensory focus (2) how to use an intimate familiarity with the fluctuations of sensations of breathing (such as the up and down flow of the breath) as a template for regarding the arising and passing of distressing, aversive thoughts as “mental events” rather than as “facts or central parts of their identity.”

Specifically, we propose that body-focused attentional practice in ST-Mindfulness enhances localized attentional control over the 7–14 Hz alpha rhythm that is thought to play a key role in regulating sensory input to sensory neocortex and in enhancing signal-to-noise properties across the neocortex. Beginning with the enhanced modulation of localized alpha rhythms trained in localized somatic attention practices such as the body-scan, and then proceeding through the 8-week sequence to learn broader modulation of entire sensory modalities (e.g., “whole body attention”) practitioners train in filtering and prioritizing the flow of information through the brain.

In chronic pain situations, nearly all studies of ST-Mindfulness show relief of pain-related distress and increased mood.

 

A Pilot Study Evaluating Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Massage for the Management of Chronic Pain

Studie på Mindfulness mot kroniske muskelsmerter som sammenlignet effekten av muskelterapi (inkl. bindevev og nevromuskulær behandling – konsepter vi behandler etter på Verkstedet). Muskelterapi var bedre enn Mindfulness mot smerte, men Mindfuness var bedre for psyken på lang sikt. Selv 1 måned etter 8-ukers programmet. Meditasjonsprogrammet vi har på Verkstedet er Verkstedet Breathing System, som gjennom pusten skaper meditative opplevelser og reduksjon av smerte.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1490272/

It is feasible to study MBSR and massage in patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain. Mindfulness-based stress reduction may be more effective and longer-lasting for mood improvement while massage may be more effective for reducing pain.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction is a mind-body intervention described by Kabat-Zinn.18 The participants met weekly for eight 2½ hour sessions. Meditation and yoga techniques were practiced to foster mindfulness (present moment, nonjudgmental awareness). Audiotaped meditation exercises were assigned as daily home practice. Participants were encouraged to use these skills in moments of stress and/or pain.

One-hour massage sessions were given once per week for 8 weeks by 3 licensed massage therapists. Massage techniques were at the discretion of the therapists and included Swedish, deep-tissue, neuromuscular, and pressure-point techniques. We specifically excluded music, scented oils, and energy techniques such as Reiki or therapeutic touch.