Research from the University of Berlin shows that mindfulness meditation could improve quality of life for those living with schizophrenia disorders.
Researchers created an interview guide. The guide asked participants to assess their symptoms before and after the intervention. The intervention was entirely based on mindfulness. Twenty-seven interviews were conducted.
Participants were asked to rate themselves on symptoms, such as:
- “detachment and rumination”
- “presence and getting lost”
- “non-judgment and judgment”
- “symptom changes”,
Participants with higher levels of mindfulness had less pronounced symptoms of schizophrenia.
Sounds good. So how do you do it? Let me show you.
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Mindfulness Meditation for Schizophrenia
- Sit with good posture. Make sure your spine is straight but relaxed. Gently tuck your chin down to elongate your neck.
- Begin to breathe mindfully. Simply focus your mind on the movement of your breath.
- If thoughts or feelings enter your mind, say, “This is just a thought” or “This is just a feeling”.
- Continue breathing while labeling thoughts and feelings for four minutes.
- Tune into the world around you. Spend five minutes focusing on sensory information from the outside world (sounds, scents, etc.)
- Now focus on your body for five minutes
- Finally, return to focus on your breath for five minutes.
Schizophrenic disorders account for 13% of patients in psychiatric hospitals in Germany.
The symptoms of schizophrenia  include:
- positive symptoms that are amplified by delusions
- disorganized thinking
- negative symptoms regarding emotional expression,
- blunted affect and scarcity of speech;
- and cognitive impairment.
- The majority of people with schizophrenia also experience anxiety [READ: Meditation for Anxiety].
Schizophrenia is often treated with psychological support, psychopharmacology, and cognitive behavioural therapy exercises . However, due to financial constraints, many people are unable to receive these treatments. Enter mindfulness.
Mindfulness meditation is a traditional form of Buddhist meditation. The word “mindfulness actually means “Remembering”. Specifically, remembering to be aware. When we practise mindfulness we focus the mind on the present moment with a non-judgmental attitude.
Mindfulness is about:
Mindfulness is used in psychotherapy to cultivate a clearer perspective and the acceptance of symptoms .
And it helps with schizophrenia.
Indeed, mindfulness-based interventions can help with a number of psychiatric disorders . The UK National Institute for Health And Clinical Excellence, and the Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments advocate mindfulness-based interventions for the treatment of numerous disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.
Research from the University of Berlin shows that meditation can help with schizophrenia.
To conduct their research, scientists from the University of Berlin worked with patients at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin.
Participants had a mean age of 35.8; 21 participants were diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia; and six with schizoaffective disorder.
The participants were given regular treatment that included psychotherapy, social work assistance, occupational therapy and exercise therapy.
The mindfulness group learned special ways of practising mindfulness
Here’s how the mindfulness interventions worked:
- The group were given a four-week program with three sessions per week, one sixty-minute main session and two consolidated sessions.
- Mindfulness sessions were shortened to less than 15 minutes
- Periods of silence were kept to less than fifteen seconds.
- The main sessions began with a 10-minute recap of the previous week
- Then a 15 minute interactive psychoeducation on the principles of mindfulness (detachment, non-judgment, and present-moment-mindfulness).
- A 10-15 minute period was used to practice detachment, sensory awareness, body awareness, and breathing.
- A ten minute period of sharing
- 5 minutes to give each participant individual goals for the week.
The results of the test pinpointed several benefits of mindfulness for schizophrenia:
- Improvement ability to notice the coming and going of thoughts, emotions and sensations
- One participant stated, “When the stress came up, I was able to put off everything by [deep breathing]”
- Increased levels of self-understanding.
- Increased awareness of both positive and negative emotions like worry and anxiety.
- Better able to return to the present moment by focusing on the breath.
- Less judgment
- Improved relaxation
- Increased awareness of sensory stimulation
- Many enjoyed meditating on Tibetan Singing Bowls.
- None of the participants noticed increased negative symptoms.
The study highlights numerous advantages of mindfulness meditation for schizophrenia. And importantly, no increase in negative symptoms. Plus, the fact that mindfulness can be practised for free (unlike CBT and other procedures, which usually require professional support) means that mindfulness is an incredibly useful tool.
Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations and is the author of four books on meditation. He has been featured in Psychology Today, Breathe Magazine, Healthline, Psych Central and Lion’s Roar.
Paul studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
Paul’s biggest inspirations include Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Jack Kornfield.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison