EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC HEALTH
Research Article

Mindfulness Meditation as a Complementary Health Therapy: A Useful Import into Africa?

European Journal of Environment and Public Health, 2020, 4(2), em0048, https://doi.org/10.29333/ejeph/8328
Full Text (PDF)

ABSTRACT

Mindfulness meditation, a very common contemplative practice used to attain a conscious state of awareness, acceptance, openness and non-reactivity, was first modified in 1979 into a complementary health therapeutic practice. This practice has, since, gained the attention of scholars globally, with the greatest surge in interest seen in the last two decades. However, in Africa, research output on the psychological construct is very limited and certified trainers of the practice are almost non-existent despite the fact that the practice has been shown to relieve stress, a factor whose level is high in the continent, and has been associated with many common disease, illnesses and other negative outcomes. There is, therefore, an overwhelming need to draw public attention towards the practice and what it can offer African healthcare systems. However, this paper takes a neutral tone while creating this needed awareness, acting just as a guide towards unravelling the complexities of the practice and not as an advocacy piece promoting its implementation in healthcare systems across Africa. It achieves this aim by discussing the major reported positive and negative physiological effects of the practice; its application in the therapy of some common physical and mental disease/illness conditions; its benefits to healthcare workers and students, and informal caregivers; its limitations; the popular criticisms levelled against it; and factors in support and against its incorporation into African healthcare systems. The discourse is concluded with recommendation of strategies for refining the practice to suit the African healthcare scene.

KEYWORDS

Mindfulness Meditation Health Therapy Africa Complementary

CITATION (Harvard)

Ajari, E. E. (2020). Mindfulness Meditation as a Complementary Health Therapy: A Useful Import into Africa?. European Journal of Environment and Public Health, 4(2), em0048. https://doi.org/10.29333/ejeph/8328
APA
Ajari, E. E. (2020). Mindfulness Meditation as a Complementary Health Therapy: A Useful Import into Africa?. European Journal of Environment and Public Health, 4(2), em0048. https://doi.org/10.29333/ejeph/8328
Vancouver
Ajari EE. Mindfulness Meditation as a Complementary Health Therapy: A Useful Import into Africa?. EUROPEAN J ENV PUBLI. 2020;4(2):em0048. https://doi.org/10.29333/ejeph/8328
AMA
Ajari EE. Mindfulness Meditation as a Complementary Health Therapy: A Useful Import into Africa?. EUROPEAN J ENV PUBLI. 2020;4(2), em0048. https://doi.org/10.29333/ejeph/8328
Chicago
Ajari, Esther Ejiroghene. "Mindfulness Meditation as a Complementary Health Therapy: A Useful Import into Africa?". European Journal of Environment and Public Health 2020 4 no. 2 (2020): em0048. https://doi.org/10.29333/ejeph/8328
MLA
Ajari, Esther Ejiroghene "Mindfulness Meditation as a Complementary Health Therapy: A Useful Import into Africa?". European Journal of Environment and Public Health, vol. 4, no. 2, 2020, em0048. https://doi.org/10.29333/ejeph/8328

REFERENCES

  1. Abdullahi A. A. (2011). Trends and challenges of traditional medicine in Africa. African journal of traditional, complementary, and alternative medicines: AJTCAM, 8(5 Suppl), 115-123. https://doi.org/10.4314/ajtcam.v8i5S.5
  2. Annels, S., Kho, K. and Bridge, P. (2016). Meditate don’t medicate: How medical imaging evidence supports the role of meditation in the treatment of depression. Radiography, 22, e54-e58. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.radi.2015.08.002
  3. Baltar, Y. C. and Filgueiras, A. (2018). The Effects of Mindfulness Meditation on Attentional Control During Off-Season Among Football Players. SAGE Open. https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244018781896
  4. Banks, K., Newman E. and Saleem J. (2015). An Overview of the Research on Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Treating Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Systematic Review. J Clin Psychol. 71, 935-963. https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.22200
  5. Berk, L., Warmenhoven, F., van Os, J. and van Boxtel, M. (2018). Mindfulness Training for People With Dementia and Their Caregivers: Rationale, Current Research, and Future Directions. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 982. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00982
  6. Berkovich-Ohana, A., Dor-Ziderman, Y., Glicksohn, J. and Goldstein, A. (2013). Alterations in the sense of time, space, and body in the mindfulness-trained brain: a neurophenomenologically-guided MEG study. Frontiers in psychology, 4, 912. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00912
  7. Black, D. S., O’Reilly, G. A., Olmstead, R., Breen, E. C. and Irwin, M. R. (2015). Mindfulness meditation and improvement in sleep quality and daytime impairment among older adults with sleep disturbances: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA internal medicine, 175(4), 494-501. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8081
  8. Bluth, K., Gaylord, S., Nguyen, K., Bunevicius, A. and Girdler, S. (2015). Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction as a Promising Intervention for Amelioration of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder Symptoms. Mindfulness, 6(6), 1292-1302. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-015-0397-4
  9. Brown, K. W., Goodman, R. J., Ryan, R. M. and Anālayo, B. (2016). Mindfulness Enhances Episodic Memory Performance: Evidence from a Multimethod Investigation. PloS one, 11(4), e0153309. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0153309
  10. Carrière K., Khoury B., Gunak M. M. and Knauper B. (2018). Mindfulness-based interventions for weight loss: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Obesity Reviews, 19(2), 164-177. https://doi.org/10.1111/obr.12623
  11. Cebolla, A., Demarzo, M., Martins, P., Soler, J. and Garcia-Campayo, J. (2017). Unwanted effects: Is there a negative side of meditation? A multicentre survey. PloS one, 12(9), e0183137. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0183137
  12. Cheryl, M., Karen, L. O. C , Nilani, L. S., Melissa, A. B., Gabriel, B. A. and Marisa, D. C. (2017). Mindful Meditation for Individuals with Asthma and Anxiety: Promising Results from a Multiple Baseline Study. J Yoga Phys Ther, 7, 1. https://doi.org/10.4172/2157-7595.1000262
  13. Chiesa, A. and Serretti A. (2013). Are mindfulness-based interventions effective for substance use disorders? A systematic review of the evidence. Substance Use & Misuse, 49(5), 492-512. https://doi.org/10.3109/10826084.2013.770027
  14. Colgan, D. D., Wahbeh, H., Pleet, M., Besler, K. and Christopher, M. (2017). A Qualitative Study of Mindfulness Among Veterans With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Practices Differentially Affect Symptoms, Aspects of Well-Being, and Potential Mechanisms of Action. Journal of evidence-based complementary & alternative medicine, 22(3), 482-493. https://doi.org/10.1177/2156587216684999
  15. Craven, J. L. (1989). Meditation and psychotherapy, Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 34(7), 648-653. https://doi.org/10.1177/070674378903400705
  16. Crescentini, C. and Capurso, V. (2015). Mindfulness meditation and explicit and implicit indicators of personality and self-concept changes. Frontiers in psychology, 6, 44. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00044
  17. Crescentini, C., Matiz, A., Cimenti, M., Pascoli, E., Eleopra, R. and Fabbro, F. (2018). Effect of Mindfulness Meditation on Personality and Psychological Well-being in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis. International journal of MS care, 20(3), 101-108. https://doi.org/10.7224/1537-2073.2016-093
  18. Creswell J. D. (2016). Mindfulness Interventions. Annual Review of Psychology, 68, 491-516. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-042716-051139
  19. Creswell, J. D., Myers, H. F., Cole, S. W. and Irwin, M. R. (2009). Mindfulness meditation training effects on CD4+ T lymphocytes in HIV-1 infected adults: a small randomized controlled trial. Brain, behavior, and immunity, 23(2), 184-188. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2008.07.004
  20. Ding, X., Tang, Y. Y., Tang, R. and Posner, M. I. (2014). Improving creativity performance by short-term meditation. Behavioral and brain functions: BBF, 10, 9. https://doi.org/10.1186/1744-9081-10-9
  21. Dobkin, P. L., Irving, J. A. and Amar, S. (2012). For whom may participation in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program be contraindicated? Mindfulness, 3(1), 44-50. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-011-0079-9
  22. Filgueiras, A., de Oliveira Galvão, B., Pires, P., Fioravanti-Bastos, A. C. M., Hora, G. P. R., Santana, C. M. T. and Landeira-Fernandez, J. (2015). Translation and semantic adaptation of the Attentional Control Scale for the Brazilian context. Estudos de Psicologia (Campinas), 32, 173-185. https://doi.org/10.1590/0103166X2015000200003
  23. Fortney, L., Luchterhand, C., Zakletskaia, L., Zgierska, A. and Rakel, D. (2013). Abbreviated mindfulness intervention for job satisfaction, quality of life, and compassion in primary care clinicians: a pilot study. Annals of family medicine, 11(5), 412-420. https://doi.org/10.1370/afm.151
  24. Gallant S. N. (2016). Mindfulness meditation practice and executive functioning: Breaking down the benefit. Consciousness and Cognition, 40, 116-30. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.concog.2016.01.005
  25. Goyal, M., Singh, S., Sibinga, E. M., Gould, N. F., Rowland-Seymour, A., Sharma, R., … Haythornthwaite, J. A. (2014). Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA internal medicine, 174(3), 357-368. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.13018
  26. Goyal, M., Singh, S., Sibinga, E. M., Gould, N. F., Rowland-Seymour, A., Sharma, R., … Haythornthwaite, J. A. (2014). Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA internal medicine, 174(3), 357-368. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.13018
  27. Greenberg, M. T. and Harris A. R. (2012). Nurturing mindfulness in children and youth: Current state of research. Child Development Perspectives 6 (2), 161-166. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1750-8606.2011.00215.x
  28. Hasenkamp, W. and Barsalou, L. W. (2012). Effects of meditation experience on functional connectivity of distributed brain networks. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 6, 38. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2012.00038
  29. Hayes, S. C, Luoma, J. B., Bond, F. W., Masuda, A. and Lillis J. (2006). Acceptance and commitment therapy: model, processes and outcomes. Behaivour research and therapy, 44(1), 1-25. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2005.06.006
  30. Hjelm, L., Handa, S., de Hoop, J., Palermo, T., Zambia CGP and MCP Evaluation Team. (2017). Poverty and perceived stress: Evidence from two unconditional cash transfer programs in Zambia. Social Science and Medicine, 177, 110-117. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.01.023
  31. Hoge, E. A., Bui, E., Marques, L., Metcalf, C. A., Morris, L. K., Robinaugh, D. J., … Simon, N. M. (2013). Randomized controlled trial of mindfulness meditation for generalized anxiety disorder: effects on anxiety and stress reactivity. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 74(8), 786-792. https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.12m08083
  32. Hölzel B. K., Ott U., Hempel H., Hackl A., Wolf K., Stark R. and Vaitl D. (2007). Differential engagement of anterior cingulate and adjacent medial frontal cortex in adept meditators and non-meditators. Neuroscience Letters, 421, 16-21. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2007.04.074
  33. Hölzel, B. K., Carmody, J., Vangel, M., Congleton, C., Yerramsetti, S. M., Gard, T. and Lazar, S. W. (2011). Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry research, 191(1), 36-43. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pscychresns.2010.08.006
  34. Jaseja, H. (2006). Meditation potentially capable of increasing susceptibility to epilepsy—a follow-up hypothesis. Med Hypotheses, 66, 925-928. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mehy.2005.11.043
  35. Kabat-Zinn, J., Wheeler, E., Light, T., Skillings, A., Scharf, M. J., Cropley, T. G., … Bernhard, J. D. (1998). Influence of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction intervention on rates of skin clearing in patients with moderate to severe psoriasis undergoing phototherapy (UVB) and photochemotherapy (PUVA). Psychosomatic Medicine, 60(5), 625-32. https://doi.org/10.1097/00006842-199809000-00020
  36. KayLoni, O. L., Emery, C. F. (2015). Mindfulness and Weight Loss: a systematic review. Psychosomatic Medicine, 77(1), 59-67. https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0000000000000127
  37. Krause-Utz, A., Frost, R., Winter, D. and Elzinga, B. M. (2017). Dissociation and Alterations in Brain Function and Structure: Implications for Borderline Personality Disorder. Current psychiatry reports, 19(1), 6. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-017-0757-y
  38. Kutz, I., Leserman, J., Dorrington, C., Morrison, C.H., Borysenko, J. and Benson, H. (1985). Meditation as an adjunct to psychotherapy, an outcome study. Psychotherapy Psychosomatics, 43, 209-218. https://doi.org/10.1159/000287881
  39. Kwenda, S. (2010). Africa’s disabled will not be forgotten. Available at: https://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/april-2010/africa%E2%80%99s-disabled-will-not-be-forgotten (Accessed 6 April 2020).
  40. Levine, G. N., Lange, R. A., Bairey-Merz, C. N., Davidson, R. J., Jamerson, K., Mehta, P. K., … American Heart Association Council on Clinical Cardiology; Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing; and Council on Hypertension. (2017). Meditation and Cardiovascular Risk Reduction: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association. Journal of the American Heart Association, 6(10), e002218. https://doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.117.002218
  41. Lori, L. D., Whetsell, C., Hamner, M. B., Carmody, J., Rothbaum, B. O., Allen, R. S., … Bremner J. D. (2018). A Multisite Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Psych Res Clin Pract 1, 2. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.prcp.20180002
  42. Luoma, J. B. and Villatte, J. L. (2012). Mindfulness in the Treatment of Suicidal Individuals. Cognitive and behavioral practice, 19(2), 265-276. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cbpra.2010.12.003
  43. Lustyk, M. K. B., Chawla, N., Nolan, R. S. and Marlatt, G. A. (n.d.) Mindfulness meditation research: issues of participant screening, safety procedures, and researcher training. Adv Mind Body Med, 24, 20-30.
  44. Ma, S. H. and Teasdale, J. D. (2004). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression: Replication and exploration of differential relapse prevention effects. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72, 31-40. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.72.1.31
  45. Marciniak, R., Sheardova, K., Cermáková, P., Hudeček, D., Sumec, R. and Hort, J. (2014). Effect of meditation on cognitive functions in context of aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience, 8, 17. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00017
  46. Mash, R., Howe, A., Olayemi, O., Makwero, M., Ray, S., Zerihun, M., Gyuse, A. and Goodyear-Smith, F. (2018). Reflections on family medicine and primary healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa. BMJ global health, 3(Suppl 3), e000662. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2017-000662
  47. Mehta, R., Sharma, K., Potters, L., Wernicke, A. G. and Parashar, B. (2019). Evidence for the Role of Mindfulness in Cancer: Benefits and Techniques. Cureus, 11(5), e4629. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.4629
  48. Meier M. E. and Kane M. J. (2015) Carving executive control at its joints: Working memory capacity predicts stimulus-stimulus, but not stimulus-response, conflict. Journal of Experimental psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 41(6), 1849-1872. https://doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000147
  49. Norris, C. J., Creem, D., Hendler, R. and Kober, H. (2018). Brief Mindfulness Meditation Improves Attention in Novices: Evidence From ERPs and Moderation by Neuroticism. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 12, 315. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2018.00315
  50. Norris, C. J., Creem, D., Hendler, R. and Kober, H. (2018). Brief Mindfulness Meditation Improves Attention in Novices: Evidence From ERPs and Moderation by Neuroticism. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 12, 315. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2018.00315
  51. Ong, J. and Sholtes, D. (2010). A mindfulness-based approach to the treatment of insomnia. Journal of clinical psychology, 66(11), 1175-1184. https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.20736
  52. Panahi, F. and Faramarzi, M. (2016). The Effects of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy on Depression and Anxiety in Women with Premenstrual Syndrome. Depression research and treatment, 2016, 9816481. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/9816481
  53. Prabhu, V., Sutton, C. and Sauser, W. (2008). Creativity and certain personality traits: Understanding the mediating effect of intrinsic motivation. Creativity Research Journal, 20(1), 53-66. https://doi.org/10.1080/10400410701841955
  54. Robins, J. L., Kiken, L., Holt, M. and McCain, N. L. (2014). Mindfulness: an effective coaching tool for improving physical and mental health. Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 26(9), 511-518. https://doi.org/10.1002/2327-6924.12086
  55. Salleh M. R. (2008). Life event, stress and illness. The Malaysian journal of medical sciences: MJMS, 15(4), 9-18. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3341916/#
  56. Sedlmeier, P., Eberth, J., Schwarz, M., Zimmermann, D., Haarig, F., Jaeger, S. and Kunze, S. (2012). The psychological effects of meditation: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 138(6), 1139-1171. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0028168
  57. Shapiro, D. H. (1992). Adverse effects of meditation: a preliminary investigation of long-term meditators. International Journal of Psychosomatics, 39, 62-67.
  58. Stockmeier, C. A. and Rajkowska, G. (2004). Cellular abnormalities in depression: evidence from postmortem brain tissue. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 6(2), 185-197.
  59. Takahashi, T., Sugiyama, F., Kikai, T., Kawashima, I., Guan, S., Oguchi, M., Uchida, T. and Kumano, H. (2019). Changes in depression and anxiety through mindfulness group therapy in Japan: the role of mindfulness and self-compassion as possible mediators. BioPsychoSocial medicine, 13, 4. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13030-019-0145-4
  60. Turner, L., Singh, K., Garrity, C., Tsertsvadze, A., Manheimer, E., Wieland, L., … Moher, D. (2011). An evaluation of the completeness of safety reporting in reports of complementary and alternative medicine trials. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 11, 67. https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-11-67
  61. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (n.d.). Education in Africa. Available at: http://uis.unesco.org/en/topic/education-africa (Accessed 6 April 2020).
  62. Van Dam, N. T., van Vugt, M. K., Vago, D. R., Schmalzl, L., Saron, C. D., Olendzki, A., … Meyer, D. E. (2017). Mind the Hype: A Critical Evaluation and Prescriptive Agenda for Research on Mindfulness and Meditation. Perspectives on psychological science: a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, 13(1), 36-61. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691617709589
  63. Victorson, D., Kentor, M., Maletich, C., Lawton, R. C., Kaufman, V. H., Borrero, M., Berkowitz, C. (2015). Mindfulness Meditation to Promote Wellness and Manage Chronic Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Mindfulness-Based Randomized Controlled Trials Relevant to Lifestyle Medicine. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 9(3), 185-211. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827614537789
  64. Vøllestad, J., Sivertsen, B. and Nielsen, G. H. (2011). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for patients with anxiety disorders: evaluation in a randomized controlled trial. Behaivour research and therapy, 49(4), 281-8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2011.01.007
  65. Wahbeh, H., Elsas, S. M. and Oken, B. S. (2008). Mind-body interventions: applications in neurology. Neurology, 70(24), 2321-2328. https://doi.org/10.1212/01.wnl.0000314667.16386.5e
  66. Webb, L., Perry-Parrish, C., Ellen, J. M. and Sibinga, E. M. (2017). Mindfulness instruction for HIV-infected youth: a randomized controlled trial. AIDS Care, 26, 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1080/09540121.2017.1394434
  67. Wong, C., Yip, B. H., Gao, T., Lam, K., Woo, D., Yip, A., … Wong, S. (2018). Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or Psychoeducation for the Reduction of Menopausal Symptoms: A Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trial. Scientific reports, 8(1), 6609. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-24945-4
  68. Wu, R., Liu, L. L., Zhu, H., Su, W. J., Cao, Z. Y., Zhong, S. Y., Liu, X. H. and Jiang, C. L. (2019). Brief Mindfulness Meditation Improves Emotion Processing. Frontiers in neuroscience, 13, 1074. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2019.01074
  69. Yamauchi, K. and Ogasawara, M. (2019). The Role of Histamine in the Pathophysiology of Asthma and the Clinical Efficacy of Antihistamines in Asthma Therapy. International journal of molecular sciences, 20(7), 1733. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20071733
  70. Zeidan, F., Johnson, S. K., Diamond, B. J., David, Z. and Goolkasian, P. (2010). Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training. Consciousness and Cognition, 19(2), 597-605. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.concog.2010.03.014
  71. Zenasni, F. and Lubart, T. (2002). Effects of mood states on creativity. Current Psychology Letters: Behaviour, Brain & Cognition, 8, 33-50. Available at: http://journals.openedition.org/cpl/205

LICENSE

Creative Commons License
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.