The Chinese medicine construct "stagnation" in mind-body connection mediates the effects of mindfulness training on depression and anxiety

Hay Ming Lo, Siu Man Ng, Cecilia L.W. Chan, K. F. Lam, Bobo H.P. Lau

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Previous studies have identified different, but highly correlated variables explaining the effects of mindfulness training. Many of them are limited by tautological explanation. Under the framework of the mind-body connection, mindfulness training cultivates body awareness and promotes self-management of illness. Stagnation, a concept from Chinese medicine, may help explain the mechanism of change in mindfulness training. Methods: Individuals with depressive and anxiety symptoms (n= 82) were randomized to either a Compassion-Mindfulness Therapy (C-MT) program or a waitlist control condition. The effect of stagnation as a mediator was investigated for dependent variables including depression, anxiety, and other physical and mental health variables. Major outcome measures: Depression, anxiety, stagnation, physical distress, daily functioning, positive affect, negative affect. Results: Compared with the participants in the control group, those who completed C-MT demonstrated significant decreases in depression, F(1, 78) = 15.67, p< .001, anxiety, F(1, 78) = 7.72, p< .001, stagnation, F(1, 78) = 4.96, p< .001, and other body-mind-spirit well-being measures. After entering the change in stagnation as the mediator, the effect of treatment reduced: depression (35-22), anxiety (33-05), and same patterns in other three secondary measures. The Sobel test was administered and significant reductions between group and depression (z= 2.18, p= .029), anxiety (z= 2.21, p= .027), and three secondary other measures (p< .05) were indicated. Conclusion: The study provides initial support for the role of stagnation in mediating changes in mindfulness training. It adds evidence to body-mind nondualism and offers new possibilities in studying treatment process and change mechanism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-357
Number of pages10
JournalComplementary Therapies in Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mediator
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Mindfulness training
  • Stagnation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and Manual Therapy
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Advanced and Specialised Nursing


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