Does Early Emotional Responding to Initial Mindfulness Training Impact Intervention Outcomes?
Rigorous study of the prevalence and functions of emotional responding to initial mindfulness training among meditation-naïve practitioners or clients is scarce, yet could be important for informing more personalized and effective delivery of mindfulness-based interventions. Accordingly, we modeled the function of emotional responding to initial mindfulness training on key outcomes of a 4-week mindfulness training intervention among N = 115 unselected meditation-naïve adults from the general community. We found that elevations and deterioration in both negative and positive affect in the week following initial mindfulness training did not predict prospective intervention retention/dropout, nor key intervention outcomes. These tests were statistically powered to detect small to moderate effects. In contrast to this pattern of null prospective effects on intervention outcomes, we found that the greater the degree of early elevation in positive affect, the greater the prospective likelihood of cultivating higher levels of trait mindfulness over the course of the intervention. Findings indicate that elevations in negative affect and deterioration of positive affect, in early phases of mindfulness meditation training, were not linked to an iatrogenic effect of the intervention nor to elevated risk of dropout. Together, the present findings may contribute to the emerging discourse on safety and adverse effects of mindfulness meditation and inform decision-making with respect to the delivery of mindfulness-based interventions to improve well-being and reduce vulnerability in the general community.
KeywordsAdverse effects Emotion Intervention safety Meditation Mindfulness
We want to thank Galia Tanay, Yaara Nitzan, Yael Lichtash, Koby Avital, Maayan Shenker, Hagai Schreuer, and David Spivak for their work carrying out the study and data collection.
Dr. Bernstein recognizes the funding support from the Israel Science Foundation (grant number no. 713/09).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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