, Volume 10, Issue 10, pp 2010–2025 | Cite as

Coping with Seizures Through Mindfulness Meditation: a Qualitative Study of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention in Epilepsy

  • Prisca R. Bauer
  • Stefano Poletti
  • Antoine LutzEmail author
  • Cécile Sabourdy



Three previous clinical trials have shown that mindfulness-based interventions reduce depressive symptoms and improve quality of life in epilepsy. We conducted a qualitative study to gain more insight into the relevant aspects of mindfulness-based interventions for people with this condition.


We conducted a mindfulness-based intervention of six weekly sessions in seven adults with epilepsy (six pharmaco-resistant). Semi-structured interviews were conducted by phone immediately after the end of the intervention and repeated after 3 months. Preliminary thematic analysis allowed the identification and grouping of themes into main categories. Bottom-up descriptive categories were constructed consistent with the phenomenological paradigm.


Three main areas were explored in the interviews, which lasted on average 30 min: (1) epilepsy-related issues affecting quality of life, (2) seizures and their unpredictability and (3) coping mechanisms. Overall, participants reported that they benefited from the intervention. Participants report that the group supported them in the exchange of experiences, which helped them to re-frame their condition. At the same time, mindfulness exercises encouraged participants to look within in a kind and non-evaluative way. This combination resulted in a new way of accepting and re-integrating the condition. Two new strategies emerged to cope with seizures: accepting and controlling, but without noticeable effect on seizure frequency.


This study contributes to a better understanding of the psychological mechanisms at work in mindfulness-based interventions in the context of epilepsy.


Seizure Complementary medicine Acceptance Stress Refractory 



We thank the participants for sharing their experiences with us, Anouk Landrieu for her skillful guidance of the mindfulness intervention and Derek Sola and the anonymous reviewers for critically reviewing the manuscript.

Author Contributions

PB designed and executed the study, assisted with the data analyses, and wrote the manuscript. SP was involved in the design of the study, analysed the data and wrote the manuscript. CS designed and executed the study and collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript. AL designed the study, collaborated in data interpretation and in the writing and editing of the final manuscript.


This study was funded by ERC grant number E14005CC to Dr. Antoine Lutz.

Prisca Bauer is supported by Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant number 749582.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

As the program was offered in the context of the standard therapeutic education program of the Grenoble University Hospital Centre, no additional ethics approval was required. This procedure was in accordance with the ethical standards of our institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.

Informed Consent

Written informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, Brain Dynamics and Cognition team, INSERM UMRS 1028, CNRS UMR 5292Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Université de LyonLyonFrance
  2. 2.Neurology DepartmentCentre Hospitalier Universitaire Grenoble AlpesGrenobleFrance

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