The knowledge and practice of meditation continues to rise in the mainstream, and has been infusing its way into hospitals, schools, and businesses. This may be, in part, due to the growing body of research that shows mindfulness meditation interventions improve a variety of health conditions, positively impact quality of life, are inexpensive and easy to implement, and have minimal – if any – side effects. However, because most of the structured mindfulness meditation classes take place in a group setting, this can be an obstacle for people to engage in learning and maintaining a meditation practice.
In a recent study, Internet Mindfulness Meditation Intervention for the General Public: Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial, IONS scientist Helané Wahbeh and her colleague Barry Oken looked at an internet mindfulness meditation intervention (IMMI), an offering that could help make mindfulness meditation accessible on a larger scale to those who desire or need it. This pilot study takes a first look at the feasibility, acceptability, and ability of IMMI to increase meditation practice.
During the study, participants randomized to IMMI received a weekly 1-hour web-based training session for 6 weeks, along with daily guided meditations to practice at home between sessions. The second group received a handout on mindfulness meditation and had access to the same guided meditations that the IMMI participants received, but not the 1-hour Web-based training sessions.
The research found that IMMI participants increased their home practice behavior (days practiced, total minutes, and average minutes) significantly compared to those who just had access to the guided meditations. They also rated higher on the client satisfaction questionnaire. Drs. Wahbeh and Oken concluded that IMMI was indeed both feasible and acceptable for the general public.
Stay tuned to hear about the next wave of research in this area, which will examine IMMI’s efficacy at improving health outcomes. Future research will also compare internet mindfulness interventions with the well-studied group programs.