Posted on Dec 05, 2023, 11 a.m.
A randomized, controlled trial published in PLOS ONE by an international team of researchers that was co-led by UCL (London’s Global University), following a meditation program can improve people’s awareness, connections to others, insight, and well-being.
While the training did not confer significant benefits on two commonly used measures of psychological well-being and quality of life, the findings may have revealed limitations to tracking well-being using existing methods, according to the researchers.
"As the global population ages, it is increasingly crucial to understand how we can support older adults in maintaining and deepening their psychological well-being. In our study, we tested whether long-term meditation training can enhance important dimensions of well-being. Our findings suggest that meditation is a promising non-pharmacological approach to support human flourishing in late life,” said lead author Marco Schlosser (UCL Psychiatry and University of Geneva).
This study, led by Principal Investigator Professor Gaël Chételat, took place in Caen, France, and it explored the impact of a no-intervention control group with an 18-month meditation program on the psychological well-being of more than 130 healthy French-speaking people between the ages of 65-84. The meditation program contained a 9-month mindfulness module that was followed by a 9-month loving, kindness, and compassion module. Modules were delivered by two-hour-long weekly group sessions, 20 minutes of daily home practice, and one retreat day, with a group that did English training as another comparison group.
According to the researchers, meditation training was found to have significantly impacted a global score that measures the well-being dimension of insight, connection, and awareness. There were no differences in the benefits of meditation training to an established measure of psychological quality of life between the English and French-speaking groups, and neither intervention significantly impacted another widely used measure of psychological well-being.
The team suggests that this may be because the two established measures do not encompass the qualities and depth of human flourishment that can potentially be cultivated by longer-term meditation training, missing the benefits to insight, awareness, and connection. Additionally, the program did not benefit everyone equally, those who reported lower levels of psychological well-being at the beginning of the study experienced great improvements compared to those who already had higher levels.
"We hope that further research will clarify which people are most likely to benefit from meditation training, as it may confer stronger benefits on some specific groups. Now that we have evidence that meditation training can help older adults, we hope that further refinements in partnership with colleagues from other research disciplines could make meditation programmes even more beneficial,” said co-author Dr. Natalie Marchant (UCL Psychiatry).
"By showing the potential of meditation programmes, our findings pave the way for more targeted and effective programmes that can help older adults flourish, as we seek to go beyond simply preventing disease or ill-health, and instead take a holistic approach to helping people across the full spectrum of human wellbeing,” said Senior author Dr. Antoine Lutz (Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, Inserm, France).
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
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