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Front Psychol. 2016 Dec 12;7:1935. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01935. eCollection 2016.

Psychological Effects of a 1-Month Meditation Retreat on Experienced Meditators: The Role of Non-attachment.

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Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, Primary Care Prevention and Health Promotion Research Network, Zaragoza, Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental Zaragoza, Spain.
Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental, Primary Care Prevention and Health Promotion Research Network, Instituto Aragonés de Ciencias de la Salud Zaragoza, Spain.
Department of Personality, Evaluation and Psychological Treatment, Universitat de ValènciaValencia, Spain; CIBERObn Ciber Physiopathology of Obesity and NutritionSantiago de Compostela, Spain.
Servei de Psiquiatria, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau (Barcelona), Departamento de Psicologia Clínica i de la Salut, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental, CIBERSAM Madrid, Spain.
Mente Aberta - Brazilian Center for Mindfulness and Health Promotion, Department of Preventive Medicine, Universidade Federal de Sao PauloSao Paulo, Brazil; Hospital Israelita Albert EinsteinSao Paulo, Brazil.
Professor of Psychopathology, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Red PROMOSAM Valencia, Spain.
Psychologist and Vipassana Master, President of Baraka Institute San Sebastián, Spain.
Miguel Servet Hospital and University of Zaragoza, RedIAPP, Instituto Aragonés de Ciencias de la Salud, Zaragoza, Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental Zaragoza, Spain.


Background: There are few studies devoted to assessing the impact of meditation-intensive retreats on the well-being, positive psychology, and personality of experienced meditators. We aimed to assess whether a 1-month Vipassana retreat: (a) would increase mindfulness and well-being; (b) would increase prosocial personality traits; and (c) whether psychological changes would be mediated and/or moderated by non-attachment. Method: A controlled, non-randomized, pre-post-intervention trial was used. The intervention group was a convenience sample (n = 19) of experienced meditators who participated in a 1-month Vipassana meditation retreat. The control group (n = 19) comprised matched experienced meditators who did not take part in the retreat. During the retreat, the mean duration of daily practice was 8-9 h, the diet was vegetarian and silence was compulsory. The Experiences Questionnaire (EQ), Non-attachment Scale (NAS), Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS), Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS), Temperament Character Inventory Revised (TCI-R-67), Five Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), Self-Other Four Immeasurables (SOFI) and the MINDSENS Composite Index were administered. ANCOVAs and linear regression models were used to assess pre-post changes and mediation/moderation effects. Results: Compared to controls, retreatants showed increases in non-attachment, observing, MINDSENS, positive-affect, balance-affect, and cooperativeness; and decreases in describing, negative-others, reward-dependence and self-directedness. Non-attachment had a mediating role in decentring, acting aware, non-reactivity, negative-affect, balance-affect and self-directedness; and a moderating role in describing and positive others, with both mediating and moderating effects on satisfaction with life. Conclusions: A 1-month Vipassana meditation retreat seems to yield improvements in mindfulness, well-being, and personality, even in experienced meditators. Non-attachment might facilitate psychological improvements of meditation, making it possible to overcome possible ceiling effects ascribed to non-intensive practices.


Vipassana; meditation; personality; positive psychology; retreat; wellbeing

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