Samatha-Vipassana Meditation for Health Promotion

Few meditation trials have evaluated the effectiveness of Samatha–Vipassana meditation or considered participant baseline characteristics as potential predictors of adherence. In this pilot study, we examined the effectiveness of a 12–week SamathaVipassana training protocol and analyzed the relationships between baseline measures and adherence to the study protocol.

Twenty male and female healthy volunteers >18 years of age were recruited from the National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) community. The study design was a single-arm, pre- to post-intervention comparison. Participants were asked to attend 10, two-hour group meditation training sessions and practice 20 minutes of daily meditation. Our primary outcome measure was the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). Secondary outcomes included the: SF-36, Spiritual Involvement and Beliefs Scale (SIBS), Acceptance Without Judgment scale of the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS), Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), Profile of Mood States (POMS), and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI).

Post intervention, the PSS was significantly reduced (p=.013) and we found a borderline significant main effect of duration (p = .053). Most SF-36 subscales improved with significant effects in Mental Health (p=.008), Vitality (p=.009), and General Health (p=.05). Participant adherence to home meditation practice was 92% for frequency, 100% for duration, and 93.3% for class attendance. Baseline scores on SF-36 subscales correlated positively and POMS Confusion-Bewilderment subscale correlated negatively with adherence measures.

The Samatha-Vipassana training protocol used in this pilot study improved stress and quality of life in healthy participants. High scores on SF-36 physical function subscale predicted high adherence to the study protocol.