Chris May (RUG) Examining dynamic changes in individual and dyadic responses to a segmented mindfulness intervention
Background and objectives: Research on mindfulness interventions have, to date, focused almost wholly on their effects for an individual practitioner. However, individual changes likely have interpersonal consequences. In the current study, we sought to determine wheather the effects of mindfulness meditation could be observed in non-meditating partners’ daily reports of mindfulness and affect.
Methods: We recruited pairs of participants (both romantic partners and friends) reporting that they interacted with each other on a daily basis. Dyad members each answered daily questions assessing their mindfulness and affect for 8 weeks. We randomly chose one dyad member to receive training in mindfulness meditation. Over two distinct two-week periods, they were asked to meditate for 15-minutes per day. We hypothesized that dynamic changes between meditation and non-meditation periods of the study would be similar in direction (though differing in magnitude) for both the meditator and their non-meditating partner.
Results: Data from 35 dyads showed a number of longitudinal and interpersonal effects. Practitioners’ mindfulness and affect fluctuated with periods of meditation and non-meditation. We also found that relationship partners’ mindfulness and affect were linked to a practitioner’s daily states. In particular, the negative affect of a non-meditating romantic partner was most strongly influenced by their partner’s practice.
Discussion and conclusion: Mindfulness meditation had dynamic effects on both an individual practitioner and a close other. These results highlight the need to more thoroughly examine both the dynamic and the interpersonal effects of mindfulness interventions to assess their implications for personal and interpersonal well-being.