The Immediate and Long-Term Effects of an Intensive Meditation Retreat
Proliferation of mindfulness retreat centers has paralleled the growing interest in mindfulness practice, but the research into the effects of retreats on psychological outcomes has received relatively little empirical attention. This study (1) investigated the effects of Vipassana retreats on psychosocial outcomes, (2) evaluated the durability of outcomes at follow-up, and (3) examined baseline predictors of outcome. One hundred ninety-five participants underwent a 1-week meditation retreat at a leading meditation retreat center. Participants completed measures of mindfulness, anxiety, depression, dysfunctional attitudes, emotion regulation, set shifting, and attention before and after a pre-retreat control period, immediately following the retreat, and 4 weeks following the end of the retreat. Structural equation models indicated that there were significant improvements in mindfulness, anxiety, depression, and dysfunctional attitudes and that these gains were maintained at follow-up. Older age was associated with better functioning pre-retreat but comparatively less improvement overall. These results highlight the strong effects of meditation retreats on a variety of psychosocial outcomes and also identified baseline predictors of outcome.