Residential Vipassana meditation courses, which teach mindfulness skills, are widely available globally but under-evaluated. This study examined effects of a standardized, community-based Vipassana course, on subjective stress, well-being, self-kindness and trait mindfulness in a community sample. Participants completed self-report measures of these variables at pre-course and post-course (n = 122), and outcomes were compared to a control group of early enrollers (EEs) (n = 50) who completed measures at parallel time points before course commencement. Six-month follow-up was undertaken in the intervention group (n = 90). Findings, including intention-to-complete analyses, suggested positive effects of the Vipassana course in reducing subjective stress and increasing well-being, self-kindness and overall mindfulness (present-moment awareness and non-reaction). Although some reductions in post-course gains were found at follow-up, particularly in stress, follow-up scores still showed improvements compared to pre-course scores. Mindfulness change scores between pre-course and 6-month follow-up were moderately to highly correlated with outcome variable change scores, consistent with the idea that effects of the Vipassana course on stress and well-being operate, at least partially, through increasing mindfulness. The present research underscores the importance of undertaking further investigations into Vipassana courses' effects and applications.
Keywords: meditation; mindfulness; positive psychology; psychological well-being; stress interventions.
Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.