The comparative effects of a Buddhist meditation retreat and vacation on mindfulness and measures of well-being.


Conference Paper






<p>*BACKGROUND: * Recovery from work through respite and vacations is necessary to maintain well-being and health and is essential to avoid a variety of negative health outcomes like burnout, chronic fatigue, psychosomatic diseases and longer sick-leave. To identify activities enhancing the duration of recovery effects are of interest. *METHODS: * A sample of Europeans and North Americans was invited to participate in the study. A questionnaire was electronically administered 10 days prior, 10 days after and 66 days after the retreat/vacation. Respondents in the meditation retreat group (n=60) were compared to vacation with meditation (n=40) and vacation without meditation (n=26). Measures were “act with awareness” (10 items) and “accept without judgment” (9 items), the “fatigue assessment scale” (10 items), the “perceived stress scale” (10 items) and the “WHO-5 Well-being Index” (5 items). First, the retreat was compared with those individuals taking a vacation without meditating during vacation. Second, the retreat was compared with those individuals taking a vacation in which they did meditated. Within person contrast were calculated comparing assessment 1 &amp; 2 as well as assessment 1 &amp; 3. *RESULTS: * The total group time effect was significant for all variables between assessment times 1 &amp; 2 and 1 &amp; 3. The within-subject contrasts of retreat versus vacation without meditation showed a significant difference for act with awareness and accept without judgment at both time intervals and for perceived stress and emotional well being at time 3. *DISCUSSION: * Participation in a residential meditation retreat of 1-week or longer and leisure vacation with meditation, leads to significant stress reduction and increased mindfulness compared to leisure vacation alone. Our findings suggest benefits of mindfulness meditation on retreats and mindfulness meditation on vacation over vacation alone in promoting a more enduring, long-lasting, resilient response to daily stressors and improved, sustained psychological well-being.</p>