New Wellbeing Study at Cardiff explores meditation

By Cardiff University

Designed by researchers at Cardiff University, the Web Wellbeing Experience meditation research study will assess the impact of Loving-Kindness Meditation (LKM) and light physical exercise on the health of participants from a range of backgrounds and abilities. LKM is a meditation technique that has proven to increase positive emotions, psychological resources, helping behaviour and wellbeing.

Benefits of meditation research

It is estimated that one in four people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year. Mixed anxiety and depression are the most common mental disorders in Britain, with almost 9% meeting the criteria for diagnosis – around 8-12% of the population experience depression in any year.
This is why programmes that promote mental and physical wellbeing have generated great interest among researchers and policy makers. It is a priority to develop effective solutions that could improve populations’ wellbeing and to test the effectiveness of already popular techniques that claim to do this. It is anticipated that the increased feelings of connection proven to be gained from this kind of meditation could have a positive impact on the overall health of entire communities.
On the other hand, web-based training could be a highly cost-effective public health intervention. The benefits to doing an online-based course of meditation are manifold. People who perhaps lack the self-esteem or the time to attend a session in person can follow this online course, and increase their self-confidence in the privacy and comfort of their own home. In addition there is an online forum in place for participants to interact and gain shared experience from a community of people doing the same course as them.
The four-week course is delivered through an interactive website where participants are required to follow 10-minute easy-to-follow instruction videos, five times a week. Participants will be split into two groups: one group will be instructed to light physical exercise, and the other group will be doing loving-kindness meditation. After the initial course is completed, participants will also have the option of doing their opposite group’s course.
Before and after the course, participants of both groups will be asked to fill out online questionnaires about their emotions and wellbeing. The data gathered from both groups will be compared. The benefits of light physical exercise are already known so this study will enable researchers to compare these benefits with those of meditation.
The course is currently recruiting participants, who can join by clicking on the ‘Join’ tab in the study website. In an attempt to gain an insight into the potential impact of this research in a real-world setting, the eligibility criteria has been broadened to accommodate people of all ages living in the UK.
A pilot study conducted in 2012 showed promising results, demonstrating that web-based training is feasible and acceptable. Professor Peter Elwood OBE from Cardiff University was one on the piloteers and commented: “I enjoyed completing this exercise. It was helpful in exposing some of my limitations and irritations with other people, but did so in a most acceptable way. For me, it helped achieve the ancient Greek aphorism ‘Know Thyself’.”

The Web Wellbeing Experience study is an example of rigorous scientific investigation of practices that aim to cultivate inner wellbeing.
Discover more:
People can join by clicking on the ‘Join’ tab in the study website: http://webwellbeingexperience.co.uk
They can also receive updates through the following social media channels: (Twitter) @wwe_study and (Facebook) https://www.facebook.com/TheWebWellbeingExperience.

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