Four days of mindfulness meditation training for graduate students: A pilot study examining effects on mindfulness, self-regulation, and executive function

Authors

  • Megan M Short Department of Psychology, Lakehead University, 955 Oliver Road, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, P7B 5E1
  • Dwight Mazmanian Department of Psychology, Lakehead University, 955 Oliver Road, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, P7B 5E1
  • Lana J Ozen 1. Department of Health Sciences, Lakehead University, 955 Oliver Road, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, P7B 5E1 2. Research Department, St. Joseph’s Care Group, 580 Algoma Street North, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, P7B 5G4
  • Michel Bédard 1. Department of Health Sciences, Lakehead University, 955 Oliver Road, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, P7B 5E1 2. Research Department, St. Joseph’s Care Group, 580 Algoma Street North, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, P7B 5G4

Keywords:

Mindfulness, Meditation, Self-Regulation, Executive Function, Higher Education

Abstract

Self-regulation facilitates coping with academic stress and demands. This pilot study examined the effects of four consecutive mindfulness meditation classes on self-regulation and executive function in graduate students. Self-report measures of mindfulness, self-regulation, and executive functions were completed before and after the mindfulness classes. Paired t-tests compared pre-post training scores and effect sizes were calculated using Cohen’s d. A sample of 8 psychology graduate students (7 female) volunteered to participate in the mindfulness training. The group classes were modeled after meditation practices in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. Each class involved a specific theme: (1) Stepping Out of Automatic Pilot, (2) Awareness of the Breath, Body, Sounds, and Thoughts, (3) Mindful Movement, and (4) Working with Difficulty. Students significantly improved in mindfulness and self-regulation skills. Large effects were obtained for increases in total mindfulness, and the mindfulness facets of acting with awareness and non-reactivity to inner experiences. Additionally, large effects were calculated for total self-regulation and the self-regulatory facet of self-reinforcement. The current pilot study provides preliminary support for cultivating mindfulness skills and enhancing self-regulatory capacity in graduate students through four consecutive days of mindfulness training.

Author Biographies

Megan M Short, Department of Psychology, Lakehead University, 955 Oliver Road, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, P7B 5E1

Megan M. Short completed a Master of Science degree in Experimental Psychology at Memorial University and a Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology at Lakehead University. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Clinical Psychology at Lakehead University. Her main research interests include mindfulness, perfectionism, brain-behavior relationships, and addictions. A Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council currently supports her research.

Dwight Mazmanian, Department of Psychology, Lakehead University, 955 Oliver Road, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, P7B 5E1

Dr. Dwight Mazmanian is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Lakehead University. He teaches an undergraduate course in psychometric theory, and graduate courses in mood disorders, clinical psychopharmacology, and advanced psychological assessment. His main research interests are in problem gambling, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, chronic pain, and the biological bases of human social behavior.

Lana J Ozen, 1. Department of Health Sciences, Lakehead University, 955 Oliver Road, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, P7B 5E1 2. Research Department, St. Joseph’s Care Group, 580 Algoma Street North, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, P7B 5G4

Dr. Lana J. Ozen is a Post Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Health Sciences at Lakehead University. She completed her PhD in Psychology, Behavioural and Cognitive Neuroscience, at the University of Waterloo. Her main research interests are in mindfulness, mental health, aging and traumatic brain injury and cognitive neuroscience. Lana’s post-doctoral research is currently supported by the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada and the Technology Evaluation in the Elderly Network.

Michel Bédard, 1. Department of Health Sciences, Lakehead University, 955 Oliver Road, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, P7B 5E1 2. Research Department, St. Joseph’s Care Group, 580 Algoma Street North, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, P7B 5G4

Dr. Michel Bédard is a Professor of Health Sciences, and Medicine, and the Director of the Centre for Research on Safe Driving, at Lakehead University. He is also the Scientific Director for St. Joseph’s Care Group, a large health care organization providing services in the areas of complex care and physical rehabilitation, long-term care, and mental health and addictions. Dr. Bédard’s main research focus is on automobile driving, family caregiving, and mental illness.

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Published

2015-06-30

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