Participation in a Course on Buddhist Meditation Was Associated with Improvements in College Students’ Psychological Well-Being

July 1, 2015 by School of Medicine Webmaster

Professors David Germano and Kurtis Schaeffer of the Department of Religious Studies and the Contemplative Sciences Center at the University of Virginia have developed a new course for undergraduates called Buddhist Meditation and Modernity. The objectives of the course are to explore Tibetan Buddhist meditation in a cultural context, investigate scientific research on meditation’s dynamics, survey its contemporary applications (healthcare, K-12 education, entrepreneurship, creativity), and experience meditation firsthand in a Contemplative Lab.  A total of 205 college students were enrolled in the first course which was comprised of two weekly lectures regarding the tradition and modern applications of meditation and a weekly lab in which the students were taught a variety of meditation techniques.

An in-depth evaluation of the impact of the course was conducted, led by Suzanna Williams and John Schorling from the UVa Mindfulness Center and Kim Penberthy from the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences. The results were presented at the second Mind and Life International Symposium for Contemplative Studies in Boston. Students in the class reported significant increases in mindfulness, self-compassion, and positive coping skills, and significant decreases in self-reported anxiety. Mindfulness was a significant predictor of the changes in self-compassion and anxiety. These results suggest that a large lecture course with weekly meditation sessions can have a positive impact on the psychological well-being of students and that several of these changes are mediated by increases in mindfulness.

Filed Under: Other Practice Opportunities