Inner tradition made visible: the interpersonal benefits and effects of meditation practice on close relationships

Jennifer Whitney, Doris F. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Meditation and mindfulness are commonly understood and studied as solitary practices with personal benefits. Recent research has begun to explore the interpersonal nature of meditation and mindfulness practices, especially in regard to close relationships (Gale 2009; May and Reinhardt, Mindfulness, 9(1), 105–116, 2018). This study sought to build upon and improve the development of an observer measure of mindfulness and further understand the interpersonal benefits of meditation practice. The study recruited 30 meditators and a close other (CO) for an online survey study. COs were defined as: Significant Others, Close Friends that are seen daily/near daily, Close Roommates, or Family Members Living Together. A robust correlation was found between the main participant’s (MP) self-score on the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAASM) and their CO’s rating of the MP’s mindfulness (MAASO), providing support for MAAS’s construct validity, and the use of the MAASO as an observer measure of mindfulness. MAASO was also shown to highly correlate with the CO’s relationship satisfaction and perception of MP’s attunement during conflict. An exploratory measure of Buddhist Values was also investigated and exhibited equally strong correlations with these relationship variables as the MAASO. This suggests that how present and attuned in relationship a CO rates their meditating partner depends on the additive effect of their partner’s meditation practice and the ways in which they are able to thread their meditative mindfulness skills into daily interactions. Further, this study found that observer measures out-performed self-report measures in predicting all outcomes, indicating important next steps in the field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCurrent Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Buddhism
  • Interpersonal
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Observer
  • Relationship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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