Meditation may significantly improve well-being and quality of life in adolescent boys, according to a study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology.
Researchers from the University of Cambridge analyzed 155 boys before and after a four-week crash course in mindfulness meditation.
The training consisted of four 40 minute classes, one per week, which presented the principles and practice of mindfulness. The classes covered the concepts of awareness and acceptance, and taught the schoolboys such things as how to practice bodily awareness by noticing where they were in contact with their chairs or the floor, paying attention to their breathing, and noticing all the sensations involved in walking.
The students were also asked to practice outside the classroom and were encouraged to listen to a CD or mp3 file for eight minutes a day. These exercises are intended to improve concentration and reduce stress.
After the trial period, the 14 and 15 year-old boys were found to have increased well-being, defined as the combination of feeling good (including positive emotions such as happiness, contentment, interest and affection) and functioning well.
Study coauthor, Felicia Huppert, explains: “More and more we are realizing the importance of supporting the overall mental health of children. Our study demonstrates that this type of training improves well-being in adolescents and that the more they practice, the greater the benefits. Importantly, many of the students genuinely enjoyed the exercises and said they intended to continue them — a good sign that many children would be receptive to this type of intervention.”
“Another significant aspect of this study is that adolescents who suffered from higher levels of anxiety were the ones who benefited most from the training,” adds Huppert.
Journal of Positive Psychology – September 1, 2010;Epub.