Research has begun to show that the benefits of meditation practice can extend beyond the individual to influence the well-being of others. An important next step in the field is to look at how this happens. We will therefore examine how participation in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course impacts the amount of negative emotions, specifically, of a non-participating relationship partner. We will do this using both first- and third-person methods. We will administer daily and weekly surveys to both members of a relationship to investigate how changes in an MBSR participant’s emotions, (interpersonal) mindfulness, and relationship perceptions may be associated with similar changes in the non-meditating partner. As an objective measure of social relationship, we will further investigate changes in the correlation of brain activity within couples, while they are collaborating on a well-controlled yet realistic task. Results will be compared to an active-control condition in which one member of a relationship participates in a course on happiness and fulfillment. This will enable us to isolate the specific impact of meditation practice relative to more general improvements in well-being. Combined, this research program aims to stimulate innovative interventions which can improve an individual’s well-being through their relational connections.
This PEACE grant is designated as the 2020 Samuel B. Hanser Visionary Grant.