Some meditation practices aim, in part, to improve interpersonal relationships likely though enhanced emotion regulation abilities and the cultivation of compassion and loving-kindness for self and others. Research has primarily focused on outcomes for the practitioners, however, little research has examined the social effects of practice, especially in individuals close to mediators – do they notice a difference in the meditators particularly after times of intensive meditation (e.g. retreats)? Are there measurable changes in the individual’s relationships with others or in the other individuals themselves? We sought to investigate these questions by recruiting pairs of participants, one who is attending a 1-week Insight Meditation retreat and the other being someone close to the retreatant (partner, friend, etc.) but not participating in the retreat. Data collection before and after the retreat involves interviews with both individuals as well as questionnaires that asses both their own and their perception of the other’s well-being, emotion regulation, empathy, and relationship quality and closeness. Reports of daily activities and mood-state are collect for several weeks, including the week of retreat. These measures allow us to characterize changes resulting from retreat participation, on both practitioners and individuals close to them, to better understand the real-world impact of retreat participation on close relations.

Grant voided.

Jennifer Pokorny

University of California, Davis