The purpose of this paper is to present research findings on the effects of mindfulness meditation training on four weekly self-report measures among three groups: those receiving training delivered in-person (M-IP) or in a virtual world (M-VW), and a waitlist control group (WLC).
Participants (n = 191) were US military active duty service members and veterans. The M-IP and M-VW groups reported their stress, energy, pain, and sleepiness before/after each mindfulness training class, while the control group answered the same questions once a week for the 8-week duration of training.
The M-IP and M-VW groups showed greater reductions in stress over the 8 weeks than the control group (1.70, 0.80, and 0.30 points, respectively; p = .028). Meaningful improvements (> 20%) pre- to post-training were seen for stress, pain, and sleepiness in the M-IP group, for pain only in the VW group, and for none in the WLC group. Those experiencing high levels of stress or pain before training experienced reductions in their stress or pain post mindfulness training, while those with lower initial levels did not (p < .001). Within class improvements were seen for both intervention groups; however, improvements were greater for those attending M-IP for energy, pain, and sleepiness (p < .034).
In-person mindfulness training yielded statistically and meaningfully superior results; however, both IP and VW delivery methods were effective in reducing stress among healthy US military active duty and veteran participants. Mindfulness was particularly helpful for those experiencing initially high levels of stress or pain.