Impact of Virtual Heartfulness Meditation Program on Stress, Quality of Sleep, and Psychological Wellbeing during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Mixed-Method Study
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Study Design and Data Collection
2.2. Recruitment of Participants
2.3.1. Orientation and Education Sessions
2.3.2. Meditation with a Heartfulness Trainer
- The participants were recommended to attend a minimum of two out of a total of eight virtual trainer-guided group Heartfulness relaxation and meditation sessions each week. These sessions, conducted by one of the authors and a Heartfulness trainer (KD), included 5–7 min of relaxation followed by 20 min of meditation. Heartfulness meditation practice asks participants to gently focus their attention, with eyes closed on the source of light within the heart. Rather than trying to visualize this, participants were asked to simply tune in to their hearts and be open to any experience that they may have. If their mind wanders, participants were advised to redirect toward the heart gently .
- The participants were also provided instructions on using the phone application called ‘HeartsApp’ on their phones. They could connect as an anonymous seeker with a Heartfulness trainer through the application and meditate without any audiovisual interaction.
- Heartfulness relaxation followed by meditation preferably in the morning or any other convenient time for about 20 min with the same technique as guided group sessions. They may listen to Heartfulness relaxation using online resources on www.heartfulness.org.
- The following two self-practices were advised to the participants after completing education sessions for each technique.
- Heartfulness Rejuvenation: An evening practice of rejuvenation lasting 15 min was recommended where they imagine that stress and heaviness were leaving the body through the back in the form of smoke or vapor. These heaviness and stress were to be replaced by a flow of purity, lightness, and freshness.
- Bedtime Prayer meditation: Participants were recommended to prayerfully contemplate the day’s events for self-introspection and meditate on the source of light within the heart for about 5 min before sleeping.
2.3.4. Statistical Analysis
3.1. Adherence to Practice
3.2. Survey on COVID-19-Related Stress
3.3. Effect on Stress (PSS)
3.4. Effect on Sleep Quality (PSQI)
3.5. Qualitative Thematic Analysis
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Comparison||Mean Difference||p-Value||95% C.I.|
|Week 0–Week 4||5.79||<0.0001||(3.94, 7.65)|
|Week 0–Week 8||6.68||<0.0001||(4.89, 8.47)|
|Week 4–Week 8||0.89||0.53||(−1.09, 2.86)|
|Comparison||Mean Difference||p-Value||95% C.I.|
|Week 0–Week 4||1.55||0.0022||(0.49, 2.61)|
|Week 0–Week 8||2.05||<0.0001||(1.03, 3.07)|
|Week 4–Week 8||0.50||0.54||(−0.62, 1.62)|
|Theme||Description||Example Comment from Respondents|
|The attitude changed to be more Positive thinking, Empathetic, and Disciplined.||The attitude towards others and life changed positively after participating in the study. Participants suggested they became more compassionate, understanding and started thinking positively. They became more disciplined as well.||“I feel a bit more patient; I feel a little bit more compassionate, a little bit more open to other people, and less judgmental.”|
“I find that I am just in general a lot more thankful about very simple things.”
“I noticed that I reconnected to some of the human side of things. Because sometimes we can get lost in the process and the thinking about the whole thing, you sort of forget that is actually a person.”
|Alleviated stress and made calmer and more focused||The practice helped alleviate stress, and participants felt more focused and calmer||“I found the meditation to be extremely helpful for just staying calm in the storm, but I did not grow up with that sort of understanding.”|
“I was having a harder time concentrating, especially on projects that required a lot of thought. I really dreaded them because I just had a hard time staying focused. Additionally, that has been a big improvement for me because of the meditation I have been doing. It has helped me a lot and I do not dread those projects.”
|Ability to control emotional reactions and became more mindful and accepting||The practice helped develop the ability to control emotional reactions. Some participants suggested they became more mindful of the situations and accepting||“I have been able to listen better. Even if what I am listening to contradicts my own personal views. I listen, I do not react, and I do not respond with the intensity that I want to—instead I accept them and move on.”|
“I am now mindful of the fact that I am always in a hurry and avoid unplanned interactions with neighbors and friends. So, I am trying to work on slowing down and allowing time for spontaneous phone conversations or physical interactions.”
“It was like, if bad things are happening, of course, you are going to feel bad and react badly. Now [after meditation practices] it’s like, I actually have the power in this to stay calm and observe both emotions in my own self, and then things around me and that was just very very helpful.”
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Desai, K.; Gupta, P.; Parikh, P.; Desai, A. Impact of Virtual Heartfulness Meditation Program on Stress, Quality of Sleep, and Psychological Wellbeing during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Mixed-Method Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 11114. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111114
Desai K, Gupta P, Parikh P, Desai A. Impact of Virtual Heartfulness Meditation Program on Stress, Quality of Sleep, and Psychological Wellbeing during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Mixed-Method Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(21):11114. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111114Chicago/Turabian Style
Desai, Kunal, Pratibha Gupta, Priti Parikh, and Alpa Desai. 2021. "Impact of Virtual Heartfulness Meditation Program on Stress, Quality of Sleep, and Psychological Wellbeing during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Mixed-Method Study" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 21: 11114. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111114