Hi guys! I'm pre-publishing this protocol on my next experiment, and I'd love your feedback! You're smart people
I've been meditating for quite a while now. 130 hours of Headspace and 450 hours of unguided mindfulness meditation, or about 25 minutes/day for 4 years. Personally, I believe it's been tremendously beneficial in weakening some of my more disagreeable patterns of behavior; specifically, I think I'm a lot less irritable, slightly happier, and able to reason more clearly.
However, I'm at a point where I'm doing things that are typically referred to as meaningful, but I sometimes feel like it doesn't matter much. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy with my life in general, but I wonder whether meditation might be taking away some of the most intense joy.
Furthermore, 500 hours is a lot of time! Time that could be well spent on other activities.
Therefore, I aim to examine whether meditation affects my mood, irritability, distractability, focus and how I treat my partner. I hypothesise that meditation makes me less reactive, both to positive and negative experiences, and I predict that it:
- Makes me less happy, since my life is pretty great externally
- Makes me less irritable
- Decreases my distractability
- Increases time from when I wake up 'till I start work (since I typically meditate in the morning)
- Decreases total time spent on work
- Makes my partner less satisfied with our relationship, since I express fewer emotions
I am a 25-year old medical student living with my girlfriend in Denmark. Since I expect that the effect of meditation accumululates, I've decided on a 4-week A/B/A/B study, with 1 week of meditation for 30 minutes/day in the morning after breakfast, followed by 1 week of not meditating, 1 week of meditating, 1 week of not meditating. I will be using Headspace semi-guided sessions, and will start the study on the 23rd of September and end it on the 20th of October.
I use ReporterApp (iOS) to measure mood via experience sampling semi-randomly 5 times a day, on the following scale, inspired by Nick Winthers:
1: Suicidally depressed.
2: Majorly depressed or in tons of pain.
3: Frustrated or annoyed or sad or hurting or generally unhappy.
4: A little down.
7: Happy to the point of smiling or rocking out.
8: Excitedly happy; awesome.
10: Contender for best moment of my life.
The same methodology is applied for irritability ("I feel irritable" and "I feel grumpy"), as well as distractability ("I am distracted") ranked on a score of 1 (Not at all) to 6 (Very).
Time until starting work is tracked as time untill first Anki flashcard, first pomodoro, or first lecture, whichever comes first.
Total time is tracked in Toggl, with 5/6ths weighting for lectures, 1/1 weighting for pomodoros.
My partner's perception of me is scored with the relationship assessment scale [Vaughn et al.] on saturday of every week.
Sampling size is determined pragmatically – I have about a month of stable work with low variability where I can conduct the study.
I complete analyses by intention to treat.
So, what do you think?
Vaughn et al., DOI: 10.1080/019261899262023