Psychobiological Effects of Meditation Experience
during the Covid-19 Pandemic
What is the purpose of this study?
We are conducting a research study to learn if, and how, people are engaging with contemplative communities and meditation practice to cope with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to know how people are being affected by public safety measures, interpersonal challenges and economic instability. We want to gain deeper insight into the disproportionate impacts being experienced by Black, Hispanic and Latinx, Indigenous, Asian and other communities of color. We also interested in the ways in which meditative resources are being used to make sense of the intertwined impacts of racism and COVID-19.
Who we are:
This project is based at the Center for Mind and Brain at University of California Davis. Our research team, led by Clifford Saron and Quinn Conklin, has expertise in contemplative science, health and social psychology, molecular biology, social work and neuroscience. Our research program focuses on the effects of meditation practice on psychological well-being and physical health.
Our commitment to expanding the inclusivity and accessibility of this research is anchored by Drs. Kamilah Majied and Amber Davis, both of whom identify as African American. In addition to being a social scientist and educator, Kamilah has expertise in applying contemplative practice to anti-racism and inclusivity endeavors. Kamilah will offer group sessions for Black, Latinx, Indigenous and Asian heritage participants to answer any questions and to hear potential concerns prior to enrolling in the study. Participation in the pre-enrollment sessions is optional. Dr. Majied will also offer group sessions to discuss any concerns related to racism or other types of discrimination as they relate to participants experience throughout the study. Dr. Davis is a trauma-informed mental health practitioner and researcher, who is sensitive to needs of persons of color and persons impacted by oppression and hardship at this time. Amber is supporting study participants through one-on-one debriefing sessions as needed. You can read more about our individual team members here.
We recognize that scientific research has often excluded non-white communities and has been used to perpetuate harm against Black, Indigenous, and other marginalized groups. Meditation research has typically focused on economically-advantaged white participants and has largely ignored other practice communities. We intend to use more equitable and just scientific practices, starting by including and listening to groups who have historically been excluded, harmed, or underrepresented. We aim to cultivate a safe research experience for participants, and we welcome your ideas about how we can further support you as you engage with the study.
We hope to learn about the challenges and sources of stress people are currently experiencing, as well as the ways that people are accessing strength and support. In this study, we will assess changes in life stressors, ways of coping, mental health, and a biological measure of stress over the coming year. To better understand how people's experiences during the pandemic fit into the greater context of their lives, we will also be asking about challenges and adversities you might have experienced throughout your life as well as how you coped with them. We will then explore if and how the management of one’s life’s challenges relates to current and prior meditation experience.
COVID-19 and the enduring consequences of the pandemic are devastating some communities while having much less impact on others. These inequities must be acknowledged in order to understand the unfolding consequences of the pandemic and the role of contemplative practice among differently impacted communities. As such, we are committed to building a diverse group of participants to make this research more representative of this range of experiences.
Who can participate:
You are invited to apply for this study if you are over the age of 18 and have some meditation experience. You do not need to have a regular meditation practice. All experience levels are welcome and encouraged to apply. We especially encourage people from communities that are typically underrepresented in meditation research to apply, including Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous communities, people of various gender identities and sexual orientations, people living in rural communities, young people, and people new to meditation practice.
You can earn a total of $145 in the first month of this study and $155 for the 3 follow-up assessments, for a total of $300 over the 1-year study period. You will have the option of receiving incremental payments by check, PayPal, or Venmo after you have completed each assessment.
What happens if you agree to participate in this study?
If you are eligible and agree to participate, we will ask you to complete 4 assessments over the course of one year. All of these assessments can be completed from your home. We will ask you for your name, email address, phone number, and mailing address in order to provide you with all of the materials necessary to participate in the study. We will ask you to complete the first assessment as soon as possible. The remaining assessments will take place approximately 4 months, 8 months, and 1 year from the time you enroll. All information you provide will be strictly confidential, used only for the purposes of this study. To find out more about how we will protect your information click here.
The first assessment has three parts:
Your samples will only be used for the purposes for which you have given express, informed, and written permission. Once these measurements are complete, your samples will be destroyed. No additional research will ever be done using your information or your sample without your knowledge and permission. If you are interested in participating in this research but are not comfortable providing a blood sample, please reach out to us so that we can discuss other possibilities.
There will be three follow-up assessments approximately 4 months, 8 months, and 1 year after this first assessment. At the 4-month and 8-month assessments, we will ask you to complete a shortened version of the online questionnaires and one round of the weekly inventory and journaling exercise. You will be paid $40 for completing each of these intermediate assessments.
At the 1-year assessment, we will ask you to complete a final set of questionnaires, one weekly inventory and journaling exercise, and to provide a second blood sample so that we can measure changes in telomere length. You will be paid $35 for these questionnaires, $15 for the journaling exercise, and $25 for this blood sample, for a total of $75 at this assessment.
Feedback and Debriefing:
There will be several opportunities to provide written feedback on your experience as you progress through the study. You will also have the opportunity to debrief with members of the research team to ask us any questions you might have about the study and to share your experiences and thoughts so that we can learn from you. We will use this feedback to improve the accessibility, cultural sensitivity, and inclusivity of this and future studies.
Benefit and Significance:
It is our great hope you will find the process of chronicling how you cope with COVID-19 to be a valuable source of insight. We also hope that the research process and its findings help you to consider how to augment your well-being during and after the pandemic. We hope that your participation is empowering for you as you notice various tools you have employed or may employ to maintain and improve your well-being. At the same time, we recognize that reflecting on these questions and your meditation practice itself may be harder to do because of the multiple stressors you are managing. Whatever your experience, we want to know about it and to support you in any way we can. We intend to distribute the findings of this research widely, so your participation in this study will contribute to a greater understanding of the impacts of COVID-19 and the resources that help people survive and thrive throughout it and beyond.
Yoga Science Foundation, Mind and Life Institute, the Fetzer Institute, and gift funds from other donors.
If you have questions or would like further information, please contact study personnel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may also contact Quinn Conklin at 530-341-3505 or email@example.com
or Clifford Saron at 415-307-9757 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in participating?
To apply, you can fill out our application form here:
Both the screening survey and the subsequent consent form will walk you through this information again.