Effects of Breathing-Based Meditation on Earthquake-Affected Health Professionals

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Abstract

On March 11, 2013, the Great East Japan Earthquake (magnitude 9) hit the northern part of Japan (Tohoku), killing more than 15 000 people and leaving long-lasting scars, including psychological damage among evacuees, some of whom were health professionals. Little is known about meditation efficacy on disaster-affected health professionals. The present study investigated the effects of breathing-based meditation on seminar participants who were health professionals who had survived the earthquake. This study employed a mixed methods approach, using both survey data and handwritten qualitative data. Quantitative results of pre- and postmeditation practice indicated that all mood scales (anger, confusion, depression, fatigue, strain, and vigor) were significantly improved (N = 17). Qualitative results revealed several common themes (emancipation from chronic and bodily senses; holistic sense: transcending mind-body; re-turning an axis in life through reflection, self-control, and/or gratitude; meditation into mundane, everyday life; and coming out of pain in the aftermath of the earthquake) that had emerged as expressions of participant meditation experiences. Following the 45-minute meditation session, the present study participants reported improvements in all psychological states (anger, confusion, depression, fatigue, strain, and vigor) in the quantitative portion, which indicated efficacy of the meditation. Our analysis of the qualitative portion revealed what and how participants felt during meditating.

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