I Would Rather Have a Day but 15 Minutes Will Do

Summer is officially here this week, along with memories of those summer vacations and visions of future quests into the wild.

With that in mind, we need some help if our vacation is not on the immediate horizon!

Enter Dr. Christopher May and colleagues. In a recent study, they examined the relative influence of meditation (15 minutes) and a day of vacation on emotions and perceptions. The results were pretty “cool” despite the increasing summer heat.

For instance, participants noted significantly higher well-being scores on days they meditated compared to days they neither meditated nor were on vacation. However, vacation had a significantly greater effect on well-being than the meditation effect. The authors framed the results by suggesting two different interpretations.

One interpretation is that it is better to be on holiday than to meditate, as the vacation effect was stronger in absolute terms. A second interpretation is that meditation is the better option, since the associations of meditation with the outcome variables were outsized given that participants practiced for just 15 minutes.

However, the authors noted that the benefits of vacation fade away within weeks. But so do mindfulness-based meditation if you quit doing it! The authors ended with some lighthearted humor for summer: If you are pressed for time, sit on a meditation cushion; if you have more time, sit on a beach chair.”

Here’s to Summer!


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