The experience of zen meditation on patients with generalized anxiety disorder in Taiwan

Lu, Chueh-Fen (2009) The experience of zen meditation on patients with generalized anxiety disorder in Taiwan. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This study explored the experience of patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) undertaking a six week intervention of a Zen meditation programme in Taiwan. Mix-methods were used including the Revised State and Trait Anxiety Inventory (RSTAI), repeated focus groups, individual interviews, diaries and field notes. Heidegger’s interpretative phenomenology was adopted as a theoretical framework. Two groups of 9 and 12 patients (n=21) participated in the study.

Three themes emerged from repeated focus groups: First ‘Expectation of Zen meditation regarding GAD symptoms included sub themes of ‘ambivalence towards meditation’, ‘crave a good sleep’, ‘stop thinking’ and ‘regain memory and concentration’. The second theme, ‘The process of Zen meditation’ included the sub themes of ‘struggling to reach a state of calm’, ‘signs of improvement’ and ‘an individual process’. The last theme, ‘The cultural beliefs regarding Zen meditation in Taiwan’ involved the ‘spiritual influence’ of Zen meditation practice.

Four themes emerged from individual interviews. Firstly, ‘Separation’ referred to the issues that participants faced in dealing with the termination of the programme, including ‘concern about other participants’ and ‘examining the relationship between Zen meditation and self’. The second theme ‘Body experience of Zen meditation practice’ incorporated ‘body awareness’ and ‘preparing to practise Zen meditation’. The third theme, ‘States of mind while meditating’ consisted of ‘the state of engagement with real life’, ‘the state of detachment from real life’ and ‘the state of calm’. Lastly, ‘Benefits of Zen meditation practice’ incorporated the categories ‘less pressure with daily life’ and ‘more acceptance of being a GAD patient’.

The RSTAI was administrated at baseline and post intervention and also at the two week follow-up of the Zen meditation programme. Neither the Trait Anxiety Score nor the State Anxiety Score showed significant differences between Groups 1 and 2 at baseline. This allowed the RSTAI data from the 2 groups to be merged.The results of 95% confidence interval for differences of both groups showed a significant improvement in the Trait Anxiety Score over time but not the State Anxiety Score.

This study contributes to the existing body of knowledge and associated literature regarding Zen meditation and GAD in three ways. Firstly, the findings confirmed that the essential or authentic traditional qualities of meditation should be addressed in meditation study. Secondly, the meaning of Zen meditation for the groups of GAD patients was revealed in the context of Taiwan society. How their lived experience of GAD shaped their understanding of Zen meditation was interpreted. Thirdly, a comprehensive understanding of Zen meditation is reported. The findings (including themes, i.e. diverse Zen meditation processes, body experiences, concepts of obstacles and spiritual influence) add to the current knowledge by providing insight derived from participants’ lived experiences.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Generalized anxiety disorder, Zen meditation, mixed-methods, interpretative phenomenology
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing > Nursing and Health Care
Supervisor's Name: Smith, Dr. Lorraine N.
Date of Award: 2009
Depositing User: Mrs ChuehFen Lu
Unique ID: glathesis:2009-893
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2009
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:27

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