The Self- Directed Biological Transformation Initiative & Wellbeing
Paul J. Mills,1–3 Kathleen L. Wilson,1 Meredith A. Pung,1 Lizabeth Weiss,4 Sheila Patel,1,4 P. Murali Doraiswamy,5 Christine Peterson,1,4 Valencia Porter,1,4 Eric Schadt,6 Deepak Chopra,1,4 and Rudolph E. Tanzi7
Abstract Objective: To examine the effects of a comprehensive residential mind–body program on well-being. Design: The Self-Directed Biological Transformation Initiative was a quasi-randomized trial comparing the effects of participation in a 6-day Ayurvedic system of medicine-based comprehensive residential program with a 6-day residential vacation at the same retreat location. Setting: Retreat setting. Participants: 69 healthy women (n = 58) and men (n = 11) (mean age – standard deviation, 53.6 – 12 years). Intervention: The Ayurvedic intervention addressed physical and emotional well-being through group meditation and yoga, massage, diet, adaptogenic herbs, lectures, and journaling. Outcome measures: A battery of standardized questionnaires. Results: Participants in the Ayurvedic program showed significant and sustained increases in ratings of spirituality ( p < 0.01) and gratitude ( p < 0.05) compared with the vacation group, which showed no change. The Ayurvedic participants also showed increased ratings for self-compassion ( p < 0.01) as well as less anxiety at the 1-month follow-up ( p < 0.05). Conclusions: Findings suggest that a short-term intensive program providing holistic instruction and experience in mind–body healing practices can lead to significant and sustained increases in perceived well-being and that relaxation alone is not enough to improve certain aspects of well-being.