Category: Couples / Close Relationships

Symposium

Evaluating Equanimity: Exploring Mindfulness and Intimate Safety Among a Sample of Meditators and Their Partners

Sunday, November 19
10:15 AM - 11:45 AM
Location: Sapphire 400, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: Couples / Close Relationships | Mindfulness | Mediation / Mediators
Presentation Type: Symposium

A growing body of research suggests that mindfulness may be a key predictor of relationship health (Barnes, Brown, Krusemark, Campbell, & Rogge, 2007; Wachs & Cordova, 2007). However, extant research leaves open a number of gaps. Most studies to date focus on trait-level mindfulness (vs. mindfulness training/practice), neglect to assess mediating variables, and utilize exclusively individual (vs. dyadic) data. We therefore have limited understanding of the clinical implications of these studies, of mechanisms by which these processes may act, and of the way that mindfulness may function within a couple. The current study sought to address these gaps by examining mindfulness, relationship satisfaction, and potential mediators among a sample meditators and their partners. We focused on two mediators – self-compassion and intimate safety – given their associations with both mindfulness and relationship satisfaction (Neff & Betraves, 2013; Wachs & Cordova, 2007).


183 individuals were recruited from meditation groups across the country. 29 partners also participated, allowing for exploratory dyadic analysis. In the individual sample, path analysis revealed a significant direct effect of meditation practice on mindfulness (p < .001). Three facets of mindfulness – acting with awareness, non-judgment of emotions, and non-reactivity to emotions, which we conceptualized together as equanimity – emerged as a latent variable. Equanimity was positively related to relationship satisfaction, mediated through intimacy. The effect of intimacy on satisfaction accounted for 63.31% of the variance in relationship satisfaction, providing evidence for partial mediation. Self-compassion was unrelated to relationship satisfaction. Multilevel modeling revealed a significant partner-actor effect among dyads: the actor’s intimacy mediated the relationship between partner’s equanimity and the actor’s relationship satisfaction. Intimacy accounted for 99.66% of the variance in relationship satisfaction, providing evidence for full mediation.


Meditation practice thus appears to predict a significant increase in individual relationship satisfaction via equanimity and, in turn, intimacy. Within couples, it appears that the positive relationship between equanimity and intimacy becomes stronger. It seems that emotionally attentive, non-reactive, and non-judgmental individuals create an emotional environment conducive to their partners’ intimate safety, which is positively associated with their partners’ relationship quality.

Emily L. Maher

Doctoral Student
Clark University

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