Abstract. Mindfulness training programs require the completion of daily out-of-class meditation practices, often referred to as “homework,” and individuals who adhere to these requirements have better outcomes. Nevertheless, many people fall short of the recommended amount of meditation practice. Two field studies tested whether the formation of action plans—strategic plans for when and where to meditate—would support out-of-class meditation practice.
Study 1 was a 3-month longitudinal study of adolescents who participated in a 5-day meditation retreat. Immediately before and after, and then 3 months later, adolescents answered questions about emotional well-being. Immediately after the retreat, adolescents also answered questions about their commitment to continue meditating, and action plans for when and where to meditate. Three months later, they reported on their meditation frequency. S
tudy 2 was a between-subjects experiment in which adults enrolled in an 8-week mindfulness program were randomly assigned to an action plan condition or a control condition. Personal commitment to practice meditation was assessed at baseline, out-of-class meditation frequency was assessed weekly, and emotional well-being was assessed at the beginning and end of the 8-week program.
In both studies, individuals who formed strategic plans for when and where to meditate meditated more frequently, but only if they also had a strong personal commitment to do so. Further, out-of-class meditation days mediated the association between action plans and emotional well-being among participants with strong personal commitment. Collectively, these results suggest that although mindfulness is about nonreactive awareness of the present, its practice is enhanced by planning ahead.