Effects of "the work" meditation on psychopathologic symptoms: A pilot study

Ruth Leufke, Sigal Zilcha-Mano, Adi Feld, Shahar Lev-Ari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: "The Work" meditation, developed by Ms. Byron Katie, is a meditative process that trains people to reduce their perceived level of stress by self-inquiry regarding their thoughts and beliefs connected to stressful circumstances or symptoms. This meditation approach has been practiced by hundreds of thousands of people in more than 20 countries, and its effectiveness has been demonstrated extensively. Yet, there has been no empirical evaluation of its efficacy to date. Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of "The Work" meditation on psychologic symptoms in individuals who were recruited from the general population in several European countries. Design: This was a single-group pilot clinical trial (open label). Intervention: The study design involved a baseline assessment of psychologic symptoms before a 9-day "The Work" intervention, another assessment immediately following the intervention, and a third assessment 3 months postintervention. Forty-seven volunteers participated in this trial. Main outcome measures: The Symptom Checklist-90 Revised was used for evaluating the effects of this intervention. Results: "The Work" intervention significantly reduced a wide variety of psychopathologic symptoms of depression, anxiety, interpersonal sensitivity, hostility, obsessive-compulsiveness, paranoid ideation, and psychotic symptoms. All but one symptom (hostility) remained significantly low at the 3-month follow-up evaluation. Conclusions: "The Work" intervention was an effective tool for reducing a variety of psychopathologic symptoms. This pilot study is the first to highlight the beneficial effects of "The Work" and suggests that this form of meditation may help alleviate a variety of mental health problems and improve psychologic functioning. These preliminary findings are very encouraging and warrant further randomized controlled trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-152
Number of pages6
JournalAlternative and Complementary Therapies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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