Effect of Meditative Movement on Affect and Flow in Qigong Practitioners.

Author: Pölönen P1, Lappi O1,2, Tervaniemi M3,4
1Cognitive Science, Department of Digital Humanities, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
2Traffic Research Unit, Department of Digital Humanities, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
3CICERO Learning, Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
4Cognitive Brain Research Unit, Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
Conference/Journal: Front Psychol.
Date published: 2019 Oct 22
Other: Volume ID: 10 , Pages: 2375 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02375. eCollection 2019. , Word Count: 264

Qigong is a Meditative Movement exercise that consists of mindful movements, regulation of breathing and attentional control. In this study we investigated whether Qigong practice might be associated with the affect and flow of its practitioners during the exercise. Although practitioners of Meditative Movement anecdotally describe flow-like experiences and strong effects on affect there are only a few empirical studies that focus on acute effects of Qigong practice on affect, and to our knowledge none on flow. Understanding these phenomena could shed new light on the interrelationship between body movement and the embodied mind. Self-reported affect and flow of qigong practitioners (N = 19) was probed in four qigong sessions, 1 week apart, each lasting about an hour. We used the PANAS (Positive And Negative Affect Schedule) to measure self-reported affect pre- and post-session. Additionally, open-ended questions were used to further inquire the specific quality of the post-session affect. Flow was measured using the Flow Short Scale, twice during each Qigong session and once after it. Our results confirm previous studies that Qigong practice shifts affect toward positive valence. Content analysis of the open-ended questions further revealed that the resulting experience can be described as restful, relaxed, happy, balanced, and clear. Although the lack of a control group/condition preclude drawing firm causal conclusions, our results indicate that Qigong practice produced flow already 20 min into the session, and that flow state intensified at 40 and 60 min. Future directions for studying affect and flow in meditative exercise are discussed.

Copyright © 2019 Pölönen, Lappi and Tervaniemi.

KEYWORDS: Qigong; affect; exercise; flow experience; meditative movement

PMID: 31695654 PMCID: PMC6817587 DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02375