Perú, indigenous orphans, Aymara, Transcendental Meditation, well-being


The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a wide spectrum of well-documented adverse mental health outcomes for children and adults, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), self-harm, suicide, and other detrimental impacts to the well-being of young people. These impacts have extended to Perú where 216,000 people in a population of 33 million died from the disease, despite that country being the first to fully lockdown in Latin America. It is predicted that about 200,000 children will become orphans or lose their guardians as a consequence of this unprecedented surge in mortality. Compelling and sustained international research since the 1970s suggests Transcendental Meditation generates salutary effects to physical and mental health and behavior and social relations, and a multi-school, multi-context, pre- and peri-pandemic research program has shown it may do the same in Perú. To test that proposition for well-being, the present study using the Personal Wellbeing Index (PWI) measured the impact of Transcendental Meditation on 49 Aymara orphan adolescent girls in a remote Andean residential care community. Results suggest that three months of meditation practice increased well-being from 42.8% to 55.1% (F = 11.08, p = .03), a statistically significant change when compared to two comparison groups from the same orphanage. While PWI post-test scores in the meditation group were lower than those observed for other girls in residential care in Perú and normative samples from Chile, Brazil, and Spain, the trend toward increased well-being is encouraging.

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