Feeding Your Demons® Study

With a loving mind, cherish more than a child
The hostile gods and demons of apparent existence,
And tenderly surround yourself with them

— Machig Labdrön (1055 – 1145)

Randomized Controlled Trial of Tibetan Buddhist Feeding Your Demons® Contemplative Process in Meditation Practitioners

Study conducted by Philippe Goldin (University of California, Davis), Eve Ekman (University of California, San Francisco), and Amy Braun (Stanford University)


Objectives: To investigate outcomes and predictors of a Tibetan Buddhist meditation process called Feeding Your Demons® (FYD) vs. a waitlist (WL) control group of adult meditation practitioners with elevated symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Methods: 61 community-dwelling adults with prior meditation training (70% female; mean age = 44.05, SD = 11.20; 43.5% Caucasian, 39% Asian, 9.3% Hispanic, 8.3% other) were randomly assigned to 1-month of FYD practice or no practice waitlist control groups. Participants completed self-report psychological assessments at baseline and post-FYD and WL.

Results: Our analyses found that, compared to the waitlist control group, FYD practice yielded significantly greater decreases in stress symptoms and increases in self-compassion. Moderator analyses showed that at baseline lesser history of psychiatric problems (but not number of years of meditation practice) predicted greater reduction in depression, anxiety and stress symptoms. Regression analyses found that the number of FYD meditation sessions completed during one-month predicted post-FYD increases in self-compassion and satisfaction with life, as well as decreases in stress, depression, and intolerance for uncertainty.

Conclusions: FYD practice may enhance multiple facets of psychological health in adults in a dose dependent manner. An RCT with an active comparison training is necessary to determine the specificity of FYD related effects and to identify mechanisms of change.

Key words: meditation, predictors, randomized controlled trial, stress, self-compassion, emotion


Much has been written about the Tibetan Buddhist Chöd practice, its lineage of transmission to the present from the 11th century and its introduction to the West as a contemplative process called Feeding Your Demons (FYD). However, this study is the first empirical examination of the FYD practice that measures its effect on clinical symptoms and well-being in a randomized controlled trial. This study also begins the process of identifying baseline moderators and potential mediators of the effect of FYD on psychological health. Furthermore, even a short dose of FYD was associated with a shift toward adaptive psychological functioning.

Bullet points of findings for FYD study

Data from 52 participants who completed 1-month of FYD

  • Significant decreases from pre-to-post FYD in:
    • ↓ depression symptoms, 34%
    • ↓ stress symptoms, 14%
    • ↓ intolerance for uncertainty, 10%
    • ↓ suppression of emotion expression, 15%
    • ↓ pre-to-post each meditation session, 53%
  • Significant increases in:
    • ↑ satisfaction with life, 28%
    • ↑ self-compassion, 29%
    • ↑ self-regulation to increase calm, 15%