Effects of Controlled Meditation on Stress Response Elicited by a Timed Mathematics Test
Journal of Advanced Student Sciences (JASS)
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In daily life, human beings encounter a number of different stressors that elicit a physiological response. Previous studies have demonstrated that mindfulness meditation is effective in reducing the physiological stress response. The purpose of this study was to determine the ability of mindfulness meditation to reduce the body's stress response. The stress response was induced in all participants via a timed multiplication test, enhanced with elements of competition and monetary incentives. The experimental group underwent a three minute guided meditation prior to the test, whereas the control group did not, and the stress responses of the two groups were then compared and analyzed. The study was conducted in three stages. In stage one, baseline heart rate, respiration rate, and electrodermal activity measurements were recorded for each of the 46 participants for one minute. In stage two, recording was paused and 23 participants simply sat for three minutes, while the other 23 participants listened to a three minute guided meditation. Group assignments were random. In stage three, each participant completed a two-minute timed multiplication test while competing against a member of the research team. Heart rate, electrodermal activity, and respiration rate recording resumed during stage three. After testing of all 46 participants, average changes in heart rate, respiratory rate, and electrodermal activity were calculated, with the change referring to the difference between baseline measurements and measurements taken during the first minute of the timed test. Differences in the three variables were attributed to the effects of mindfulness meditation prior to the test. The average change in heart rate, measured in beats per minute, was found to have a statistically significant increase in the meditation group compared to the non-meditation group, suggesting meditation is correlated with an increased stress response, opposite the hypothesis. Neither electrodermal activity nor respiratory rate were found to have statistically significant differences when comparing average changes between the groups.
An article that appeared in JASS, issue 2019