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Stress response in long-term Buddhist meditation practitioners

Status: finished

Funding: Cogito Foundation (Switzerland), Swiss National Science Foundation

Abstract Texture

Summary

The main objective of this research project was to investigate whether long-term practitioners of Buddhist meditations show an attenuated response to social stress compared to non-meditators. To quantify stress reactivity, we used a combination of self-report measures and physiological assessments (salivary cortisol, an index of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, and heart rate variability associated with the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system).

 

To complement the objective assessments, we conducted semi-structured interviews, allowing us to compare the experience of stress in mediators and meditation-naive participants.

In both arms of the study, we explored the potential mechanisms underlying the stress-attenuating effects of Buddhist meditation, such as cognitive appraisals, self-conscious emotions and cognitions, and emotion regulation.

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