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Effects of mindfulness-based interventions on the dynamics of the stress response

Status: finished

Funding: Cogito Foundation (Switzerland), Swiss National Science Foundation, Mind & Life Europe

Abstract Texture



The main objective of this research project was to investigate whether mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs), short-term eight-week programs based on contemplative practices, impact reactivity to social stress. Further, we wanted to explore:

  • What physiological and affective systems are mostly impacted by MBIs: our measurements included salivary cortisol, salivary alpha-amylase, pre-ejection period (index of sympathetic nervous system activity), and heart rate variability (associated with the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system).

  • Whether MBIs impact prolonged stress reactivity, i.e., resulting in reduced stress during anticipation of and recovery from stress.

  • Whether enhancing a standard MBI, such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program with other elements of Buddhist practice (for example, training equanimity, loving-kindness, right conduct, and aspects of wisdom) would bring additional stress-attenuating benefits.

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