Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 369-384

First online:

Is Spirituality a Critical Ingredient of Meditation? Comparing the Effects of Spiritual Meditation, Secular Meditation, and Relaxation on Spiritual, Psychological, Cardiac, and Pain Outcomes

  • Amy B. WachholtzAffiliated withBowling Green State UniversityDepartment of Psychology, Bowling Green State University Email author 
  • , Kenneth I. PargamentAffiliated withBowling Green State University

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This study compared secular and spiritual forms of meditation to assess the benefits of a spiritual intervention. Participants were taught a meditation or relaxation technique to practice for 20 min a day for two weeks. After two weeks, participants returned to the lab, practiced their technique for 20 min, and placed their hand in a cold-water bath of 2°C for as long as they could endure it. The length of time that individuals kept their hand in the water bath was measured. Pain, anxiety, mood, and the spiritual health were assessed following the two-week intervention. Significant interactions occurred (time × group); the Spiritual Meditation group had greater decreases in anxiety and more positive mood, spiritual health, and spiritual experiences than the other two groups. They also tolerated pain almost twice as long as the other two groups.


meditation pain anxiety depression spirituality