A Brief Mindfulness Exercise Reduces Cardiovascular Reactivity During a Laboratory Stressor Paradigm

Abstract

Mindfulness meditation is increasingly used in health interventions and may reduce stress and blood pressure. We aimed to investigate the effectiveness of brief mindfulness meditation in reducing cardiovascular reactivity and recovery during a laboratory stressor. We randomly assigned 62 meditation-naïve participants to a mindfulness meditation group or a matched non-mindful listening exercise control group. There were no differences between groups in blood pressure, demographic, or mood variables at baseline. Mindfulness participants showed lower systolic blood pressure following the mindfulness exercise and decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure reactivity during a speeded math stressor. Specifically, as the stressor progressed, blood pressure in the mindfulness group began to decrease, whereas in the control group, it continued to increase. There were no group differences during recovery. Overall, brief mindfulness meditation reduced cardiovascular reactivity to stress and may be an effective intervention for reducing stress-related blood pressure reactivity.

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Acknowledgments

We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Justin Hoskin, Kevin Voisin, and Christina Catron in data collection. Funding for this study was provided by a Brigham Young University Mentored Environment Grant and an Office of Research and Creative Activities Grant to Patrick R. Steffen and Michael J. Larson.

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The authors have no conflict of interest to disclose.

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Correspondence to Patrick R. Steffen.

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Steffen, P.R., Larson, M.J. A Brief Mindfulness Exercise Reduces Cardiovascular Reactivity During a Laboratory Stressor Paradigm. Mindfulness 6, 803–811 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-014-0320-4

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Keywords

  • Stress
  • Mindfulness
  • Meditation
  • Blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular reactivity