Clarification of personal values and meditation practice has been associated in most meditation traditions and in academic texts. Both values-related behavior and meditation practice increases well-being, but their relationship has not been well studied. It has been suggested that values, together with self-regulation, psychological flexibility, and exposure, are key mechanisms of action in mindfulness. The aims of this study were to explore the association between meditation and values and to examine the processes involved in this relation. A sample of 235 meditation-naïve participants and 274 subjects with varying levels of experience in meditation practice completed an online assessment protocol composed of Five Facets of Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), Decentering Questionnaire (EQ), Valued Living Questionnaire (VLQ), and Engagement with Life Scale (ELS). Results revealed that daily meditators were more consistent, aware, and life-fulfilled about their values; moreover, these measures correlated with the mindfulness process and decentering. The relation between meditation practice and values-related behavior (assessed by the VLQ) was mediated by decentering. The association between meditation practice and Valued Living and Life Fulfillment (measured by the ELS) was mediated by the decentering, describing, and non-judging dimensions of mindfulness. The findings in this study support the relation between meditation and personal values, mediated by the decentering, describing, and non-judging facets of mindfulness.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Baer, R. A., Smith, G. T., Lykins, E., Button, D., Krietemeyer, J., Sauer, S., et al. (2008). Construct validity of the five facet mindfulness questionnaire in meditating and nonmeditating samples. Assessment, 15(3), 329–342.
Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator–mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51(6), 1173.
Bishop, S. R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S., Carlson, L., Anderson, N. D., Carmody, J., et al. (2004). Mindfulness: a proposed operational definition. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11, 230–241.
Bookwala, J., Coppola, K. M., Fagerlin, A., Ditto, P. H., Danks, J. H., & Smucker, W. D. (2001). Gender differences in older adults’ preferences for life-sustaining medical treatments and end-of-life values. Death Studies, 25(2), 127–149.
Branstetter-Rost, A., Cushing, C., & Douleh, T. (2009). Personal values and pain tolerance: does a values intervention add to acceptance? The Journal of Pain, 10(8), 887–892.
Brown, K. W., & Kasser, T. (2005). Are psychological and ecological well-being compatible? The role of values, mindfulness, and lifestyle. Social Indicators Research, 74(2), 349–368.
Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(4), 822.
Brunstein, J. C. (1993). Personal goals and subjective well-being: a longitudinal study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65(5), 1061.
Campos, D., Cebolla, A., Quero, S., Bretón-López, J., Botella, C., Soler, J., et al. (2016). Meditation and happiness: mindfulness and self-compassion may mediate the meditation–happiness relationship. Personality and Individual Differences, 93, 80–85.
Carmody, J., & Baer, R. A. (2008). Relationships between mindfulness practice and levels of mindfulness, medical and psychological symptoms and well-being in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 31(1), 23–33.
Carmody, J., Baer, R. A., Lykins, L. B. E., & Olendzki, N. (2009). An empirical study of the mechanisms of mindfulness in a mindfulness based stress reduction program. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 65(6), 613–626.
Cebolla, A., Garcia-Palacios, A., Soler, J., Guillen, V., Baños, R., & Botella, C. (2012). Psychometric properties of the Spanish validation of the Five Facets of Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ). The European Journal of Psychiatry, 26(2), 118–126.
Crane, C., Winder, R., Hargus, E., Amarasinghe, M., & Barnhofer, T. (2012). Effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy on specificity of life goals. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 36(3), 182–189.
Creswell, J. D., Way, B. M., Eisenberger, N. I., & Lieberman, M. D. (2007). Neural correlates of dispositional mindfulness during affect labeling. Psychosomatic Medicine, 69(6), 560–565.
Crocker, J., Niiya, Y., & Mischkowski, D. (2008). Why does writing about important values reduce defensiveness? Self-affirmation and the role of positive other-directed feelings. Psychological Science, 19(7), 740–747.
Dahl, J. C., Plumb, J. C., Stewart, I., & Lundren, T. (2009). The art & science of valuing in psychotherapy. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications.
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985a). The general causality orientations scale: self-determination in personality. Journal of Research in Personality, 19(2), 109–134.
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985b). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.
Fresco, D. M., Moore, M. T., van Dulmen, M. H., Segal, Z. V., Ma, S. H., Teasdale, J. D., & Williams, J. M. G. (2007). Initial psychometric properties of the experiences questionnaire: validation of a self-report measure of decentering. Behavior Therapy, 38(3), 234–246.
Fruzzetti, A. E., & Iverson, K. M. (2006). Intervening with couples and families to treat emotion dysregulation and psychopathology. In D. K. Snyder, J. Simpson, & J. N. Hughes (Eds.), Emotion regulation in couples and families: Pathways to dysfunction and health (pp. 249–267). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association.
Germer, C. K., Siegel, R. D., & Fulton, P. R. (Eds.). (2013). Mindfulness and psychotherapy. New York: Guilford Press.
Greenberg, L. S., & Johnson, S. M. (1990). Emotional change processes in couples therapy. In E. A. Blechman (Ed.), Emotions and the family: For better or for worse (pp. 137–153). New Jersey: Routledge.
Gregg, J. A., Namekata, M. S., Louie, W. A., & Chancellor-Freeland, C. (2014). Impact of values clarification on cortisol reactivity to an acute stressor. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 3(4), 299–304.
Harris, R. (2011). The happiness trap. Auckland: Read HowYouWant.
Hayes, S. C., Strosahl, K. D., & Wilson, K. G. (1999). Acceptance and commitment therapy. New York: Guilford Press.
Hayes, S. C., Barnes-Holmes, D., and Roche, B. (2001). Relational frame theory: a post-Skinnerian account of human language and cognition. Springer Science and Business Media.
Jacobson, N. S., Martell, C. R., & Dimidjian, S. (2001). Behavioral activation treatment for depression: returning to contextual roots. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 8(3), 255–270.
Judd, C. M., Kenny, D. A., & McClelland, G. H. (2001). Estimating and testing mediation and moderation in within-subjects designs. Psychological Methods, 6, 115–134.
Kashdan, T. B., Barrios, V., Forsyth, J. P., & Steger, M. F. (2006). Experiential avoidance as a generalized psychological vulnerability: comparisons with coping and emotion regulation strategies. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44(9), 1301–1320.
Khoury, B., Lecomte, T., Fortin, G., Masse, M., Therien, P., Bouchard, V., et al. (2013). Mindfulness-based therapy: a comprehensive meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 33(6), 763–771.
Kocovski, N. L., Segal, Z. V., and Battista, S. R. (2009). Mindfulness and psychopathology: problem formulation. In Clinical handbook of mindfulness (pp. 85–98). New York: Springer.
Lieberman, M. D., Inagaki, T. K., Tabibnia, G., & Crockett, M. J. (2011). Subjective responses to emotional stimuli during labeling, reappraisal, and distraction. Emotion, 11(3), 468.
Linehan, M. (1993). Cognitive-behavioral treatment of borderline personality disorder. New York: Guilford Press.
Linehan, M. M. (2014). DBT skills training manual. New York: Guilford Publications.
Maslow, A. (1962). Toward a psychology of being. Princeton, NJ: D. Van Nostrana Co.
McCracken, L. M. (2013). Committed action: an application of the psychological flexibility model to activity patterns in chronic pain. The Journal of Pain, 14(8), 828–835.
Michelson, S. E., Lee, J. K., Orsillo, S. M., & Roemer, L. (2011). The role of values consistent behavior in generalized anxiety disorder. Depression and Anxiety, 28(5), 358–366.
Miller, E. R., & Rollnick, S. (1991). Motivational interviewing: preparing people to change addictive behavior. New York: Guildford Press.
Nitzan-Assayag, Y., Aderka, I. M., & Bernstein, A. (2015). Dispositional mindfulness in trauma recovery: prospective relations and mediating mechanisms. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 36, 25–32.
Páez-Blarrina, M., Gutiérrez-Martínez, O., Valdivia-Salas, S., & Luciano-Soriano, L. (2006). Terapia de Aceptación y Compromiso (ACT) y la importancia de los valores personales en el contexto de la terapia psicológica. Revista Internacional de Psicología y Terapia Psicológica, 6(1), 1–20.
Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2004). SPSS and SAS procedures for estimating indirect effects in simple mediation models. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers, 36 (4), 717–731.
Roemer, L., & Orsillo, S. M. (2009). Mindfulness-and acceptance-based behavioral therapies in practice. New York: Guilford Press.
Rogers, C. (1971). El proceso de convertirse en persona. Buenos Aires: Paidós.
Schwartz, S. H., & Bilsky, W. (1987). Toward a theory of the universal content and structure of values: extensions and cross-cultural replications. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58(5), 878.
Shapiro, S. L., Carlson, L. E., Astin, J. A., & Freedman, B. (2006). Mechanisms of mindfulness. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 62(3), 373–386.
Shapiro, S. L., Oman, D., Thoresen, C. E., Plante, T. G., & Flinders, T. (2008). Cultivating mindfulness: effects on wellbeing. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 64(7), 840–862.
Sheldon, K. M., & Krieger, L. S. (2014). Walking the talk: value importance, value enactment, and wellbeing. Motivation and Emotion, 38(5), 609–619.
Soler, J., Cebolla, A., Feliu-Soler, A., Demarzo, M. M., Pascual, J. C., Baños, R., and García-Campayo, J. (2014a). Relationship between meditative practice and self-reported mindfulness: the MINDSENS composite index. PloS one, 9(1).
Soler, J., Franquesa, A., Feliu-Soler, A., Cebolla, A., García-Campayo, J., Tejedor, R., et al. (2014b). Assessing decentering: validation, psychometric properties, and clinical usefulness of the experiences questionnaire in a Spanish sample. Behavior Therapy, 45(6), 863–871.
Teasdale, J. D., Moore, R. G., Hayhurst, H., Pope, M., Williams, S., & Segal, Z. V. (2002). Metacognitive awareness and prevention of relapse in depression: empirical evidence. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70(2), 275.
Trompetter, H. R., Ten Klooster, P. M., Schreurs, K. M., Fledderus, M., Westerhof, G. J., & Bohlmeijer, E. T. (2013). Measuring values and committed action with the Engaged Living Scale (ELS): psychometric evaluation in a nonclinical sample and a chronic pain sample. Psychological Assessment, 25(4), 1235.
Vowles, K. E., McCracken, L. M., & O’Brien, J. Z. (2011). Acceptance and values-based action in chronic pain: a three-year follow-up analysis of treatment effectiveness and process. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 49(11), 748–755.
Williams, M., & Penman, D. (2011). Mindfulness: a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world. London: Hachette.
Wilson, K. G., Sandoz, E. K., Kitchens, J., & Roberts, M. (2011). The Valued Living Questionnaire: defining and measuring valued action within a behavioral framework. The Psychological Record, 60(2), 4.
Yadavaia, J. E., & Hayes, C. (2009). Commitment therapy: a comparison with four other approaches. Hellenic Journal of Psychology, 6, 244–272.
We would like to thank all participants of the study. JS, AC, and JGC were supported by PROMOSAM: Investigación en procesos, mecanismos y tratamientos psicológicos para la promoción de la salud mental (Red de Excelencia PSI2014-56303-REDT) founded by Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (2014). The authors thank Bradley Londres for his assistance in editing and improving the text.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in this study.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
About this article
Cite this article
Franquesa, A., Cebolla, A., García-Campayo, J. et al. Meditation Practice Is Associated with a Values-Oriented Life: the Mediating Role of Decentering and Mindfulness. Mindfulness 8, 1259–1268 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0702-5