, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 860–870 | Cite as

How Does Mindfulness Work? Exploring a Theoretical Model Using Samples of Meditators and Non-meditators

  • Ausiàs Cebolla
  • Laura Galiana
  • Daniel Campos
  • Amparo Oliver
  • Joaquim Soler
  • Marcelo Demarzo
  • Rosa María Baños
  • Albert Feliu-Soler
  • Javier García-Campayo


Several models have been proposed to explain the effects of mindfulness training on health and well-being, including several potential mechanisms. The goal of the present study is to empirically test a model of mindfulness mechanisms by comparing samples of meditators and non-meditators. Multi-sample path structural equation models were estimated and tested in two samples, one with 386 meditators and the other with 284 participants with no meditation experience. Results showed higher scores on the five mechanisms in the sample of meditators compared to non-meditators. It showed a greater effect of attentional control on body awareness and non-reactivity and of body awareness on non-reactivity, in meditators compared to non-meditators. The effect of attentional control on reappraisal, however, was lower for this group. The model was useful for explaining mindfulness in both meditators and non-meditators, and it was sensitive in identifying the elements of the process that differ in these two collectives. This study offers preliminary evidence about the important role of body awareness as a key mechanism in mindfulness. Therefore, body awareness should be included in future models designed to understand the underpinnings of mindfulness.


Mindfulness Mechanisms Multi-sample analyses Psychological model Meditators 


Author Contributions

AC designed and executed the study, assisted with the data analyses, and wrote the paper. JG, JS, and DC collaborated with the design and writing of the study. LG and AO analysed the data and wrote part of the results. AF, RB, and MD collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript.


This study was funded by PROMOSAM: research in processes, mechanisms and psychological treatments for mental health promotion (PSI2014-56303-REDT), the Network for Prevention and Health Promotion in primary Care (RedIAPP), a postdoctoral grant from Universitat de València (VLC-Campus “Atracció de talent”), and Instituto de Salud Carlos III of the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Spain). Albert Feliu-Soler has a “Sara Borrell” research contract from the ISCIII (CD16/00147).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethics Approval

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. The study was approved by the Clinical Research Ethics Committee of Aragón.

Statement of Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ausiàs Cebolla
    • 1
    • 2
  • Laura Galiana
    • 1
  • Daniel Campos
    • 3
  • Amparo Oliver
    • 1
  • Joaquim Soler
    • 4
    • 5
  • Marcelo Demarzo
    • 6
    • 7
  • Rosa María Baños
    • 1
    • 2
  • Albert Feliu-Soler
    • 8
    • 9
  • Javier García-Campayo
    • 9
    • 10
  1. 1.Facultat de PsicologiaUniversitat de ValènciaValènciaSpain
  2. 2.CIBER Fisiopatologia de la obesidad y la nutrición, CIBEROBNMadridSpain
  3. 3.Departament de Psicologia Bàsica, Clínica i PsicobiologiaUniversitat Jaume ICastellónSpain
  4. 4.Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau & Institut d’Investigació Biomèdica Sant Pau (IIB-SantPau)BarcelonaSpain
  5. 5.Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental (CIBERSAM)Instituto de Salud Carlos IIIMadridSpain
  6. 6.Mente Aberta – Brazilian Center for Mindfulness and Health PromotionSão PauloBrazil
  7. 7.Hospital Israelita Albert EinsteinSão PauloBrazil
  8. 8.Teaching, Research & Innovation UnitParc Sanitari Sant Joan de DéuSt. Boi de LlobregatSpain
  9. 9.Primary Care Prevention and Health Promotion Research Network, RedIAPPMadridSpain
  10. 10.University Hospital Miguel ServetZaragozaSpain

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