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Time and Meditation: When Does the Perception of Time Change with Mindfulness Exercise?

Abstract

This study examined the prospective judgment of interval durations during a mindfulness meditation exercise in comparison with two control exercises involving different degrees of attentional demands and participants who either had or had not been trained to practice mindfulness exercises. The results showed that the interval durations (going from 15 to 60 s) were systematically judged shorter with the different mindfulness exercises (breathing, body scan) than with the control exercises. This underestimation of time was accompanied by the awareness that time seems to pass faster and by a decrease in the level of anxiety. However, the subjective feeling of the passage of time and the anxiety level did not explain time perception during a mindfulness meditation exercise. Further results suggest the critical role of attention in the effects of meditation on time judgments, a finding that is consistent with the idea that time flies during meditation as if time no longer existed.

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Funding

This study was funded by Horizon 2020 European Commission (H2020-FETPROACT-2014).

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Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

SD: Designed the study, analyzed the data, wrote the manuscript, and edited the final manuscript. MD: Collaborated with the design of the study and writing of the study. MC: Recruited participants, executed the study, and assisted with the data analyses.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sylvie Droit-Volet.

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Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Statement

All procedures described in this manuscript were in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and were approved by the Sud-Est VI Statutory Ethics committee (CPP) in accordance with the French law on ethical experimentation.

Informed Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all the individual participants included in study 1 and 2.

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Droit-Volet, S., Chaulet, M. & Dambrun, M. Time and Meditation: When Does the Perception of Time Change with Mindfulness Exercise?. Mindfulness 9, 1557–1570 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-0903-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-0903-6

Keywords

  • Mindfulness
  • Time
  • Experience of the passage of time
  • Anxiety