Mechanisms of mindfulness: emotion regulation following a focused breathing induction

Behav Res Ther. 2006 Dec;44(12):1849-58. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2005.12.007. Epub 2006 Feb 7.


The current study investigated whether a 15 min recorded focused breathing induction in a normal, primarily undergraduate population would decrease the intensity and negativity of emotional responses to affectively valenced picture slides and increase willingness to remain in contact with aversive picture slides. The effects of the focused breathing induction were compared with the effects of 15 min recorded inductions of unfocused attention and worrying. The focused breathing group maintained consistent, moderately positive responses to the neutral slides before and after the induction, whereas the unfocused attention and worry groups responded significantly more negatively to the neutral slides after the induction than before it. The focusing breathing group also reported lower negative affect and overall emotional volatility in response to the post-induction slides than the worry group, and greater willingness to view highly negative slides than the unfocused attention group. The lower-reported negative and overall affect in response to the final slide blocks, and greater willingness to view optional negative slides by the focused breathing group may be viewed as more adaptive responding to negative stimuli. The results are discussed as being consistent with emotional regulatory properties of mindfulness.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Breathing Exercises
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Respiration*
  • Visual Perception / physiology
  • Volition