Effects of brief and sham mindfulness meditation on mood and cardiovascular variables

J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Aug;16(8):867-73. doi: 10.1089/acm.2009.0321.


Objectives: Although long-term meditation has been found to reduce negative mood and cardiovascular variables, the effects of a brief mindfulness meditation intervention when compared to a sham mindfulness meditation intervention are relatively unknown. This experiment examined whether a 3-day (1-hour total) mindfulness or sham mindfulness meditation intervention would improve mood and cardiovascular variables when compared to a control group.

Methods: Eighty-two (82) undergraduate students (34 males, 48 females), with no prior meditation experience, participated in three sessions that involved training in either mindfulness meditation, sham mindfulness meditation, or a control group. Heart rate, blood pressure, and psychologic variables (Profile of Mood States, State Anxiety Inventory) were assessed before and after the intervention.

Results: The meditation intervention was more effective at reducing negative mood, depression, fatigue, confusion, and heart rate, when compared to the sham and control groups.

Conclusions: These results indicate that brief meditation training has beneficial effects on mood and cardiovascular variables that go beyond the demand characteristics of a sham meditation intervention.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Anxiety / prevention & control
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena*
  • Depression / prevention & control
  • Fatigue / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meditation / methods*
  • Mind-Body Therapies*
  • Placebo Effect*
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • Young Adult