Recovery from stress: an experimental examination of focused attention meditation in novices

J Behav Med. 2018 Dec;41(6):836-849. doi: 10.1007/s10865-018-9932-9. Epub 2018 May 30.


Identifying strategies that aid in recovery from stress may benefit cardiovascular health. Ninety-nine undergraduate meditation novices were randomly assigned to meditate, listen to an audio book, or sit quietly after a standardized stressor. During recovery, meditators' heart rate variability and skin conductance levels returned to baseline, whereas only heart rate variability returned to baseline for the audio book and control groups. Positive and negative affect were no different than baseline following meditation, whereas, both audio book and control groups had lower positive affect and higher negative affect following the intervention. Findings suggest that the sympathetic nervous system is uniquely affected by meditation, and novices may benefit emotionally from meditating after a stressor. Further research is needed to determine meditation's utility in recovering from stress.

Keywords: Cardiovascular recovery; Coping; Meditation; Stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meditation / methods
  • Meditation / psychology*
  • Random Allocation
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*
  • Young Adult