Clarifying the Associations between Mindfulness Meditation and Emotion: Daily High- and Low-arousal Emotions and Emotional Variability

Appl Psychol Health Well Being. 2018 Nov;10(3):504-523. doi: 10.1111/aphw.12135. Epub 2018 Jul 10.


Background: Research examining the effects of mindfulness meditation (MM) on emotion seldom considers differences by arousal level or emotion variability.

Methods: In the present study, 115 participants (64% Female, 72% White, Mage = 19.03) were randomly assigned to a brief MM intervention condition (n = 60) or a wait-list control condition (n = 51). Participants in the MM condition were trained in MM and instructed to practice MM daily for one week. All participants provided daily diary reports of both higher- and lower-arousal positive (PE) and negative (NE) emotions. Emotions were weighted by valence and arousal. Multilevel modeling was used to examine valence, arousal, and their interaction; multivariate regression was used to examine emotional variability.

Results: More time spent meditating (but not the MM condition itself) was associated with increased lower arousal emotions, and exhibited a significant effect on the interaction between valence and arousal. Examination of individual emotion items suggested that more time meditating significantly predicted increased feelings of quiet and calm and marginally increased relaxation and sleepiness among participants, but did not predict any other emotions assessed in daily life. MM was not associated with emotional variability.

Conclusion: These results may suggest that PE should be separated by arousal when examining the effects of MM interventions.

Keywords: daily diary; emotion; emotion variability; emotional arousal; mindfulness meditation; negative emotion; positive emotion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meditation*
  • Mindfulness*
  • Young Adult