The Daily Dose-Response Hypothesis of Mindfulness Meditation Practice: An Experience Sampling Study

Psychosom Med. 2021 Jul-Aug;83(6):624-630. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000912.


Objective: Because of fast-growing interest in the applications of mindfulness to promote well-being and mental health, there are field-wide efforts to better understand how mindfulness training works and thereby to optimize its delivery. Key to these efforts is the role of home practice in mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) outcomes. Despite its centrality in MBIs, recent reviews have documented limited and mixed effects of home practice on MBI outcomes. However, methodological issues regarding monitoring and quantifying home practice and focus on cumulative or additive effects may limit our understanding of it. Temporally proximate, more transient, and contextually circumscribed effects of mindfulness mediation practice have not been examined.

Methods: We applied intensive experience sampling to measure daily practice and levels of targeted proximal outcomes (state mindfulness, decentering, emotional valance, and arousal) of training over the course of a 21-day MBI among a community-based sample of 82 meditation-naive adults.

Results: Despite intensive experience sampling, we found no evidence of cumulative or additive effects of total mindfulness meditation practice on outcomes at postintervention for mindfulness, decentering, emotional valence, or emotional arousal. However, we found that that daily dose of mindfulness meditation home practice significantly predicted same-day levels of state mindfulness (B = 0.004, SE = 0.001, t = 3.17, p = .000, f2 = 0.24), decentering (B = 0.004, SE = 0.001, t = 2.757, p = .006, f2 = 0.05), and emotional valence (B = 0.006, SE = 0.003, t = 2.015, p = .044, f2 = 0.01) but not daily levels of emotional arousal. Daily dose-response practice effects did not carry over to next-day levels of monitored outcomes.

Conclusions: Findings show that effects of daily home mindfulness meditation practice dose on state mindfulness, decentering, and positive emotion are reliable but transient and time-limited. Findings are discussed with respect to the proposed daily dose-response hypothesis of mindfulness meditation practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ecological Momentary Assessment
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Meditation*
  • Mindfulness*
  • Sampling Studies