Psychophysiological Impact of Meditation on Stress Response
Mentor:Lisa Olson, Associate Professor of Biology, University of Redlands
Anecdotal observations from University of Redlands Religious Studies indicate positive correlations between meditation curriculum, improved academic performance, and reduced stress. College students participated in meditation curriculum or were designated as a control group. We analyzed subject responses to psychosocial questionnaires which measure qualities such as mindfulness, happiness, well-being, stress, depression, and anxiety; and responses to physiological laboratory academic stressors to measure galvanic skin response, heart rate variability, and pulse oximetry. With iWorx, VivoSense, SPSS, and Excel, data from a pilot study and a semester-long study were transcribed, exported, annotated, scored, and organized into a large Excel spreadsheet that is being analyzed for statistical significance by a biostatistician. Our own preliminary analysis indicates that our pilot study increased mindfulness, a quality attributed to meditation practice, but did not result in physiological changes. Initial analysis of the semester-long study shows that trait stress levels correlate to reduced parasympathetic activation. This study is continuing, and we are expanding the research to analyze two groups of first-generation college students before and after either a meditation workshop or a healthy lifestyle workshop.