Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Psychology


Clinical Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, 88 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

John P Forsyth

Committee Members

James Boswell


acceptance, biological challenge, emotion regulation, mindfulness, suppression, Mindfulness (Psychology), Meditation, Self-control, Emotions, Anxiety

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology | Psychology


Mindfulness meditation has existed in Eastern cultures for thousands of years; nonetheless, its introduction to Western society and psychological science is a recent development. Numerous psychosocial interventions now include mindfulness practice as a core therapeutic intervention. Increasingly, mindfulness and other meditative practices are being promoted within popular culture as strategies to regulate stress, anxiety, and other unpleasant emotional or psychological events. Yet, using mindfulness to regulate and control unwanted private experiences is antithetical to the original intended purpose of such strategies, namely, to observe, welcome and accept private experiences just as they are. Research in emotion regulation and thought suppression highlight the paradoxical iatrogenic effects of suppression and control of private events. Thus, using mindfulness to control or regulate unpleasant emotional or psychological events may backfire, contributing to worsening of emotional distress and disappointing outcomes. The current study aimed to address this issue by evaluating the acute psychophysiological impact of mindfulness meditation when used as an acceptance strategy or a control strategy. Healthy participants (N = 47) were randomized to an acceptance context or a control context. Participants breathed a panicogenic dose of 10% carbon dioxide-enriched air while listening to a 10-minute guided mindfulness meditation. Self-report and psychophysiological responses served as indices of emotional responding. Participants who used mindfulness as a control strategy reported more intense bodily sensations during exposure to the gas and greater heart rate reactivity compared to their acceptance counterparts. Self-reported indices of distress attenuated from the first to the second trial of CO2 exposure. Though preliminary, main and exploratory findings suggest how one uses meditation may influence the intensity and associated distress of anxiety-related bodily sensation, subsequent willingness to experience unwanted private events, and struggle attempting to control private experiences.