Katherine Shelton, Amanda A. Wheeler Gryffin, Lance Bryant, Paul Finnicum

Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, AR

College students balance a variety of activities along with their course loads each semester. Managing the stress of these activities and course loads can prove difficult for even the most seasoned students and may lead to less than healthy behaviors. Meditation has shown to be effective in managing stress and improving health. Examining the effects of meditation on physiological and reflective measures may help identify better behavioral measures for college students experiencing higher levels of stress. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of meditation on a previously understudied age category: undergraduate college students ages 18-22. METHODS: Upon University IRB approval and informed consent and prior to any intervention, age, gender, height, weight, body mass index (BMI), systolic & diastolic blood pressure, and resting heart rate data were collected for 66 volunteer participants (40 females; 26 males). Each participant also completed the 19-Item Body-Image Questionnaire prior to any intervention and were then randomly placed in either a meditation group (n=32) or a non-meditation group (n=34). Participants in the meditation group were asked to participate in unguided meditation practice for 10 minutes, 3 days per week for 4 weeks. All meditation sessions occurred within the same environment with conditions remaining consistent. Participants in the non-meditation group were asked to refrain from any meditation practice during the 4 weeks. All data measures were repeated at the conclusion of the 4 weeks for both groups. RESULTS: A two-tailed, independent t-test was conducted for each dependent variable using delta scores calculated from pre-post intervention data. Delta scores for weight (p=.001), BMI (p=.001), and the 19-Item Body-Image Questionnaire (p=.032) yielded statistical significance. CONCLUSION: This study is one of the first to examine the effects of meditation on the physiological aspects of college students. The use of meditation to affect change in physiological measures may open the door for students who find themselves overwhelmed with new environments, new coursework, or other pressures associated with college life. It also has the potential to affect the body-image of this vulnerable population.

This document is currently not available here.