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Mindfulness-based approaches to meditation usually rely on not one but several specific techniques or elements, but what elements are responsible for which of the commonly found positive effects is not yet known. To help answer this question, we compared the effects of three different meditation techniques that are commonly used in mindfulness-based approaches.
Fifty-six students with no prior meditation experience participated in a breathing, body scan, or loving-kindness meditation condition. Participants followed meditation instructions that they were given on audio files, for daily practice and weekly meetings over a period of 6 weeks. Dependent variables were mindfulness, concentration, self-compassion, emotional regulation and experience, and life satisfaction.
The body scan meditation condition reported greater effects on almost all dependent variables than those in the breathing meditation condition with effect sizes from β = .16 to .61. The group showed the highest increase in the mindfulness dimension acceptance but not presence. Loving-kindness meditation showed higher effect sizes in concentration than the breathing meditation group.
Specific meditation techniques may have effects other than expected on psychological variables. Considering the limitations of this study, further research is needed to assess the specific effects of single mindfulness techniques.
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