Which quiets the mind more quickly and increases HRV: Toning or mindfulness?

  • Erik Peper San Francisco State University
  • Weston Pollock San Francisco State University
  • Richard Harvey San Francisco State University
  • Aiko Yoshino San Francisco State University
  • Jennifer Daubenmier San Francisco State University
  • Madhu Anziani Firstwasthesound, Richmond, CA
Keywords: Toning, Mindfulness meditation, respiration, intrusive thoughts, mind wandering, heart rate variability, peacefulness, depression, relaxation, Stress management


Disruptive thoughts interfere with concentration and performances.  This report compares mindfulness practice (MP) with toning practice (TP) to reduce mind wandering and intrusive thoughts.  Ninety-one undergraduate students (average age 22.4 years) began with either an MP or TP for 3 min.  Respiration, blood volume pulse, and heart rate were monitored for 11 participants.  The participants reported less mind wandering during TP (M = 3.7) than during MP (M = 6.5; p < .001), fewer intrusive thoughts during TP (M = 3.2) than during MP (M = 4.7; p < .001), and more body vibrations during TP (M = 6.2) than during MP (M = 2.3; p < .001) on a scale from 0 (not at all) to 10 (all the time).  For participants with the highest self-reported rating of depression, TP was more effective in reducing mind wandering and intrusive thoughts than the MP (p < .001).  There was no difference in self-reports in peacefulness, warmth, relaxation, anxiety, and depression between TP and MP.  There was a decrease in respiration rate during TP (4.6 br/min) as compared to MP (11.6 br/min; p < .001) and an increase in heart rate variability during TP (SDNN = 103.7 ms; SD = 11.6) as compared to MP (SDNN = 61.9 ms; SD = 6.4).  The findings suggest that TP is a powerful strategy to reduce mind wandering and intrusive thoughts.

Author Biographies

Erik Peper, San Francisco State University
Professor Institute for Holistic Health Studies Department of Health Education
Weston Pollock, San Francisco State University


Richard Harvey, San Francisco State University

Associate Professor

Aiko Yoshino, San Francisco State University

Assistant professor

Jennifer Daubenmier, San Francisco State University

Assistant professor


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Research Papers