Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Michael J. Vogel, Psy.D.

Second Advisor

Glena L. Andrews, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Mark R. McMinn, Ph.D.


Research seeking to understand the various practices of meditation has expanded greatly in frequency and quality in the past century. Many have documented the effects of secular and eastern forms of meditation on psychopathology, well-being, executive functioning, and physiological changes of brainwaves, heart rate variability, and stress reduction (Cahn & Polich, 2006; Kok et al., 2013; Newberg et al., 2010). However, few have attempted to understand meditation in a Christian context. This study seeks to delineate the effects of a Christian form of meditation, known as Centering Prayer, on novice, college undergraduate practitioners as compared to non-practicing peers in areas of subjective reports of mood, well-being, and spirituality, as well as physiological measures of brain waves, heart rate, and skin response (sweat). Results suggest Centering Prayer enacts similar mechanisms as other secular and religious meditative practices that improve phenomenological awareness and attentional concentration. These effects were experienced from more embodied, nonconscious mechanisms found in our nervous system than our subjective awareness. However, due to the limitations of the study design, small sample, and measurement difficulties, more research is need to more confidently understand just how the subjective psychological perspective perceives the brain, heart, and skin responses to regular practice of Christian contemplation. Future research will also seek to imbed this knowledge about Centering Prayer within the social, spiritual, and religious contexts to help the future practice of Christian meditation.

Included in

Psychology Commons