The ability to successfully handle our thoughts and emotions contributes greatly to healthy psychological functioning. Meditation and mindfulness techniques are becoming increasingly popular as a strategy for various psychological and affective complaints. Most meditative practices cultivate an accepting and open stance to any experience and thought. In general, meditation is not about controlling which thoughts arise, but about whether thoughts are attended or not. The latter may lead to an increased sense of thought control, even though this is not the aim of the practice. The present study explored whether perceived thought control is involved in positive effects of meditation and mindfulness on psychological functioning. To this end, we examined perceived thought control ability in a healthy self-selected group of experienced and novel meditators. We found that meditation experience, both in hours spent meditating as well as in occurrence of mindful states in daily life, is associated with increased perceived thought control ability, more positive affect, less negative affect, less trait anxiety, higher optimism scores, and higher sense of social connectedness. Using a mediation model, we found that perceived thought control ability mediates the significant relation between meditation experience and these aspects of psychological functioning. These results are in line with the hypothesis that increased perceived thought control plays a role in positive effects of meditative practices.

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Gootjes, L, & Rassin, E.G.C. (2014). Perceived Thought Control Mediates Positive Effects of Meditation Experience on Affective Functioning. Mindfulness, 5(1), 1–9. doi:10.1007/s12671-012-0140-3