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Which Quiets the Mind More Quickly and Increases HRV: Toning or Mindfulness?

Which Quiets the Mind More Quickly and Increases HRV: Toning or Mindfulness?

Intrusive thoughts and worrying are common experiences and often interfere with concentration and performances. Letting go of thoughts and rumination is very challenging, especially when one is upset, angry, or responding to a stressful life event. Mindfulness practice (MP) and heart rate variability (HRV) training have been used in conjunction with neurofeedback as a way to enhance emotional and physiological regulation. In addition to these practices, research has reported that mantra meditation can quickly quiet the mind, through the singing, chanting, or toning exercises performed. Toning is a form of vocalizing that use the natural voice to express sounds and humming on the exhalation of the breath.

Previous research in a randomized control trial found that physical activity, mantra meditation, and HRV-biofeedback training were equally effective in reducing measurements of stress and related symptoms (van der Zwan et al., 2015). This study sought to compare the use of mindfulness and toning practices in undergraduate students observing results subjectively though self-report and with psychophysiological analysis data.

Results suggest that toning is a useful strategy to reduce min wandering, inhibit intrusive thoughts, and increase HRV. The increase in HRV occurred along with self-reported reductions in mind wandering and intrusive thoughts, as well as increase awareness to somatic sensations. Those participants who reported the highest ratings for depression self-reported that toning was more effective in reducing mind wandering and intrusive thoughts than mindfulness. The researchers recommend that individuals practice toning first before beginning mindfulness or bio-neurofeedback. By combining these practices, clinical outcomes may improve. More research is needed to explore the value of toning as a brief intervention to use during biofeedback or neurofeedback sessions.

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Peper, E., Pollock, W., Harvey, R., Yoshino, A., Daubenmier, J., & Anziani, M. (2019). Which quiets the mind more quickly and increases HRV: Toning or mindfulness? NeuroRegulation, 6(3), 128-133.