A nuanced view of the benefits of mindfulness: Self-esteem as a moderator of the effects of mindfulness on responses to social rejection

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Mindfulness meditation can reduce harmful reactivity to events, and is considered an effective means of promoting healthy coping responses. In the current study, mindfulness meditation was investigated as a method for buffering individuals against the negative effects of social rejection. Specifically this study investigated whether mindfulness meditation is especially effective in promoting resilience and adaptive coping for individuals who are most vulnerable to the negative effects of social rejection, namely those with low self-esteem. 133 participants received rejecting or non-rejecting feedback from a false other participant in the context of an online dating interaction. Next, half of the participants engaged in a brief mindfulness meditation and psychological and physiological responses were assessed. Findings revealed that mindfulness meditation was associated with a reduction in harmful responses to rejection for low self-esteem individuals (less implicit self-focus) but an increase in harmful responses for high self-esteem individuals (increased rumination and increased systolic blood pressure). These findings suggest that while mindfulness meditation may buffer low self-esteem individuals from some negative effects of rejection, it may not provide the same benefits for high self-esteem individuals. Implications of these findings for the growing use of mindfulness meditation as a coping tool are discussed.