Objective: This is a mixed methods study in which Heartfulness meditation was introduced to university students. The objective of this study was to demonstrate a link between Heartfulness meditation and mental health as well as a link between Heartfulness meditation and Emotional Intelligence. The study also explored the experiences of the students after the meditation practice.

Background: College students have greater levels of stress and psychopathology now than at any other time in the nation’s history. Increases in mental distress can lead to serious mental health disorders in the future so there is a need for self-care skills for students to help combat their mental health distress (Henriques, 2014). Evidence from studies has shown that various kinds of meditation (Mindfulness, Transcendental, Heartfulness) can be used as a self-care tool which, if practiced well, improves people’s mental health.

Methods: Pharmacy and nursing students at UT Tyler were recruited as participants for the study. A mixed method design was used i.e. both quantitative and qualitative data were collected and analyzed. A series of Heartfulness meditation sessions were provided to the students for an entire semester (Fall, 2018). The students were given pre-post structured questionnaires on sociodemographics, depression, anxiety, and stress as well as the Schutte Self Report Emotional Intelligence Test. Differences between pre-and post-scores were analyzed, controlling for meditation frequency. For the qualitative component, a focus group discussion was conducted. The conversation was tape-recorded, transcribed and results were content analyzed.

Findings: The study showed that the frequency of meditation played a significant role in stress level i.e. the post-stress score of students decreased significantly in those who meditated most frequency. Similarly, for anxiety, meditation frequency was found to be significant when controlling for demographic variables (sex, ethnicity, college, and occupation). However, no factors had a significant association with depression. The Emotional Intelligence range which was low before the intervention shifted to a medium level after the intervention. The quantitative findings were not able to show a correlation between Emotional Intelligence with stress, anxiety, and depression. Students’ experiences during the focus group discussion clarify how meditation has brought change into their lives, helping them to improve their mental health.

Conclusion: The most prominent finding is that Heartfulness meditation is a useful tool in decreasing stress and anxiety levels of university students. Emotional Intelligence was a key part of the Later Benefits theme.

Date of publication

Spring 5-21-2019

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Thesis Chair: Dr. William Sorensen, Committee members: Dr. Sarah Sass, Dr. Cheryl Cooper, Dr. Jimi Francis


Master of Sciences in Health Sciences degree