Deep Rest: An Integrative Model of How Contemplative Practices Combat Stress and Enhance the Body’s Restorative Capacity

Alexandra D. Crosswell, Stefanie E. Mayer, Lauren N. Whitehurst, Martin Picard, Sheyda Zebarjadian, Elissa S. Epel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Engaging in contemplative practice like meditation, yoga, and prayer, is beneficial for psychological and physical well-being. Recent research has identified several underlying psychological and biological pathways that explain these benefits. However, there is not yet consensus on the underlying overlapping physiological mechanisms of contemplative practice benefits. In this article, we integrate divergent scientific literatures on contemplative practice interventions, stress science, and mitochondrial biology, presenting a unified biopsychosocial model of how contemplative practices reduce stress and promote physical health. We argue that engaging in contemplative practice facilitates a restorative state termed “deep rest, ” largely through safety signaling, during which energetic resources are directed toward cellular optimization and away from energy-demanding stress states. Our model thus presents a framework for how contemplative practices enhance positive psychological and physiological functioning by optimizing cellular energy consumption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-270
Number of pages24
JournalPsychological Review
Volume131
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 25 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 American Psychological Association

Keywords

  • mitochondria
  • resilience
  • restoration
  • safety signals
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology

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