Date Awarded

Summer 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Daniel Gutierrez

Committee Member

Jesse Fox

Committee Member

Spencer Niles


In use for centuries across nations, meditation is still one of the widely used interventions to promote holistic health. Despite its large research base, many forms of meditation in use still have yet to be subject to empirical research. Centering prayer has been an established contemplative practice since the third century and has recently gained popularity at the turn of the last century. Individuals practiced centering to find stillness and, through the stillness, their inner strength. Due to its lack of empirical evidence, centering practice has primarily remained in religious or contemplative circles outside instead of counseling treatment. Furthermore, it is almost entirely out of the young adult population's knowledge, a generation that has increasingly identified with spirituality over the years. Due to this potential match with the population and other stated needs of the college counseling field for complementary and alternative forms of treatment, the present study aims to test the effectiveness of a centering prayer meditation on resilience in the college population. Further, it seeks to examine the temporal dynamics of resilience during this intervention over four weeks. To address this goal, I conducted a longitudinal randomized controlled trial where university students (n = 150) joined at random a treatment group or a control group. Each group took assessments measuring their resilience, hope, mindfulness, spiritual transcendence, and stress at three points in time with equal intervals of two weeks (T1, T2, and T3). Also, they took a brief assessment of hope every morning and every evening for the duration of the study. At the onset of the study, participants in the treatment group received a brief online introductory training to centering meditation. Afterward, the study procedure requested them to practice centering for 10 minutes every morning and every evening for the study duration. After meditation, they completed their brief assessments of hope, while the control group completed them at the same time without the meditation. This study used two research methods from temporal dynamics, including growth curve modeling and time series analysis. The growth curve model indicated a statistically significant difference in resilience over four weeks between the treatment and control group (p < .05). The 4-week treatment had approximately a moderate within-group effect on the treatment group (d = .48). A subsequent growth curve model indicated that hope was a significant explanatory variable (p < .05) and within-subject mediator (p < .01) of resilience over time. Based on the hypothesis of this effect of hope on resilience, the study included a time series analysis analyzing the bi-daily levels of hope between the treatment group and control group. Using an ARIMA modeling procedure, the analysis detected that the treatment group had an ARIMA (1, 1, 0) model, indicating a statistically significant increasing trend in hope and autocorrelation to aid in forecasting, p < .000. The model accounted for 56% of the variance in hope while controlling for the trend in the data (stationary R2 = .56). As expected, the control group did not have an increasing trend in hope, but it showed a forecastable model through its AR(1) and MA (1), p <.000. Lastly, the study explored how other psychosocial properties of resilience such as mindfulness, stress, and spiritual transcendence could affect the trajectory of resilience over time. A growth curve model indicated that each variable had a statistically significant fixed effect on resilience over time, p < .05. Time served as a statistically significant random effect in the models of stress and spiritual transcendence, p < .000. Discussion of limitations and implications for counseling practice and research will follow.




© The Author