Meditation is a specific consciousness state in which deep relaxation and increased internalized attention coexist. There have been various neurophysiological studies on meditation. However, the personal predispositions/traits that characterize the properties of meditation have not been adequately studied. We analyzed changes in neurophysiological parameters [EEG coherence and autonomic nervous activity using heart rate variability (HRV) as an index] during Zen meditation, and evaluated the results in association with trait anxiety (assessed by Spielberger’s State-Trait Anxiety Inventory) in 22 healthy adults who had not previously practiced any form of meditation. During meditation, in terms of mean values in all subjects, an increase in slow alpha interhemispheric EEG coherence in the frontal region, an increase in high-frequency (HF) power (as a parasympathetic index of HRV), and a decrease in the ratio of low-frequency to HF power (as a sympathetic index of HRV) were observed. Further evaluation of these changes in individuals showed a negative correlation between the percent change (with the control condition as the baseline) in slow alpha interhemispheric coherence reflecting internalized attention and the percent change in HF reflecting relaxation. The trait anxiety score was negatively correlated with the percent change in slow alpha interhemispheric coherence in the frontal region and was positively correlated with the percent change in HF. These results suggest that lower trait anxiety more readily induces meditation with a predominance of internalized attention, while higher trait anxiety more readily induces meditation with a predominance of relaxation.

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