In recent year’s huge numbers of scientific studies have taken place into the efficacy
of the practice of Mindfulness in helping reduce the effects of stress and anxiety and
improve wellbeing. Some of these claims are so incredible they may seem too good to
believe so I have provide links to the scientific studies that back them up.
Here are a few of the main proven benefits of mindfulness meditation:
· Anxiety, stress, depression, exhaustion and irritability all decrease
with regular sessions of mindfulness meditation.1
· Regular meditators are happier and more contented,
while being far less likely to suffer from psychological distress.2
· Mindfulness is at least as good as drugs or counselling for the treatment of
clinical-level depression. 3
· Mindfulness reduces addictive and self-destructive behaviour. These include the abuse of illegal and prescription drugs and excessive alcohol intake. 4
· Mindfulness dramatically reduces the experience of pain intensity and the emotional reaction to it. 5
· Mindfulness improves working memory, creativity, attention span and reaction speeds. It also enhances mental and physical stamina and resilience. 6 Memory improves, reaction times become faster and mental and physical stamina increase.7
· Meditation improves emotional intelligence. 8
· Clinical trials show that mindfulness improves mood and quality of life in chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia 8 and lower-back pain,9 in chronic functional disorders such as IBS,10 and in challenging medical illnesses, including multiple sclerosis 11 and cancer.12
· Meditation enhances brain function. It increases grey matter in areas associated with self-awareness, empathy, self-control and attention.13
· It soothes the parts of the brain that produce stress hormones (14) and builds those areas that lift mood and promote learning. 15 It even reduces some of the thinning of certain areas of the brain that naturally occurs with ageing.(16)
· Meditation improves the immune system. Regular meditators are admitted to hospital far less often for cancer, heart disease and numerous infectious diseases.17
· Mindfulness may reduce ageing at the cellular level by promoting chromosomal health and resilience.18
· Meditation and mindfulness improve control of blood sugar in type II diabetes.19
· Meditation improves heart and circulatory health by reducing blood pressure and lowering the risk of hypertension. Mindfulness reduces the risks of developing and dying from cardiovascular disease and lowers its severity should it arise.20
1 Baer, R. A., Smith, G. T., Hopkins, J., Kreitemeyer, J. & Toney, L. (2006), ‘Using self-report assessment methods to explore facets of mindfulness’, Assessment, 13, pp. 27–45.
2 Ivanowski, B. & Malhi, G. S. (2007), ‘The psychological and neuro- physiological concomitants of mindfulness forms of meditation’, Acta Neuropsychiatrica, 19, pp. 76–91; Shapiro, S. L., Oman, D., Thoresen, C. E., Plante, T. G. & Flinders, T. (2008), ‘Cultivating mindfulness: effects on well-being’, Journal of Clinical Psychology, 64(7), pp. 840–62; Shapiro, S. L., Schwartz, G. E. & Bonner, G. (1998), ‘Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on medical and pre- medical students’, Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 21, pp. 581–99.
3. See NICE Guidelines for Management of Depression (2004, 2009). Ma, J. & Teasdale, J. D. (2004), ‘Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression: Replication and exploration of differential relapse prevention effects’, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72, pp. 31–40; Segal, Z. V., Williams, J. M. G. & Teasdale, J. D., Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy for Depression: a new approach to preventing relapse (Guilford Press, 2002); Kenny, M. A. & Williams, J. M. G. (2007), ‘Treatment-resistant depressed patients show a good response to Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy’, Behaviour Research & Therapy, 45, pp. 617–25; Eisendraeth, S. J., Delucchi, K., Bitner, R., Fenimore, P., Smit, M. & McLane, M. (2008), ‘Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Treatment-Resistant Depression: A Pilot Study’, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 77, pp. 319–20; Kingston, T., et al. (2007), ‘Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for residual depressive symptoms’, Psychology and Psychotherapy, 80, pp. 193–203.
4. Bowen, S., et al. (2006), ‘Mindfulness Meditation and Substance Use in an Incarcerated Population’, Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 20, pp. 343–7.
5. Kabat-Zinn, J., Lipworth, L., Burncy, R. & Sellers, W. (1986), ‘Four- year follow-up of a meditation-based program for the self- regulation of chronic pain: Treatment outcomes and compliance’, Clinical Journal of Pain, 2, p. 159; Morone, N. E., Greco, C. M. & Weiner, D. K. (2008), ‘Mindfulness meditation for the treatment of chronic low back pain in older adults: A randomized controlled pilot study’, Pain, 134(3), pp. 310–19; Grant, J. A. & Rainville, P. (2009), ‘Pain sensitivity and analgesic effects of mindful states in zen medi- tators: A cross-sectional study’, Psychosomatic Medicine, 71(1), pp. 106–14.
6. Jha, A., et al. (2007), ‘Mindfulness training modifies subsystems of attention’, Cognitive Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience, 7, pp. 109–19; Tang, Y. Y., Ma, Y., Wang, J., Fan, Y., Feng, S., Lu, Q., et al. (2007), ‘Short-term meditation training improves attention and self- regulation’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (US), 104(43), pp. 17152–6. McCracken, L. M. & Yang, S.-Y. (2008), ‘A contextual cognitive-behavioral analysis of rehabilitation workers’ health and well-being: Influences of acceptance, mindfulness and values-based action’, Rehabilitation Psychology, 53, pp.479–85; Ortner, C. N. M., Kilner, S. J. & Zelazo, P. D. (2007), ‘Mindfulness meditation and reduced emotional interference on a cognitive task’, Motivation and Emotion, 31, pp. 271–83; Brefczynski-Lewis, J. A., Lutz, A., Schaefer, H. S., Levinson, D. B. & Davidson, R. J. (2007), ‘Neural correlates of attentional expertise in long-term meditation practitioners’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (US), 104(27), pp. 11483–8.
7. Jha, A., et al. (2007), ‘Mindfulness training modifies subsystems of attention’, Cognitive Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience, 7, pp. 109–19; Tang, Y. Y., Ma, Y., Wang, J., Fan, Y., Feng, S., Lu, Q., et al. (2007), ‘Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (US), 104(43), pp. 17152–6; McCracken, L. M. & Yang, S.-Y. (2008), ‘A contextual cognitive-behavioral analysis of rehabilitation workers’ health and well-being: Influences of acceptance, mindful- ness and values-based action’, Rehabilitation Psychology, 53, pp.479–85; Ortner, C. N. M., Kilner, S. J. & Zelazo, P. D. (2007), ‘Mindfulness meditation and reduced emotional interference on a cognitive task’, Motivation and Emotion, 31, pp. 271–83; Brefczynski-Lewis, J. A., Lutz, A., Schaefer, H. S., Levinson, D. B. & Davidson, R. J. (2007), ‘Neural correlates of attentional expert- ise in long-term meditation practitioners’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (US), 104(27), pp. 11483–8.
8. Brown, Kirk Warren, Ryan, Richard, M. (2003), ‘The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(4), pp. 822–48; Lykins, Emily L. B. & Baer, Ruth A. (2009), ‘Psychological Functioning in a Sample of Long-Term Practitioners of Mindfulness Meditation’, Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 23(3), pp. 226–41.
9. Morone, N. E., Lynch, C. S., Greco, C. M., Tindle, H. A. & Weiner, D. K. (2008b), ‘“I felt like a new person” – the effects of mindfulness meditation on older adults with chronic pain: qualitative narrative analysis of diary entries’, Journal of Pain, 9, pp. 841–8.
10. Gaylord, S. A., Palsson, O. S., Garland, E. L., Faurot, K. R., Coble, R. S., Mann, J. D., et al. (2011), ‘Mindfulness training reduces the sever- ity of irritable bowel syndrome in women: results of a randomized controlled trial’, American Journal of Gastroenterology, 106, pp. 1678–88.
11. Grossman, P., Kappos, L., Gensicke, H., D’souza, M., Mohr, D. C., Penner, I. K., et al. (2010), ‘MS quality of life, depression, and fatigue improve after mindfulness training: a randomized trial’, Neurology, 75, pp. 1141–9.
12. Speca, M., Carlson, L., Goodey, E. & Angen, M. (2000), ‘A random- ized, wait-list controlled clinical trial: the effect of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction program on mood and symptoms of stress in cancer outpatients’, Psychosomatic Medicine, 62, pp. 613–22.
13. Hölzel, B. K., Ott, U., Gard, T., Hempel, H., Weygandt, M., Morgen, K. & Vaitl, D. (2008), ‘Investigation of mindfulness meditation prac- titioners with voxel-based morphometry’, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 3, pp 55–61; Lazar, S., Kerr, C., Wasserman, R., Gray, J., Greve, D., Treadway, M., McGarvey, M., Quinn, B., Dusek, J., Benson, H., Rauch, S., Moore, C. & Fischl, B. (2005), ‘Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness’, NeuroReport, 16, pp. 1893–7; Luders, Eileen, Toga, Arthur W., Lepore, Natasha & Gaser, Christian (2009), ‘The underlying anatom- ical correlates of long-term meditation: Larger hippocampal and frontal volumes of gray matter’, Neuroimage, 45, pp. 672–8.
14. Tang, Y., Ma, Y., Wang, J., Fan, Y., Feg, S., Lu, Q., Yu, Q., Sui, D., Rothbart, M., Fan, M. & Posner, M. (2007), ‘Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104, pp. 17152–6.
15. Davidson, R. J. (2004), ‘Well-being and affective style: Neural sub- strates and biobehavioural correlates’, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 359, pp. 1395–1411.
16. Lazar, S., Kerr, C., Wasserman, R., Gray, J., Greve, D., Treadway, M., McGarvey, M., Quinn, B., Dusek, J., Benson, J., Rauch, S., Moore, C. & Fischl, B. (2005), ‘Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness’, NeuroReport, 16, pp 1893–7.
17. Davidson, R. J., Kabat-Zinn, J. Schumacher, J., Rosenkranz, M., Muller, D., Santorelli, S.F., Urbanowski, F., Harrington, A., Bonus, K. & Sheridan, J. F. (2003) ‘Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation’, Psychosomatic Medicine, 65, pp. 564–70; Tang, Y., Ma, Y., Wang, J., Fan, Y., Feg, S., Lu, Q., Yu, Q., Sui, D., Rothbart, M., Fan, M. & Posner, M. (2007), ‘Short-term med- itation training improves attention and self-regulation’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104, pp. 17152–6.
18. Epel, Elissa, Daubenmier, Jennifer, Tedlie Moskowitz, Judith, Folkman, Susan & Blackburn, Elizabeth (2009), ‘Can Meditation Slow Rate of Cellular Aging? Cognitive Stress, Mindfulness, and Telomeres’, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1172; Longevity, Regeneration, and Optimal Health Integrating Eastern and Western Perspectives, pp. 34–53.
19. Walsh, R. & Shapiro, S. L. (2006), ‘The meeting of meditative disci- plines and Western psychology: A mutually enriching dialogue’, American Psychologist, 61, pp. 227–39.
20. Ibid. 26. Kabat-Zinn, J., Lipworth, L., Burncy, R. & Sellers, W. (1986), ‘Four-year follow-up of a meditation-based program for the self- regulation of chronic pain: Treatment outcomes and compliance’, Clinical Journal of Pain, 2, p. 159; Brown, Christopher A., Jones, Anthony K. P. (2013), ‘Psychobiological Correlates of Improved Mental Health in Patients With Musculoskeletal Pain After a Mindfulness-based Pain Management Program’, Clinical Journal of Pain, 29(3), pp. 233–44; Lutz, Antoine, McFarlin, Daniel R., Perlman, David M., Salomons, Tim V. & Davidson, Richard J. (2013), ‘Altered anterior insula activation during anticipation and experience of painful stimuli in expert meditators’, Journal NeuroImage, 64, pp. 538–46.
PROFESSOR MARK WILLIAMS OF THE OXFORD UNIVERSITY MINDFULNESS CENTRE ON THE SCIENCE OF MINDFULNESS
RESEARCH & RELATED PRESS:
Mindfulness study to track the effect of meditation on 7000 students: The Guardian
Meditation might ward off the effects of ageing: The Guardian
The meditation technique aimed at focusing the mind on the present moment is an effective treatment for depression, according to a new report. So what is mindfulness and how do you do it? The Guardian
Evidence for the impact of Mindfulness on Children and Young People
INNER PEACE: 2013: Can Inner Peace be improved by Mindfulness training?: A randomised controlled trial, Xinghua Liu1*†, Wei Xu1, Yuzheng Wang1, J. Mark G. Williams2,Yan Geng1, Qian Zhang1& Xin Liu1, Research article: Beijing Key Laboratory of Learning and Cognition, Capital Normal University, Beijing AND University of Oxford[link]The ﬁndings provide ﬁrst evidence suggesting that using mindfulness training improves the participants’ inner peace.
REDUCTION OF ANXIETY, DEPRESSION & STRESS: 2013: Mindfulness-based therapy: a comprehensive meta-analysis, Khoury, B., Lecomte, T.,... Hofmann, S. G. Clinical Psychology Review, 33(6), 763-771. [link]Concludes MBT(Mindfulness Based Therapy) is an effective treatment for a variety of psychological problems, and is especially effective for reducing anxiety, depression, and stress.
MENTAL HEALTH:2012: Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Improving Health, Quality of Life, and Social Functioning in Adults. de Vibe, M., Bjørndal, A., Tipton, E.,... Kowalski, K. The Campbell Collaboration, 3. [link] Mindfulness training shown to have a consistent positive effect on mental health.
For further studies see:
The Mindfulness Research Guide
The Oxford Mindfulness Centre - Projects
Meditation is good for you! Don't just take my word for it... There is a huge body of scientific research and evidence supporting this.
Enlightening, comforting, life-changing and extremely interesting. Teresa
I am hoping this is the start of a new way of 'being'. My focus on the now will make me appreciate life more! Lisa
Mindfulness is not just for monks, hippies or academics -
it is for all of us.
Whether we just want a bit of peace from a busy mind,
improve our ability to focus,
or to create a bigger shift in the way we feel about life,
mindfulness has something to offer.
There is no dress rehearsal for life but meditation is our opportunity to practice. Meditation gets the mind fit to face the ups and downs of life.
The clarity and focus that meditation cultivates enables us to bring mindful awareness to all that we do.
Proven to increase immune function, wellbeing and quality of life... scroll down this page for some of the latest scientific research and press clippings on the benefits of meditation.
Mindfulness is having your mind full
of the thing you are doing right now
in this moment.
Do you find that your mind is usually ‘somewhere else’ planning or worrying about the future, regretting the past or reliving conversations that have already taken place? You are not alone; most people are rarely ‘in the-moment’. We spend much of our time lost in our heads, while ‘out there’ our lives are passing us by. When we fail to engage in the fullness of life we can get left with a feeling of emptiness.
When we fill our minds with the experience of life rather than with our thoughts, we can change the way we feel about our lives for the better.
So, how do we get our minds to stop over-thinking and make room for some happiness?