Mindfulness Research

Aherne, C., Morgan, A. P., & Lonsdale, C. (2011). The effect of mindfulness training on athletes’ flow: An initial investigation. Sport Psychologist, 25(2), 177-189.

This study investigated the relationship between mindfulness training (a nonjudgmental attentional training technique) and flow experiences in athletes. Participants were 13 university athletes (M = 21 years), assigned either to a control group or an experimental group. Flow experiences were assessed before and after the intervention. ANOVA (group x time) of global scores on the Flow State Scale-2 (FSS-2; Jackson & Eklund, 2004) showed a significant interaction (F =11.49, p < .05). Follow-up t-tests indicated no significant difference (p > .05) between the experimental and control groups’ FSS-2 global scores at the baseline training session, but a large difference (p < .05, d = 1.66) at a follow-up training session. Significant interaction effects were also observed for FSS-2 subscales scores for the flow dimensions of “Clear Goals” (F =18.73, p < .05) and “Sense of Control”(F = 14.61, p < .05). Following an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of this study, the theoretical significance of the results is assessed and the promise for the application of mindfulness training in performance enhancement is discussed.

Keywords: mindfulness training, athletes, flow, sport psychology, performance enhancement, attention, concentration, present moment awareness, mental skills.


Baer, R. A. (2003). Mindfulness training as a clinical intervention: A conceptual and empirical review. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 12(2), 125-143. doi: 10.1093/clipsy/bpg015

Interventions based on training in mindfulness skills are becoming increasingly popular. Mindfulness involves intentionally bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment and is often taught through a variety of meditation exercises. This review summarizes conceptual approaches to mindfulness and empirical research on the utility of mindfulness-based interventions. Meta-analytic techniques were incorporated to facilitate the quantification of findings and comparison across studies. Although the current empirical literature includes many methodological flaws, findings suggest that mindfulness-based interventions may be helpful in the treatment of several disorders. Methodologically sound investigations are recommended in order to clarify the utility of these interventions.

Keywords: mindfulness; meditation; meta-analysis; treatment outcome


Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 8(4), 822-848. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.84.4.822.

Mindfulness is an attribute of consciousness long believed to promote well-being. This research provides a theoretical and empirical examination of the role of mindfulness in psychological well-being. The development and psychometric properties of the dispositional Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) are described. Correlational, quasi-experimental, and laboratory studies then show that the MAAS measures a unique quality of consciousness that is related to a variety of well-being constructs, that differentiates mindfulness practitioners from others, and is associated with enhanced self-awareness. An experience-sampling study shows that both dispositional and state mindfulness predict self-regulated behaviour and positive emotional states. Finally, a clinical intervention study with cancer patients demonstrates that increases in mindfulness over time relate to declines in mood disturbance and stress

Keywords: mindfulness, psychological well-being, self-awareness, emotion regulation, present-moment awareness, meditation, attention, cognitive flexibility.


Davidson, R. J., Kabat-Zinn, J., Schumacher, J., Rosenkranz, M., Muller, D., Santorelli, S. F., … & Sheridan, J. F. (2003). Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65(4), 564-570.

The underlying changes in biological processes that are associated with reported changes in mental and physical health in response to meditation have not been systematically explored. We performed a randomized, controlled study on the effects on brain and immune function of a well‐known and widely used 8‐week clinical training program in mindfulness meditation applied in a work environment with healthy employees. We measured brain electrical activity before and immediately after, and then 4 months after an 8‐week training program in mindfulness meditation. Twenty‐five subjects were tested in the meditation group. A wait‐list control group (N = 16) was tested at the same points in time as the meditators. At the end of the 8‐week period, subjects in both groups were vaccinated with influenza vaccine. We report for the first time significant increases in left‐sided anterior activation, a pattern previously associated with positive affect, in the meditators compared with the nonmeditators. We also found significant increases in antibody titers to influenza vaccine among subjects in the meditation compared with those in the wait‐list control group. Finally, the magnitude of increase in left‐sided activation predicted the magnitude of antibody titer rise to the vaccine. These findings demonstrate that a short program in mindfulness meditation produces demonstrable effects on brain and immune function. These findings suggest that meditation may change brain and immune function in positive ways and underscore the need for additional research.

Keywords: mindfulness meditation, brain function, immune function, psychoneuroimmunology, stress reduction, attention, emotion regulation, neuroplasticity, mind-body medicine.


Galante, J., Dufour, G., Benton, A., Howarth, E., Vainre, M., Croudace, T. J., & Wagner, A. P. (2020). A mindfulness-based intervention to increase resilience to stress in university students (the Mindful Student Study): A pragmatic randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Public Health, 5(1), e31–e42. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2468-2667(19)30231-4

Mindfulness-based interventions have been shown to reduce stress and improve well-being in adults, but their efficacy in university students is unknown. We assessed the efficacy of a mindfulness-based intervention in university students. We did a pragmatic randomised controlled trial at a UK university, in which we assigned students with moderate stress to either a mindfulness-based intervention (n=101) or a control group (n=105), both delivered through existing student support services. Participants were assessed at baseline, and 8 and 12 weeks later. Primary outcomes were self-reported psychological distress (measured with the Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation Outcome Measure), and the ability to cope with stress (measured with the Brief Resilience Scale). Analysis was by intention to treat. Results showed that at 8 weeks, participants in the mindfulness group had significantly lower levels of psychological distress than those in the control group, and the effects were sustained at 12 weeks. Participants in the mindfulness group also had significantly greater improvements in resilience than those in the control group. The mindfulness intervention was well received by students and had high levels of engagement and attendance. These findings suggest that a mindfulness-based intervention can be effective in reducing stress and increasing resilience in university students.

Keywords: mindfulness-based interventions, stress reduction, well-being, university students, pragmatic randomized controlled trial, psychological distress, coping with stress, resilience, Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation Outcome Measure, Brief Resilience Scale.


Garland, E. L. (2015). Mindfulness training promotes upward spirals of positive affect and cognition: Multilevel and autoregressive latent trajectory modeling analysis. Frontiers in Psychology: Emotion Research,. 6(15), 1-46. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00015.

Recent theory suggests that positive psychological processes integral to health may be energized through the self-reinforcing dynamics of an upward spiral to counter emotion dysregulation. The present study examined positive emotion–cognition interactions among individuals in partial remission from depression who had been randomly assigned to treatment with mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT; n = 64) or a waitlist control condition (n = 66). We hypothesized that MBCT stimulates upward spirals by increasing positive affect and positive cognition. Experience sampling assessed changes in affect and cognition during 6 days before and after treatment, which were analyzed with a series of multilevel and autoregressive latent trajectory models. Findings suggest that MBCT was associated with significant increases in trait positive affect and momentary positive cognition, which were preserved through autoregressive and cross-lagged effects driven by global emotional tone. Findings suggest that daily positive affect and cognition are maintained by an upward spiral that might be promoted by mindfulness training.

Keywords: mindfulness training; positive emotion; broaden-and-build; emotion regulation; latent growth curve analysis


Farb, N. A., Anderson, A. K., Segal, Z. V., & Keltner, D. (2011). Mindfulness meditation training alters cortical representations of interoceptive attention. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 8(1), 15–26. https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nss066

Abstract: Mindfulness meditation is a set of attention-based, regulatory, and self-inquiry training regimes. Although the impact of mindfulness meditation training (MT) on self-regulation is well established, the neural mechanisms supporting such plasticity are poorly understood. MT is thought to act on attention networks implicated in the dynamic regulation of cognitive control. Here, we highlight a regulatory cycle that implicates dorsal and ventral circuits associated with the maintenance of cognitive and affective attention, respectively, and supports the self-regulation of behaviour. This cycle includes (i) representations supporting the detection and selection of target sensory stimuli, (ii) representations supporting the modulation of attentional resources based on current goals and context, and (iii) representations supporting monitoring and appraisal of the affective significance of sensory stimuli. We suggest that MT-related alterations in the regulation of attentional engagement/disengagement and appraisals of sensory experience at these levels can account for many of the effects of mindfulness on self-regulation and related affective and cognitive phenomena.

Keywords: mindfulness, meditation, attention, self-regulation, neural mechanisms


Gu, J., Cavanagh, K., & Strauss, C. (2017). Investigating the differential effects of self-oriented versus other-oriented mindfulness training in health and wellbeing outpatients: A pilot study. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 9(2), 195–215. https://doi.org/10.1111/aphw.12096

This pilot study aimed to investigate the differential effects of self-oriented mindfulness training (SMT) and other-oriented mindfulness training (OMT) on a range of outcome variables including well-being, stress, and compassion in health and wellbeing outpatients. Participants were randomly allocated to SMT (n = 18) or OMT (n = 17), which were delivered in two consecutive 8-week programmes. Outcome variables were assessed at baseline and at the end of each 8-week programme. Results indicated that both SMT and OMT were effective in increasing well-being and reducing stress. However, only OMT was effective in increasing compassion. These preliminary findings suggest that OMT may have additional benefits beyond those of SMT.

Keywords: mindfulness, well-being, stress, compassion, other-oriented


Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you go there you are. New York: Hyperion.

Mindfulness is considered the heart of Buddhist meditation. But its essence is universal and of deep practical benefit to everyone. In Wherever You Go, There You Are, Jon Kabat-Zinn maps out a simple path for cultivating mindfulness in our lives, and awakening us to the unique beauty and possibilities of each present moment.


Kabat-Zinn, J. (2003). Mindfulness-based interventions in context: Past, present, and future. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10(2), 144-156. doi: 10.1093/clipsy/bpg016

Baer’s review (2003; this issue) suggests that mindfulness-based interventions are clinically efficacious, but that better-designed studies are now needed to substantiate the field and place it on a firm foundation for future growth. Her review, coupled with other lines of evidence, suggests that interest in incorporating mindfulness into clinical interventions in medicine and psychology is growing. It is thus important that professionals coming to this field understand some of the unique factors associated with the delivery of mindfulness-based interventions and the potential conceptual and practical pitfalls of not recognizing the features of this broadly unfamiliar landscape. This commentary highlights and contextualizes (1) what exactly mindfulness is, (2) where it came from, (3) how it came to be introduced into medicine and health care, (4) issues of cross-cultural sensitivity and understanding in the study of meditative practices stemming from other cultures and in applications of them in novel settings, (5) why it is important for people who are teaching mindfulness to practice themselves, (6) results from 3 recent studies from the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society not reviewed by Baer but which raise a number of key questions about clinical applicability, study design, and mechanism of action, and (7) current opportunities for professional training and development in mindfulness and its clinical applications.

Keywords: mindfulness-based interventions, clinical psychology, mindfulness-based stress reduction, acceptance and commitment therapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy, psychotherapy integration, mind-body medicine, future directions.


Keng, S. L., Smoski, M. J., & Robins, C. J. (2011). Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: A review of empirical studies. Clinical Psychology Review, 31(6), 1041–1056. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2011.04.006

This article reviews empirical studies on the effects of mindfulness on psychological health. Mindfulness is defined as a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment. The article reviews evidence that mindfulness enhances positive states of mind and attenuates negative states of mind and stress. Furthermore, mindfulness is shown to enhance attention and focus, and promote emotional regulation and empathy. The review suggests that mindfulness meditation may provide a promising intervention for a variety of disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.

Keywords: mindfulness, psychological health, meditation, attention, emotion regulation


Williams, M., & Penman, D. (2011). Mindfulness: An eight-week plan for finding peace in a frantic world. Rodale.

Jon Kabat-Zinn writes the foreword and does a lovely job of setting the stage for Mark Williams and Danny Penman’s Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World.  In the foreword, as in the rest of the book, everything is stated in a clear and friendly manner, explaining the organization and intention of the book as well as giving a small preview of the idea of mindfulness.  Kabat-Zinn uses the term “embodied engagement” to help explain mindfulness and how it is essentially a new type of awareness.  He writes that Williams and Penman think of mindfulness as a “practice” in order to remind us that it is “a way of being” and not a fad. Mark Williams is a co-founder of MBCT and his coauthor for this book is Danny Penman, who is a journalist at the UK’s Daily Mail.  Together, Williams and Penman, with their varied backgrounds, created this “very practical and pragmatic guide to mindfulness and its cultivation,” as Kabat-Zinn says.  MBCT is centered around mindfulness meditation and in this book they give a detailed description of an eight-week program to help get you centered.  This method has been proven in people with diagnosed depressive disorders, but this book is written for anyone to make use of and enjoy.


Yang, Y., Han, S., Lee, J., Lee, H., Lee, S., & Kim, J. (2020). The effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on depression, anxiety, and stress in Korean nurses. Applied Nursing Research, 56, 151325. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apnr.2020.151325

This study aimed to investigate the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on depression, anxiety, and stress in Korean nurses. A pretest-posttest non-equivalent control group design was used. Participants were assigned to an experimental group (n = 23) or a control group (n = 25). The MBSR program consisted of eight 2-hour sessions over 8 weeks. The experimental group received MBSR training, while the control group received usual care. The outcomes were assessed using the Beck Depression Inventory-II, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and Perceived Stress Scale

Keywords: mindfulness-based stress reduction, depression, anxiety, stress, Korean nurses, applied nursing research, mental health, intervention, healthcare workers.


Zeidan, F., Johnson, S. K., Diamond, B. J., David, Z., & Goolkasian, P. (2010). Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training. Consciousness and Cognition, 19(2), 597-605. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2010.03.014.

Although research has found that long-term mindfulness meditation practice promotes executive functioning and the ability to sustain attention, the effects of brief mindfulness meditation training have not been fully explored. We examined whether brief meditation training affects cognition and mood when compared to an active control group. After four sessions of either meditation training or listening to a recorded book, participants with no prior meditation experience were assessed with measures of mood, verbal fluency, visual coding, and working memory. Both interventions were effective at improving mood but only brief meditation training reduced fatigue, anxiety, and increased mindfulness. Moreover, brief mindfulness training significantly improved visuospatial processing, working memory, and executive functioning. Our findings suggest that 4 days of meditation training can enhance the ability to sustain attention; benefits that have previously been reported with long-term meditators.

Keywords: Mindfulness; Meditation; Cognition; Working memory; Mood; Attention; Meta-awareness









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