Research on Benefits of Meditation & Mindfulness

Stress Reduction

Many studies have shown that meditation & mindfulness can be an effective strategy to reduce and build resilience to stress.

  1. Online-based Mindfulness Training Reduces Behavioral Markers of Mind Wandering.
    “We found significant reductions in mind wandering and significant increases in dispositional mindfulness in the mindfulness training group but not the brain training group. A lack of any significant change in the brain training group may be driven by methodological limitations such as self-report bias. These results indicate that short online mindfulness-based interventions may be effective in reducing mind wandering.”
  1. Effects of a mindfulness meditation app on work stress and well-being.
    “Whether a mindfulness meditation program delivered via a smartphone application could improve psychological well-being, reduce job strain, and reduce ambulatory blood pressure during the workday.”
  1. Meditation Inhibits Aggressive Responses to Provocations. Mindfulness
    “Results showed that 3 weeks of daily meditation practice substantially reduced aggressive behavior even in the absence of any enhanced executive control capabilities. These results suggest that meditation attenuates aggression through direct reductions in motives to cause harm to others.”
  1. Improvements in Stress, Affect, and Irritability Following Brief Use of a Mindfulness-based Smartphone App: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Mindfulness
    “These results suggest that brief mindfulness training has a beneficial impact on several aspects of psychosocial well-being, and that smartphone apps are an effective delivery medium for mindfulness training.”
  1. Putting the ‘app’ in Happiness: A Randomised Controlled Trial of a Smartphone-Based Mindfulness Intervention to Enhance Wellbeing
    “This investigation presents implications for happiness seeking strategies in the real world whilst showcasing a dynamic method of intervention delivery that can benefit future research and practice. If the greatest mission of positive psychology is to enhance global flourishing, the potential of smartphone-based interventions may play a vital role.”
  2. Life Event, Stress and Illness

Inflammation / immunity

Reducing stress can have a direct impact on inflammation and immunity.

  1. Alterations in Resting-State Functional Connectivity Link Mindfulness Meditation With Reduced Interleukin-6: A Randomized Controlled Trial.
    Creswell JD1, Taren AA2, Lindsay EK3, Greco CM4, Gianaros PJ5, Fairgrieve A3, Marsland AL5, Brown KW6, Way BM7, Rosen RK5, Ferris JL3.
    “These findings provide the first evidence that mindfulness meditation training functionally couples the DMN with a region known to be important in top-down executive control at rest (left dlPFC), which, in turn, is associated with improvements in a marker of inflammatory disease risk.”
  2. A comparison of mindfulness-based stress reduction and an active control in modulation of neurogenic inflammation.
    Rosenkranz MA1, Davidson RJ, Maccoon DG, Sheridan JF, Kalin NH, Lutz A.
    “These results suggest behavioral interventions designed to reduce emotional reactivity may be of therapeutic benefit in chronic inflammatory conditions. Moreover, mindfulness practice, in particular, may be more efficacious in symptom relief than the well-being promoting activities cultivated in the HEP program.”
  3. Mindfulness meditation for younger breast cancer survivors: A randomized controlled trial
    Julienne E. Bower, PhD,1,2,3,4 Alexandra D. Crosswell, Ph.D.,1 Annette L. Stanton, PhD,1,2,3,4 Catherine M. Crespi, PhD,4,5 Diana Winston,6 Jesusa Arevalo,7 Jeffrey Ma,7 Steve W. Cole, PhD,2,3,7 and Patricia A. Ganz, MD4,8
    “A brief, mindfulness‐based intervention demonstrated preliminary short‐term efficacy in reducing stress, behavioral symptoms, and proinflammatory signaling in younger breast cancer survivors”
  4. One year pre-post intervention follow-up of psychological, immune, endocrine and blood pressure outcomes of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) in breast and prostate cancer outpatients.
    Carlson LE1, Speca M, Faris P, Patel KD.
    MBSR program participation was associated with enhanced quality of life and decreased stress symptoms, altered cortisol and immune patterns consistent with less stress and mood disturbance, and decreased blood pressure. These pilot data represent a preliminary investigation of the longer-term relationships between MBSR program participation and a range of potentially important biomarkers.
  5. Mindfulness meditation and the immune system: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials
    David S. Black1 and George M. Slavich2
    This analysis revealed substantial heterogeneity across studies with respect to patient population, study design, and assay procedures. The findings suggest possible effects of mindfulness meditation on specific markers of inflammation, cell-mediated immunity, and biological aging, but these results are tentative and require further replication.
  6. Randomized controlled trial of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) for survivors of breast cancer.
    Lengacher CA1, Johnson-Mallard V, Post-White J, Moscoso MS, Jacobsen PB, Klein TW, Widen RH, Fitzgerald SG, Shelton MM, Barta M, Goodman M, Cox CE, Kip KE.
    Among BC survivors within 18 months of treatment completion, a 6‐week MBSR(BC) program resulted in significant improvements in psychological status and quality of life compared with usual care.”
  7. Mindfulness meditation training effects on CD4+ T lymphocytes in HIV-1 infected adults: a small randomized controlled trial.
    Creswell JD1, Myers HF, Cole SW, Irwin MR.
    These findings provide an initial indication that mindfulness meditation training can buffer CD4+ T lymphocyte declines in HIV-1 infected adults.”
  8. Enhanced psychosocial well-being following participation in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program is associated with increased natural killer cell activity.
    Fang CY1, Reibel DK, Longacre ML, Rosenzweig S, Campbell DE, Douglas SD.
    Positive improvement in psychologic well-being following MBSR was associated with increased NK cytolytic activity and decreased levels of CRP”
    Note: NK cells play a major role in the host-rejection of both tumours and virally infected cells and CRP is a substance produced by the liver in response to inflammation.
  9. A meta-analytic review of the effects of mindfulness meditation on telomerase activity
    Schutte NS1, Malouff JM2
    The enzyme telomerase, through its influence on telomere length, is associated with health and mortality. Four pioneering randomized control trials, including a total of 190 participants, provided information on the effect of mindfulness meditation on telomerase. A meta-analytic effect size of d = 0.46 indicated that mindfulness meditation leads to increased telomerase activity in peripheral blood mononuclear cells.”
  10. Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation.
    Davidson RJ1, Kabat-Zinn J, Schumacher J, Rosenkranz M, Muller D, Santorelli SF, Urbanowski F, Harrington A, Bonus K, Sheridan JF.
    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.

Reduce addictions

  1. Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention for Substance Use Disorders: A Pilot Efficacy Trial
    Sarah Bowen, PhD, Neharika Chawla, MS, Susan E. Collins, PhD, Katie Witkiewitz, PhD, Sharon Hsu, BA, Joel Grow, BA, Seema Clifasefi, PhD, Michelle Garner, PhD, Anne Douglass, BA, Mary E. Larimer, PhD, and Alan Marlatt, PhD
    “MBRP participants demonstrated greater decreases in craving, and increases in acceptance and acting with awareness as compared to TAU”
  2. Associations of Mindfulness with Nicotine Dependence, Withdrawal, and Agency
    Jennifer Irvin Vidrine, Ph.D.,1 Michael S. Businelle, Ph.D.,1 Paul Cinciripini, Ph.D.,2 Yisheng Li, Ph.D.,3 Marianne T. Marcus, EdD, RN,4 Andrew J. Waters, Ph.D.,5 Lorraine R. Reitzel, Ph.D.,1 and David W. Wetter, Ph.D.1
    “Consistent with hypotheses, smokers reporting a higher degree of mindfulness were less nicotine dependent, experienced fewer withdrawal symptoms prior to quitting, and a stronger sense of agency regarding their ability to successfully quit smoking. Moreover, the degree of mindfulness remained significantly associated with severity of nicotine dependence and withdrawal, and level of agency, even after controlling for key demographic variables including age, gender, race/ethnicity, educational attainment, income, and marital status.”
  3. Mindfulness Meditation for Alcohol Relapse Prevention: A Feasibility Pilot Study
    Aleksandra Zgierska, MD, PhD, David Rabago, MD, Megan Zuelsdorff, BS, Christopher Coe, PhD, Michael Miller, MD, and Michael Fleming, MD, MPH
    “Meditation may be an effective adjunctive therapy for relapse prevention in alcohol dependence, worthy of investigation in a larger trial. The study methods are appropriate for such a trial.”

Pain management

  1. The Effects of Brief Mindfulness Meditation Training on Experimentally Induced Pain
    “Our findings indicate that a brief 3-day mindfulness meditation intervention was effective at reducing pain ratings and anxiety scores when compared with baseline testing and other cognitive manipulations”
  2. Neural Mechanisms Supporting the Relationship between Dispositional Mindfulness and Pain.
    Zeidan F1, Salomons T2, Farris SR1, Emerson NM, Adler-Neal A1, Jung Y3, Coghill RC1,4.
    “These novel findings demonstrate that mindful individuals feel less pain and evoke greater deactivation of brain regions supporting the engagement sensory, cognitive and affective appraisals. We propose that mindfulness and the PCC should be considered as important mechanistic targets for pain therapies.”
  3. Randomized Controlled Trial of Brief Mindfulness Training and Hypnotic Suggestion for Acute Pain Relief in the Hospital Setting
    Garland EL1, Baker AK2, Larsen P3, Riquino MR2, Priddy SE2, Thomas E2, Hanley AW2, Galbraith P3, Wanner N4, Nakamura Y2.
    “Brief, single-session mind-body interventions delivered by hospital social workers led to clinically significant improvements in pain and related outcomes, suggesting that such interventions may be useful adjuncts to medical pain management.”
  4. Mindfulness Meditation Modulates Pain Through Endogenous Opioids.
    “These findings show, for the first time, that meditation involves endogenous opioid pathways, mediating its analgesic effect and growing resilient with increasing practice to external suggestion. This finding could hold promising therapeutic implications and further elucidate the fine mechanisms involved in human pain modulation.”

General Studies

  1. A Pilot Mobile-Based Mindfulness Intervention for Cancer Patients and Their Informal Caregivers.
    “Preliminary before-after comparison data suggested reduction in levels of distress and improvement in quality of life. In qualitative interviews, participants reported ease in use of the mindfulness program and appreciation for the convenience of accessing the program any time. Our results suggest that an app/online-based mindfulness intervention is feasible and well-accepted by cancer patients and their caregivers within an integrated healthcare system.”
  1. Making time for mindfulness.
    “The study reported here sought to understand how users adopt and experience a popular mobile-based mindfulness intervention.”
  1. Mindfulness and Compassion: An Examination of Mechanism and Scalability.
    Participants assigned to the mindfulness meditation condition gave up their seats more frequently than did those assigned to the active control group. In addition, empathic accuracy was not increased by mindfulness practice, suggesting that mindfulness-enhanced compassionate behavior does not stem from associated increases in the ability to decode the emotional experiences of others.”
  2. Mobile Mindfulness Intervention on an Acute Psychiatric Unit: Feasibility and Acceptability Study.
    “This is the first known study of the use of a commercially available app as an intervention on acute psychiatric inpatient units. Acutely ill psychiatric inpatients at a state hospital found the Headspace app easy to use, were able to complete a series of meditations, and felt the app helped with anxiety, sleep, and boredom on the unit. There were no instances of an increase in psychotic symptoms reported and there were no episodes of aggression or violence noted in the record.”
  1. A randomised active-controlled trial to examine the effects of an online mindfulness intervention on executive control, critical thinking and key thinking dispositions in a university student sample.
    “Arguments for including mindfulness instruction in higher education have included claims about the benefits of mindfulness practice for critical thinking. While there is theoretical support for this claim, empirical support is limited. The aim of this study was to test this claim by investigating the effects of an online mindfulness intervention on executive function, critical thinking skills and associated thinking dispositions.”
  1. Quality of Life Among Women Diagnosed with Breast Cancer: A Randomized Waitlist Controlled Trial of Commercially Available Mobile App-Delivered Mindfulness Training.
    “Findings suggest commercially available mindfulness may proffer some benefit to women seeking to enhance their quality of life following breast cancer diagnosis.”
  1. Happier Healers: Randomized Controlled Trial of Mobile Mindfulness for Stress Management.
    “These results highlight that a mobile audio-guided mindfulness meditation program is an effective means to decrease perceived stress in medical students, which may have implications on patient care. Integrating mindfulness training into medical school curricula for management of school- and work-related stress may lead to fewer negative physician outcomes (e.g., burnout, anxiety, and depression) and improved physician and patient outcomes.”