Take a look at this graph. What do you see?
Well, if you're a research geek you probably see a negatively skewed distribution.
If you like ski jumps, maybe you see a day of winter fun.
And if you look a little closer you'll see that this is a graph of the number of mindfulness studies published per year between 1980 and 2012.
So, in 1980 and 1981 there were exactly zero articles published on the topic of mindfulness. Between 1982 and 1998 there was a very gradual trend toward a few more mindfulness articles each year.
And then something crazy happened. Between the year 2000 and 2012 there was almost an exponential explosion of research publications about mindfulness meditation.
This trend has only continued. For example, last month alone saw the publication of 65 new mindfulness articles. Amazingly, that's pretty standard for the current monthly output.
Meaning that, on average, we now publish more articles per month than we published in an entire year only a decade ago.
So what are we discovering through this lavish investment of research dollars?
Well, for one thing, targets are getting a lot more targeted. While early mindfulness articles often examined how an eight-week MBSR course affected an unidentified group of participants, the new generation of articles boasts titles like:
- "A randomised controlled study of mindfulness meditation versus relaxation therapy in the management of tinnitus"
- "Effects of MBSR on the anxiety, depression and quality of life of patients with intrauterine adhesion"
- "Test of mindfulness-based psychosocial skills training to ı̇mprove insight and functional recovery in schizophrenia."
We're also finding that mindfulness interventions are effective for a wide range of mental and physical health concerns. Put simply, when people practice mindfulness:
- Calm develops
- Rumination diminishes
- Stress responses ease
- Working memory improves
- Focus increases
- Emotional reactivity decreases
- Relationships improve
- Immune systems get stronger
And much, much, much more.
For more on the latest mindfulness research, see the excellent American Mindfulness Research Monthly.
For information about upcoming mindfulness workshops with Devon & me, please click here.
*Graph courtesy of David Black (2014)