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10 Classic Mindfulness Research Studies Every Practitioner Should Know

Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Kabat-Zinn J., et al. (1992). American Journal of Psychiatry. 1992 Jul;149(7):936-43.

This seminal study explored the effectiveness of a stress reduction program based on mindfulness meditation for 28 participants with anxiety disorders (anxiety disorder and panic disorder). Repeated measures documented significant reductions in anxiety and depression scores after treatment for 20 of the subjects. Changes were maintained at a 3-month follow-up.

Mechanisms of mindfulness: Emotion regulation following a focused breathing induction, an effective meditation technique. Arch J.J., & Craske M.G. (2006). Behaviour Research and Therapy, 2006 Dec;44(12):1849–58.

The authors studied the impact of a brief meditation induction for new meditators on their responses to a series of emotionally arousing images. Participants in the meditation group reported less overall reactivity and negative affect, and were more likely to tolerate the full collection of negative images.

Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Goldin P.R. & Gross J.J. (2010). Emotion, 2010 Oct;10(1):83-91.

This study demonstrated, through neuroimaging, a decrease in negative emotion experience, a reduced amygdala activity, and an increased activity in brain regions implicated in attentional deployment in participants with Social Anxiety Disorder.

Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Hölzel, B.K., et al. (2011). Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 2011 Jan;191(1):36-43.

MBSR interventions increase gray matter density in brain regions associated with learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective thinking.

Mindfulness for long-distance runners: an open trial using Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE) de Petrillo L.A., et al. (2009). Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology. 2009 Dec;3(4).

This study on long distance runners highlighted significant increase in state mindfulness and trait awareness and decreases in sport-related worries, personal standards perfectionism, and parental criticism.

Examining workplace mindfulness and its relations to job performance and turnover intention. Dane E., & Bradley J. (2014). Human Relations. 2014 Jan;67(1):105-128.

The authors found support for a positive relationship between workplace mindfulness and job performance. They also found support for a negative relationship between workplace mindfulness and turnover intention.

Meditate to create: the impact of focused-attention and open-monitoring meditation training on convergent and divergent thinking. Colzato, L., Ozturk, A. & Hommel, B. (2012). Frontiers in Psychology. 2012 Apr;3:116.

The study investigates the effects on meditation on creativity in 19 healthy adults. It was found that meditation supports a style of thinking that allows new ideas to be generated.

Stepping out of history: Mindfulness improves insight problem solving. Ostafin, B. & Kassman, K. (2012). Consciousness and Cognition. 2012 Jun;21(2):1031-1036.

This study explores the link between mindfulness and ability to problem solve based on insight. A total of 157 participants in both studies completed a measure of trait mindfulness and a series of insight and noninsight problems. Mindfulness was found to support the ability of reducing the influence of habitual verbal-conceptual processes on the interpretation of ongoing experience, which in turn supports insight problem solving.


Antidepressant Monotherapy vs Sequential Pharmacotherapy and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, or Placebo, for Relapse Prophylaxis in Recurrent Depression. Zindel V., et al. (2010). Archives of General Psychiatry. 2010 Dec;67(12):1256-64.

This study randomly assigned 84 patients in remission from major depression to one of three groups: Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), standard care (continuation of their medication for 18 months), and placebo. Results showed that MBCT offers protection against relapse/recurrence on a par with that of maintenance antidepressant pharmacotherapy.

  Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Killingsworth, M., & Gilbert, D. (2010). Science, 330 (6006), 932.

This study found that people are least happy at times when their minds are not focused on the action they’re performing in the present moment.